NORMALIZING THE FREETOWN
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK JANUARY 2009
LANGUAGE: DANISH AND ENGLISH
SIZE: 2.2 GB (UNCOMPRESSED, DV-PAL)
SOUNDBITES: CHRISTIANIA SPOKESPERSON, DANISH GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVE, CHRISTIANIA RESIDENTS
SHOWS: PEOPLE, PUBLIC LIFE, KINDERGARTEN, NATURE, ARCHITECTURE AND GRAFITTI IN CHRISTIANIA, AERIAL VIEWS OF COPENHAGEN
SOURCE: SEQUENCE NEWS
RESTRICTIONS: NO SHARE
IN SHORT: The days of Christiania, the freetown located in Danish capital Copenhagen, might be numbered. During the last thirty years the it has become world famous for its alternative liberal way of life and has become a safe haven for many who oppose the rest of society, its rules and regulations. A self-governing colony since 1973, Christiania has been waging a battle in recent years to avoid the government's plan to reassert control over the former naval base, which began with the 2004 closing of the 'Pusher Street' open-air hashish market. In summer of 2008 the negotiations between the Danish state and the “Christianites” regarding the future of the freetown broke down and in May of 2009 the Danish court will deliver its verdict on who will have the user right of these 85 acres of green land in the heart of Copenhagen. So, what is it that the 1000 people living inside the walls of Christiania are fighting for and how do they view the future of Christiania?
(00.00 – 00.50) For over thirty years Christiana, the free town in the heart of Danish capital Copenhagen has been flourishing as an alternative, liberal society. Today some thousand people, more known as Christianites live and and work on these 85 acres of green land which has also become one of the most famous tourist attractions in Denmark, with over 1 million visitors a year. This might all soon come to end. In may of 2009 the ruling of the ongoing court case between the Danish state and , the "Christianites" regarding the user rights of the grounds and property will be determined . Christiania offers today a wide range of restaurants, bars, factories and public services. The free towns own health clinic offers first aid as well as traditional and alternative medical treatments.
(00.50 – 01.22) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)KIM RASMUSSEN SAYING: " Christiania is a chance to breathe in a society that otherwise is created around rules, directives and no self-determination. The right to make your own decisions, the right not to surrender to everything in a society that we don't think very good of anyway… And so it is a little adventure in itself, Christiania. That, it has always been. A little bit of adventure".
(01.22 – 02.00) Today several hundred people are employed by a dussin different factories and workshops making a wide range of products and unique Christiania designs. Most of the people employed are Christianites, but there is a growing interest from businesses outside the wall, to move into the free town. One of the most popular spots visited by the many tourists, is Christianias own Smithy, producing and selling handmade iron and metal arts and crafts. Gitte Christensen, has been working as a blacksmith in the factory since the 1980’s, she describes why she decided to live in Christiania.
(02.00 – 02.40) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish) GITTE CHRISTENSEN SAYING: " When you enter Christiania it is like time slows down a bit. Like as the pace is not as hectic as it is outside in Copenhagen. And I really like that. In some ways it is a bit like a rural village in the middle of the big city. And it is nice to live in a village, where you have a large social network and where it is good to raise your children. It is very safe and you know a lot of people. Everyone knows everyone more or less"
(02.40 – 03.00) Some of Christianias artists and products have reached far beyond the walls surrounding the freetown. One of the most known product is the "Christiania carrier bike" that is today all over the world. But still, Christianites are quick to stress that they value their beliefs in the collective and would never sell their freedom from the market forces.
(03.00 – 03.21) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish) GITTE CHRISTENSEN SAYING: "- When you move out of here you leave your house to the next one that comes in. The one that your neighbourhood decides can move in. And that is a very nice standard, not to go along with the capitalism that runs outside in the rest of the city, where you can't get an apartment. Because you really can't. It would cost you DKK 3 million (€400,000) just to buy an old apartment ".
(03.21 – 03.57) Regardless of who you are, all Christianites participate on an equal terms in the democratic process which forms the Christiania society. Important decisions are taken in area meetings and are said to always be made in consensus. Ole Lykke has lived in Christiania since the end of the 1970´s and has actively participated in developing Christiania into the freetown we see today. But, during the last few years he has seen a gradual shift towards a much harsher and more conservative political climate in Denmark.
(03.57 – 04.33) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)OLE LYKKE SAYING: " We consider this as liberated area. We see ourselves as Indians in a reservation. We set up things as we want them and we think that we have been successful in creating a place that not only we enjoy, but that also tourists and the rest of the Copenhagen population come here to enjoy as good as every day. And you could say that we form an ideological resistance . Socialism is dead and gone, but now that Liberalism has proved it also can create crisis and loss, I think that we stand ideologically strengthened".
