Occupy veterans in Oakland, California, craving greater establishment and a place to breed the ideologies of their movement, are considering the purchase of a Mediterranean-inspired commercial building in a highly coveted section of their city.
An amalgamation of collective groups now occupies the former concert hall that was leased last year to several “veterans of the Occupy movement,” with an option to purchase. The agreement gives the group three years of below market $15,000 a month rent and utilities payments in which to decide whether to purchase the three story building for $1.95 million. The price is said to be below market value as well.
“There was a notion that we needed to create a commons with a roof — a place where we could go every day to do creative work and social justice work because they are bound up with each other,” the Contra-Costa Times quoted 44-year-old technology professional David Keenan as saying. Keenan has reportedly led negotiations with the building’s landlord, as well as city officials.
Omni Oakland Commons is described on its webpage as, “a group established to acquire and administer a collective property.” The page states, “We are committed to a radical commoning of space and resources.”
The origins of the Omni Collective is posted in a crowdfunding campaign for the group. It states, “It all started in 2011 with the creation of Sudo Room (a publicly-accessible hackerspace) and the Bay Area Public School (a free collective university). Emerging out of the Occupy movement, these two groups formed a collectively-run space in downtown Oakland, and were joined by other groups and individuals who shared their vision of a more equitable commoning of resources and meeting of human needs over private interest or corporate profit.”
The crowdfunding campaign to complete needed renovations to the 22,000 square foot space has raised at least $65,851 of its $80,000 goal. The campaign reassures donors that their donations are tax deductible. The page also gives encouragement and instructions for opening similar collectives “all over the planet!”
Current Onmi occupant member collectives include a worker-owned café and bookstore, film lab, hacker space, community print studio, contemporary poetry press, food collective Food Not Bombs, biology lab, self-care culture collective, grassroots campaign group, art gallery and a “free, self-organizing, anti-capitalist school with radical and contestatory politics.”
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