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RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

Today the recently opened Santa Cruz Anarchist Infoshop at 509 Broadway was served a one month notice of terminating our rental contract with the Resource Center for Nonviolence. This came as much of a surprise to us, because until today we have not received any warning or notice of complaints.

In a scheduled meeting with an infoshop volunteer, Bob Fitch (RCNV property manager), handed over the letter and informed us that he was terminating our rental agreement and that it was not negotiable. He went on to list a series of complaints about our use of the space, claiming there were two pages of them (though he won't provide us with the list). Bob says that our presence in the space, and 'our smell' is interfering with his ability to rent the adjacent offices. He also explained that if his decision was challenged by a sit-down or occupation of the space, money for all the RCNV's legal fees would be charged to the individual who signed our lease.

We are asking people to call/write Bob and the Resource Center for Nonviolence in support of us keeping the space here, though the situation doesn't look at all hopeful.

If we are forced to vacate our space at 509 Broadway, we will do everything we can to start up again in a new location. Anyone who knows of a potential rental situation, or who could share space with us, please get in touch.

see also: Announcing the Santa Cruz Anarchist Infoshop!
Clairifications re: Infoshop & RCNV
July 5th, 2004
PSA- Please distribute this information.

In a scheduled meeting with an infoshop volunteer, Bob Fitch (RCNV property manager), handed over the letter and informed us that he was terminating our rental agreement and that it was not negotiable. He went on to list a series of complaints about our use of the space, claiming there were two pages of them (though he won't provide us with the list). Bob says that our presence in the space, and 'our smell' is interfering with his ability to rent the adjacent offices. He also explained that if his decision was challenged by a sit-down or occupation of the space, money for all the RCNV's legal fees would be charged to the individual who signed our lease.

We are asking people to call/write Bob and the Resource Center for Nonviolence in support of us keeping the space here, though the situation doesn't look at all hopeful.
RCNV email: information (at) rcnv.org / phone: 831-423-1626
Bob’s email: bobfitch (at) rcnv.org

If we are forced to vacate our space at 509 Broadway, we will do everything we can to start up again in a new location. Anyone who knows of a potential rental situation, or who could share space with us, please get in touch.

One idea is to get a group of people together to start a new co-op house in town, with the infoshop incorporated within it. (in the living room, etc?). The house could be a lively venue for community happenings like open mics, potluck dinners, movie nights, touring events, live music (?), have a wonderful garden and much-needed space for local projects, etc. Of course for a co-op to happen, we need a good house (we could do a lot of fixin' up), and people who are willing to be renters. (or a house we could somehow purchase or use?) Once again, get in touch if you're interested!

We've been located at 509 Broadway for about four months now, and we were just getting settled in. If you haven't been by the infoshop before, please come by and check out the space. We'll still be open seven days a week 3pm-7pm until the end of July. If the infoshop is something you value having in this town, consider helping us find a new location.

Those of you who have library materials checked out, please be sure to return them in the next few weeks. Also, the anarchist lending library will need a temporary home/storage space after we loose ours. (So if anyone really likes to read...)

What is the infoshop?
We house(d) a community lending library, zines and books for sale, a collection of locally foraged herbs and tea for free use, free computer/internet access, meeting space for local groups, and the only existing public center in town to get connected with local radical projects and community. The infoshop has a focus on anarchist theory and analysis towards inspiring direct action with a radical anti-authoritarian critique of the existent social order. We want to make a space that will connect various projects and social cliques and provide a springboard for local action, to create momentum.
We feel that some form of public space like our infoshop is essential to developing a revolutionary community in Santa Cruz, and we are very sad (angry) to be losing our space. But we're not easily discouraged, and if enough people in this big town want it to happen, a new infoshop can take root.


Thanks to anyone who has supported us in these past few months.
And no thanks to the Resource Center for Nonviolence and associated tenants for not even communicating with us about their concerns.

~Infoshop collective
contact us via email - infoshop (at) hushmail.com
or come by the space, at 509 Broadway. (next to the intersection of Broadway & Ocean St.)
 
 


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Comments

This is not good

Hmmm...

It sounds as though the RCNV's decision is final and the focus is now on finding a new space for the InfoShop.

Just the same, I am curious about the mysterious two-page list of alleged complaints.

Does the RCNV have some sort of open meeting policy, whereby members of the public can watch these decisions being made, and offer comments? Is there some sort of open disclosure policy, whereby members of the public can access RCNV documents?

It seems that the RCNV, in the course of its anti-war work, expects these things of our government.

Shouldn't we expect these things of the RCNV? It is, after all, a non-profit agency, which means that we subsidize it (by not charging local, state, or federal taxes) in return for an ostensible social benefit.

