THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

THE GRAND
DOMESTIC REVOLUTION

USER'S MANUAL

USER'S MANUAL

‘The Grand Domestic Revolution—User’s Manual’ (GDR) investigates the domestic space and its (changing) use through a variety of methods and disciplines, traversing the fields of art, design, architecture, urban planning, activism and theory. A number of artists and other practitioners contribute to this endeavour. Residents from 2009-2011 include Sepake Angiama, Paul Elliman, and Doris Denekamp who utilized neighbourhood and online research to create prototypes and interventions around the theme of (Green) Cooperativsm. Wietske Maas and Travis Meinolf experimented with Home Production; while 'interor' infrastuctural interventions for the furniture, library and hallways were created by ifau & Jesko Fezer, Mirjam Thomann and Graziela Kunsch. Current themes and residents from February–October 2011 include Kyohei Sakaguchi and Kateřina Šedá who will each investigate forms of usership in architectures; home and housing rights with Maria Pask and Nazima Kadir; the question of invisible and domestic labour taken up by Werker Magazine; Agency will continue its deliberations on copyright issues of domestic THINGS (gardens and textiles); and keywords in relations to food service work will be workshopped with Xu Tan. Parallel to this, the Read-in activity continues. Initiated by artist Annette Krauss and theatre maker, Read-in is an open reading group inhabiting a different neighbour’s home for every session.

LIBRARY

LIBRARY

The GDR library constitutes the backbone of our ongoing ‘living research’ and thus grows over time. The library offers points of engagement with the project and consists of different research materials such as books, articles, images and DVDs (artist’s video, films) that are available for viewing when visiting the apartment. The first installment was done by the GDR team and was later adapted by Sao Paulo-based artist Graziela Kunsch who suggested that the GDR team create thematic selections.

APARTMENT 18B

APARTMENT 18B

'The Grand Domestic Revolution-User's Manual' is a long-term project developed as Casco’s contribution to 'Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design'. The project deals with the evolutionary and collaborative process of “living” research in the contemporary domestic and private sphere – particularly in relation to the spatial imagining (or the built environment). It aims at re-articulating while exercising the notions of the social, the public and, eventually, the commons.

TOWN MEETINGS

TOWN MEETINGS

IN AFFINITY

Since August 2010, the GDR team have undertaken research in order to connect with the local neighbourhood on questions relating to peoples’ social conditions and material environments. Questionnaires, interviews, and conversations are the methods used to explore the themes and problems addressed in GDR, such as self-organised governance, co-operative living, and spatial organisation in and from the domestic sphere.

INTERVIEW WITH DE VERANDERING

Last modified by sumire_k3169: 10/12/10

Interview with Andre Jonkers
Conducted by Chris, Maiko, Kim de Haas
De Verandering office, Lauwerecht 55, Utrecht
(8 September 2010)

Attach:deverandering.jpg Δ


Introduction require for this page


Maiko: We wanted to know more clearly your mandate and maybe you could describe a couple of projects that really characterize what you do?

Andre: Ok, De Verandering was established in the 90s, but it has a longer history. It comes from the squatting movement, when people wanted to create their own life, to fill it in their own way. And squatting is one of the things you can do. There were lots of squats in Utrecht. A couple of hundred, maybe a thousand, in the 80s and beginning of the 90s and some people wanted to legalize the squats. A couple of people sat together to think of how we could manage it? How could we help these people? And they started a little company, De Verandering, to help squats to legalize—to negotiate with the government, with the banks with all sorts of things to help them to legalize the squats. We did it until now, but there are not so many squats in Holland anymore. So we changed and now we are mainly working for groups of people who want to start an eco-village or eco-neighborhood and we are helping groups who want to confirm a participation, a participation at a higher level. A participation as in not only talking with the government, but also that the group gets there own responsibilities and to really develop participation models for the groups so they can get far. These are the main things we are doing this moment. Helping groups who want to establish an eco-village, or groups who want to combine living and care, or living and working together.

