While more than half of the human population now lives in cities, these have a disturbing number of empty buildings. Even more alarming at a time when access to space is more than ever subject to the laws of the market. Fundamental rights, such as access to housing, are considered mere financial products and are subject to unbridled speculation.
These abandoned spaces are symptoms of a rat race for infinite growth and can nonetheless become a springboard for a paradigm shift: by mobilizing these, we can answer urgent housing needs while exploring new ways of living, exchanging, and creating. In the logic of circular economy, this "urban waste" can be reused by those who carry out committed projects to build the city of tomorrow.
Aware of the value of these under-exploited resources, lucrative operators/developers go so far as to uberise wastelands and empty buildings, thus reintroducing these spaces into the cycle that had initially led to their decline. Faced with this practice, Communa positions itself as a social transitional urbanism initiative by carrying out various concrete actions:
We temporarily occupy empty buildings. These places allow us to respond to the urgent need for decent and affordable housing. In addition, we advocate for the emergence of collective facilities which benefit a majority of users and are managed in common.
Convinced of the limits of the individualistic model, we mutualise member resources and skills in our different sites. Forging solidarity links while autonomous forms of organization and mutual aid emerge.
So that temporary no longer rhymes with ephemeral, our vocation is to influence, by our passage, the perennial developments of the places we occupy. In this same logic, we permanently anchor our projects through collective ownership to definitively free the buildings from real estate speculation.
We spread the love to increase our social impact by accompanying and training public authorities and emerging groups. Projects with similar values are multiplying while preserving the specificity of the contexts and the autonomy of the actors.
The mechanisms of mutualisation that we develop within our sites also apply to our actions. We federate with other social structures at the local and European levels to strengthen ourselves and extend our vision beyond borders.
To systematically ensure that transitional urbanism is at the service of the common good, we enshrine, in law and culture, the notion of socio-temporary occupation.
Through these actions, Communa promotes the values of experimentation, participation, openness, agility, and frugality.
— Through experimentation, we claim the right to make mistakes and value failures as much as successes. We don't wait for perfect plans to get started and we believe in expanding the field of possibilities through boldness and creativity.
— Through openness, we desire to create affordable and friendly spaces where everyone is welcome.
— Through participation, we affirm the need to build commons that encourage the involvement of all so that the greatest number of people are able to contribute to the transformation of the city.
— Through frugality we defend a parsimonious and creative approach to the use of resources, to do better with less, without moderating our dreams and ambitions.
— Through agility, we take on the responsibility of adapting our projects to the constraints of today's world. Beyond indignation or the quest for purity, we build a radical project in all its subtlety, nuances, and imperfections, with adjustments, but without compromise.
A medieval proverb stated that "the air of the city makes you free": serfs who settled there for more than a certain period of time could acquire freedom. In the past, people went to the city to become emancipated.
Let us revive this vision of an open and liberating city. Let's get it out of the deadly logic of standardization, of market mentality, and of exclusion.
Let's start with the wastelands and empty buildings to reclaim our right to the city.
Let's start right now and with our means, let's build an affordable, democratic, resilient and creative city.
This manifesto was written by the multiple hands of the ASBL crew in April 2021