Monday, July 18, 2016

 SqEK Conference 2016
Rotterdam :: May 18 - 23 
Squat Europe Kollective :: A Research Network focusing on the Squatters Movement in Europe. A Networking and Public Resource especially for Squatters and Activists.

I was invited by Alan Moore who has been producing an International Squat Magazine called HOUSE MAGIC for over a decade :: The main hub of the conference was a "legalized squat" called "Poortgebouw" :: it is a pretty cool building in a very conservative area of Rotterdam. It is cool because it spans two sides of the street :: with a little tunnel in between. It is quite Massive and about 6 stories with a Cafe and Huge Kitchen and a space for bands to play. That is the space I did my NYC Squat History Slide Show which had a great response and I met some really cool and interesting people 

But it was a Really Hard Day for me :: I had just left New York on May 15 and as I was about to get on the plane I got a call from my brother telling me that my mum had just died. Just suddenly and unexpectedly :: she was 83 and not in the greatest health :: having a bad time with arthritis and just survived colon cancer :: but nothing life threatening :: she was still mobile and in good spirits :: I was crushed
I still got on the plane because I knew she would have wanted me to. I had just talked to her the night before leaving and we had a great conversation. She was excited about my trip and I told her not to worry :: that my phone would be working so she could call me anytime. I told her I would be back on June 3rd and would then come to visit her soon after. The last thing I said to my mum was "I love you and I'll see you soon"
I'm so glad I called her that night.

I arrived in Amsterdam to a warm welcome from Bart, Nina and Paloma Plantenga who put me up in their lovely home and wined and dined me. I felt SO much better after a rare good night sleep but then almost immediately had to get on a train to Rotterdam where I had no idea where I was going to stay. 

So the day of my presentation in Rotterdam I spent the afternoon sitting by a canal, crying and writing a piece to be read at my mum's funeral the next day. I was heartbroken that I couldn't attend. Accommodations had Not turned out so my last resort was staying a few nights in a weird hostel that reminded me a bit of a low security prison :: full of well scrubbed gangs of young tourists who smelled strongly of soap :: Not My People !!) 
As a result of everything disastrous combined I was in a Very Bad State when I got to the Poortgebouw where one of the organizers was not so nice :: at all :: (they shall remain nameless) and I will not get into the details but they did not make me feel welcome and seemed uninterested in my presentation. Maybe it was just a Dutch thing. It really was just one person and they might have been nicer if they knew what I was going through. I just needed a little empathy.

Alan Moore was a Big Support (he was the one who got me there in the first place) and got me some wine which helped immensely :: a very sweet girl Jeannette made some delicious carrot soup that I will never forget as I was so hungry I was going to faint. My slide show went great ! I don't remember everyone I met that night but I had a great conversation with writer and former dutch squatter Hans Pruijt :: also hung out for most of the night in the cafe with a really sweet guy from the USA called Tim :: now squatting in Prague :: these are some quality PEOPs I am remaining in touch with and want to work with in the future.

The weekend of presentations and screenings and meetings was interesting and enlightening although I could not attend a lot of the meetings as I had to go back and forth to the Coolest Skate Shop in The World !! To get my rolly bag fixed :: The guys there were So Nice and put the coolest skater racing wheels on my rolly !! They said they would "never forget" me but I'm not sure if it was because I am cool or because I am a wing nut.

For the most part Rotterdam was Great - - I had aLOT of good walks and ended up staying in a Fantastic Space called De Player all due to a Great Friend & writer, Bart Plantenga who literally saved my life hosting me in Amsterdam and hooking me up with his friends in Rotterdam :: Annemiek, Peter, and their kids :: Teddie and Otto :: and Coz ! Also of 
De Player which is a Very Cool Music and Multi-Media Performance Space :: they also put out some rare and fantastic vinyl :: they distro cool stuff :: music, books :: they have some old school tech including photocopy machine ! This place reminded me a LOT of the Gargoyle Mechanique Lab NYC (1980's into the 90s). I had a fantastic day exploring the market with Annemiek, Peter, Teddie and Otto. Ate some new delicious things and taught Teddie how to make a mini comic :: I was So Happy that when I was leaving I got a present from her :: she made me a little mini comic !! Just for me !! That made me So Happy !

Then it was off to the train to Amsterdam for a day at Casa Plantenga and then head to Napoli for the Tien'Ament Conference Festival !

:: Here are some of my drawings from the Rotterdam SqEK Conference ::   

 May 21 :: 2016 :: Poortgebouw
I did not get this guys name but he is Dutch and had some very interesting things to say

May 21 :: 2016  :: Miguel Martine
Presentation about La PAH :: Plataforma De Afecados Por Hipotegas ::
A Spanish organization fighting for the rights of the poor but not associating themselves with the squatter movement.

May 22 :: 2016  :: Poortgebouw SqEK Meet
Different issues discussed, Actions, Projects, Future Organizing.
I was impressed by the time-keeper !! All discussions kept on schedule !
SO Different from our NYC Squatter Meetings.

May 21 :: 2016  :: Audience for Presentations
Some Very Cool Stuff happening all over Europe.
At one point Tim Weldon came up to give a presentation about his Prague Squat which he had just heard was under threat of immediate eviction ! He had to leave right away after he gave us the run down and took a group photo of support !

May 22 :: 2016  :: Poortgebouw
This day was for Meetings to Discuss Ideas and Strategies and to Network and Plan for Projects and other Actions.

May 22 :: 2016  :: Alan Moore
Reading excerpts from his recent book "Occupy Culture"

May 22 :: 2016  :: Alan Smart
Speaking on Culture of Art and Rebellion

May 23 :: 2016  :: De Player
Playing with  Rubber Stamps and Tape just before leaving. I cannot thank you all enough for the amazing stay. So Great to meet you. Like meeting family. 
Hoping to see you all Some Day not too distant Future ! xxx

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