I challenge the RCNV to post the list of alleged complaints right here on IndyMedia, so that the matter can be discussed openly.

I suppose this is one of the risks of dealing with non-profits. If InfoShop were leasing space from a public entity like the library, the Brown Act would guaranty us the right to see the documents and participate in the deliberations.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

It saddens me that the RCNV has so little respect for mutual aid that they are ousting the very people that they should be showing solidarity with. A lot of folks put a huge amount of time and energy into getting the infoshop opened and with time, I'm sure it would have become a vital and thriving space for radicals and anarchists alike. Bob Fitch should be ashamed of himself.
Thanks for everyone's hard work to get the place going...
I love you all.
And as for the RCNV... Violence begets violence
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

"And as for the RCNV... Violence begets violence"


Sounds like a threat to me.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

... a very unfortunate situation. I simply can't understand what could have motivated the RCNV to lease space to these folks, and then relatively suddenly, change their mind... surely they knew what they were getting into? An Anarchist Infoshop is going to attract significant amounts of foot traffic from less than conventional looking folks that more conservative types may not be entirely comfortable with.

I've written Bob Fitch an email, hopefully he'll get back to me an explain the RCNV's side of the issue, but at this point, I can't really visualize a reasonable justification for evicting the Infoshop (especially given the process followed).
 

6:15 PM FRSC Show to Discuss Info Shop "Lease Termination" Today

For those interested in speaking out about or listening to discussion of the issue, tune in to Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.1 FM or www.freakradio.org today at 6 PM where I'll be discussing the issue and inviting phone calls (427-3772).

I spoke twice with Bob Fitch yesterday, inviting him to come on the air and discuss the situation. In the first call, he said he would consider it, but only if the leaseholder, Joe King, would also come on.

Fitch insisted there was a confidentiality concern before he could discuss the issue, though apparently he spoke with Dan White the same afternoon (see article above).

When he called me back around 5, Fitch said he wouldn't appear on the show today with me because I had been "abusive" or "overly aggressive' with his staff.

While I can be strident before City Council or in publicly challenging police misconduct, I was intentinally quite low-key at the RCNV yesterday. Thomas Leavitt was present and confirmed in the e-mail (mentioned above that he sent to Fitch) that my behavior was quite appropriate. (I asked if they knew anything, asked for Fitch's phone number, and asked if I could use their phone. The two there were quite helpful and courteous)

Fitch claim that I was "abusive" sounded like a thin excuse for not going on the air and I told him that. He declined to give any other reasons, though he said he had them.

I shall be calling him one final time to extend an invitation for him to come on and clear the air.


I've summed up some of my concerns below, and have more which I will air on the show tonight.


1. The community has an interest in how a group like the Info Shop is treated since it provides public resources such as a library, a meeting space for groups like Copwatch, and computer access to poor people who otherwise find this difficult.

2. Potential tenants and supporters of the RCNV need to know if the RCNV is treating tenants unfairly or prejudicially. If the RCNV represents itself as a progressive organization (vis a vis its tenants), but declines to contact tenants about concerns until it announces an eviction decision--reached at a closed-door meeting, shouldn't future groups be warned about this?

3. I am concerned about whether this is yet another instance of liberal hypocrisy where power ignores justice and whitewashes the situation with excuses about "avoiding damaging fratricidal fights within the left".

The RCNV commendably supports the human rights of Palestinians and Guatemalans abroad, and draft resisters, but then turns around and disregards basic fairness for its own tenants in Santa Cruz? I've been concerned about the RCNV's failure to address local issues of peace and justice (specifically around civil rights for the homeless and local police abuses). Yet at the same time I like to acknowledge their support of some international and national peace and justice causes.

4. Fitch did not deny he'd told the tenants through Joe King that if they engaged in CD to block the de-facto eviction, he would charge them legal fees via the signed lease. Such a position for the RCNV is ironic, at the very least.
 

Corporate Media (sucks) articles: Mercury and Sentinel

Non-violence group ousts anarchists (San Jose Mercury) Wednesday July 07
santacruz.indymedia.org/otherpress/display/209

Anarchists lose lease with peace group (Santa Cruz Sentinel) Thursday July 8
santacruz.indymedia.org/otherpress/display/214
 

That's BULLSHIT.

I'm disappointed about all of this on many levels. What bullshit.

It seems strange to me that RCNV, which works to promote safe-zones (however you'd like to define them) in the community and abroad, would deprive "unconventional" people of a safe place to continue the establishing of just that-- a safe, non-judgmental place to be.

That a meeting wasn't held, that a warning wasn't given, that someone didn't sit down with the infoshop tenants prior to eviction speaks VOLUMES about the individual here that is representing RCNV. Why didn't this happen? Did he really think that these people who poured their hearts into this place wouldn't comply?

