Bezoek aan Christiania, de al bijna 50 jaar geleden opgerichte vrijstaat net buiten het centrum van Kopenhagen. Christiania werd een plek waar mensen met kritiek op de consumptiemaatschappij elkaar konden vinden. Nog steeds is de buurt een bijzondere buurt, vanuit de gezamelijke kracht van anders zijn en anders doen.
Kim is een autodidact sociaal werker en volgt al bijna 30 jaar de ontwikkelingen in Chrisitiania. Vanuit zijn overtuiging dat hij kan zet hij zich voor mensen die aan de rand van de samenleving leven. Hij ziet mogelijkheden om ruimdenkende en gekwalificeerde hulp te bieden – altijd op basis van de eigen wensen van de hulpvrager en met het grootste respect voor het individu.
Christiania’s self-management is built on, that every individual has a responsibility for his/her own life and his/hers home. The residents in an area have a common responsibility for the area’s development and condition.
All Christianits, about 650 grown up’s and 200 children, have to take responsibility and action, if there is to be development in the local community. Through the individual Christianit’s self-discipline and the community’s close network have we created a district, almost without crime, violence and fear, and the responsibility is not only for the psychological environment. Self-management also means, that if a resident is not keeping up his home, there will be no authority to come and do it for him/her. In the individual areas the self-management work in the same way.
Another important element in Christiania’s self-management is, that we work with a flat and manageable decision structure, there support’s and strengthens the grassroots foundation. This way it is reasonable easy for a group, there is burning for an idea, to describe it and seek support and economical support from the community, for a realisation of the project.
After that, it is the responsibility of the group to use, manage and maintain the project – this is activism and self-management. That way we avoid an elite and top-managed development of our town. Here there is room for dream’s and fire-soul’s, with social and physical free-room to develop new ideas and initiatives. The starting point is always, that the residents decide for them self, why, when, and how we will develop our town.
Christiania’s highest authority is the community-meeting. Here we discuss the issues and problems that affect the whole of Christiania. At community-meetings all Christianits can come and give his/her opinion. All Christianits have obligation to follow the community-meetings decision. The number of meetings is as needed.
Christiania is split up into 14 local areas of different sizes, some areas have 10 residents, the larger have more than 80. Every area has responsibility for decisions made in their close environment. The residents in the area in a joint venture develop the area and its housing policy, make users rights agreements with the corporations and associations, prioritize renovation, maintain new projects, approve new residents and solve problems among neighbours. If the area-meeting is not able to solve a problem, it can be brought on to the community-meeting. On the other hand, area-meetings are often used as a preparation dialog forum for issues at community-meeting level.
Here the 14 area-cashiers and one representative from the economic-group meet. The meeting is once a month.
The economy-meeting, in daily talk the common-box, takes care of Christiania’s common economy and development of Christiania’s superior economy frame. All the institutions under the common-box participate. The head-cashiers, area-cashiers and people applying for loans from the common-box, has meeting obligation. The meeting is held once a month.
Budget community-meeting discus and decide the budget for the community-box what comes in and what goes out.
Here for example they can decide if we have to pay more for our users right. Typically, the meetings are held as a succession of yearly theme meetings.
Christiania’s three cashiers’ takes care of the daily operation of the common finances. The economy-group also takes care of payment for electricity and water to Copenhagen Energy and the municipal contribution margin. The group also makes presentations for the budget meeting.
The corporate-meeting has the purpose of supporting and inspire the more than 80 Christiania corporations transversely. Here we discuss problems about the daily operations, user’s rights agreements and payment to the common-box. The corporate-meeting stand under the economy-meeting, and all corporations send a representative, and the cashier from the economy-group.
At the building-meeting the work of the building office is discussed. The meetings discuss and evaluate building projects that have already started, both in the planning phase and in projects already on the way. It also takes care of applications for 1/3-part agreements and the green loan fond. The meetings are held once a month.
The purpose of the contact-group is to be a connection between the defence ministries, the fortification and nature secretary (FNS) and Christiania.
The contact-group has mandate to discuss and handle conflicts between Christiania and FNS for example in the renewal of the framework agreement. The contact-groups job is to pass the dialog on to the area-meetings, before the results come to a final decision at the community meeting. Meetings are held when needed. (used to untill 2004, thereafter meetings have been between SES (Palaces and Properties Agency) and Christianias negotiation Group. After the initial plan was dumped a new contact group was created, and they have been having meetings with SES.
The group is the connection between Christianshavns local authority in discussions about solution models for traffic and parking problems. The group is composed of interested and dedicated Christianits, and they meet as the need arise.
Democracy is a long and difficult process, there sometimes can be exhausting, when every participant has the right to participate in the discussions. Manny problems are often so full of conflicts, that it is impossible to reach an agreement in one or a couple of meetings.
Therefore, it takes some decisions processes months or even years, but that does not mean that the quality is less.
Decisions that are forced through, will not be respected and lived by anyway, and have therefore poor value. That everyone participates in the discussions sometimes make the meetings chaotic, but it has the effect that the structure has spaciousness and prevent the social marginalizing and expulsion that we usually see in the rest of the Danish society.
In Christiania you are never cut off from influence on the development in your local environment, even if the social status for example is alcoholic, foreigner, physical or psychological handicapped.
The value in being held as a participant in decisions processes lessen the risk of “falling out” of other society functions and thereby be further marginalized.