Spaces for work and living – a future built from “scratch & scrap”

Over the past few years of creating affordable living- and workspace in the city, we have come a long way from the very few initiatives we had found acting in this field, to the current pool of citizens that are about to (or in de midst of!) taking part of the cities’ space into collective use. And like us, most of them have found that it is urgent to take this effort beyond the often temporary access we have been able to achieve till now. How can we secure permanent access and control over the spaces so vital to our lives?

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Fellow city makers at the Stoking House

On 28th of May, an international group of city makers came together at the Stoking House of City in the Making, to discuss the current state of affairs. It is interesting to see new urban communities arising from these efforts, and observe how they build a new future on the often disregarded, outlived or scrapped resources that are available in the city. But in the increasingly market dominated sphere in which even citizens’ initiatives find themselves acting, this often means that we have to take ourselves to that same market of real-estate to buy up the remains we aim to give a new, collective future. For most of us, that means a tough puzzle of mobilising enough capital to “save” the buildings for our cause.

Hence, we have extended discussing that challenge during the rest of the day in the context of the Re:Kreators network (aka fellow city makers) which is currently forming in Europe. One of the challenges is to match the acquisition of real estate (buying it in order to bring it into common, anti-speculative ownership) with the mission of keeping spaces affordable.

Of course, the exchange of experiences and expertise among the initiatives is already proving crucial and inspiring when facing this challenge. But we could take it a step further: by forming networks that can set up a revolving investment fund together, so that at least the seed funding necessary to make a start can be quickly mobilised. It is an idea quickly gaining traction in several of the discussions we have been feeding into: from the upcoming Re:Kreators to the VrijCoop (the Dutch branch of the Mietshäuser Syndikat) currently set up. A crucial bit of urban economy being re-invented?