Thursday, 13 August 2009

Eco Village at Kew Bridge

On June 6th 2009 a group of flea-ridden, tree hugging activists occupied an area of derelict land in Brentford, West London, near Kew gardens. The so called eco-village is little more than a fenced off area of weeds and rubbish, left untended for the past 20 years. The owners of the land, St. George, have issued the following statement. “We are aware that the site has recently been illegally occupied by a group of squatters. We are currently considering what action to take.”

At present St George are unable to use the land, as the council have denied their application to build a block of flats on the site. St George and the local police seem to be turning the blind eye to the squatter community, which claims to provide aid for the homeless and others who have been let down by society. The activists forbid the consumption of drugs or alcohol on site, this policy has come under fire as a homeless man seeking shelter on the site allegedly commit suicide after he was refused entry for being intoxicated.

Despite problems like this, and the occasional verbal abuse hurled from Kew Bridge by locals who resent the long haired crusties, the site has brought out the best in the community. Locals have been donating seeds, plants, tents and compost and are being encouraged to use the grounds for horticulture, public meetings and film screenings.

The illegal occupation of this land is politically motivated. Soap dodging hippies from across the nation pitched tents at eco village in an attempt to highlight the lack of affordable housing and misuse of urban land. Squatter, Charlotte Summers made this statement on the eco-village facebook group, “In my eyes, the eco village provides a platform for protest against property laws which serve the rich and are taught as natural laws, but are historically arbitrary.” The residents of the Eco village claim to be linked to a 350-year-old group of agrarian communists known as The Diggers, who campaigned for property reform following the English Civil War.

The eco-village serves as a media magnet to draw publicity to issues such as environmentalism, common land reform and anti-capitalism. These movements have gained momentum as a result of police brutality at the G20 and the killing of Ian Tomlinson. Many are starting to question the institutions of authority and the legislation that governs our lives, and are looking for alternative solutions. The eco village is open to visitors, but anyone wishing to stay there must be willing to work the land and contribute to the community.

Published: State of Play, 2009

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