Big props to the infoshop collective for all of their energy. Not in vain. Chins up.
 

In Solidarity with the RCNV

The people who operate the RCNV have provided an extremely valuable resource for the City of Santa Cruz for years. Because their ideas don't mesh with those of the primitivist, cliquey, and often elitist group of individuals that have begun to call themselves the Infoshop Collective, does not mean they are bad people. To send out press releases denouncing the organization and questioning its tolerances is unacceptable.

What I and many others have seen from the folks of the Infoshop collective is extreme scrutiny of society without wanting to actually work to help the lives of others who are being oppressed. many are products of upper middle class liberal upbringings, have never experienced the direct results of societal problems about which they often rant, and are contributing little to the betterment of society.

The RCNV on the other hand, which has operated in Santa Cruz for years and years is working to effect change by standing by its principals of nonviolence, tolerance, and peace. The RCNV is continually educating the public about the poverty draft, helping people who have fallen to the US military's manipulative practices, providing a valuable community meeting place, bringing activists and organiztions together.

The RCNV should NEVER have been badmouthed to the media for this decision. It's spiteful and unproductive.
As it stands, groups like the RCNV already get a bad rap from newspapers and TV. Why fuel the fire? Aren't we all in this together?

Some people just have a problem with authority, with structure, with "reformism" if you want to call it that.

The owners and operators of the RCNV should not be obliged to uphold "some sort of open meeting policy, whereby members of the public can watch these decisions being made". The decisions are their's, and are most certaninly valid.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

Hi, person who just posted,
You make many sweeping assumptions and sterotypes, which, of course, are largely false. The loose group of people who were trying to keep the space open (while working on many other projects we feel passionatly about) are involved in many projects & struggles to different degrees and are from quite varied class backgrounds - you don't know all the people involved, you don't know where we come from, you don't know what motivates us, you don't know what we spend all our time working on, you don't know our hopes and our dreams because you are simply making generalizations about a group of varied and unique individuals - which is also very damaging to forming real connections and community with one another.

Instead of talking shit to the media about a theoretical group of people (and I wonder what motivates this?), it would sure be nice if we could approach one another with openness and respect, in relationships of sharing and giving where we can grow and learn about each others lives.

The infoshop has never publically denounced the RCNV. Journalists spin things however they can to try and create false conflicts and a better "story" to sell. We're not responsible for that. I hate the media.

Infoshop folks were not badmouthing the RCNV at large (though individuals involved may have some critiques of it). Our sentiment was expressed in the PSA above, which is one of dissapointment and resentment towards certain people for the way they handled the situation of kicking us out unilaterally and without communication.

And yes, some people do have a problem with authority, structure that is imposed upon them, and are critical of reformist approaches.
 

Unity?

Yet another circular firing squad... so sad
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

"why the vengence?" admits that "some people just have a problem with authority, with structure, with 'reformism'...." So we know that "why the vengence" does not like such people. "why the vengence?" calls some of them "cliquey" and "often elitist" without giving any examples of cliquey or elitist behaviour. It is unclear whether "why the vengence?" even knows the people s/he is denouncing. We are told that they are also "primitivist." This is supposed to be understood as "bad," since cliquey and elitist have obviously negative connotations. Perhaps "why the vengence?" would like to explain why "primitivist" has a negative connotation for him/her, but this might involve some thought. Spewing many unsupported claims about people s/he doesn't like, is much easier. And who badmouthed the RCNV to the media? If the free radio show counts as badmouthing "to the media" maybe this claim can be believed. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense. "Why the vengence?" asks "aren't we all in this together?" First of all, who is "we" and what is "this"? Until I know, my provisional answer would have to be no. We are not all in this together.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

What a bunch of nonsense. The Resource Center for Nonviolence and Bob Fitch should be thanked for taking a chance on an a project with no proven history or track record. The previous infoshop project, the Rhyzone, lasted a year, but it only took 4 months for the current dysfunctional collective to wear out its welcome. This definitely says something about the current "lifestyle" anarchists who apparently did everything possible to alienate their fellow tenants. If the collective had made an ongoing effort to get along with the other tenants of 509 Broadway, especially while just starting out, they would most likely still have access to the space. Instead, we've been treated to a verbal trashing of the other tenants, immature whining about how abusive everybody is being towards them, no indication of any internal process or efforts to deal with problems that arose, and an ongoing campaign to vilify the RCNV and Bob Fitch in particular. It defies imagination to suggest that Fitch and RCNV suddenly, on some unexplained whim, decided to oust the infoshop for no valid reason. RCNV's and Fitch's history suggest the exact opposite. Bob Fitch is a long time activist, working for and with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, and continues his movement work today. And for over TWENTY YEARS, RCNV's track record in dealing above board and honestly with ALL their tenants is above dispute. More importantly, the RCNV has welcomed radical projects using their space. Art&Revolution, Copwatch, Santa Cruz Indymedia, Earth First! (who previously were in the exact space the infoshop currently occupies) and various direct action groups, either currently or in the past, have based their work there.