Kim: What kind of groups are they?

A: Yeah... At the moment some of the groups are elderly people, people around 50 and older. Lots of people have their own homes, their children have moved out and the home is too big and people think: we want to live with other people to share things. And maybe also share some care for people who are over 70 and more housemates. And you see that at the moment that lots of elderly people form groups to live together and to do projects to live together. This is new in Holland. And we also work with artists who want to have their own buildings where they can work together... These kinds of projects. We did a lot of work in Amsterdam for the so called broedplaatsen, ‘breading places’ for artists—buildings where they work together. The Amsterdam government supports these kinds of places.

Chris: With the old people, the elderly people, organising themselves is that because there is not a lot of state infrastructure for elderly care?

A: They are people who were young in the 60s and have some ideals about how society should be organised and want to do something together. Also combined with sustainability, sustainable housing, democratic forms of organising. So it's the baby-boom generation who is getting older and want to give form to these ideals.

M: So its the former squatters, I guess, too?

A: Some of them, but they (the squatters) are the next generation.

C: So it's interesting when these groups get together to self organize and you help them, but what is the process of negotiating with the city? Or... Is some of it illegal or is it always trying to go through a formal process?

A: It depends. With the squatters sometimes it is not possible to legalize a squat. Because if you want to buy it, it's too expensive or it's in the middle of a city and you could never buy it. Bijvoorbeeld, you know the Ubica (a squatted building) at the centre of Utrecht, at the front of the city hall. We tried to legalize it, but it is too expensive. But you can look after, you can with the squatters make a plan—how is it possible to stay squatted for as long as possible. So we, as far as possible, help squatters figure out how they can squat for a long time. But the groups that I mentioned, the elderly people, the artists, they try to buy or rent a building.

M: And where does the money come from?

A: Depends. Sometimes, it's their own money. The elderly often have their own houses and they sell those houses so they have money to invest in new projects. With artists it's difficult, but sometimes city governments or housing corporations will buy a building and rent it to the group. Or the groups rents it...

M: So you help find a building that is suitable.

A: Yeah. And then we will look after how we could finance it. Can the group finance it by itself, or is another party necessary.

C: From what I understand from your website, it sounds like you deal with cooperative economies and alternative economies. So are there any kinds of projects that deal with that directly? Like, do you have kind of alternative financing models, different ways of getting money other than through donations?

A: Mmm.. Yeah. The ACU [squatted social centre in Utrecht] project is one of the projects we supported. For this project we needed, I think, 1 million euros to renovate it. A part of the money came from the bank, we borrowed from the bank. The other part is from participation of people who support the ACU and a part is through subsidies and lot of money is from people who worked there voluntarily to renovate the building. It seemed that more than a hundred people had worked there for two years to renovate it. Not a hundred people every day, but over the two years, I think a hundred people worked there. And by doing it yourself we could... Even kijken... Umm... Besparen.

K: Save.

A: Yeah save 500,000 euros. So we needed 1 million, and by doing lots of things by ourself we saved 500,000 euros.

M: But it costs one million still for the whole thing...

A: Yeah, no... If we didn't do it our self we would spend one million euros, but we did a lot of work by ourselves so it was half.

M: So when you're working on the renovations, do you also help with thinking about how to use the space or is it more the financial level?

A: No, we work together with an architect. One of our members is also an architect. And we were looking with the group about how to use the space. What is possible to do that they do there for themselves, and how sustainably can you renovate, but also working together with professionals. We form a group of people who support this, like a committee...

M: Maybe I will jump a bit to talk about organizing space. So maybe you have an idea about the renovation, but say with the eco-groups, what kinds of processes are involved in helping people create their eco-villages.

