Dijon, France – Over a hundred anti-capitalists have created a nine hectare free district with urban gardens and a free market as they prevent development plans from being constructed. The occupiers are seeking to preserve agricultural land and experiment in collective living while demonstrating horizontal forms of community building.
Presenters from the self-managed Quartier Libre des Lentillères, or Free District of Lentillères, spoke at the Athens Polytechnic University in early June 2018, for the second Networks of Resistance-European Local Struggles Conference.
Watch their presentation (~1 hr, 12 mins):
For the 2017 Networks of Resistance conference reports, see Pt. 1 – ZAD, Bure, Hambach Forest & Pt. 2 – Infrastructure; ExarcheiaNet & Cooperativa Integral
Starting with a protest in the center of Dijon, France, in the midst of a chilly day in 2010, about 150 people embarked for an abandoned lot, cleaned it up, occupied the area, and formed the Lentillères (lentil garden).
Family farms produce 80 percent of world’s food …Only 1 percent of the world’s farms are larger than 50 hectares, but this small group controls 65 percent of the world’s agricultural land, the FAO report said. Farms smaller than one hectare account for 72 percent of all farms, but control only 8 percent of agricultural land
Eight years later, the urban gardens of the Lentillères encompasses a free zone of over nine hectares that is, by its existence, resisting against development projects while demonstrating “another way of being that [is] non-hierarchical and egalitarian and free.”
“[Lentillères is] a mixture of the preservation of agricultural land, the promotion of agricultural land, mixed in with living spaces and collective spaces.” – Presenter from Lentillères
Dijon, the capital of France’s Golden Coast in the Burgundy region famous for wine and monasteries, is an area rich in history and home to 250,000 people. Presenters said that politicians and developers utilize the history to attract investment. The municipality has been busy with plans to modernize Dijon by building new streets, shopping centers, and installing thousands of CCTV cameras. Developers in Dijon now plan to build 15 new housing projects in what they call ‘eco-quarters’ by 2020.
Recent history of anarcho-punk culture from 1980s-90s is also embedded in the city. Massive “anarcho-fun gigs” in the squatted industrial wastelands of Dijon took place in efforts to reclaim space from capitalism.
The more accepting culture of squatting and land defense in France helped lead to the local, socialist-run government of Dijon essentially allowing anti-capitalists and anarchists to take the space they desired with no problems, the presenters said.
The continued occupation of the land by over twelve collectives and more than 100 people living in the Lentillères are now threatened by the second phase of the encroaching ‘eco-quarters’ project. Continue reading “Lentillères Free District: Occupied Urban Gardens Grow Community ZAD”