I challenge the infoshop collective (or their supporters) to get ANY statement of solidarity for their activities from ANY of the current tenants at 509 Broadway. I doubt if they could. Remember these tenants were already there before the infoshop arrived, and certainly deserved some consideration and respect for their ongoing activities. Instead the infoshop collective wants to demonize the tenants, the RCNV, and Bob Fitch, for problems that were caused by the infoshop's OWN behavior.

Instead of actually dealing with the numerous complaints communicated to the leaseholder, or at least attempting to find out what had gone wrong with their own internal communication dynamics (regarding their claim of ignorance about any complaints), the infoshop collective treats us to a press release full of innuendo, hearsay and inaccurate second hand information, which they then disseminate all over the internet and to numerous local news outlets. In my estimation, this act alone has obliterated any goodwill folks may have felt toward the project or any chance of it continuing in the same space. This disinformation was unfortunately then featured on SC-Indymedia's site, which thereby propelled it onto the main Indymedia.org site, giving it world-wide distribution. Additionally, the site infoshop.org published the release on their site and it has generated some pretty ugly comments about how violence and vandalism should now be employed against the RCNV and its staff in revenge for their perceived "crimes" against the infoshop collective. (I include these comments at the end of this post.) It would certainly be a tragedy if the immature actions of a bunch of "so-called" anarchists caused any harm to a valuable project like RCNV or any of the individuals on the staff or those who reside there as tenants. Any actions of this sort would indefinitely postpone any future infoshop project in Santa Cruz, and cause irreparable harm to the radical projects currently welcomed by the RCNV.

And regarding the "smell" issue. I notice that the infoshop collective is not claiming that "smell" problems didn't exist. How could they deny this given the DUMPSTER-DIVING milieu some of them live in? Of course some of them SMELL... Instead of acknowledging this as a problem, they instead resort to demonization again. A more appropriate action would have been to come up with a policy similar to those employed at events that are declared "odor free" or "perfume free" due to some folks environmental sensitivities. I'm sure this situation did nothing to endear the collective to the other tenants, nor did it contribute to helping the RCNV rent any existing vacancies.

Additionally, the rental agreement for the infoshop space is/was between a single individual and RCNV. This arrangement was no doubt problematic to all parties concerned. The infoshop collective, instead of launching hysterical attacks on inappropriate targets, would be better served by examining what factors led to the implosion of their internal cohesion, which apparently is the underlying cause of all their problems.

Santa Cruz is in need of a solid anarchist project. While I'm disappointed at yet another infoshop failure, I take heart that anarchist-oriented projects such as Free Radio Santa Cruz, Ped-Ex, Sacred Grove, Food Not Bombs, etc. are established and respected. A new infoshop collective needs to form, sum up the mistakes of the last two efforts without blaming others for their own internal failures, and keep moving forward towards a sustainable project.

I'll end with a comment also posted on the infoshop.org site, with which I agree:

"It is a struggle to keep these spaces open, but it's not that hard. Frankly, I'm baffled as to why many spaces have such a hard time staying open. I think that one thing we need to focus on is broadening community support for our infoshops. By community, I'm not talking about people in your city or town who listen to punk music. We need to create spaces that are welcoming to people from all walks of life. If your 'infoshop' looks, feels, and smells like a punk rock clubhouse, I don't give a fuck if the damn thing closes."
--

QUOTES FROM COMMENTS ON INFOSHOP.ORG
www.infoshop.org/inews/stories.php

-- happiness is hanging your landlord!

-- Fucking liberals.

-- Totally fuck their shit up and try and legally and /or physically block them every step of the way. I mean we're fuckin' anarchists here, right? We shouldn't let some goddamn candy-ass liberals and their stooge landlord get in our way.

-- it would be a shame if somebody trashed the place or covered the place in shit. Hows that for smells Bobby Boy u fuckin wanker!

