Friday, 21 February 2014

I stand in solidarity with individuals who Squat

I stand in solidarity with individuals who Squat, who have been evicted, who sleep in doorways, under bridges, on London night buses and in council owned parks.

I stand with you who sleep in London Parks, who live in the various encampments on public land,  as well as victims of eviction, repossession and intimidation from banks and those who realize their chains and slave away at their jobs to ensure their own sanity and the safety of their family

Those of you who pay for your homes and offer space to others without exchanges of money are greatly appreciated and I love you for your openness and kindness towards others.

Words like “unfair” are common in discussions with individuals who work and slave 40+ hours a week and consider jobless and homeless people lazy. Those who take action and claim space are viewed as going outside social norms. You can have whatever views you choose. I see squatting from different perspectives. Most homeless people have been tossed aside by society. Whether it’s because of abuse in the home, the rejection of societal norms, following a spiritual path or the lack of perceived opportunities for lower-income earners, we take a chance at fate by doing something out of the ordinary. We play our cards; that’s all anyone could do. We’re not all professional card players.

There is nothing wrong with the use of empty space. There’s nothing wrong in reclaiming corporate or empty council property. I believe there are only communal and shared spaces. The concept of ownership is a tricky subject. How can a corporation claim that they own a building when they cannot possibly own the resources other corporations stole by extracting from ecosystems on a planet which has no way of being owned? How can any institution say they own property when the land is something for all to experience and partake in? We aren’t born owning anything; we simply exist as other life exists with us. Corporations, however, do claim ownership, and this is wrong. If you were to visit a forest and sit underneath an apple tree, you would not claim that you own the tree. You might claim it to be yours for the time being, but only insofar as you are using it. I don’t see how the use of chopped-up trees, metals, glues, vinyl, paints, etc. is any different. To call it a home only means it has an intention to be a container for a specific use. Homes are containers used for protection from the elements, privacy, sleep, cooking, storage, social space and peace of mind. I perceive that I may need space for these ends and I claim space and use it for some of those purposes, depending on where it is I am. When I am done respecting my chopped-up trees, I’ll move on and someone else can utilize what has been created and left.

Living in a home is a privilege and is something which is taken for granted. Please take the time to check for yourself. Most people don’t understand what it’s like living with uncertainty while your physical health and mental sanity deteriorate because of stress and anxiety or constantly being woken up and asked to move. Excuse me, I was sleeping and not bothering anyone. And if someone is bothered, it’s their discomfort about their status they should be worrying about. People start looking at you differently or looking away from you because you’re not wasting water and are dirtier than they are and you carry what belongings you have in your pack or recycled carrier bags, like your portable bed, i.e. a sleeping roll. They judge you for having the freedom of travel, for having no institutionalized work, for searching for a good spot to rest, for living with spontaneity and ingenuity. It fills the heart to sleep under the stars or to finally find a solid place to store the junk you’re carrying so you can rest your back. Maybe there’s even a nice bed and no rats. But, oh, a basement in an old factory without mold and rats is utopia itself!

There is more constructed empty space than there are houseless people. There are few old-growth forests left in the world as a result of this exaggerated construction. Let us honour what we have destroyed and then created, make use of what is available, and have no regrets about it.

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