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Christiania
December 31, 2003 5:57 AM   Subscribe

Christiania, the spunky Danish autonomous zone near Copenhagen, may soon be shut down after 32 years of self governance. "I built my own house here. I have two young children who are third generation Christianites. I am not going to give all that up without a struggle."
posted by moonbird (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Whoops, forgot to credit Stare Incublogula for the Observer link.
posted by moonbird at 6:01 AM on December 31, 2003


Wow. I thought Giuliani was going to Mexico City, not Copenhagen. Ah well. People will be able to tell stories of cosmopolitanism to their asthmatic kids/grandkids anyway.

Amsterdam must be preparing for the impending boost in its tourism.

Christiania was a neat place, unique to itself.
posted by Busithoth at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2003


I am ashamed to say I'd never even heard of Christiania before, and I'm Scandinavian. Thanks for the great links, moonbird!
posted by widdershins at 7:12 AM on December 31, 2003


Figures...there are neo-cons over the pond too...a poor end to a noble experiment
posted by hoopyfrood at 7:13 AM on December 31, 2003


Ah, the rich tradition of European squatting.

You gotta pay for this Earth, baby.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:15 AM on December 31, 2003


'The traditional Danish emphasis on the social side of society is being replaced by a stress on individual opportunity. There is less of a sense of solidarity with one's countrymen, that supporting the weak benefits everyone.'

How very sad. I've always had a certain admiration for modern Danish society, and it's a shame that it's slowly turning into yet another imitation of the US.
posted by majick at 7:19 AM on December 31, 2003


Ah, the rich tradition of European squatting.

Indeed. When in Italy on tour, my band played almost exclusively in squats. I thought the fact that Rome had over 300 of them telling. They were being cracked down on also, but I found it great that the government took a pretty neutral side on it (owner thinking it was pro-squatter, squatter thinking it was pro-landlord).

Basically the attitude was that since the owner of the abandoned property wasn't using it, why not let people repair it, pay utilities on it, and live there.

The police even monitored the show, keeping people from parking on someone else's lawn, etc... The squat in Rome was getting ready to close though, since the landlord was going to take out a loan to pay off the back taxes on it (which would give the police the mandate to throw them on their ass).
posted by Busithoth at 7:33 AM on December 31, 2003


Citizens of Christiania (beautiful name), I really do admire the Nordic countries and I can relate to the spirit of forming your own individual community, but there is no free lunch.
posted by 111 at 7:56 AM on December 31, 2003


.... and there's been rumours they want to build a golf-course instead. "Think of the tourism, we'll be the only city with a golf-course". What the..?
Oh trust me, I'll be there protesting when, or rather if, they try to shut Christiania down. I get all my bread at the sunshine bakery, they're great! And the vegan resturant Loppen is fab! Not to mention the childrens theatres and workshops, the skateboard house, the concert halls. They're not just bulldozing the prettiest place for a jog, they're suggesting shutting down major parts of the cities culture for both very young and older kids.
posted by dabitch at 8:26 AM on December 31, 2003


111 - they pay to stay there youknow. They've also built roads and repaired things that the government left to rot. It isn't a free lunch. They give back to the entire city with their daycare centers and childrens theatres, things the city itself can't afford to host.
posted by dabitch at 8:28 AM on December 31, 2003


I have fond meomories of the place from the mid-seventies. I think the world could use more Christianias. There've been so many failed communes and communities; but the ones that work are the result of many people doing the kind of hard work (physical, interpersonal, etc.) that most of us isolated cocooning Western urbanites have not had to do.
posted by kozad at 8:47 AM on December 31, 2003


It's a nice place but the problem has been that darker elements within the community have turned it into a hub for drug-selling and catering to drug tourists from other lands. I have nothing against smoking pot or eating mushrooms, but when the main street of your community is devoted to selling them, in large quantities, you are creating a problem for yourself, attracting an element that is undesirable. The mantra of Christiania has always been "no hard drugs" but that has eroded too.
posted by cell divide at 10:18 AM on December 31, 2003


Rightwing sin: A pretty place that makes people happy without producing corporate revenue.

Its a cool place, wish I could have spent more time there than my brief visit. But indeed, the Danes are swinging to the right.
posted by Goofyy at 10:20 AM on December 31, 2003


Man, I'd never heard of it before...but what a shame that it might be going away.
posted by dejah420 at 10:22 AM on December 31, 2003


I visited there in Spring 1993 and had a great time. Yes, it was the allure of drugs that drew me, but my memories are full of bars with swinging doors like in an old western, dogs roaming freely in and out of the doors, men playing chess and backgammon, skulls on the walls, friendly people and good beer. Or maybe I was high.
posted by msacheson at 11:52 AM on December 31, 2003


lets turn it into a parking lot for the greatest monster truck show in all the world.
posted by Satapher at 2:16 PM on December 31, 2003


I saw Phish in Christiania a few years ago, and the place struck me as a sort of interesting experiment in civil disobedience. Apparently, the government tried to get rid of the squatters back in the 70's by very, well, enlightened ways, like turning off their electricity and water. They turned it on again when they realized the Hippies didn't care about electricity or bathing, and the situation could turn into a health risk for the greater Copenhagen population (typhoid, etc.) When I was there they had Danish police in riot gear walking around the streets to maintain order (i.e., ensure no hard drugs were being sold).

The funny thing is, if you cross the water and go into Copenhagen, then head behind the train station to the "red light" district, you'll find plenty of much harder, much sketchier stuff going on. Christiania is the least of their problems. I hung out with a few kids that had just graduated from the US equivilant of high school (I think it's a year later, so they were 19) and they all had access to drugs that you'd never see in Christania (meth, coke, heroin, etc.) Check out the Rothskilde festival, which is usually held on the rural center island, and you'll see some serious hard drugs.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:46 PM on December 31, 2003


Christiania is indeed a very lovely place, and if they try to shut it down, there will be protests the city have never seen before (i think).

dabitch - when did Loppen get vegan? I've had lamb there 2 years ago.
posted by Eirixon at 2:59 AM on January 1, 2004


Christiania has a whole lot of problems that should not be ignored: To mention a few:
1. The rooted influence of organized crime that the Christianites are apparently to disorganized to do anything about.
2. The problem of remaining outside the Danish society but at the same time using and benefiting from the Danish society.
3. The whole place has turned into an elitist, fashionable place that really does not have much to do with the ideals of sharing that set it all in motion back in the day. They have grown into a very dull comfortable alternative.

If Christiania was able to solve some of these problems, mainly the first one, i think the place would stand a much better chance of making it through the current administration.

On a personal not I just want to add that despite the serious problems facing them I hope Christiania is not shut down.
posted by FidelDonson at 5:23 AM on January 1, 2004


My bad, not completly vegan then, but a very large selection of vegetarian dishes. So much so that I didn't notice the lamb option.
posted by dabitch at 11:35 AM on January 1, 2004


I keep reading that as "Christmania."
posted by kindall at 11:49 AM on January 1, 2004


The pushers themselves tore down pusher street today. They didn't want to be responsible for the 'war' against Christiania [their words]. News in Danish only right now.
posted by dabitch at 9:22 AM on January 4, 2004


english Guardian link, and if you want to watch it go, there's a .wmv file linked on the danish site above under 'Video: Pusher Street er væk'
posted by dabitch at 11:02 AM on January 4, 2004


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