Monday, March 9, 2009
If the anarchists who populate Lawrence’s Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library felt like rubbing it in, they might well stand on the roof and yell, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!”
But there’s much more to Solidarity than ideological opposition to the capitalist system. Solidarity volunteers also run community gardens, help the homeless, organize alternative libraries, publish newsletters and distribute then in prisons nationwide, screen independent films and host concerts, offer free Spanish classes, and generally get way more accomplished in a day than could be expected of the average American.
On March 15, Solidarity will move from 1109 Mass. (next to It’s Brothers) to 13 E. 8th Street (next to the Sandbar). The bad news is that people will still be puking on their doorstep; the good news is that they’ll still do all the cool things they’ve always done – and then some.
On March 15, Solidarity will move from 1109 Mass. (next to It’s Brothers) to 13 E. 8th Street (next to the Sandbar). The bad news is that people will still be puking on their doorstep; the good news is that they’ll still do all the cool things they’ve always done ...
Collective members Liz Sanko and Tyler Davis joined us to discuss the impending move and the importance of Solidarity in times of recession and bailout.
lawrence.com: Do you feel a sense of vindication to see that some of the things that you’ve been shouting about (capitalism, big government) are being exposed as faulty systems?
Tyler: Definitely … Anarchists and radicals of all stripes have been saying for a long time that the system is not sustainable. You have Greenspan saying that we’re just going to keep on going and the bubble is not going to burst. Do we really think that radicals knew more than The Oracle himself? Probably not. All these people knew it was coming, but they spent our futures on Lear jets and happy times.
It is kind of vindicating, but it also really sucks that this is where we’re at. It’s taking things like this to make people realize that we aren’t doing as well as we thought we were.
Liz: I think we’re realizing that there’s a long road ahead of us. The Lawrence community in general is struggling to house the homeless community. There’s not enough space available and they’re closing the Salvation Army. People are getting their houses repossessed and losing their jobs at an alarming rate. The state employees almost didn’t get paid one day. This is a very serious consequence, and we’re all trying to think what we’re going to do to address these problems.
What are we going to do?
Tyler: We’re losing the infrastructure that we have to deal with homelessness, and nothing’s coming in the wake of that. It’s scary to think that we’re putting more cops on the streets but we’re not fixing the infrastructure that we need to take care of people…
Liz: To be more positive, I think we are seeing some wonderful things coming up. I read an article about a lady in her 60s in Minnesota who was organizing a group of individuals who were losing their houses …
Tyler: Look at people who are starting their own gardens and raising chickens at home, because that’s what the economic situation is really going to be calling for … People are going to get rid of their gym memberships and start using the free spaces that we have in our communities. They’re going to stop going to Borders every day and start using the public libraries.
Have you noticed more people taking advantage of Solidarity’s resources as the economy gets worse?
Tyler: A couple years ago, it was basically just people from Solidarity working in the community gardens. This last meeting it was like 3 people from Solidarity and 15 people who were just from East Lawrence and had seen the flyers … I think we’re seeing a lot more people who didn’t used to be involved who are now doing it out of necessity.
Is the recession affecting Solidarity?
Liz: We’ve done really well for being a donation-run space; every month we manage to come up with some money somehow. We had a three-year lease for the space that we were in and we wanted to move to a different location. Initially we wanted a bigger space so that we could house more projects, but we were mostly interested in getting a cheaper space.
Donations have slowed down considerably. I think it’s really hard for the community-at-large that may be seeing harder times to want to just give money away. For that reason we are looking into other ways to get money by providing more community services like cheap haircuts and bike and computer repair – things that people need done anyway but will be a great money-saver for them in the long run. People don’t have to pay $100 to have their computer fixed up; they can just have Tyler do it for $5 to $10!