When I first moved to Oakland a few years back, I picked up a Slingshot and read an article about the (now evicted) Hellarity House that piqued my interest in squatting, and started me down the road to becoming a squatter myself. So when I ran into a Slingshot photographer snapping squat pictures in West Oakland last month, I invited her and fellow photographer Brooke to The Fava Bean House. Part of me wanted wanted to show off the chaotic, living canvas that the walls of our house have become. But I’m also motivated by defiance: the suits and ties want to kick us onto the curb, board up our windows, and paint over our walls. After years of harassment, they’re still trying. These photos, then, are a testament to our refusal: we’re still here, the walls are still our canvas, and the garden is still hooking us up with fresh greens.
Like most squats, there’s been a lot of turnover here. The Cops and The Suits turn the pressure up, and a lot of people make the choice to leave. Some days I reach a point of exhaustion, feeling unsupported. The bucket overflows on the kitchen floor, and I think, “Well, should I even clean it up if we’re getting evicted tomorrow?” But when new people come, they bring fresh energy with them. I show people around for the first time and they’re excited when they see the garden and the art, and take an interest in the history of the space. People start taking initiative, fixing things up, improving our infrastructure and those are the days that make all the uncertainty worth it.
Solidarity and complicity with all of the squats around the world facing repression right now. Lets keep it creative and uncontrollable.
The capitalists leave space empty and call it an asset… We’ll call it an opportunity!