Official SUNY ESF DLA Off-Campus Blog


Christiania – model citizens of Denmark. by Kay Vanderlyn
July 30, 2010, 8:30 am
Filed under: Copenhagen 2010

The story of Christiania begins well before 1970 when it was first occupied by citizens.  Christiania consists of  former military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde and parts of the city ramparts. The barracks of Bådsmandsstræde housed the Royal Artillery Regiment, the Army Material Command and ammunition laboratories and depots. The area was abandoned during the late 60s.

Bastioned ramparts were specifically used in the area:

After the military left the area, only a few guardsmen were assigned to keep trespassers out.  On September 4th, 1971 residents from the surrounding areas broke the fences down to use parts of it as a playground for their children.  Only a few days later, Christiania was declared “open” by Jacob Ludvigsen who also helped write Christiania’s mission statement: The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.

Much like Copenhagen itself, Christiania has fought, lost, and won it’s share of battles.  Dubbed a “social experiment”, Christiania has managed to survive 40 years of threats from the government to reclaim the land.  Except how can the government complain when Christiania pays all it’s taxes and bills on time.  Christiania is an economic asset to the state, they have to pay electric, water, heating and taxes, however they don’t get all the benefits that other tax payers get.  They still have to handle their own tasks like kindergartens, youth clubs, renovations, postal service and maintenance of the whole infrastructure, green areas, and a lot more.  External expenses are always handled first, making Christianian’s model citizens of Denmark.

Christiania’s government is a consensus democracy, which means that all residents may participate on equal footing in the democratic process.  Important decisions are always made by consensus, common widespread agreements among all citizens.  The government is practiced through a series of meetings: The Common Meeting – used to settle disputes which no agreement could be reached at the relevant meeting, The Area Meeting – used to solve local problems within different areas of Christiania, The Treasurer Meeting – used to plan out where money should be used in the future, The Economy Meeting, The Business Meeting – used to ensure rents are being payed from businesses and to discuss use of commercial areas, The Building Meeting – used to decide where money should be put into renovating housing, The Associates’ Meeting – most businesses are collectively organized, so this group has the central function of running the businesses, The House Meeting – used to solve problems in large houses where many people live.

There is entirely too much to be said about this place, so for now I’ll post a video of a bike ride through Copenhagen:

-Kay

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