A: Village and or neighborhoods. It's the same kind of project. It's also a group of people that have some ideas and ideals about how to live together. The eco-groups want a sustainable environment, sustainable way of living together. So they have their expectations of how they want to live together, but there are also the social aspects to it. Most of the groups find that how they organize their group is very important. How its organized and how people live together, how they react to each other, or how they can meet each other... It is also important that there are common spaces in those projects. So lots of those projects have lots of common spaces—common gardens, or a library or place where they can eat together or health-care centre or... so on and so on. And we try to find solutions of how people could work together and live together in these projects and how could you organise that and how the satuten...

K: Hoe Jezus...

C: You can say it in Dutch.

K: I don't know the English translation for statuten.

C: Rules or the law.

A: Yeah... It's kind of rules for association you have the rules of the association.

C: Ok.

A: That are called statu... statuten.

M: Ohh.. like a statute, ok. What is an example of, lets say, like a collective decision making process that you recommend.

A: Hmm.. It depends on the group, but lots of most of those groups are associations and not foundations—you have also the foundation, de stichting in Dutch, and association, de vereniging. You have the normal association and the cooperative association.

M: So the cooperative is not normal?

A: No no, in Holland at the moment it not so normal, but it is almost the same the cooperative association is a association who runs a company. That is a cooperative association.

M: Ohh ok.

A: And an association is a vereniging, but a cooperative association is also an association but it is an association that runs a company. That is the difference. If you have an association, the members of the association decide what is going on and what are the policies of the association. And with a foundation, it is the board who decides. That is the main difference. Associations are a more democratic way.

C: I noticed that the kinds of terms that I'm hearing here are a little bit different than what we've been hearing in other interviews... You speak about companies and associations. And so I'm wondering, do you feel it is important to formalize these kinds of groups and processes—use a more formal rhetoric?

A: Yeah.. it's not necessary, but if you buy a house, you should do it, there's a lot of money involved so you would be crazy if you didn't do it in a formal way.

K: If you are playing a game you should stick to the rules.

A: Yeah... And if you don't do it then there isn't any bank who wants to give you money. So you have to play the game. But you play it in a way... That you can... That you have the responsibility.

M: So it's a balance between autonomy and trying to utilize the resources that these people have or the structures can provide. To go back to... lets say an example of collective working or models. Can you describe one model that is particularly interesting or successful?

A: Hmm... What kind of model do you mean?

M: Maybe an example of the eco-village or... I just wanna know more about the... For example Ron and Mikkie were telling us, that at meetings, they do a lot of hand gestures to describe, to express when they like something or don't like something, so they don't have to raise their voices or interrupt each other, as another way to communicating...

A: Yeah, that is for the big groups. How you organize a meeting with a hundred people, yeah.

M: And allow people to have a voice even if they sit at the back or if they are quiet or shy, something like that.

A: Yeah, most of the groups find it very important that everyone can have a voice and say what they want. So meetings in those groups make it so that everyone can say what they think about the proposals. Most of the groups find it very important that everyone can say what they want to say and if there are people who are quiet, they are asked about their opinions, and it's very normal in those groups to have high participation in meetings. But we, the groups I work with, don't work with hand signals, because they are not so big. If you work with 20–30 people, it is not so possible.

M: And also, I'm just gonna go back to the eco-garden. Oh yeah, have you—in these villages maybe because they are usually elderly people—have you had to ever think about childcare needs or things related to female needs as well, because we have been doing a little bit of research on how sometimes architecture that looks at the needs of women are quite different but end up being nice for most people. Because there are more meeting spaces there are more, kind of, private spaces for lets say, being able to be comfortable walking in your neighborhood as a woman or to feed your baby in public but not feel... You know those kind of things taken into consideration. So I was curious if any of the neighborhoods you worked with found some interesting ideas for that?

A: I don't know if it is interesting, but it's important for them, for those eco-villages. Most of them also want spaces for collectively organised childcare. That is why people want to live together for you can organize it easier so it is... I don't think its the main reason why people live together but it is also a reason and in most of the groups they speak about the importance of having an environment that is safe for children if they want to play there but also safe for women. And it is in most of the eco-villages most of the participant are women. I don't know why...

