A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
{Info on A-Infos}


From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 30 Jun 2003 08:51:14 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

These are a few ideas which are open to being added to, changed,
and adapted to reflect the needs of particular communities.
Despite the efforts of politicians and professionals to lump
together working class communities as problem areas to be
policed, those of us who live in these communities often see things
differently. For us the problems we encounter daily are often not of
our own making. Poverty, inadequate housing and crime are
problems that come with the way society is structured. By taking
control of our own communities, and deciding for ourselves how
we should manage them, we are not only getting rid of the
parasites who cause our problems but also starting on the path to
a new type of society where each of us can be free to live our lives
as we choose.


This is action to benefit all of us living in the community not simply
those with the loudest voice, the more threatening manner or the
most money. Some of the ideas may seem unrealistic at first
glance, but most of them have worked in one form or another

Some principles of community action:

The people who live in a community are the ones who know best
when it comes to improving that community.

Organisation in communities can only benefit all residents if it is
from the base upwards. Beginning with the individual, household,
street and outward to the wider community.

All residents, from the youngest to the oldest, should be
encouraged to offer their opinions and solutions. Some people
may feel intimidated or frightened by the idea of speaking in
community assemblies. Alternatives such as written contributions
or a clearly acknowledged advocate could be a way of
encouraging people to participate while their confidence grows. If
certain people choose not to participate that is their decision and
should be respected.

Even the most well meaning of community workers, social workers,
and other professionals to be found in our communities are
working to an agenda set for them. If they live in the community
then they should participate as individuals with their own, and the
communities, best interests at heart.

Activists, be they anarchist or otherwise, who endorse community
action and wish to participate by moving into a community should
do so with the long term interests of that community in mind, and
not selfish temporary lifestylism. They are there to help empower,
not to dominate or exist as a group separate from the community.


A community meeting place is essential to any community
transformation. This kind of social centre can act as the focal point
for community action, bringing together all groups within the
community in a safe space. To be able to do this the centre should
ideally be located in a central position where the community can
easily access it, but also difficult to access for those, like the
police, who are likely to threaten the community from outside. In
the early stages of action chances are an ideal location will be
difficult to find. Using empty or unused buildings (see HOUSING
below) is the perfect opportunity to show what is possible.
Accurate information about the legality of reclaiming property
should be distributed as widely as possible. Not just in libraries,
waiting rooms, union offices, busses, trains, but also through local
free sheets and internet/intranet forums. The sharing of
information and experience should be seen as another essential
part of any community action.

As well as being a meeting place the centre or centres could also
act as a community resource and distribution point (see
DISTRIBUTION & RE-DISTRIBUTION below). A few examples,
amongst many, are a community food co-op, a swap shop and a
practical resource centre where people can share their practical
hands-on experience with others.


Community assemblies are the forums where local decisions are
made, decisions that have a direct impact on the whole community.
While the obvious areas of decision making are likely to be things
such as transport, housing, crime, social care etc., as
self-management develops in the community other issues such as
what types of workplaces the community wants are likely to
become more pressing. The more people realise they can manage
their own communities the more likely they are to realise they can
also self-manage their workplaces.

The form of assemblies is likely to be dictated by the size and
geography of a community. However it should be argued that one
overiding principle of the assembly is that anyone who has
something to say is allowed the time to do that. Likewise if the
meeting is to be structured then the role of chairperson should be
rotated to ensure the assembly is not dominated by any one
person or group. People who have no experience of this type of
meeting should be encouraged to become actively involved.

While, ideally people would attend assemblies in person, in reality
this may not always be possible. The use of community radio and
local intranets are some examples of how assembly proceedings
could be relayed to people in real-time. Local internet systems
could work particularly well, allowing people to feed back their
views directly to an assembly.


Poor housing, shoddy repairs, lack of choice and long waiting lists
are some of the issues faced by working class people. Rather than
appealing to landlords to improve things another option is to
create resident action groups. These can be independent groups
rather than the resident/tenant groups set up by landlords. Using
forms of direct action to highlight issues around housing is a move
away from appealing for help towards empowering people to
demand something is done. This sort of politicisation of a
community can be seen as the first stage. Once a community
begins to organise for itself then the options for other ways of
organising housing and repairs for themselves is a step closer.
The use of rent/mortgage strikes is one way residents could begin
to flex their collective muscle (see COMMUNITY DEFENSE

Reclaiming empty or unused buildings is another strategy that
could be used to practically address the lack of housing in a
community. Rather than relying on landlords to allocate property
those who need it should be encouraged to recover and make use
of empty buildings. Information on the legal issues could be made
widely available, and the sharing of the skills needed to
successfully reclaim a building could be one of the things on offer
at the social centre.


