Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Know Where I'm Going to Retire To -

Flag of Christiania

From Wikipedia:

Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania, Faroese: Frístaðurin Christiania) is a partially self-governing neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Christiania has established semi-legal status as an independent community, but has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its open cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. Since then, measures for normalising the legal status of the community have led to conflicts, and negotiations are ongoing.

Among many Christiania residents, the community is known as staden ('the town'), short for fristaden ('the freetown).

Meditation and yoga have always been popular among the Christianites, and for many years Christiania had their own internationally acclaimed theater group Solvognen, who, beyond their theater performances, also staged many happenings in Copenhagen and even throughout Sweden. Ludvigsen had always talked of the acceptance of drug-addicts who could no longer cope with regular society, and the spirit of that belief has still not diminished, even throughout many problems sprouted due to drug traffic and use (mostly of hard drugs, however, which are illegal in Christiania). These addicts head into and remain in Christiania all the time and are considered just as much a part of the Freetown as the entrepreneurs, and for this reason many Danes have seen Christiania as a successful social experiment. However, for years the legal status of the region has been in a limbo due to different Danish governments attempting to remove the Christianites. Such attempts at removal have all been unsuccessful so far.

The neighbourhood is accessible through many entrances and cars are not allowed (although some Christiania residents own a car, see below). Danish authorities have repeatedly removed the large stones blocking the main entrance claiming they need access to the area for fire trucks and ambulances in the event of a fire or medical emergency, yet the residents respond by placing them back each time as they feel suspicious that the authorities will instead use it for police operations. This suspicion is backed by the fact that they have already made arrangements with the Copenhagen Fire Department, which also operates the ambulances in Copenhagen, and have established other entranceways and maneuvering spaces for fire trucks and ambulances in the area.

The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independently of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests and hard drugs.

Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hash and Skunk weed were sold openly from permanent stands until 2004, it nevertheless does have rules forbidding hard drugs, such as cocaine, speed, ecstasy and heroin. The commerce is controversial, but since the rules require a consensus they cannot be removed unless everybody agrees. The region negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defence ministry (which still owns the land) in 1995. Since 1994, residents have paid taxes and fees for water, electricity, trash disposal, etc. The future of the area remains in doubt, though, as Danish authorities continue to push for its removal. On Pusher Street, cameras are not allowed, and locals will wave their hands and shout "No photo!" if they see someone trying to take a picture.

1 comment:

Jesper ( said...

I would like to respond to this quote:
"The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independently of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests and hard drugs."
To that, I would like to reply with another quote:
"Such attempts at removal have all been unsuccessful so far."

Stealing, violence, guns, knives & hard drugs ARE a part of Christiania (bulletproof vests ought to be - several gun incidents, including a machine-pistol spree, have happened)- sadly. Christiania was once based on a good idea.

As for the idea to retire to this place. A good idea - if it will work practically.
One of the problems with Christiania is, that it still calls itself 'Freetown' - but in fact it is elitist.
You have to know the right people and be accepted to move there (logical, but hardly 'free').

DR2 (a Danish public service TV-channel) had a satirical show called "Den halve sandhed" (half the truth) decided to "test the freetown". They brought buildingmaterials, and started building "a shed". They were, allthough is to me was clear that it was satire, of course stopped.
What they also were, were threatened with a severe beating by several Christiania Residents.

Normalization. Wether the government should normalize or not, I wont comment on.
It seems to me that some people (not necessarily all the Christinia Residents themselves) are just looking for a reason to start a fight.
Not too long ago (Spring 2008) the police patrolling Christiania were attacked by a fighting dog. The dog ended up shot, as the police clearly felt threatened. Others say the dog was just "playing". What really happened in that incident i do not know - but i DO know what the results were:
Street riots, burning cars, fire-blockades of the streets, ravage & vandalism of other (innocent) peoples properties - with the base of battle starting out from Christiania. (ask the people that live AROUND Christiania if they pay additional $ on theire insurance-policies because of where they live).

Agreed, that it need not be the Christiania residents that start this, or even "join the battle".
But I dont hear any condemnation of that behaviour from theire side either.

I am sure that from what i wrote, you can see that I am not too fond of Christiania.

I KNOW there are many good people living in Christiania. There are people that do NOT like to send theire children through the drugdealing part of Christiania (duh!). There are (many) people who do NOT take part in riots and such.

In general to me it is NOT a freetown - it seems to me 'other people' are no way equal in theire eyes.
Christiania Residents still fight the 'right' to sell Cannabis - eventhough hard drugs and violence within the 'Freetown' is an obvious result.
.... and I don't understand why people would want to put $$$ in the pockets of the pushers & murderers that provide a rush ... but hey, that's just me :)