Petition in defense of the building at 45 Limanowskiego Street.

President of the city of Kraków

Mr. Jacek Majchrowski

 

Petition in defense of the building at 45 Limanowskiego Street.

Many years the historical tenement house at 45 Limanowskiego Street had been empty and falling into ruin. The owner of the building passed away while the Administration of Communal Buildings has completely neglected it and let it fall apart. In March this year a group of people turned up at 45 Limanowskiego Street, willing to transform the building into a place suitable for living and socio-cultural activity. They found the building in a dreadful state; there was lots of rubble in each room, the ceiling collapsed in three rooms, the roof was full of leaky spots - water leaking through the holes was causing decay of the building and made it unsafe to stay in. The civic government has not arranged any protection of the ceiling against the destructive power of water (old protective foil was damaged, incomplete and holey) and has not taken care of the plumbing system - activists found the basement flooded. In addition, numerous visits paid by thieves must have also contributed to the devastation. The Administration of Communal Buildings has not secured the house against robbery, potential thieves could easily enter the building through open basement windows.

The extent of neglect seemed to be irreparable. However, after three months of intense efforts by the group of people taking care of the place, it started to revive. Activists removed a huge amount of rubble, dried out the basement, repaired the roof and renovated several rooms. The building still requires a lot of renovations, but some tenants moved into few rooms and a ruin has been slowly transforming into a house. People living and working there were planning to open a socio-cultural center named ReAktor within next few weeks. It was intended to respond to the needs of Cracow’s community, the city which still does not have an autonomous space, created from the bottom up, open to non-institutionalized culture and various grassroots activities. ReAktor was supposed to include a library, film discussion club, participative art gallery, bicycle workshop, café, initiative “Food Not Bombs”, art workshops for children, as well as any other initiatives which would be needed by the locals.

The Administration of Communal Buildings and police try to prevent the activists from implementing those plans. On 8th of June 2015 a spectacular and brutal eviction of ReAktor’s members took place. It ended with overnight arrest of seven people. The representative of Administration of Communal Buildings did not want to talk to the building’s residents and she did not explain the legal basis of the intervention. Police brutality and undertaking inappropriate measures caused disbelief of municipal activists and local residents, who came to support the initiative. So much neighbors’ support for ReAktor means that it is really necessary in Cracow, instead of another decaying building.

As a person who cares about the grassroots growth of non-profit oriented culture and the good of local communities I support the initiative undertaken by the collective ReAktor. I kindly ask President Jacek Majchrowski for allowing ReAktor’s members to return to the tenement house, as an act of respect for public interest. I demand cancellation of the illegal eviction conducted on 8th of June 2015, as well as declaration of withdrawal from further attempts of liquidation of the new center so that the activists could return there and continue their work oriented to the well-being of Podgórze community and to the growth of non-institutionalized culture in Cracow.
A situation in which any attempts to create an autonomous and bottom-up cultural activity are brutally pacified should become a reason for a wider debate on the place of culture in Cracow’s life. It has turned out that, besides official institutions, there is no way to create it in this city and there is no place for an actual critical involvement in dialogue with social reality, which ReAktor had to offer and without which art will lose its important component. I think it is time to change it. Cracow is called a cultural capital – I urge you not to let it be only an empty slogan.

In the hope that this petition will be considered favorably by Mr. President
Sincerely,

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