Over the years, they’ve been hired by a long list of impressive and, for an anarchist collective, unlikely seeming clients. Then, in 2006, they were approached by one the biggest banks in Latin America and Spain. It was suffering from organizational malaise and wanted help for fueling innovation in its ranks. Las Indias took the job and, after analyzing the situation, decided, like the good transnational anarchists that they are, that the bank was suffering from two major ills: they had too much hierarchy and they were too divided nationally. The prescription was simple and radical. They insisted that the bank stuff -more than 120,000 workers- should learn to talk and work out of the hierarchy with a focus in internal open conversations rather than communication segregated by nation or department.
As part of this wave of rediscovery, with workers rediscovering their own environment and the future living inside and around it, the bank financed the first book series of collected of essays by living authors released under Public Domain in Europe. The books, on such at-the-time arcane subjects as P2P systems, the sharing economy, and workers’ transnational cooperativism, were both free for download as ebooks and as a paper edition. The commercial success of the print version was a rare and surprising success in the Spanish editorial scene: even though everybody had the option to have them for free as e-books, thousands of copies of every single title were sold in traditional bookshops.
However, anarchist transnationalist organization was a bit too much for the bank in the long run. The “Innovation Department” who contracted las Indias closed (their members were all promoted) and the bank turned progressively towards a flashier policy of buying dotcom businesses and trying to integrate them into the existing organization. Emphasis on internal conversation was decreased and emphasis on promoting external blogs and marketing was increased. In 2010, after a few years as a successful but then orphaned experiment, they closed the internal blogosphere, the first massive conversational space in a big worldwide organization.
The bank weathered Spain’s financial crisis in 2008 relatively unscathed. Las Indias suspects that the reflection and innovations fueled by the open conversations had outside of the structure of the hierarchy helped them to avoid dangerous policies then common in other banks. Las Indias walked away from the project, but with a recognized and salable experience that later opened doors for them to more big institutions and businesses of the European Union and Latin America.
We are returning for another Point A trip to NYC. We in this case is Belladonna Took, Aster, Gpaul, Angelica and myself, all from Acorn or Twin Oaks. On the way up i am reminded of our recent trip and the tales tangled with it.
One of my favorite stories is the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It has a contemporary Alice through the Looking Glass feel to it where figures of speech become characters in the story and a fair morality is woven among amusing chapter long vignettes. If you have a kid you read to and you have not read this story to them, you should share this together. Central to the story is the idea that main characters have a secret which they are not telling Milo, the hero of the story, and they will only tell him when he returns from his quest.
When Milo returns from his harrowing quest they reveal the secret about his mission which is “It was impossible”. But he could not be told this at the beginning of his quest for it would discourage him. Our experience of NYC is sort of the other way around. When we explain the Point A project to people some excitedly tell us “That is fantastic, you really should do it. And it is completely impossible.”
i am only beginning to understand this mentality. It comes in part from long term urban activists seeing all the wonderful institutions they love vanish with time. At the front line of chronicling the demise of the city is Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. This blog‘s subtitle is The book of Lamentations: A bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct. This blog is also one of the best sites i have found describing gentrification (which is actually dead) and hyper-gentrification (which is the current genetically modified version of the problem).
When i asked one of our NYC allies what this meant, they briskly proposed this translation. “It means they are not going to help you.” Further elaborating they said “They don’t want to be discouraging you, but they are presumably busy with ideas which might work, so they won’t be wasting time on your plan, which won’t.”
We are definitely outside agitators. i find myself taking a crash course in New Yorkers. They often show up late, they have crazy busy lives (i have heard people – including myself – saying they were “double booked”, it was not til i spent time in NYC that i heard someone say they were quadruple booked), they have complicated housing situations. Many identify as artists and a surprising number express interest in having more community in their life.
Any insights into this crash course in urban culture i find myself now taking are appreciated. The best place to talk about them is this excitingly unfolding Community Matchmaker event in Brooklyn on Oct 18th.
I like to ask people what surprises them about their recent experience. Partly, this seems to illicit more thoughtful responses than “What did you like/dislike?”. It also leads to assumption checking on the interviewee’s part. Causing the reflection “What did i think was going to happen that did not?”
When i asked Emily May what she was surprised by when she moved into her tiny house in Eugene, she thought for quite a while. “When i first lived here, i was staying with my best friend and it made me think ‘Perhaps this would be too small to live in with a partner'”.
But besides this her reviews were quite positive. She praised the design, the functionality of the stove, the ability for a single person to have all the room the needed in this 7.5′ by 18′ footprint.
She also talked about the power of cleaning. Because the space is so small, it is quick to clean, and the effect is pervasive. It kept her materialistic desires in check, since there are not many places to put things. She had acquired a collection of various sized pillows which replace classical living room furniture. Over all she was quite pleased with her tiny house experience.
But what is the Tiny House Movement about? I stole this text from the blog TinyLife.com:
What are Tiny Houses? The Tiny House Movement? Tiny Living?
Simply put it is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. The typical American home is around 2600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 100-400 square feet. Tiny Houses come in all shapes, sizes and forms but they focus on smaller spaces and simplified living.
People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons are because of environmental concerns, financial concerns and seeking more time and freedom. For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; This translates to 15 years of working over your life time just to pay for it and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.