Friday, August 2, 2013

The Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH)

The PAH has been one of the strongest social movements in Spain since 2011, fighting for fair access to housing and social rents through a politics of networked mutual aid and campaigning. 

This entry focuses on the specific campaigns and organizational ways in which the PAH works, and briefly outlines the complex entwinings of different levels of crisis (housing, financial, sovereign debt, ...) in Spain as well as the legal situation surrounding mortgages (which involves host of old and new laws and many ongoing levels of contestation and reform). For now a summary description of the PAH from 15MPedia:

The Platform of People affected by mortgages / the subprime mortgage crisis, or PAH, is a social movement and platform struggling for decent housing, which emerged in Barcelona in February 2009 and now extends across the Spanish territory. It surged in response to the real estate crisis of 2008 that triggered the bursting of the Spanish housing bubble and became a strong part of the movements that later emerged in response to the sovereign debt crisis and austerity politics. It's part of the 15M movement, which kicked off in 2011.
The PAH brings together people who find it difficult to pay back their mortgages or find themselves in a process of eviction due to unpaid mortgages, and people in solidarity with this problem. It defines itself as 'a group of people who, unaffiliated with any party, recognizes that […] the current legal framework is designed to guarantee that banks cash in on debt, while at the same time the law gives no protection to the people with mortgages who are unable to cover their payments due to reasons such as unemployment or rising fees/interests'. It's a horizontal, non-violent and assembly-based movement unaffiliated with political parties.The PAH meets in assemblies that go through the different cases of people affected by the mortgage crisis and laws, to offer advice and mutual aid in order to give both practical and emotional support.In January 2013, the PAH was awarded the national prize for human rights. [i]

We are very interested in the organizational and everyday dimensions of the PAH, not just because struggling around housing is to struggle around a key dimension of social reproduction, but also because this is a movement that brings together collective care and popular support in a political practice that is both situated and widely networked.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Organising mutual forms of legal support: in the street, at the police station and in court

Some examples from London and the US

The police, the courts and prison clearly play a crucial role in controlling and repressing working class and migrant communities. During the student movement in the UK in 2010 for example individuals taking part in demonstrations against the tripling of tuition fees (from £3000/year to £9000/year) and the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance were subject to aggressive public order policing designed to intimidate people, create divisions in the movement and criminalizise protest. Pretty much everybody going on demonstrations was observed and filmed, stopped and searched, contained (‘kettled’) for hours in freezing temperatures without access to toilets and water, and many were assaulted by the police with batons and shields. Many people were arrested and charged with often very serious charges (eg 'violent disorder’). While in many cases these charges ended up not sticking in the courts simply being charged and having to deal with the court system is a terrifying experience for most. It is also a very useful way to keep activists busy over long periods of time and stop them from doing work.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Territorio Doméstico: tools for organizing and collective/self- care

[EN]    This entry presents translated materials from the group Territorio Domestico, a collective of  domestic workers (most of them migrants) active in Madrid. They shared a presentation of their work with us in April 2013, as well as doing a workshop in which we explored their tools for organizing, mutual support and collective care. Amazing stuff, a great time. Below are bits of their working materials translated into German and English, as well as audio recordings and videos - hopefully they can be useful for your organizing practice!

[DE]    Dieser Eintrag beinhaltet uebersetzte Materialien der Gruppe Territorio Domestico, einem in Madrid arbeitenden Kollektiv von Haushaltsangestellten dass sich grossteils aus migrantischen Frauen zusammensetzt. Territorio Domestico haben im April 2013 bei uns ihre Arbeit praesentiert und auch einen workshop gemacht, in dem wir ihre Werzeuge zur Selbstorganisierung, gemeinsamen Fuersorge und Unterstuetzung kennengelernt haben. Mehr Infos zu diesen Tagen findet sich im untenstehenden Link. Hier findet ihr also ausgesuchte Materialien, die wir vom Spanischen ins Deutsche und Englische uebersetzt haben, wie auch Ton- und Videoaufzeichnungen. Das Material kann für vielerlei Organisierungspraxis nützlich sein!

[ES]     Ahí va una compilación de materiales traducidos del grupo Territorio Domestico, un colectivo de mujeres en su mayoria migrantes que trabajan como empleadas domésticas en Madrid. El grupo estuvo en Viena en Abril 2013 presentándonos su trabajo y haciendo un taller presentando sus herramientas de autoorganización, cuidado colectivo y apoyo mutuo. Más información sobre esos días está en el enlace inferior. Aquí encontrarás materiales selecionados traducidos al inglés, alemán y también en su versión original en español. Esperamos que sirvan de inspiración para otros procesos de organización y lucha!"

More info on the presentation and workshop of April 2013.

