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To the people of Dalston

Persons Unknown | 28.02.2006 03:26 | Culture | Free Spaces | Social Struggles | London

It' s time for us (the people who are occupying the theatre) to tell you why we are here. And why we decided to do our bit to resist the demolition of these houses, the theatre behind, and the gentrification of the wider Dalston area all around us that for years has been part of your lives.

This is our first chance to start to explain, how it is that we feel connected with you. We hope to have more time to build among us something precious: trust.

From the beginning of this experience, we haven't really had the opportunity to speak or listen to you. Whatever you know about us, you got it from your own conceptions of us on the roofs, and from our banners and signs, or from what the local newspapers and tv made up of what is going on here. Careful then... here is our version.

First we went in and we occupied the theatre and the houses in Dalston lane. Then the building company arrived and were given orders by the council to force their way in. The police ignored the illegality of this and Hackney council gained entry to the theatre. But we didn't give up, even despite one of us being forced up on to the roof after being blocked in by the builders. Our sister has remained on the roof ever since while the rest of us are working hard to make this house comfortable so we can invite you in and meet you personally.

Funny how things happen. Like everywhere in the world, and for millions of years, Dalston is a place where in the past, the mix of cultures, customs and everyday living has opened up the possibility for people to come to know each other and collaborate to survive and enjoy each others companies. This has been important in creating strong relationships in our neighbourhood. As in many places around the world, all this is disappearing.

With car culture and shopping centres, supermarkets and decisions from the top, behind the brand new buildings and brand new people. we spend more and more time rushing, indoors, afraid and/or alone and lonely although we are surrounded by people more or less like us. They like that, it keeps us appart and stops us from collaborating and being strong and independent. we depend on them for everything, and so they become powerful and do whatever they like, although we know that someone else makes the decisions in some company or politicians office far, far away. They can and do put what they call 'economic growth' and development above and beyond any sense of real community, now the council have decreed this theatre and our collective memories must be destroyed to make room for a mega project in which money is at the centre of any decision and those who have no money get nothing. Where profits for developers mean housing and shops that ordinary people, and perhaps those who have lived here all their lives, can't afford.

When we loose our memories and have no places we recognise as ours then we stop caring about what and who is around us, and without recognising our environment we don't know who we are, we don't know where and who are the things and the people that we need to survive. The planet and Dalston are not dying, they are being killed, and those who are doing it have names, addresses and are in power... funny that they are having their salaries being paid by you too. ha!

They tried to be clever, leaving the theatre to go to ruin for years so they have an excuse to get rid of it and at the same time they hoped that we'd forget about how much life and memories it gave to the local community.

What happens when we refuse to forget? We begin to care. We care about the gift we receive when we build a society where we don't feel alone, where our community is really organised according to the will of everybody in it. We care and we know we can really achieve what we want. We are on the roof and we are cleaning and nailing things, You might be passing by but we'd really like you to come in and become us and do your bit, it is your home and your Dalston and your World.

We all can do things in different ways (and it is important to do so), some people organise campaigns and challenge their decisions following the bureaucratic path that shows how corrupt the system is, others get together to occupy and reclaim back shops and trees that have been part of the community, others try to communicate through the media, some of us are the types that just stop in the streets and listen to anyone that speaks of a better world and ends up giving money to this or that cause, some of you got hands on the jobs straight away, most of us just looked up and thought... m m m. . . .

The most important thing is that we DO, that we don't forget that we CAN DO something about it all, that we don't know how to do it, but finding out is part of it. If we loose hope, we depend on them.

The group of people who are involved in this occupation are here because we believe that a strong neighbourhood is able to and must challenge any injustice. The direct action we decided to take in occupying the theatre is also a desperate cry to touch people's hearts. Nobody will change things around us for us, change needs to be affected by us.
These local struggles (Tony's café, Spirits shop in Broadway Market, etc) represent the wider battle fought by ordinary people around the world. Everywhere there is one more "Dalston Theatre" that is in danger of disappearing (and there's much worse happening). "Sustainable Development" is a greenwashing farce that is killing the earth and life with her for the benefit of the few. These silent wars are global but they are at their best fought locally and in solidarity with each other. Most around the world don't get the privilege of media attention! more like a shot in the back.

The resistance you witnessed in this first week is only the beginning of something we want to build with you. Our intention is to open a space where people's dignity is at the centre of it and where everything that has been take away from our life can find its way back in. we will carry on resisting because it is our responsibility to create the world we want to live in.

BY THE WAY!! The baddies don't really like us here, and are taking us to THE HIGH COURT. They think they can silence the screams from our hearts just like that and typically as for them we are like fast food, a ready made dinner, a frozen burger, all they give us in the High Courts of Justice is 30 minutes at gas mark 8.

Please do come to show your support. On Wednesday 1st of March, at 10:30, we will be in room 609 n the Royal COURT OF JUSTICE, Thomas More Buildng, The Strand, WC2A 2LL


...and finally, whatever the court's outcome, we will attend the public meeting organised by OPEN DALSTON, the campaigning organisation opposing the demolition of the theatre, also on Wednesday 1st from 7pm @ St Michaels Hall, Colvostone Cres E8. Come and spend a day for the comunity.

Thanks for reading, take care and hope to see you soon,

Persons Unknown.

Persons Unknown
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