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.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I Know Where I'm Going to Retire To -
Posted by M. Christian