.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

I want to "get real" and actually hear someone support their claims that infoshop collective members have been blaming others for their failures (whatever you may conider those to be). Posting those responses from infoshop.org doesn't say anything about the infoshop or the eviction. In fact, it makes you look stupid if you have to rely on what random people posted on the internet in order to villify the people keeping the infoshop running. Maybe some of the infoshop staffers offend your delicate nose. This could be a problem. But as the issue has been raised, it could very well be people who have visited the space who are being told they smell bad. Should people be turned away because of their smell? This would perhaps be something "real" anarchists would do--not these "lifestyle" anarchists and "so-called" anarchists who worked their asses off to open the infoshop. "get real": if you want to tell me why the people running the infoshop are not real anarchists (which you obviously imply), I am all ears. Perhaps a string of people will post varied accusations against the infoshop collective without ever responding to what "infoshop-person" or I have posted. Someone who doesn't know what is going on or the people involved probably has little to say about some of the particulars being discussed here. So, those who villify the infoshop collective (obviously knowing them somewhat or at least having heard rumours...) should try to respond thoughtfully and intelligently instead of complaining about vague categories like "lifestyle anarchists."
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

I don't know where this whole thing will end up or if there are (possible) upcoming legal actions (not implied but referred to in the free radio interview) but it is unfortunate.

I have dropped into the rcnv a few times and was welcomed warmly one time and neutrally the others.

I dropped into the anarchist infoshop once and was welcomed warmly.

Whether Fitch is the unlucky fall guy or not I guess we will not know under these circumstances.

Has legal action even been threatened?

If not why aren't the details of the process made public?
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

this is probably a waste of my time, but,

in regards to the "a press release full of innuendo, hearsay and inaccurate second hand information..." that 'get real' describes-

The only thing that the infoshop released publicly was a PSA to explain what was happening and ask for support. It was sent to free radio, and posted on indymedia. it was not a "press release", though someone took it and sent it to press outlets after-the-fact (which was not a group decision, the PSA said "please distribute" on it so some person decided to send it to the media)
The short PSA is at the top of this page, and if one reads it, it simply explains, from first-hand knowledge (written by multiple infoshop volunteers), that we have lost our space, that people could call the RCNV, what the infoshop was, and ideas for how the infoshop could exist in the future.

I think the PSA was clear and to the point, it did not make any false statements or allegations, and it certainly wasn't "disinformation".
 

The Devil's in the Details

Thanks to the folks who called in to my radio show last Thursday on all sides.

There are still some basic unanswered questions.

Where is the list of complaints re: the infoshop from April to July? What were they specifically?

Is there a chronology of specific complaints and when they were made that leaseholder Joe King received?

Is there any indication that King did not communicate these concerns to the collective or that, once communicated, the concerns were ignored?

What was the process by which the "lease termination" or--bluntly--the eviction was arrived at?

How long did this process take?

Was the leaseholder or any of the infoshop collective invited to discuss concerns with Bob Fitch and/or others involved in the property management chain?

I've tried to contact Lex La Fortune, who has a role in all this on the RCNV's side, but haven't heard back from him.

Has anyone from the collective sat down with leaseholder Joe King and discussed concerns, raised by Joe Williams on Thursday night's show, that he got complaints from Bob Fitch that were never addressed or communicated to the broader collective?

Has anyone from the collective approached Bob Fitch with suggested alternatives and a new lease arrangement suggestion?

On the radio Thursday night, Joe Williams suggested that Bob Fitch could not legally go public with the details of any his complaints because that would violate a confidentiality arrangement with Joe King. Does anyone have any more actual legal information on this claim?

My instinct in landlord-tenant disputes, unless I see abusive tenant behavior--particularly in Santa Cruz--is to side with tenants.

But it behooves the infoshop collective to get a statement from Joe King as to when and in what form he received complaints from Bob Fitch or any other RCNV agent there.

The main defense of the RCNV consists in the claim that Fitch communicated timely complaints to King which King both did not act on and did not communicate to the collective. The problem with investigating this claim is that there's no documentation--on either side.

What there is is the reality that Bob Fitch has given the infoshop a one month termination notice in a situation that will essentially spell the end of their project.

I commend Joe Williams for his willingness to act as a go-between. I second his suggestion that the collective find someone else to send forward as a lease seeker.

Still I wonder where all the documentation is for Joe's unrestrained defense of Bob Fitch--other than his personal respect for Fitch.

Since this is a matter of community interest, we need to see the documents. Since a community resource is being dismantled here, I think it's appropriate that the community respond.

If the RCNV's silence continues (with the steel threat of early August eviction behind it), perhaps the tenants might consider an educational table set up outside the RCNV on the sidewalk, a petition drive, to make the community aware of the issue and get public discussion going. It might also encourage others to come forward as leaseholders.

Peaceful protests and pickets are squarely in the democratic tradition. It would be nice to see a little democracy in action locally--not just rhetorically re: Haiti, Nicaragua, the arms race, and Iraq.

"Why the vengeance" seems super-sensitive to criticism of the Resource Center here and quick to demonize the info shop folks. YET HE REVEALS NO SPECIFIC FACTS. As for "badmouthing the RCNV"--to make fair commentary on what appears to be an unjustified eviction is a positive service to the community. If the RCNV is such a principled group, it can exercise its principles a bit and talk about this issue instead of hiding behind a cloak of "confidentiality".

