No 310 Posted by fw, October 23, 2011
“In the heart of Winnipeg’s rapidly developing downtown core, the Autonomous Zone — or A-Zone for short — has been a hub for radical organizing for 16 years and sees itself as providing an example of alternatives to capitalism. This summer, its tenants finally came together to register as a cooperative and buy the three-storey heritage building.” David P. Ball
The above passage is from David’s excellent article, Winnipeg’s Autonomous Zone celebrates 16 years of building alternatives, which appeared in rabble.ca, October 12, 2001. To read the complete article, click on the linked title.The rest of this post is copied (and abridged in part) from the A-Zone’s website.
The A-Zone model obviously won’t appeal to big “C” Capitalists, but workers’ owned and operated small businesses may interest anyone seeking an alternative entrepreneurial lifestyle.
The Old Market Autonomous Zone (or A-Zone) was founded in 1995. It occupies the three-storey Emma Goldman Building at 91 Albert Street in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District — an area of the city with a deep tradition of class struggle and anti-fascist organizing, going back to the 1919 General Strike, the 1930′s street fights between workers and fascists, not to mention the visits of well-known anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, and Rudolf Rocker.
The simple idea behind the A-Zone has been to get like-minded individuals and organizations, activists, as well as alternative worker-run businesses, together under one roof. In addition to the obvious potential for more effective networking and coordination of activities, this has direct material benefits for all involved, insofar as member groups share costs for collective space and equipment. Equally important, however, the A-Zone seeks to enhance the activist movement by helping to nurture a community of solidarity and resistance, and by recognizing the inter-relatedness of all our struggles.
The Old Market Autonomous Zone stands for basic liberatory values, such as equality, workers’ self-management, and solidarity. For a full discussion of these values, and a “participatory economic” vision consistent with them, feel free to check out the PARECON website.
Autonomy & Solidarity — We believe that organizations seeking social and political justice require relative autonomy to pursue diverse agendas, as well as solidarity with others engaged in parallel struggles. The A-Zone is about respecting and promoting diversity within a broad-based grassroots movement, while fostering a spirit and practice of cooperation and mutual aid.
Anti-Colonialism Begins “at Home” — We recognize that the city of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, the Canadian State — and by direct extension, the A-Zone itself — are colonial impositions that only exist as a direct consequence of the dispossession, massacre, ethnic cleansing, and subsequent imposed dependency and impoverishment of the indigenous First Nations of this land. Even more important than acknowledging that we ourselves live on stolen land, we further acknowledge that the colonial process and genocide within Canada continues to this day, and we commit ourselves to working in solidarity with First Nations peoples across the land, and supporting the self-directed struggles of grassroots Indian communities and activists.
Fair & Equitable Work — We believe that necessary labour must be shared, such that all people engage in both creative and empowering work on the one hand, and rote and menial tasks on the other. This is known as a “balanced job complex,” balanced for overall empowerment and desirability of work circumstances. Not only do member groups share in the responsibilities of building maintenance, but the A-Zone collective (which assumes some of the more “managerial” tasks) is, in turn, made up of representatives from a range of A-Zone member organizations.
Amphibian Design — a website design and development shop (if one person can be a “shop”) that creates websites for progressive and independent publishers, musicians, advocacy organizations and others the world over.(Click on the member’s linked name to visit the website).
Boreal Action/Boreal Forest Network — A non-profit environment and social justice group specializing in communications support and capacity building for NGO’s and Indigenous community campaigns. (No website).
Canadian Dimension Magazine — a magazine which shows there is an alternative to the corporate agenda and the dictates of the global market; that the dream of a better society is still alive.
Cohort Custom Tickets — Cohort offers indie ticket printing services for events including concerts and fundraisers.
FemRev — a Winnipeg group comprised of feminists from various feminist organizations and communities who meet and discuss feminist issues.
Junto Local 91 (Library) — collectively run, volunteer based, anarchist lending library, dedicated to maintaining a comprehensive collection of radical reading material, as well as audio and video resources that are free for the public to use and enjoy.
Mondragón Bookstore & Coffeehouse — political bookstore and vegan restaurant located in Winnipeg’s historic exchange district.
Natural Cycle Worker Co-op Limited — strives to promote positive transportation choices by making appropriate technology and resources available for individuals to live healthier lives.
ParIT Worker Collective — ParIT (pronounced as ‘parity’) offers information technology solutions for small and medium-sized organizations. We achieve this with software products that can be shared and modified; free software.
Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre — Named after the German anarchist Rudolf Rocker, “the Rocker” functions as both a gallery and multi-purpose venue for social, political, and cultural events of interest to the anarchist, activist, and wider Winnipeg community.
Spash Branding — offers Brand Audit, Brand Development, Brand Repositioning, Brand Identity, Web Design, Print Design, Video Production, Audio Production, Promotional Development and Market Analysis.(No website).
Urban Eatin’ Gardeners Worker Co-op – it’s mission is to help enable urban people and places to become more food secure through the development of sustainable, healthy, edible landscapes; to develop viable livelihoods for enthusiastic, landless, urban gardeners/farmers using a grassroots, cooperative business model; and to effect positive social change.
War on Music — Companion record label to the collectively-owned record store of the same name, War on Music has released albums by Evil Survives, Razor, Sacrifice, Personality Crisis, Propagandhi, and others.
Winnipeg Copwatch — independent collective of volunteers working to end police brutality and misconduct in Winnipeg. We regularly patrol Winnipeg’s streets by car, bike, and on foot, observing and videotaping police interactions with the public without interfering with the police.