Nantes: what future for the Maison du Peuple?

After a year of hard work, the Maison du Peuple was able to meet its challenge: a place open to all, capable of accommodating those who needed it unconditionally. Hundreds of people, families with children in difficulty have found a place to rebuild (education for children, unconditional support by the State, etc.). But also to offer a meeting and gathering place to the inhabitants of the city, to set up solidarity actions, to let artistic and sports talents (painting, visual arts, music, dance, etc.) flourish. And yet, this place of life and mutual aid is now threatened with eviction.

There are many reasons for this: the Maison du Peuple is a squat and does not, moreover, meet the safety standards that would allow it to be a permanent place of accommodation. It does not matter that the Maison du Peuple was able to safely accommodate homeless people at the time of confinement: it must close! Supported by various associations of all faiths, the leaseholders found themselves obliged to disassociate themselves from the silence of the public authorities. The work that would have made it possible to rehabilitate the premises was not undertaken despite repeated requests.

It must be said that the People’s House is a mess: people live there without any formalities and without having to meet any requirements, apart from the elementary rules of politeness and cohabitation. One meets there without being registered in an official associative register. One exhibits one’s works without having been validated by a committee.
The Maison du Peuple is the weed that grows in the middle of the beautiful, well-kept gardens of the city of Nantes. But this weed has a charm: that of being alive. Solidarity is not planned: it is sincere. It is respected in its singularity. For the Maison du Peuple does not claim to be a partner of the State that would manage social misery: it does not impose its codes and hierarchy on those who find themselves excluded from the system. It does not concern itself with charity because its concern is for dignity. Therefore, we will not find portraits of migrants with their eyes extinguished, humbly thanking the humanitarian organizations who have deigned to help them. We will only find degenerate art, protest, marginality. In short, of life, of people. And this is perhaps what disturbs us.

The recent anti-squat law is a disturbing symptom for the future of these places of life. In the Pays de la Loire region, we note with amazement the violent reaction of state power. Evictions are taking place at lightning speed. This week alone, the Embassy in Nantes, La Commune in Rezé, and the Village du Peuple in Donges were dislodged by order of the prefecture. The Maison du Peuple is in the spotlight.

There is great concern, especially since it seems that the municipalities have not been notified, suggesting unilateral action on the part of the state powers. With winter approaching and the health crisis having been declared once again, how can we not fear a further disaster in a context of economic crisis where the most vulnerable would be deprived of vital solidarity?

In such a context of social crisis, we are seriously questioning our future. Our hand remains outstretched, the discussion open. Only yesterday, the associations that hold the lease for the Collège du Bon-Conseil – Les Eaux Vives, Secours Catholique and Une Famille un Toit – asked the question to the Nantes City Hall. Would the municipality know how to carry the lease? Will it guarantee the electricity contract? Does it want a Maison du Peuple in its community?

In a recent article in Le Monde dated Thursday, October 8th 2020, Johanna Rolland reiterated her campaign commitment to promoting a stronger citizen dialogue. She confided her willingness to invent a new model of life for the city, through innovative forms of engagement, so that Nantes remains a model on a European scale. With its teams and in collaboration with its partners, will it be able to use its right of pre-emption to ensure the sustainability of this place to live? Will we be able to imagine together the forms of this “unattainable” that it is hoping and praying for?

Circumstances demand it. The Maison du Peuple responds present and without detours to the seriousness of the times. In his encyclical of October 3rd – Fratelli Tutti – Pope Francis recalled the contemporary misery to which we are witnesses. Like him, we are moved by “The conviction regarding the common destination of the goods of the earth must also apply today to countries, their territories and their resources.

Considering all this not only from the point of view of the legitimacy of private property and the rights of the citizens of a given nation, but also from the first principle of the common destination of goods, we can then affirm that each country is also that of the stranger, since the resources of a territory must not be denied to a needy person from elsewhere. »

We ask the sympathizers, collectives and associations to stand by from October 16th to prevent a cruel eviction of women, children, men, families, of all ages and origins, just a few days away from the winter truce and without consideration for their lives.

The collective of occupation.

La Maison du Peuple
17 rue du Chapeau Rouge, 44000 Nantes, France
mdp-nantes [at] riseup [dot] net

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