"Get real" suggests the info shop folks couldn't get along with their neighbors, but there ARE NO SPECIFICS. "Get real" gets extremely irate at what is actually a rather low-key regretful description of events by the info shop. Someone is criticizing his sacred cow. Unless Bob Fitch (or Joe King or someone else) elucidates the facts, we are stuck with the obvious: a group of activists is being evicted without clear justification. And we're asked to take it on faith that this is okay because the RCNV would never act like an intolerant, impatient, and arrogant landlord.

Groups (like the ACLU and the RCNV) which have made commendable public statements on human rights abuses elsewhere, have been blind or silent to local abuses for quite a long time.

Liberals overseas can be fascists at home, I'm afraid. To make an informed judgment, what we need to see here are the details of what actually went down. Does anyone have these details?

I'll be taking up the issue gain at 11 AM tomorrow morning on Free Radio for those interested in calling in (the whole show runs from 9:30 AM to 1 PM) on 101.1 FM or www.santacruz.indymedia.org. Call in at 427-3772.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

hmmm, sounds like joe king needs to come forward and make a statement. perhaps this can only be done after the legal proceedings (the eviction) have concluded? perhaps another free radio dj other than norse can investigate this issue, especially the other tenants' complaints? (we all know how sensitive robert can be in these cases...)

and i hear that the Good Times newspaper is supposed to have a story on this topic in their next issue. evidently, some former infoshop collective members will shed some light on the situation...
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

Hello,
I would just like to add that the rental situation for the basement went like this: there were 4 seperate offices with one common shared room connecting all of them. One was rented by the infoshop, one was rented by a welfare support group, another was rented by ME up until June 30th (I used this space as an art studio), and the fourth office was unrented (although the previous renter often made use of the common shared space and was rather hostile to both me and the infoshop collective members, referring to them as "dirty anarchists" to his clients)
I just wanted to point out that i never once made any complaints to the RCNV regarding the infoshop, a project that I was often involved in helping out. I also know that there was often a good deal of dialogue between the infoshop and the welfare support group, which i believe took care of any issues the two had with eachother (which were minimal at most, anyway).
The claim that the infoshop was deterring anyone else from renting the other units is simply not true. I simply would have not rented the art space had it not been for the infoshop. And to the best of my knowledge, the RCNV never once had anyone come down to check out the 4th remaining unit, so to claim that the infoshop was responsable for the lack of new renters is heavily lacking support.
Maybe someone from the infoshop collective wouldnt mind going over and speaking with the welfare support group and asking if they were those who placed complaints with the RCNV. I seriously doubt that even if they had, they were minimal at all, given the good relationship between the two. (The infoshop members were referred to me by the head of the welfare support group as "very polite, nice young people")
I am baffeled at the complaints the RCNV recieved in regards to the infoshop project. I'd ask Bob Fitch or other members of the RCNV to at least disclose the complaints and violations of the lease to the infoshop collective, if not to the public.
That is all.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

"get real" cited some quotes from a discussion thread on infoshop.org

could you fill me in what the URL of that discussion is? i'd like to read them in their entirity.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

This is really disappointing.

Santa Cruz, get real. Is this what the "radical" community is up to now? I don't want to be too heavy handed, but this is really pathetic.

I usually expect local activist doings, local interest, all of this on IndyMedia, but this is so sad. I hope the sparring parties here can wake up in time to realize there are better things to do than fight amongst one another about things as trivial as a tiny office space in the RCNV. (Of course someone will now tell me why it's so much more than that).

The only comment I can second is the "circular firing squad" reference. That it is - sure isn't the same Santa Cruz I left.

Fire away anarchist! Fire away liberals! 99.9% of America is laughing!
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

"sure isn't the same Santa Cruz I left."

Unfortunately, this is all *very* much in line with the Santa Cruz I know....
 

Internal mayhem led to demise of anarchist center

A Shop Divided

gdtimes.com/07_15_04/news/

Internal mayhem led to demise of anarchist center

By Banks Albach
07/15/04

Like many political theories, anarchy might work better in coffeehouse conversations than in practice. Indeed, internal squabbling and a clash of philosophies led to the demise of a local anarchist center, according to one original member.

On July 5, after a meager four months in operation, the Anarchist Infoshop is being ejected from its space in Santa Cruz. The Infoshop has less than a month to find a new home.

The Infoshop, located at 509 Broadway, has been renting a small 12-by-15-foot space from the adjacent Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), a nonprofit focusing on nonviolent protest and direct action. The center charged the anarchists $200 per month in rent.

