Minutes from Democafe meeting, Saturday 13th June 2015 held from 2pm to 4pm at The Forge, Delancey Street, Camden NW1 7NL.
Present: Eddie Farrell, Janos Abel, James Richmond, Denise Arnold, Alan Spence. Apologies: Sara Jolly, Michael Mulvey, Carol McNichol, Mary Fee
Housing & Projects
Main discussion was a catch up about housing project discussed in previous meeting; the idea in combining a Democafe position statement on Housing with a local event to promote and hopefully bring more people along to our meetings. The idea was to make a lot of little cardboard houses and as a play on Britain being a home owning democracy have the houses for sale at a nominal fee.
We hope to do this in Camden, favourite venue at the moment would be the empty shop on Kentish Town High Street that was formally Blustons (Agents, Christo and Co. 0207 4821203). In the previous meeting James had suggested that each house could have our position paper inside in the form of a title deed and Janos had responded to this idea by producing a paper prototype house which uses the roof for the statement in a title deed format.
From the Roof Tops
This is to record my deep felt thanks to the modern Banking System (hereafter BS) for allowing me to get this roof over our heads. In return I pledge 40% of my earnings over the next 25 years of my life. As a token of my gratitude I will make no fuss about the fact that 99.9% of the payments I make during the next 15 years go to cover the interest only on the £2,000,000 worth of debt money the BS hereby creates.
I acknowledge that this roof will be taken away from me any time if I fail to honour the legally binding pledge even if the cause is entirely beyond my control. By the same token of my gratitude I will forfeit the amount for which you can sell to a third party (an investor) this piece of paper bearing my legally binding signature and representing a stream of income for 25 years. Janos’s roof text was based on buying a home through a mortgage (mortgage literal meaning – dead pledge – James commented). Eddie suggested that because the roof was a flat piece of card then folded, it would be possible to screen print the text onto 20, 30, 50? Identical roofs.
Denise suggested a whole series of texts in the same vein but for different types of occupancy, we compiled a list for DemoCafe members to work on: Homeless, squats, Private rented, Council rented, Housing Association rented, People who bought a former council house, Subletting, Student housing, Housing coop tenant, Total owner occupier…….
Then exchanged a few horror stories involving bad citizens using underhand means to force councils to sell properties; one in particular, an Architect in Camden who had bought the top part of a council house then boasted about purposely creating dampness in the lower storey to stir up insurance issues. This in turn got the council to rehouse the tenants below and sell the lower storey to the Architect, giving him the entire former council property for a bargain price!
Alan then introduced a project he is involved in at Swiss Cottage: Swiss Cottage skyscraper row: Fury as Camden Council officers recommend tower block for approval – Rather than the massive 24 storey skyscraper with people living their on short term leases with few if any affordable rents, locals want a alternative use of the space. Alan is putting forward an integrated health and preventative health centre for the area, – based on one developed in Covent Garden in the 1970s? He would like Democafe to get behind the protest in some way. One suggestion was building a model of the alternative to the multi-storey.
Alan also mentioned his work as a member of the Cooperative society. Many of their properties will be up for sale and re-use in the coming years – would be interesting to see if DemoCafe could negotiate a lease of one of their properties to establish a cafe and learning centre for the young, as discussed in previous meetings.
• Denise – Rainbow Co-operative Housing, Milton Keynes – well worth a visit
• Eddie – Anthropologist David Graeber explores the ways debt has shaped society over the past 5,000 years – BBC IPlayer – 10 x 10 minute audio episodes
• Janos – With Liberty and Dividends for all – Peter Barnes.