[Materials in ENGLISH]

Territorio Doméstico is a space of encounter, relation, care and struggle for women and their rights, especially as migrants. The demand for the recognition of the rights of domestic workers is our point of departure, as well as the devalorization of this labour in a system that degrades care and personal assistance and makes it invisible and precarious – because care is vital for the sustaining of our societies! Hence our slogan: BECAUSE WITHOUT US, THE WORLD WOULDN’T BE MOVING and the image of a woman spurring a large and complex system of cogs. We are a space for the struggles and mutual support of women. A space wherein relationships, listening to each other’s realities and the care for the self as well as for others are very important.

>>> Advice for powerful domestic workers

1. What we do is worth a lot. Don’t forget that and don’t let others forget it.

2. We give each other information and support, especially in bad times. Those who are in the same situation as us have a lot of knowledge - and also strategies. You can also get free information via support facilities, NGOs, radios and so forth.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Einkuechenhaeuser (One-kitchen-buildings): a 20th century architectural-social experiment

The term Einküchenhaus translates into English as one-kitchen-building. It describes a building typology that was used to experiment with concepts of communal living and housing in the beginning of the 20th century. Multi-unit residential buildings or housing complexes facilitated by one central kitchen were emerging in many industrializing cities in North America, Western Europe and Russia questioning and reorganizing reproductive labor. They were realized in varying forms and for different reasons – as tools for emancipation for the early women's movement, as reformist, socialist or communist experiments, but also out of a mere capitalist interest in economic profit.

This brief outline follows the history of the Einküchenhaus along several examples as to show not only the continuities and developments but also conflicts and contradictions (e.g. class conflicts) persisting throughout the typology's history. There are of course many more examples that cannot be all included in a brief introduction like this – some of them have become classic examples of the history of modern architecture like the Narkomfin building, a test project for state organized communal living built in 1932 in Moscow, or the Heimhof Einküchenhaus in Vienna, which was incorporated into the building activities of Red Vienna.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


In our first collective meeting, we called Susana who has been involved in Occupy Sandy in New York, to hear and ask about her experience of this mobilization, its effects on the wider Occupy movement, its organizational dynamics and further perspectives.

The transatlantic connection was shaky but we really enjoyed the converstation!

Discussion notes - Questions asked and answered in common by the participants

  • This resonated with Black Panther Party in many ways...
  • But I found that exactly when it came to asking the question 'how is this political' there isn't really an answer – like mutual aid in itsel is something that christian aid or migrant communities do all the time, but it doesn't change political structures in any way...
  • But I also have to say i'm not quite sure what these terms mean, I can only guess what the difference between mutual aid and charity might be defined...
  • In terms of where it comes out of, the mutual aid discourse comes from the anarchist tradition, and charity comes from the church..
  • I think charity is also something top-down, you give to someone but it doesn't have the mutualness to it
  • But then when she was describing these suspicions that they experience every now and then, maybe that's not top-down but seemingly there are also hierarchies, or class issues, or whatever you want to call it then..
  • I guess it's also that mutual aid is very community based, and that when you come into a community that you're not a part of, they say 'why do you want to be mutual with us? We don't know you, why should we trust you, etc..?' And then they have to say 'well actually we do it cause we have some political ideas or ideals'... this would have been interesting to talk about a bit more; how they talk about Occupy, whether they say they wanna change american society, or curb the power of Wall street, or how do they representat that to communties – because they have to explain why they're there, without being a charity

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


'In October of 1966, in Oakland California, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs. The party was one of the first organizations in U.S. history to militantly struggle for ethnic minority and working class emancipation — a party whose agenda was the revolutionary establishment of real economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines'.1

>>The Panthers' ten-point plan, 'What We Want' can be found here.

The Breakfast Program
This free breakfast for school children program was set up in Berkeley 1968 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. It was the first significant communty program organised by the Panthers, and perhaps the most significant.

After a few months spreading to churches, community centres and auditoriums in Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland, it was announced that the program would be set up across the US.

The Breakfast Program has already been initiated in several chapters, and our love for the masses makes us realize that it must continue permanently and be a national program. But we need your help and that means money, food, and time. We want to turn the programs over to the community, but without your efforts and support we cannot.“
- The Black Panther, 19692

Serving Broadly
By the end of 1969 free breakfast was served in 19 cities, under the sponsorship of the national headquarters and twenty-three local affiliates. More than 20.000 children received full free breakfast (bread, bacon, eggs, grits) before going to their grade or junior high school.3 While programs operated in predominantly black neigbourhoods, the program also fed children of other groups, even operating in a partly middle-class neigbourhood in Seattle. It was also used to raise public consciousness about hunger and poverty in America, and the importance of nutrition for learning.
[there are] millions of people who are living below subsistence; welfare mothers, poor white people, Mexican-Americans, Chicano peoples, Latinos, and black people.“

- Bobby Seale4