With slogans such as “expect resistance, the future is unwritten? and “we are everywhere? posted on its walls, the Anarchist Infoshop attempted to foster an anti-authoritarian revolutionary presence in Santa Cruz. It has a lending library, books and zines for sale, Internet access and a shelf lined with local herbs for free tea.

Ideological differences, conflicting objectives and dominant personalities led to an early splintering in the collective, says one original member, leaving a handful of individuals running the Infoshop, none of whom appear on be lease.

Maya Ramneth, one of the original members who played a large part in launching the project but has since dropped out, says the main problem with the project was the different definitions of anarchism within the collective. She says its demise simply signifies the age-old battle that progressive and radical thinkers continually find themselves engaged in.

For such a project to work, Ramneth says, “It assumes a high level of individual maturity. I think it´s much easier for the right to say here is the dogma, here is the correct party line, everybody get on board. But if you´re focused on individual liberty, it´s much harder to get people to agree.?

According to Ramneth, the problems started almost immediately and from within the collective itself. The original plan, she says, was to create a “convergence of ideological factions? focused not only on anarchist thought, but on projects involving the environment, prison solidarity, social justice, race and gender issues, and the peace movement.

After a few meetings at the collective, says Ramneth, the plan hit obstacles when a small faction of anarchists began to dominate the dialogue and disregard diverse viewpoints. Out of the original 20 or so members, there are only about six left, most of whom identify with the strain of green anarchism, an ideology that takes a stand “against civilization as a whole,? says Ramneth.

“One by one, people became alienated and factions dropped out,? she says. “There was a weird unspoken hierarchy about whose words carried more weight. …The people that are left might get stereotyped as to what the whole movement is about.?

The remaining members of the collective see it differently. In their opinion the project was not broad in scope, but specifically oriented around one thing: anarchism. Before it all started “the call out was for an Anarchist Infoshop,? says one remaining member, “and then there were debates over whether we should even call it anarchist. A lot of people left because they didn´t want to be associated with anarchism.?

The remaining members agree that alienation during the meetings was a possibility, but only because “direct communication? among 30 people with different ideas can easily result in “a lot of misunderstandings,? they say.

Bob Fitch of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, who served the 30-day notice, declined to comment on specific complaints or problems involving the anarchists, but he did cite an overall inability “to comply with the contract? as the main reason for the action.

“These are small, shared rental spaces,? he says. “It was never intended for a community drop-in.?

According to an unsigned press release from the Anarchist Infoshop, the resource center and its tenants did not engage in any communication with the Infoshop regarding their concerns. However, a remaining member recalls one neighbor, who only uses the property occasionally, as yelling at the anarchists for being “smelly? and not wearing any shoes.

Fitch says the situation was never about politics. “In other words, we didn´t disagree with them politically,? he says. “It´s about compliance with the contract. … It´s too bad, it´s a great little bookshop.

“It´s a sad thing,? he continues. “These people need a place they can pursue their project. Unfortunately, this is not the appropriate site for [it]. We sincerely hope they find that site.?
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

the good times article appears to be biased and out of touch. these two statements make no sense together, albeit they may be out of context:


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
These are small, shared rental spaces,? he says. “It was never intended for a community drop-in.?

Fitch says the situation was never about politics. “In other words, we didn´t disagree with them politically,? he says. “It´s about compliance with the contract. … It´s too bad, it´s a great little bookshop.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

