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Contested Spaces

A message from the Bookfair Collective on space in KW

We exist in a capitalist state where governments use their power to push for capitalist growth. It is in the interest of capital to make growth happen, and in terms of the city, capitalists will physically alter the city for the sake of generating profit. They aim to increase property values and get a bigger return for their investments. Generally the cost of living rises, and displaces those who can’t or won’t pay for it. This process, called gentrification, is a phenomenon happening in many cities in North America, and made evident in Kitchener with the construction of expensive condos, the prevalence of expensive restaurants and the increase of the police budget and presence. The Faculty of Social Work is a part of this gentrification process in downtown Kitchener as it increases prospects for investors to make big returns. It also pumps out social workers that are often the gatekeepers of the faceless bureaucracy of the welfare state with the goal of making people work for a wage.

Gentrification seeks to push out the poor so that wealthier people can move into city centres to spend their money. But the poor are not gone, the gentrifiers have not won. Anarchists and other activists who criticize capitalism remain situated in this struggle between gentrifying capitalists and moving elsewhere to pay cheaper rent. The city then is literally a contended space for existence. So what do we do? How do we actually contend with gentrification?

One tactic could be to take the space back – even if temporarily. Let’s take it over while we can, like at this Anarchist Bookfair event, and let the gentrifiers, police and government officials know that we will not simply pack up and leave, but we will remain defiant against their wishes of displacing marginalized people.

 

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