We Commune

We Commune is an online service that let’s you create an online space for a commune, which the website defines as a group of people with shared goals and interests.

The difference with other online services that let you create a social network, as Ning, are the more action oriented features, like a project management tool, and other features aimed to encourage sharing and exchanging services between commune members.

The platform is politically and socially agnostic, although some features indicate some preference for sharing and non-commercial relationships. It could be useful for starting groups and communities that don’t want to lose momentum or spend much time setting up a website, although self-hosted, free, open source alternatives are always preferable, to maintain control of data and information.

Art & Craft Projects & Ideas

Radical Cross Stitch

Radical Cross Stitch is an australian blog and wiki dedicated to political DIY craft, with the aim to create a community for this kind of projects.

What we are underutilising is the potential for crafts to express our rage at the stupidity of the world, demonstrate our vision for how to do things better and at the same time honour our mothers, grandmothers and great-great-great grandmothers. Women (and men) are rarely getting together to create community based craft projects designed to express a creative vision for a better world.

News & Media Projects & Ideas

Media Squat

Media Squat is a radio show in WFMU hosted by Doublas Rushkoff, author of the book Life Incorporated.

This participatory radio show – now called The Media Squat – looks at both sides of Life Incorporated: how life has been literally “incorporated” by business and economics, and how can we incorporate LIFE back into our world: local commerce, community, social currency, and other emerging forms of participatory culture. This is freeform, bottom-up, open source radio looking towards similarly open source, bottom-up solutions to some of the problems engendered by our relentlessly top-down society.

Each show will initiate a series of discussions, which will themselves comprise part of an expanding wiki of resources, support material, and community-generated content. A piece on “local currency” will branch out to embrace the local currency efforts, discussions, and tools out there. How does a person create a currency for his or her town? And where are the other people interested in doing this? Who has the best solar solutions, the most interesting way of organizing labor, the best free local Wi-Max network? Let’s talk to the CEO’s of GE and BP about their green efforts, and whether they believe their own hype. How about urban planning? Bike lanes? Ads on school buses and Coke machines in the cafeteria? What’s in those textbooks, anyway?

This is a 21st Century, cyberpunk reclamation of all technologies and social contracts as essentially open source, up for discussion, and open to modification. It’s an application of the hacker ethic and net collectivism to everything, done in the spirit of fun and adventure.


Occupied factory in London, Einfield

Workers in a plant of car parts manufacturer Visteon located in Einfield have occupied and locked themselves in the factory after they were fired without wages due and redundancy pay. Sadly, their struggle was caught up in all the media frenzy surrounding the G20 meeting and so far, received little attention. This is the statement they released to the media.

Ford Visteon workers have occupied the Ponders End factory since Wednesday 1st April. The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave – without our wages being paid. Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10 o’clock the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory.

The 200 workers who are part of the Ford subsidiary want the same conditions they have always had via “mirror contracts” with the parent company. Up to now they don’t know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund. This means a maximum of £9,000 a year and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 years service!

The whole situation has been created for news management – announce it during the G20 and it will get buried in the media. And this is largely what’s happened. The move is to save Visteon USA money at the workers expense.

Unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago.

The workers want their existing terms respected. Ford Visteon can’t be allowed to avoid their responsibility. So far they have tried legal intimidation but have even managed to mess this up.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products – bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money away to bankers could be profitable and save jobs in the long term.

Ford Visteon workers have been pleased at the support received from other Ford plants as well, such as Southampton, who are blacking Visteon products. Come to the factory in Morson Road, near Ponders End train station, to show your support. Join a support protest on Saturday 4th April 10am-11am.

Get your Union branch to pass a resolution in support, and help raise money by workplace collections.

This is a fight we can win. We’re off our knees and fighting fit!

*- Some Ford Visteon workers and supporters (from inside the occupied factory)*

Via Mute and Indymedia UK.


Squatting as a last resort

As the number of foreclosed homes grows in the United States, so do the numbers of people who are left without a home. Most of them cannot afford buying or renting a new house, and so they resort to squat, their own house or another one. This may not be a bad situation for a city, as the squatters prevent a suburb or a neighbourhood to deteriorate, but not every city council thinks this way.

In an excellent article in Slate, Eduardo Peñalver briefly reviews the history of squatting as a need (not as a political act) in the United States and explains why the current economical crisis is leading to another boom in squatting and what are local governments doing about it.

According to the Census Bureau, about 15 percent of housing units in the United States were vacant during the last quarter of 2008. That’s 19 million homes sitting idle, largely in the hands of banks. The difference between the 1970s and today is that the crisis last time was focused on the urban centers, while this time around the suburbs are the site of the greatest mismatch between people without homes and homes without occupants.


“This is just the beginning”

A very appropiate headline to innaugurate this blog. A misterious organization called Bank Bosses Are Criminals claimed being the ones who vandalized the house of Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of Bank of Scotland who refused to give up to part of his 700.00€ a year pension. This is the email they sent to news organizations:

‘Fred Goodwin’s house in Edinburgh was attacked this morning. We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money, and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless. This is a crime. Bank bosses should be jailed. This is just the beginning.’

Via BoingBoing.