(04.33 – 05.00) The youngest of the Christianites have the possibility to be enrolled in one of the four day care facilities and youth clubs. At "The Children’s House" kindergarten more than 20 toddlers and 10 pre-school children are looked after while their parents are at work. While the Christianites have continued to develop their society, they have also during resent years been waging a battle to avoid government plans to take control of the freetown.
(05.00 – 05.15) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish) OLE LYKKE SAYING: " We got a new government, the first conservative government in eighty years. They of course would not accept that there was an anarchistic community here and definitely they would not accept that there was an open hash market.
(05.15 – 05.37) After over thirty years of co existing, the Danish government have now decided that it is time for the freetown to be incorporated into the general Danish society. The idea of the government plan is simply to normalize Christiania. Carsten Jarlov, head of the Place and Property Agency, says it is time for a change.
(05.37 – 06.31) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish) CARSTEN JARLOV SAYING: " The reality is that Chistiania needs development. And we also have to try to avoid that Christiania becomes a museum for Christiania. A museum for Christiania that in the 1970s was created by some people that are in a completely different phase of their lives today. People that have been replaced by others that have different aspirations and different ways of living their lives. First of all we fear that Christiania doesn't have the capacity to develop itself inside a new given framework. We can see that there are sociodemographic problems, there are too few people with resources in Christiania. They are having problems with maintaining the buildings. To be really honest a great part of the buildings in Christiania is falling apart and the cost to save them is growing every day ".
(06.31 – 06.52) The government proposed plan contains a proposal for using several thousand square meters of Christiania land to build three hundred new apartments. The constructions are planned to be build in the same way as the newly developed area of Slussholmen just across the water from Christiania. The apartments here form one of the more modern and expensive residential areas of Copenhagen.
(06.52 – 07.19) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)CARSTEN JARLOV SAYING: " If you look at the plan that has been presented, where you can find these 24,000 square metres in Christiania, you will find that it could very well be made in a way that is profitable but at the same time gives room for some exciting new experimental architecture. So I mean that you could have both continuity and a renewal in Christiania and I think that Christiania could benefit a lot from it".
(07.19 – 07.50) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)OLE LYKKE SAYING: “ We stand firm in the belief of preserving our collective self-determination. And our collective user right, not owner rights, but user right. We want the right to continue to use this place. We want the right to continue to maintain the buildings and the area. We also want to build more houses but we want to do it in the same way that we have always done it, where people build there own houses or at least contribute in building their houses. We do not want five- or six-story buildings that are put together by cranes and that are included into the general economy".
(07.50 – 08.28) Until the end of the 1970s the grounds of Christiania was home to a large naval base. After it was closed down and abandoned by the military, the Danish state allowed squatter movement to inhabit the former military barracks and develop the area into the alternative society of today. Walking along the colourful and car free streets you pass old naval barracks that today hosts Christiania’s own postal office. And further down the road, the Building Office with responsibilities ranging from waste disposal to street maintenance and building restorations.
(08.28 – 08.44) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)OLE LYKKE SAYING: " Christiania is not a housing project, Christiania is a project that makes up a whole life form. It all comes back to that people here have influence over what they are engaged in and because of that you can not just have a waiting list on who is in turn to move in".
(08.44 – 09.02) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)BALDER WELLEJUS SAYING: "We are a big collective. To come back to the housing process… You can not have a collective that does not itself choose who will live in it. If people move in that do not want to be apart of it the collective will not function. A collective is based on people participating.
(09.02 – 09.29) The building office, with its staff of ten people, is the freetown's own technical administration. They maintain Christiania’s infrastructure, building works and reparations. On a daily basis they look after the communal grounds and provide the Christianites with building support and advice. The building office also monitor the gardener’s group which looks after Christiania’s green areas and the lake which lies right in the heart of the freetown.
(09.29 – 10.17) (SOUNDBITE)(Danish)BALDER WELLEJUS SAYING: " They do not calculate with people taking responsibility. That is why Christiania is a community for the future. It is all about people working and taking responsibility for themselves. If you take a look at the big cities and how they are trying to slow down the pace and reduce their emissions, they only succeed if they put responsibility in the hands of the citizens. And in that work Christiania is the greatest school, at least in Denmark, to get the citizens to take responsibility for their own lives. It is a really tough struggle… But we have fought for many years and we have been through a lot. Sometimes it all goes pretty well and another time it can be quite hard but all in all it looks really good in here".