As you may already know, some of the squats in St. Louis received sad news earlier this month: eviction notices.
In case you’ve never had the chance to meet them in person, the houses are part of a six-and-a-half year old squatter community. Some of them are quite small and others quite large. Always with the desire to push ourselves in terms of what we thought we were capable of, we created an orchard, vegetable and medicinal herb gardens, an outdoor movie theater, and a wood-working studio in the squatted houses and surrounding lots. Three years ago we started a social space, A Boulder on the Tracks, which itself is the base for benefits, reading groups, discussions, parties, shows, a pamphlet and book distro, a lending library and a weekly food-sharing with our friends and neighbors. An apothecary and darkroom are near completion. A bathhouse/ observatory (bathervatory) is often dreamed about.
When the squats first started, we tried our best to make them our homes: well-rehabbed, coming and going openly and keeping more than just a few belongings and a mattress there. We’ve given so much of ourselves emotionally, mentally, physically and materially over the years (though relatively nothing monetarily), and gotten so much back in return. They’ve inspired unknown numbers of other squats locally, regionally and nationally.
Practically, the houses have met so many of our needs – housing, friendship, and a space to experiment: what it means to live collectively while also keeping a sense of our individuality, a place to sharpen our knives, and a setting to learn how to care for each other better. Materially, they’ve relieved so much of the drudgery of money, and, in that, some of the constraints of work, externally imposed self-discipline, and the deferment of our day-to-day dreams. They’ve also managed to out-live other precarious living situations (jesus, how many times does one normally have to move in six and a half years?), and have functioned as a place for friends who’ve suddenly needed a place to stay or needed to leave an unsafe environment.
The squats have also pitted us against Paul McKee, may he never know love or fulfillment, and his ilk. Their kind has more than once boarded up the houses and called them unlivable – what a complete and total inversion of the world if there ever was one! We return the condemnation a million-fold against this city, this country and this world. We hate and pity McKee’s kind for seeing money, profit, property and an obstacle – not lives shared amongst friends and comrades – when they look at our homes.
By most accounts, what started out as a small experiment hoping to last a month (maybe three if we were lucky) has been quite a success.
Those of you who have gotten to experience the squats – knowing full well they would someday end – have probably secretly thought to yourself, “but maybe they won’t…” Well, maybe.
Over the next month we’re planning a smorgasbord of parties and events – to mourn, celebrate and scheme. If you aren’t able to come, remember: love isn’t so much a feeling, but an action.
Greetings to fellow squatters in California, Spain, Greece, Russia and anywhere else comrades are living in contest liberated space.
For us here, this is only the beginning.