Festival of Alternatives: Social Centres

As part of the Mayday Festival of Alternatives, a temporary social centre will be opened for the week. The social centre will host an infoshop, workshops, discussions, films, art space and vegan cafe.
The centre will be collectively set up and run. To get involved in helping out, ring 07786 716 335 on Friday 26th February, for the venue.

What are Social Centres?

Social Centres organise to create new worlds, new possiblitites, real leisure and social alternatives to wage labour and centralised power. Although more established in countries like Italy and spain, the concept of social centres as a political strategy is taking off here in the UK with new centres in Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton and London. Social Centres can be either occupied [squatted], or financed through loans and other community funding organisations.

The popularity of social centres stems from a need for space, both political and social, outside the domination of capital. The construction of a new 'political space', an extra-institutional public sphere within which can emerge a common action, interest and identity amongst people, in all their differences. The creation of an autonomous and public political space is the fundamental condition for any revolutionary movement to recognise itself, in a strong project of transforming the city, territory, life. As more and more of our time becomes capitalised with the commodification of everyday life in the new “social factory” it becomes vital to create places where people aren’t judged by there ability to consume or to produce, where real human discussion and action can take place.

Far from being “activist ghettos” the new social centre projects organised and supported by LondonSCN [london social centres network] are increasing the participation of the local community by supporting and developing local struggles.This is also a part of reclaiming politics as being direct and universal, as opposed to politics understood as the administrative and bureaucratic machine of command and oppression. As the idea of Social Centres spread we can begin posing serious alternatives to capitalism and wage-labour and start creating a new world in the shell of the old.

Saturday 27th April

Day of workshops and discussions on the theme of social centres
, squats & how to set them up. The aim of the day is to transform a disused building into a vibrant social centre, and to learn & share new skills.

Workshops on plumbing, electricity, finding a good building & legal advice. Speakers from London Social Centres Network & Advisory Service for Squatters. There will also be talks from collectives who have set up both permanent & reclaimed social centres. Cleaning & decorating will go on all day, so please come down and lend a hand.

Squat electronics - 10.30am
Get the electricity connected without frying yourself.

Practical Plumbing - 12pm
Hands-on session covering elementary fix-it skills relating to whatever needs doing in the particular reclaimed space we'll be working in.

Lock-changing, securing a building & fire escapes - 1.30pm
Venue for all of the above: Temporary social centre - phone: 07786 716 335 on Friday 26th April for details.

Carpentry - 2pm
Learn to make your own bookshelves, tables etc.

Advisory Service for Squatters talk - 3pm
Help and legal advice for squatters.

London Social Centres Network talk - 5.30pm

The dutch experience of squatting - 7pm
Differences in law, police repression, defence, activist community mobilisation and cultural representation of the scene.

Venue for all of the above social centre workshops: Temporary social centre - phone: 07786 716 335 on Friday 26th April for details.


SQUATNET: international squatting site with news and many links to social centres

European Counter Network:
<ECN> autonomous zone with mutlilingual section. Or use bablefish.com to translate the italian. Has a centri sociali section

Info shop network news
(info on squatted autonomous centres )

UK squatters advisory service
- links to archive, stories.

Extensive archive of squat websites: including links to direct action papers, occupations, squats of the world.

"Squatters in white overalls", naomi klein article

Theory: social self organisation and autonomy networked

Includes section on the question of self management


"Italy's social centres
- a thousand human stories -" - article by Steve Wright

Bradford's legendary 1 in 12 club
- an autonomously run social centre.