The Sp(a)ce* Grand Opening
May Day 2015
On May 1st, 2015, Carpe Locus Collective hosted a celebration of the grand opening of the Sp(a)ce, a new anarchist community center in so-called Phoenix. For over a year, Carpe Locus Collective has worked on building and fostering anarchist projects around the Valley that build power from below and demonstrate horizontal leadership and empowerment beyond capitalism.
Throughout all of our successes and failures, our over-arching goal was always to see an anarchist space created to strengthen the bonds of the radical community and build infrastructure for future projects of our own, and those of other comrades. We raised funds, visited available spaces, and attempted negotiations with many shady landlords, but none of the spaces we found seemed like a perfect fit.
In early 2015, our comrade Bill reached out to us about a house he owned in the Coronado neighborhood of downtown Phoenix. Due to serious health concerns, he had been unable to live in the home for several years, and was receiving notices from the city that he would be fined soon if the yard was not cleaned up considerably. He asked if members of Carpe Locus would be able to help with the yard, and offered to make a donation to the collective's projects.
Over the next several weekends, collective members and other radical comrades worked hard to cut down dead trees, remove palm fronds, and haul out hundreds of pounds of trash from scavengers who had broken into a backyard shed and scattered the contents. When we met up with Bill afterwards, he brought up that he had always wanted to move back into the house eventually, and use the front rooms as an infoshop. Carpe Locus offered to clean up the inside of the house and make it hospitable again for our respected comrade, and create an anarchist community space out of it for as long as he felt that he wanted to share his home.
We set the ambitious goal of cleaning out the space in only three weeks, so that we could open with a party on May Day. The house had not been inhabited for several years, and it had been broken into several times, with extensive damage to personal items and furniture. Although the power was still turned on, most light fixtures were inoperable, and the outdated breaker box was heavily overloaded. In spite of that, we were so excited to get started that we did our first tour of the inside lit by phone flashlights. Every room in the house was buried under at least two feet of debris and trash, and in one room, the trash was almost four feet high. We introduced ourselves to the neighbors, posted open work parties, and rolled up our sleeves.
We immediately sank the donation money we had into a 40yd dumpster; by the end of the clean-up, we had filled two of them. Due to a broken pipe, we had no running water at the house, but a generous neighbor allowed us to use her hose. For three weeks, we spent every single day at the Sp(a)ce, and were inspired by the amount of people who came by to help. We finished shoveling out all of the trash in only one week, thanks to all of the volunteers and a generous donation for a second dumpster. We pulled out old, broken appliances and were given a free stove and very new fridge. Gallons of paint, cleaning supplies, furniture... everything we needed was donated. Every night, we had people working past midnight. Every day, they came back in the heat of the day and did it again.
This is the most affirming project we have ever been involved in. As anarchists, we set out to demonstrate that human beings are capable of amazing and inspiring things when they are part of an intentional community built around common goals. The overwhelming response and support of this project went beyond what we even hoped was possible. Our greatest success is that there have been so many people who recognize that this Sp(a)ce is theirs to build from, and ideas and new projects are being shared with us almost every day. Our challenge now is to expand our own capacity to handle the infrastructure of such a large project, and we will be sharing details throughout the next few weeks.
And yes- we partied on May Day. Almost one hundred people came through the opening night of the Sp(a)ce. Wonderful local musicians performed an acoustic show in the backyard, children played in the kidspace, neighbors visited and we all ate and talked and played music late into the night. This space will not be perfect. It will not always be what we wish it to be, but it will be ours together-
and we will work on it side by side.
Update Blog from the Clean-up
UPDATED: April 21st, 2015
We held a Town Hall on April 19th to invite neighbors and comrades to come see the newly clean and empty Sp(a)ce, and discuss their ideas, projects and concerns. It was great to be able to open the doors to folks. The projects discussed were:
- mutual aid groups (mental health, addiction, parenting, etc)
- community gardening in the front yard and back yard
- free store with open access to everyone
- meeting space for activist groups and events
- community service opportunities from legal issues
- free anarchist lending library
- open computers with free wifi
- co-op printshop
- open kitchen to assist Food Not Bombs & other food distribution groups
- skate ramp in the backyard
- murals by local artists
- tutoring for local students
- childcare co-op
- street medic training (for medical professionals and non-professionals)
- monthly free mobile health clinic
- art workshop and screenprinting
- intergenerational workshops and classes
We are also very excited to get involved in existing Coronado neighborhood projects, such as the Little Free Libraries (12 in the hood!), front porch music festivals, community garden, stray animal rescue group, communal tool shed, cultural festivals, etc. The support from the new neighbors has been inspiring. We can't wait to be one of the things that makes Coronado a great place to be!
UPDATE: April 7th, 2015
Over a year ago, Carpe Locus Collective came together to help one another organize the types of projects we wanted to see happening in the Valley. Since then, we've founded and worked on many projects that we're proud of, but our fundamental goal has been to open an anarchist community space. Several of us have been involved with radical spaces in other cities, and have seen how much can grow from strong radical infrastructure.
Through the generosity of a comrade, we have acquired a Space that we hope can foster and grow more projects, ideas, and relationships. The Space is located in the Coronado neighborhood in Downtown Phoenix, has a large backyard for shows and a community garden, an indoor space for meetings, a community kitchen, a free store, a radical lending library, a childcare collective, and so many of the other projects we've dreamt up while we've worked alongside one another. Though it will take a lot of hard work between then and now, we hope that with our combined efforts, the Space can be opened officially on May Day. We anticipate that we will be spending the evening of May 1st partying and celebrating our opening, and that weekend holding an open house for our new neighborhood.
In order to meet the goal of opening on May 1st, we will be having work parties over the next few weeks. The Space will need a lot of hard work and help from the community before we can open the doors. We will post a list of helpful donations and skills needed on carpelocus.org, as well as dates/times for work parties.
The best part of organizing as Carpe Locus has been the relationships we've built with each other and the diverse group of radicals that we've connected to through our projects. We hope that you all feel encouraged to make this YOUR space, and take an active role in its formation into a center that will grow to meet the needs of our community.