London: On closing Empowerment Infoshop

We are sad and relieved to announce that we have closed Empowerment Infoshop.

A brief history:

During the winter/spring of 2018, Empowerment Infoshop was operating within EVAC (the East Village Arts Collective space). Unfortunately, the EVAC collective fell apart after the YCL (Young Communist League) moved in and began clawing their way to hegemonic control of the space. Empowerment became a mobile infoshop. During the end of our time at EVAC, rumors were heard of a new “community space” opening soon, called B13 (also known as Baker’s Dozen). Member(s) of the EVAC collective were contacted, and invited to help coordinate this new space, but most people were wary and nobody did take the offer.

By the Fall of 2018, we were eager to move in to a new space. B13  was the most convenient option; it was somewhat affordable, had the space and amenities to support everything we wanted to do, and at the time, most of the people renting there were our friends.

Sadly, we admit we were naive in thinking B13 would be a good space for us. The stench of gentrification was faint then, but it would grow and we would learn the hard way.

Where we are now:

Baker’s Dozen perpetuates the gentrification of the Old East by helping to make it more appealing to middle-class renters and buyers. Consequently, the existing community of people without homes, as well as those who cannot afford the skyrocketing rent, are slowly being pushed out. The people in control of B13 have been vocal about their intent to cultivate a community by and for the young, the affluent, and the upper-middle class. The push to establish B13 as a trendy shopping center has only been possible by their increasingly militant exclusionary policies.

To stay at the Baker’s Dozen would be to compromise our morality as anarchists. We left Baker’s Dozen on April 1st, 2019. We are still waiting to receive back a $600 rent deposit. We will not be hosting the book fair in June. It felt defeating to close our doors, but for a variety of reasons we have made that choice. There is no planned future for Empowerment Infoshop.

~ London

1 thought on “London: On closing Empowerment Infoshop”

  1. It’s cool you folks decided to communicate around this stuff, can’t imagine it was an easy choice. Knowing when to end projects is super important — no one project, no matter how exciting it once was, can be allowed to stand in for the sum of our goals and desires. Gotta keep assessing projects and be willing to be unsentimental when the reality no longer fits with the intention.

    Also, I’m glad to see some analysis of that kind of co-working/innovation/incubator space. They’re popping up all over and since they often host various “progressive” offices, we can end up socially adjacent to them or being pressured to not single them out as a problem. Your experience of struggling to find a space a space and then deciding such a thing was your least worst option is kinda common — not to say we should absolutely not use space in them, but just that we should be aware that they have limitations beyond other rental agreements that stem from their liberal capitalist activist mission.

    I know they’re a thing in Hamilton, Toronto, KW, and probs other places too, if others have experiences to share.

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