M: So most of the participants living there or most of the participants who are actively involved?

A: Actively involved and want to start an eco-village. I'm busy with an eco-village in Den Haag, The Hague, and I think 75% of the members are women.

C: So what would you say are the components of an eco-village? Is it just people making ecological choices in there lives, or do people start new businesses and institutions... Do you make new a new village or do you kind of, take over spaces in a neighborhood?

A: It's mmm... It's sometimes a new village or people live together in a sustainable way and with sustainable companies, they run their own companies. But also there is a spiritual part and there is a social part and it is connected with each other.

M: Would there also be things like cooperative housekeeping or, is there a main common kitchen?

A: Sometimes. But there are also projects where people live most of the time by themselves, in there own apartments. But there are also possibilities to meet each other, and in the evening to have a coffee, or if they want to eat together, or sit in the library...

K: With the project you are working on now, what was the reason for those women, mostly, to want to live together? And what is the current status of that project now? Is it almost ready or...

A: No, it is still in the process of... Talking with how should the project look like, but the project in The Hague, next year they will start with the building the project.

K: They are going to build it themselves?

A: No, a housing corporation builds the building, but in cooperation with the group, so they have a large, big influence, on how...

K: How they want it to look, and how they want to live in it.

A: Yeah. Maybe they are going to buy it from them. If the housing corporation builds it, maybe they can buy the whole project from the corporation. But maybe a part will buy it and a part will be from the corporation and some people will rent it from the corporation.

C: And is this project based on a model? Or did a model come out of the projects like this?

A: It's based on a model we used for a long time and other consulting companies like us also use these kinds of models. I can think of 5 companies that work with groups to setup those communities, those eco-villages.

M: Can you give an example of how De Verandering works with different social justice organizations?

A: We are part of the Solidair Association. We do a lot of work with them. Solidair is an association of small companies, housing-corporations and NGO's. We work together to form a new economy, a more social economy, an economy which is not based on competition but on working together. And one of the things we do is we work with micro-financing for our members and we have our own Occupational Disability Insurance Act.

K: Is it only for the members who work for Solidair?

A: No, everyone can be part of this insurance, but it has to be people who are self-employed. We want the groups, to be no more than 50 people. Because the whole system is based on trust. With 50 people, who know each other, if you want to become a member of the insurance you should know someone who is already a member of it. With more than 50 people it becomes too big, and if there are more than 50 people you start a new group. So we are now busy to make ten new groups in Holland. So that people can organise there own insurance if they're not able to work. Because at the moment it is very expensive for self-employed people to insure themselves for illness. So we thought we would do it ourselves, and we decided together how we could support people. You can support people who are ill, but you can also support people who want to take care of their partner who is not able to work, or if their parents need care.

   And we are also working on our own pension system. And figuring out how we can organise it ourselves and not be dependent on the big money of the insurance companies. So there's micro-financing, the insurance groups, but also having a big network, so if you need someone who builds websites... We look among the Solidair businesses and ask them. So you can network and you can have the advantages of the knowledge within the network. And one of the things we support, and one of our own houses—we have some houses for people—is the Fanga Musow project is in a house from the Solidair movement. We bought it and we rent it to the Fanga Musow group because we found it important that this kind of thing is possible. We will make it possible.

K: So Solidair is some kind of umbrella organization. Connecting all the dots with everybody.

A: To set up our own infrastructure and try to do it another way. So... Not to make big money, but to do what we need and decide collectively what we can do with the money.

C: Would you say that this kind of infrastructure—your own infrastructure—needs to be relatively small? Or do you want it to grown to big?

A: Yeah, we will grow, because a lot of companies work together, but as you grow bigger I think you have to decide to split it up into Utrecht, and Nijmegen and Amsterdam. To form their own solidarity networks. And then those networks can work together. But it is important that people know each other and can meet each other— that it's not so big that you don't know who the other members are.