Creating a community food co-op is one way of not only bonding a
community, but also a positive way of offering good, affordable
food and other goods. In the early stages this would probably
involve the co-op buying goods directly from fruit and veg
markets, from wholesalers or directly from the producers ie.
farmers. While the production of all the goods a community needs
is unlikely to be done locally, the growing of fruit and vegetables is
one thing that could be produced in the community.

Wasteland and other unused land could be reclaimed by the
community and seeded for popular small-scale food production.
It's likely the skills needed in growing food are already present in a
community with people who already enjoy tending to their
gardens, growing their own food etc.

As local authorities seem intent on selling off land currently used
by schools and nurseries etc., a community moving onto this land
and using the play grounds or playing fields for other uses such as
food production is a way of people not only spoiling a local
councils plans, but also directly benefiting themselves.


Creating new methods of distribution is essential if a community is
to effectively manage itself. The distribution of locally produced
food via a free-shop is one way of achieving this. Other goods that
are not produced locally will need other methods of distribution.
The idea of swap-shops, where people can take items they no
longer use and look for items they need is one method of
re-distribution which is practical and simple to organise; a bring
and buy without the use of money.

Another method of distribution is a 'tool pool' where essential
community items can be shared as and when they're needed. This
could start with the items needed for producing food locally, and
then spread to other items the community decides would be best
distributed in this way. For example local transport, such as bikes,
is one area where the idea of a 'pool' has worked before.

The distribution of information is another area where local and
direct community alternatives can work effectively. The facility to
create local news sheets is now available to anyone with access to
a computer. Experiments in 'pirate' and activist radio stations have
also begun to make the idea of local community radio stations a
reality. Likewise experiments in linking communities via a
community intranet show the possibilties for further distributing


Communities are, of course, made up of individuals with a whole
variety of different health and social needs. In the early stages of a
community managing itself most of the medical needs will still
require people using medical facilities outside of the local area.

There are however some areas of social care which people can
organise for themselves. One example of this could be a local
meals service, where those who are unable to cook for themselves
have meals cooked for them at the social centre and delivered by
volunteers. Another idea is for street volunteers who agree to take
responsibility for checking that people in their street or building
who are housebound are okay. Some of these ideas for social care
are just common sense things that people already do for each
other now. In other cases it's a matter of building on the care
networks that have always existed in working class communities.

Childcare is another area where care networks are often already in
place. Extended families have often shared childcare
responsibilities in working class communities. Crèches and
after-school groups are an area where those with young children
can organise for themselves, involving people they know and trust.


Most, but not all, crime is a result of the type of society we live in
now. Inequality breeds crime while the police feed off it. In
encouraging a community to self-manage one of the essential
requirements is that those who feed off crime, the police, are
dispensed with, and community alternatives developed.

The use of mediation, someone independent bringing together the
aggrieved parties, is one way of dealing with community disputes
which is becoming more popular. The use of mediation could be
extended to include other anti-social behaviour. Initially, however,
persistent anti-social behaviour like drug dealing, loan sharking
etc. is likely to require a more direct community approach. This
could take the form of those affected joining together to inform the
person or people that they are not wanted in the community and
should leave. A community united in condemning anti-social
behaviour can be a powerful deterrent. Where the people involved
are known to be violent or carrying weapons then a less direct, but
equally confrontational approach may be taken. It's certainly not
unknown for the likes of drug dealers and loan sharks to trip over
balconies in working class communities. It's not a pleasant
thought, but sometimes the misery and suffering inflicted by these
individuals' forces people to more extreme solutions.

While the help of professional mediators may be welcomed in a
community, many of the skills needed for mediation could already
be there in the community. People who have brought up a family,
with all its problems, are the perfect example of this.

If a community decides they would feel safer with people checking
on certain trouble-spots then a possible solution is for a street to
organise a rota of residents who would feel comfortable in doing
that. Perhaps each night a different person from each street could
get together with, say six others from neighbouring streets, until
any trouble calms down. Taking the dog for a walk, and helping
your community!


Community defence is about people in a community joining
together to collectively deal with politically motivated attacks on
them themselves. If a community decides to organise a rent or
mortgage strike then it's likely that landlords and banks will
employ bailiffs and police to try to disrupt it. A good example of the
type of community defence that could be used here is the anti-poll
tax groups who defended people in the community when they were
threatened by bailiffs.

As a community grows in confidence, and starts to assert its own
self-management not only in the community but in workplaces
then more particular forms of community/workplace defence are
likely to be discussed and decided on.

Community Anarchist Discussion & Solidarity Zone

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
COMMANDS: lists@ainfos.ca
REPLIES: a-infos-d@ainfos.ca
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
WWW: http://www.ainfos.ca/
INFO: http://www.ainfos.ca/org

-To receive a-infos in one language only mail lists@ainfos.ca the message:
unsubscribe a-infos
subscribe a-infos-X
where X = en, ca, de, fr, etc. (i.e. the language code)

A-Infos Information Center