It is fascinating to look at news-media articles from a critical perspective since this is precisely NOT the response such articles serve to provoke. Such articles are intended for passive consumption, presenting fragmented bits of information and flattening all ideas into commodities--political ideologies that compete with each other for dominance. To have any coherent critique of capitalism it is important to understand the way in which its logic is ingrained in the media spectacle, which provides products fit for mass consumption and sees individuals only as a part of that mass. It seems completely relevent for some discussion to take place on indymedia that analyzes the media's role in society. "Discussion" itself is something that does not seem to often take place on indymedia. People write quick judgements of each other in an effort to prove their point, but they never bother to look at the actual points or arguments that others are making. So the comments often take the appearence of a string of isolated statements with little relevence to each other. Everything seems to have relevence only to the extent that someone else can put it in a box, give it a name, and criticize it for not measuring up to some ideology that is placed above criticism, a system of false consciousness that may (like a media article) have little substance but gives the appearence of accuracy and acceptability--at least to those who do not examine the assumptions and preconceived ideas on which it is based. The Good Times article posted above is an excellent example of what journalists are paid to do. It is ridiculous for anarchists to expect anything else. The only way anarchists could make themselves "look good" for the media would be for them to turn their ideas into another commodity or political opinion and then present these pre-packaged opinions to the media, effectively eschewing any consistent anarchist practice. With the Good Times article we are told of "internal mayhem"--how exciting! In line with what I have said, anarchy is portrayed as a "political theory," not a theory against all politics--as such a thing is actually in conflict with a media based on political spectacles. We are then told that a clash of philosophies led to the demise of the anarchist center. How? Was the eviction of any importance or was this clash so cataclysmic that nobody could possibly go on? Why the fact that an entire collective does not appear on the lease is of any importance eludes me. But it certainly can't be a good thing, right? Bob Fitch is awkardly inserted into the latter half of the article. As there is no clear link between the eviction and the spectacular ideological mayhem, the article is disjointed and doesn't cover either topic with any more than a superficial understanding of what was involved. Is "get really real" ( the person who posted the article) the same person who posted as "get real"? Or perhaps "get really real" was trying to put in the final word on some of the topics "get real" was concerned with. The Good Times article perhaps told the definitive media tale of the anarchist infoshop, but it didn't really tell you much at all--it wasn't supposed to. I have not focused on the real disagreements that arose within the collective as I feel this is not the best place to discuss these sometimes very personal topics. Despite the fact that I was glad to have Maya involved in the infoshop for the time that she was, I don't understand why she would go to the media and further confuse this already exagerrated situation. I feel that the media will always confuse "what the whole movement is about" precisely because they can only see it as a stereotype, an image of rebelliousness, or a political ideology and not a diverse group of individuals working toward some common goals--in many ways not a unified "movement." For his part, the journalist was entirely predictable. He got his story of internal conflict and then asked a remaining collective member to "refute what seems to be the situation" (quote taken from an e-mail), already clear about the type of story he was writing--one of exagerrated conflict and little background information.
 

Re: RCNV terminates Infoshop's lease

A new sign installed outside the infoshop reads:

"The central room and the outside porch areas are not to be used for informal
gathering or as a drop in center by any of the office renters. No food, no
cooking, no sleeping or hanging out permitted. All activities are to be
confined to office areas only.
Parking- Do not use the RCNV parking lot, not even for a few minutes. Cars
illegally parked in the lot will be towed."

Were these activities prohibited by the lease?
 

Community service without the community?

Bob Fitch is quoted: “These are small, shared rental spaces,? he says. “It was never intended for a community drop-in.?

Ummmmm.... a LENDING LIBRARY is not for community drop-in??? Is that in the lease? That they could provide a service to the community but not be allowed to have members of the community come and use the service? This is an oxymoron.

The RCNV needs to explain why taking the extreme step of eviction is justified.

Also: didn't State law recently change so tenants have 60 days to move, not 30?
 

Null update

The basic question: "were the concerns of Bob Fitch (and presumably the RCNV as landlords) conveyed in writing in timely and reasonable fashion to the infoshop?" has not been credibly answered by Bob Fitch (by making available to the collective a written list of complaints for which they're being ousted next month).

Infoshop workers insist no such letter was ever delivered to them.

The one Fitch letter in their files from early April cites some concerns but also acknowledges that they have been promptly dealt with.

In fairness, the anarchist infoshop leaseholder, Joe King, has not yet weighed in on the issue and is very hard to reach (for me anyway). (Joe King, please phone home!)

The infoshop members apparently feel that because they only have a month to month lease, they can't successfully find landlord Fitch on this, even though Fitch agreed to their use of the space as a community resource (a library at the very least) and now seems to be bridling at the "public traffic" through what is a largely empty space.

Fitch has been invited to appear on my radio show and can obviously post on this newsside, but as with many in power, he disdains to do this. Why bother when he's got the sheriff's on his side?

If the infoshop collective members don't want to make the issue a public one with specific documentation and protest against this shabby treatment (there is a public sidewalk outside the RCNV, right next to their front door), then it's hard for others to pick up the cudgel.

One of the previous tenants, Uncle Dennis of Earth First!, that leased the infoshop space sometime before the infoshop publicly described Fitch as "hostile to activists" (call-in to Bathrobespierre's Broadsides radio show, 7-15) and noted that once Earth First began organizing tree sits and getting actively locally, Fitch rolled out the "unwelcome" mat for Earth First as tenants.

I continue to be concerned that a community resource is being destroyed by a group (the RCNV) that makes hay off its reputation as being activist-friendly locally.

If I have any new info, I'll be putting it out on Bathrobespierre's Broadsides today on FRSC between 6 and 8 PM tonight (101.1 FM, www.freakradio.org).

If anyone has any info, I'd urge them to post it here, or call me at 423-4833 and leave a message. (Or call the show at 427-3772)

In the meantime, if you're having dealings with the RCNV, I urge you to ask (for the sake of local activists), "why are you throwing out the infoshop and its library?" as you join up for Lockheed actions, buy peace buttons, and support rights for the Palestinians.
 

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