I came across this weird story from Iceland about some people calling the police in to clear out a few cats who were occupying an abandoned house.
The cats were reportedly ‘snuggling’ on a couch which had been left by the previous residents.
Someone made a comment about how it’s be great if there was more news like this and less about how the world’s is falling apart and humans are fucked up.
But this article to me IS about how fucked up civilised humans are.
Some folks were worried about cats going into a house and called the police!
Even cats aren’t allowed to make use of abandoned buildings.
It’s cold in Iceland cats just want to be warm and have a snuggle.
But it also comes back to underlying notion of our current society and that is that everyone has to pay to live.
There is a surplus of housing much like there is a surplus of food but because of the whole notion of private property and the individualistic society we live in people still must sleep on the streets.
Although those poor kitties in Iceland got thrown out of their squat there are plenty of places worldwide where people (and animals for sure) can and do occupy abandoned buildings outside of the law.
The word ‘squat’ generally is associated with dysfunction as with recent news reports in Brisbane regarding squatters being rescued from a fire in South Brisbane and in Fortitude Valley a squat on the edge of a cliff scattered with syringes.
However there are many examples of highly functional community minded squatted buildings and homes.
The act of squatting a building can serve a political purpose as well as the utilitarian purpose of providing shelter.
The Australian Museum of Squatting, yes one exists, documents squatting campaigns from as early as the 1940s although the history of squatting in this country dates back to invasion, as in effect all white Australians are squatters.
In Brisbane there are two examples of squatting campaigns documented on the website.
During the 1970s there was a freeway planned at Bowen Hills which was prevented from being completed by a vigorous community campaign.
This campaign involved some squatting of buildings which had been repossessed for demolition to make way for the freeway.
The other case of a squatting campaign in Brisbane documented on the Australian Museum of Squatting occurred around the time of Expo 1988.
As reported in a publication called Squat It! development in South Brisbane and surrounding suburbs for the much hyped Expo caused much upheaval with evictions and rent increases forcing people from their homes and out of the community.
The Brisbane Squatters Union established a number of squats as part of a direct action campaign in order to reclaim the right to housing and oppose the destruction of community caused by the Expo 88 development.
One of the squats in Sussex was able to become a community meeting point and also provide emergency accommodation.
Unfortunately there are no details about how long this squat survived.
While Sydney and Melbourne have seen a number of successful squatted social centres established the only attempt I know of in Brisbane was a short lived warehouse in Tenerife.
This attempt was short lived as the owner reclaimed the building to use as a development office.
A culture of squatting does exist in Brisbane though and the Brisbane Solidarity Network has a guide to assist people who want to make use of empty buildings.
The Queensland Squatters Handbook features heaps of information and notes from experienced squatters plus an FAQ with details specific to Queensland.
There’s also a handy section relating to police powers and your rights.
Also to hear more about Squatting there’s this awesome documentary from Melbourne’s RRR radio station.