So, today i was supposed to leave on an overnight bike trip, but my bike buddy cancelled. Her thesis defense suddenly got rescheduled. Ouch. She encouraged me to carry on alone. Ive been considering that advice, but since I have a semi-monastic existance in England, Im not really looking for more alone time right now, so Im in Amsterdam.
Im staying again with Petra and Erika and Suzane et al. I havent yet blogged about their house. I want to describe it as Eden. Its completely idyllic. Next to the Vondelpark on Overtoom. All of the housemates are good friends. They seem to be good friends with all of their neighbors. Everyone walking by seems insanely friendly. I talk to the dog people. And they have a garden. With apple trees (oand figs and kiwis).
But, its not Eden, as the house cat will not lie down with my dog. (I think they would, if given more time.) But its better than Eden. The tree of knowledge is up for grabs. The people that live here are academics, activists, musicians. Also, (I think I mentioned this before) they have a poster of Buck Angel in the bathroom. Innocence is overrated.
The building is a former police station, which was squatted several years ago and became legalized. In the basement, there are still two jail cells left, one of which has the original door. It is a small cement space with no natural light. The door has a lot of locks on it. Petra offered to lock me in, but I declined. I dont want induce anxiety!
Whatever bad mojo the building may have once possesed has long since been cleansed. Its lovely. The people are lovely. I used to dream of having some sort of hippie commune, with a combination of shared and private spaces. Where people shared resources and worked together at happy communal living. Its very gratifying to see a successful model.
Its also interesting that its decended from a squat. I think what I want to do when I get to London is find a studio to work in and rent that, to keep my gear and to work away from where I live. And I think I want to squat some living space. Theres a queer squatter movement around Europe. A lot of people talk about how the squat scene has declined. But, I mean, I think the solution for that is to get more active!
This house shows how something oppositional can be vibrant and be integrated into the community, to create beauty and vibrance without gentrification. If given resources, people will create their own solutions to social problems. Squatting is a resource to communities.