Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Other places to occupy

San Francisco activists, including some Occupy SF people, moved an evicted homeowner, Carolyn Craig, back into her house yesterday.

Other hints are appearing online that the Occupy movement is looking at indoor spaces. Anyway it's inevitable. There's winter. There's a glut of indoor space that's vacant, not for lack of demand, but from economic absurdity. James Miller, who has written from bitter personal experience about the dream-deferred splintering of SDS, talked to the SF Chron a few days go about the movement moving indoors as a matter of course. The interesting question for him is instead, "Who ends up taking control of this Occupy idea?"

Moving the movement indoors doesn't have to mean squatting or trespassing or other illicit choices. In fact, the most exciting political ideas for vacant indoor space involve overt, legal, nothing-to-hide forms of organized neighborliness.

Here are a few ideas, none original here, all with serious mainstream-cred thinkers behind them, that could seriously work: Political pressure on owners to open empty buildings in return for the valuable service of keeping them heated and maintained. Creative use of foreclosed spaces purchased at auction. Activist campaigns to reduce mortgage debt. Community lending efforts to help people refinance high-interest mortgages with their neighbors' help. Expanded use of existing pay-it-forward models like community land trusts.

So many good ideas in the air. Just for example, see this especially readable Greider column about the economic as well as moral advantages of debt jubilee.

Because, yes, after a while it doesn't make sense to be lodging in public when there's indoor space sitting ready to be used.

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