Let’s defend the autonomous space “Les Tanneries”
After nearly 9 years of existence, the squatted autonomous space “Les Tanneries” (in Dijon, France) is being threatened by a private medical pole, secretely planned by the city council.
Without any public consultation, but with the typical secrecy that goes with electoral periods when it comes to hot topics, the “socialist” city council of Dijon is taking decisions that could lead to the end of the autonomous space “Les Tanneries”, a self-managed political, social, cultural centre that was squatted in 1998, and has since become an important node for anarchist organizing and radical activism throughout France and Europe. Needless to mention that we won’t let the council carry out their plans!
We knew since the beginning that we would have to maintain a permanent vigilence, despise the no-eviction agreement we obtained from the council in 2002, after years of fighting. Early March 2007, after hearing insistant rumours about threatening projects, we got in touch with the council, asking for explanations. In spite of repeated queries by mail and telephone, we were denied any answer. Two days ago, we got the confirmation, from a trustworthy but unofficial source, that the city council had sent a written proposal to the Â«Â GnÃ©rale de SantÃ©Â Â», offering the whole piece of land where our space is located, for the construction of a 25 acres wide private medical pole by 2009.
While public healthcare services are being threatened by neo-liberal strategies of privatising in Europe, will the Dijon city council encourage a “two gears” health system?
Does it want to contribute to the monopoly of the biggest european private health transnational (1.741 billion euros of profit in 2006, controled by Vivendi to 10% and american pension funds) by offering a ground that is close to the city centre, almost in front of the public hospital? The «Generale de Sante» would thus seize this great occasion to close its proximity hospitals, rather than renovating them.
Despite its propaganda for “participative democracy”, the city council hasn’t asked us, nor anyone else from the neighbourhood, before concluding the deal which not only threatens us, but will also decide upon the future of a whole part of town.
# Why support «Les Tanneries» loud and clear?
The council’s policies are already threatening the independant theater “L’Eldorado”, as well as the squat called “Le Toboggan”. By planning to shut down “Les Tanneries”, it will ostensibly confirm that the so-called “socialist” party wants France to be a police state without places of resistance, experimentation and popular culture.
“Les Tanneries” hosts a concert hall for do it yourself bands and miscellaneous performances, a housing collective and some anarchist affinity groups, a hacklab for developping free software and running alternative servers, a free-shop, a space for mecanics and a bike-repair workshop, rehearsal rooms and silc-screening facilities, a meeting space, an organic garden, an alternative media center, a squatters’ helpdesk, a library, diverse ecological constructions, dozens of collectives, associations, local and international networks that use the space to organise gigs, infonights, actions, skill-shares, meetings and projects…
While public cultural spaces run with the help of huge grants, and private ones thanks to businesses and sponsors, hundreds of people come weekly to “Les Tanneries” to create a truly independent culture and indulge into all kinds of activities for free, or on a “sliding-scale” financial support basis. So as to preserve its freedom, “Les Tanneries” has always been ran without any kind of subsidees, nor any employees.
In a country where self-managed structures are almost always repressed and therefore fragile, “Les Tanneries” is one of the very few long lasting project of this kind. Hence it has become a ressourceful place and a crucial part of an autonomous, activist and counter-cultural scene in Europe.
“Les Tanneries” is about putting radical social views into practice, and about providing tools for one another to confront their ideas. We try to cross the borders between our “personnal lives” and the “political world”, and attempt at organizing in formal horizontal fashion, against authoritarian and hierarchical structures.
We want to build things ourselves and change our lives, by challenging domination, racism, sexism and homophobia, in the streets, as much as within our walls. Most importantly, we want to do it now, rather than wait for whichever D day.
However, “Les Tanneries” doesn’t want to be a “nice and friendly” alternative that wouldn’t shove too violently established powers, nor does it want to be some tolerated folklorical zoo, that would prove the democratical goodwill of council leaders. We’re here to struggle and change the world, naturally!
Still, we don’t fantasize about standing on the fringe of society. Contrary to the cynical mainstream political norm, experiences such as ours are showing it is possible to practically challenge capitalism and authority, far from electoral speeches. Throughout its existence, “Les Tanneries” has proved that it is not only realistic, but also really relevant to self-organise without institutions. We also believe we’ve shown it was not just the delirious utopy of a bunch of youth that will change its mind when they grow older.
“Les Tanneries”, just like all these places standing against the world surrounding them, is unique in its kind, and bound to the history of so many. It sprang out of the dreams, collusions and affinities, encounters and combativity of hundreds of people. Carved within its walls, are the joys and angers, the rages and passions, the adventures and emotions of several generations.
# Our project can’t be moved nor destroyed;
# it must stay in the neighbourhood!
Whatever the new city-planning for the neighbourhood might be, we will struggle to preserve what we’ve been building here for ten years and ensure the project as a whole can all carry on. It is perfectlt possible, considering how much space is available around “Les Tanneries”. With a real political will from the city-hall, suitable technical solutions can be found.
Thanks to support from the population, and thanks to the series of pressure actions that were lead throughout 5 years, “Les Tanneries” got an end to city harassment in 2002. Four years later, we’re ready to start fighting again to defend this place and build a new network of resistance based upon the contacts, experiences and complicities that were made throughout the time. Not only is “Les Tanneries” deeply-rooted locally, but it is also part of a larger community, whose affinities know no borders. Be it through support actions around the world, or by coming to “Les Tanneries” to phusically defend the place against eviction, we expect that extended family to mobilize with us!
Let’s hope leaders will keep in mind the long days and nights of demonstrating and rioting that paralysed the Danish capital those last weeks, as well as the number of radical actions that happened all over Europe in support of our friends of Ungdomshuset. Just like theirs, our struggle is a global fight for self-organised spaces and nodes of subversion to carry on and extend all over Europe.
We will win, thanks to any kinds of protest initiative you can take… be it big or small. All types of solidarity actions are encouraged. The least you can do, right now, is to write to Dijon’s city-hall to say that you wish for “Les Tanneries” to carry on existing where it is. If you want to be informed of support actions and demonstrations, send us your e-mail or phone number at tanneries at squat dot net.
We’ll defend, we’ll resist. Parce qu’on a la rage!
Dijon, March 24th 2007, Espace autogéré des Tanneries,
tanneries at squat dot net