[image of a half cauliflower standing propped up with a pencil]

Collective Propaganda, an Information Offensive for a New Society

The Call

This is a call for a national information offensive about squatted houses, social centers, and communes. CollProp is a traveling show. It moves amorphously, enacting itself through many venues, including DIY infoshops, academic campuses, and cultural institutions. Drawing first upon examples from the strong and presently embattled European movement, the CollProp initiative gathers up histories as it moves throughout the urban United States, showing and presenting, talking and discussing. CollProp is an educational machine intended to manufacture possibilities.

The Reasons

As the worlds’ governances gear up to deliver the planet’s dwindling resources to the rich, the poor must reassert common rights. Among these the right to space – land and buildings – is necessary for living, for social, economic and cultural enterprise, and for farming. How do the people secure it?

This project is an investigation into how this work is being done, and how it has been done in the past, throughout the United States of America.

Rents are raised and the rich reclaim the cities from the descendants of those who built them. The corrupt regimes of the early 21st century have normalized the seizure of formerly public housing and properties for commercial development through abuse of eminent domain. People now will do well to remember and revisit that most ancient of Euro-American traditions – squatting.

As suburbanites, orphaned from public transport by irresponsible sprawl development, face financial ruin, people will do well to remember the strategies of self-sufficient commune village neighborhoods past.

As impoverished academia bunkers up, and cultural institutions devote themselves entirely to the concerns of their monied patrons, the examples of the European social center movement point the way toward a recovery of vital space for working out our futures.

If we are to have the world we want, full of reasoned understanding, passionate creativity, and regular brilliant reinvention of green living, we must create the conditions under which it can arise. Collective action is the only way to invent a future that is not for sale.

-am, 6 25 08

Related texts by me: "Art Instrumentalized Must Be Utopian" -- catalogue essay for "Art in the Contested City," Pratt Institute, NYC

See also the website for "Just Spaces," organized by Ava Bromberg and friends in Los Angeles last year; it has a great bibliography.
the "Unhoused" blog (one of many), "creative engagement with global housing crises"
European Institue for Progressive Cultural Policy (EIPCP) "Monster Institutions" issue of Transversal, especially the essay on "Social Centres"
A wonderful DVD of an occupation of a building as a social center in the Madrid barrio of Lavapiés in the early ‘00s is “Laboratorio 3: ocupando el vacío.” It is subtitled in English and distributed by Traficantes de Sueños http://www.traficantes.net.