M: So the last question is to try and find out if there is some kind problem that you have come up against that is repeated or you have a hard time trying to solve. So kind of an obstacle or issue... And besides the tactical/pragmatic approach we ask everybody if they can imagine some kind of tool... It could be a conceptual tool or a physical tool. That might eliminate the problem or just help imagine another possibility.

A: I think working together is very hard. I think it is one of the most difficult things to do. And even if you think about another way of organizing the society, you have to learn lots of things and learning and teaching each other is very very important to learn how you can work together. And if there are problems to think about how you can solve those problems. Not by running away and saying "it is not my organisation anymore..." Lots of people, after a couple of years, they are out and you never hear about them again.

   I think education is very important and if people want to work together, do projects together, I think one of the main things is an educational program about working together, about how to make decisions. And lots of anarchists say...  Lots of anarchists find it important that there is consensus.  Everyone has to agree. If one person says "I don't agree," it's over. I find it a stupid way to work. That one person can destroy a whole project that way. It's like a dictatorship. You have to find other forms.
    If there is someone that is against it and can say why he or she is against it and if there is a very good reason, then of course you have to discuss it over and over. Some anarchist groups say if one person is against something, but won't say why then it's over. It's so stupid. And I think we have to look at a way to find balance between the group and the individual. And that’s the main question, in all those groups we are working with.

K: Did you find a way to balance this?

A: It depends largely on the group. But you can work with the sociocrat system of consent...

M: So education in this area is something you think is important. About working together...

A: Yeah, about working together and in social movements, people have to learn a lot about working together and not say "my idea is the best idea." And listen to each other. The open mind mentioned by Freek is very important.

M: So like the festival twee...

A: 2.Dh5

M: Yeah, umm... We went to their meeting and they are discussing what kind of workshops they could have, and some of them were about analysis of the market-crisis another one is focusing on populism... And I was wondering if there could be a workshop on how to communicate. But would that be the kind of education you where thinking about? Like workshops and...

A: That is one of the things, but also very directly, doing things together, making decisions together.

K: You should bring a marketing man to such an anarchist group, because that is the whole thing those marketing people know exactly how you should communicate. Bring a man in a suit and, "hey! We're gonna..."

A: But if you are open minded you can learn a lot from that. But when those anarchist groups see a man in a suit... [laughter] I found that to really be a problem. I spent many years in those groups and I found most of them too narrow-minded.

M: It's hard work to work with ideals. It is not just the ideal, but there is a lot invisible work. Day to day...

NOTES

GDR Diary 4: Out loud


I believe that, in a way, most of the GDR library’s documents can be read as possible approaches or tentative answers to the question that was mentioned in one of the earlier posts — how can a community of readers be transformed into a community of engaged, yet post-utopian individuals?

On the one hand, it seems that most of the texts that comprise the library share the underlying assumption that reacting towards specific emergencies is not sufficient; these authors (political activists, artists, architects, designers, art historians, writers and others) seem concerned with the redefinition itself of the structuring of space (here, following Lefebvre, conceived as a political, social, economic and physical construct), which presupposes a certain detachment vis-à-vis one’s own situatedness. I am thinking about books such as Democracy — A Project by Group Material (1999), Did Someone Say Participate?: An Atlas of Spatial Practice (2006), Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism (2008) and Make Everything New: A Project on Communism (2006), for example. But on the other, the subject of criticality is an individual, an embodied actor. As constrained, as busy, as alive as any of us.

Inspired by last week’s Read-In, I was reminded of this when reading parts of Dolores Hayden’s The Grand Domestic Revolution (1982), and decided to read the beginning of its introduction out loud as a way of reflecting on the materiality of the lives of the women whose struggles the book describes. My reading is imperfect, incomplete, unaccomplished: The Grand Domestic Revolution- Introduction Δ.


25 May 2010, 23.37 — posted by Mafalda

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