Welcome to Part 8 of our series, “A Radical Guide to Building Resilient Communities.” We publish a new installment each day, delving into practical ideas and real-life examples of how individuals and communities can incorporate anarchist principles into their daily lives. Anarchist principles encompass mutual aid, voluntary cooperation, direct action, and decentralization. To fully grasp the concepts discussed, please read the previous posts in the series.
In the final installment of our series on building resilient communities by applying anarchist principles, we explore the role of autonomous social centers and infoshops. These spaces provide a platform for anarchist culture, activism, and education, promoting alternative values and fostering community empowerment. In this post, we will discuss the importance of these spaces, highlight examples of successful projects from around the world, and provide suggestions for creating or supporting such initiatives in your community, including collaboration with other community organizations.
The Importance of Autonomous Social Centers and Infoshops
Autonomous social centers and infoshops are hubs for anarchist culture and activism, providing resources and spaces for community-building, skill-sharing, and political engagement. These spaces often host a variety of activities, such as workshops, lectures, film screenings, and art exhibitions, which promote critical thinking, creativity, and mutual aid. These spaces embody core anarchist values and contribute to developing resilient communities by operating outside traditional hierarchies and emphasizing self-organization.
Examples of Successful Autonomous Social Centers and Infoshops
There are numerous examples of successful autonomous social centers and infoshops around the world, showcasing the potential of these spaces to facilitate community empowerment and social change:
- The 1in12 Club in Bradford, UK: A collectively run social center that provides a space for political and cultural events and resources such as a library, recording studio, and vegan cafe.
- The Long Haul in Berkeley, California, USA: An infoshop and community center that hosts meetings, workshops, and other events, while also providing resources like a radical lending library, zine archive, and free internet access.
- The Centro de Cultura Libertária in Almada, Portugal: An anarchist cultural center that organizes workshops, debates, film screenings, and art exhibitions to foster critical thinking and promote social change.
- The Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC) in Montreal, Canada: A collective space where activists and community members engage in discussions, workshops, and direct actions against capitalism and other forms of oppression.
Creating and Supporting Autonomous Social Centers and Infoshops
Research existing spaces: Look for autonomous social centers, infoshops, or other similar projects in your area, and consider how you might support their efforts or collaborate with them.
Organize events: Host workshops, film screenings, discussions, or other events that align with anarchist values and promote community engagement. Utilize existing spaces or partner with other community organizations to secure a venue.
Start your project: If no such spaces exist in your community, consider starting your autonomous social center or Infoshop. Begin by assembling a group of like-minded individuals, and work together to secure a location, gather resources, and plan events.
Collaboration with Other Community Organizations
Working with other community organizations can provide valuable resources, networks, and support for autonomous social centers and infoshops. Collaborative efforts can help overcome funding, legal issues, and community acceptance. Here are some tips for successful collaboration:
- Identify shared values and goals: Look for organizations with similar objectives and values, such as environmental, social justice, or community development groups. Establishing common ground can make it easier to collaborate on projects and events.
- Communicate openly: Maintain open lines of communication and involve all partners in decision-making processes to ensure that everyone’s needs and perspectives are considered.
- Share resources: Pool resources, such as funding, materials, and expertise, to minimize costs and maximize the impact of your projects.
- Promote each other’s work: Use your networks to raise awareness of your partners’ projects and events, and encourage them to do the same for your organization. This helps build a broader community of support.
Examples of successful collaborations:
- The 1in12 Club in Bradford has worked with local environmental and social justice groups to host joint events and fundraisers, expanding their reach and impact within the community.
- The Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC) in Montreal has collaborated with Indigenous organizations and labor unions on campaigns against neoliberal policies and resource extraction, highlighting the interconnected nature of their struggles.
Share resources and knowledge: Contribute to the growth and sustainability of autonomous social centers and infoshops by sharing your skills, time, or resources with these projects.
By creating or supporting autonomous social centers and infoshops and fostering collaboration with other community organizations, you can contribute to developing spaces that embody anarchist principles and promote community empowerment, resilience, and social change.