Saturday, November 1, 2008

zombies and dinner

yesterday we tagged along with the anti-capitalist zombie march. paxus' blog has a great description, and here's one of my favorite photos.

Then we came home and cooked up another feast: brown rice with cashews and sweet potatoes, green beans with garlic, roasted onions and eggplant, and leftover surprise.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Casa Robino

dinner at the casa

Sky and I wrote this piece together for our Cville mass email list.

While in Amsterdam, we stay at Casa Robino, a kind of half-collective house half-crash pad. We found the house on, the newest manifestation of the hospitality network phenomena. Robin, who rents the flat and energetically holds the intention of the space, has been active in hitchhiking and hospitality networks for years. The house is a hub for cross-pollination because Robin is well connected, as are his friends (a friend of Paxus' had pointed us in his direction).

Long and interesting conversations often start around the dinner table, and then go on late into the night. On the second evening, the conversation lingered on the politics of hospitality networks. Both Robin and his friends Casper and Anu, also Casa Robino "hosts" (anyone who stays there is referred to as a host, as opposed to a guest), had been very involved with They were upset that the company has gone much more corporate and explained that BeWelcome was predominatley started by disenchanted couchsurfers. is now owned by one guy who had feigned an effort at collective engagement and then pushed people (like anu) out. It has increasingly focused on being a commercial operation and the people who use it are more mainstream, more focused on partying, more adverse to the elements of the network like hitchhiking.

A couple days into our stay at Casa Robino we decided to do some dumpsterdiving for the house. Dumpsterdiving in Amsterdam primarily involves going to one of the many daily street markets around closing time at 5 or 6pm, and picking through the conspicuous blue trash bins. In stark contrast to the US, vendors (in particular, the ones from Turkey or Morocco) will sometimes offer other food headed for the trash if they see you or if you ask nicely. At the market, we met up with with Lily and Mindy from the extended Casa Robino network. Lily is australian, traveling in euorope and working on a documentary about dumpster diving; Robin had put us in touch so that she could film us in action. We got a pretty good haul and then went back to Casa Robino to cook up a feast of liberated food. Paxus and Aisha (another dutch friend of Robins) joined us for dinner, and the evening's post-dinner conversations meandered back towards the politics of activism and hosting.

Aisha spoke passionatley about her frustrations with the rough edges of the anarchist squatting movement; she hopes to create an ashram and is not interested in the violent edge and constant uncertainty of squatting. Robin talked about his involvement with the spanish anarchist/squatters movement. He had lived and worked in Barcelona for 8 years, and left feeling very disillusioned. He recounting the story of an anarchist in a squat in Barcelona who threw himself to his death off a 5 story building. At the time, he asked, how could this happen in a community like this? This query led him to conclude that relationships are key to world transformation, including our relationship with ourselves. If we can't deal with the fucked up stuff in ourselves, how can we deal with it in the world? Casa Robino is an effort in this direction. The house is based on transforming the world through granting people unconditional trust; it operates on the principles of open space technology. People come in, get a set of keys, have access to the resources of the house, and they have transformative experiences. This possibility was palpable that evening. It was so amazing to feel total ownership over this kitchen and host a dinner party at a house we had just arrived at a few nights prior; deep satisfaction for one who yearns to root.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Day After

We went back to Christiania today to check out the destruction. But other than the lingering smell of tear gas at the main entrance and a patch of melted pavement where the bonfire had been, there wasn't much to be found.
We went for a long walk around the canal that cuts through the community and explored some of the quiet outer "neigborhoods." It was leafy and peaceful, far away from last night's madness.

We passed by the site of yesterday's house demolition. A bunch of people were around, rebuilding it already! the local news station was there, filming for tonights news.

One of my favorite parts of Christiania is the many public toilets.

show down at Christiania

Here is the article we posted on Indymedia; we arrived just in time with the camera. We are staying just down the street from Christiania, but don't worry mom, i'm not in any danger!

Tensions were high in Christiania Tuesday morning following the demolition of a residence in the free town. The incident is the latest in the ongoing struggle between Christiania and the Danish government. According to one resident, the eviction process resumes when the negotiations stall.

Following the demolition, groups of police continued to patrol the area while people from around the city congregated in Christiania. Around noon someone in Christiania shot a flare over a circling helicopter. Around 1pm approximatley 700 protesters, Christianits and supporters marched from the Christiansborg palace to Christiania. Things quieted in late afternoon, but by 7:30pm a large fire was burning in the intersection in front of the main Christiania entrance and police were blocking off traffic to the main road city road along Christiania.

Around 8:30pm police in riot gear pushed through the fire and the crowd with tear gas, moving the confrontation into Christiania and pushing onlookers back from the intersection. Fire trucks moved in to extinguish the flames. Throughout the confrontation there were loud booms, and cascading sparks from tear gas canisters and fireworks volleyed back and forth between police and protesters.

there's a good video from one of the local news networks, and one from earlier in the day

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

this is what democracy looks like

report from copenhagen:
we are spending out last few days staying with an x-christianite who lives very close to christiania (a large autonomous "free" zone/villiage within the city limits). last night we cooked dinner for for him and one of his housemates (quinoa w/roasted nuts, brussel sprouts, and a vegatable roast of carrots, potatoes and parsnips). Ditlev, our host, has his own businesses doing mediation and conflict resolution. he has no formal education in this (he used to be a carpenter), he just learned it living in christiania and working with group processes.

Yette, one of his housemates, works for a trade union and is a local politician. many years ago, she and some other people bought 2 ajoining houses and knocked out walls to make it a large open space for a collective. there are a few more walls now, but its still collectively owned and managed. Yette serves on denmark's version of city council--for copenhagen, a 55 person board that includes students and people of all walks of life. she represents the red-green party, a fusion of socialist and environmental parties. Their city council is similar to the national parliament in that it has proportional representation--so all parties must continuosly work together to create a critical mass for any particular piece of legislation. yette openly scoffed at our "democratic" 2 party system, and at the 9 month soap opera of election lead-up. hard to argue with that....

Monday, October 27, 2008

ain't she cute?

here's my mom in austin! in addition to being f'n adorable, she is an all around rock star. yay mom! thanks for everything!