Here We Are Academy
The latest instalment of the Here We Are Academy was an exchange between We Are Here members sharing their expertise as undocumented humans surviving in Amsterdam and art students. Campus in Camps was also present to particularly work on decolonising words. After a daily lecture by a WAH member, we split into work groups to meet each other as people, and develop creative and practical projects in support of WAH's objectives. WAH are currently discussing organising themselves as a political party. This is possible for people without documentation but in order for them to be voted into parliament they need a passport. There were a lot of conflicting opinions about if and how WAH becomes a political party (how could they propose a new, more truly democratic and inclusive model of living together rather than simply stand for their rights within this current system, who exactly do they represent, do they want to engage with the legacy of the term 'political party') - but symbolically attempting what they cannot do: representing themselves in parliament, kept being strongly backed by various WAH members. The work group I was part of worked on representation and we suggested an empty blue chair (the Tweede Kamer chair WAH cannot occupy) as a symbol for the party. We brainstormed how 10.000 blue chairs could be put on the streets of Holland as a way to make the undocumented humans living here visible, and how people could paint their chairs blue and bring them outside in solidarity. WAH members could agree never to sit down during debates to keep their seat visibly empty. The ballot on the voting system for the WAH party could say 'Empty Seat' rather than someone's name so people could literally vote for an empty seat.
I came away questioning how equal (leaderless) development of ideas and decision making can be done, what it requires of both individual participants and structures that are put in place to facilitate, especially among people of very divers backgrounds. I felt struck by the anti-capitalist model WAH lives (in squats, from waste food, with a group of 300 divers people). I feel very curious about their practical modes of organisation and decision making and their ability to share resources to the extend that they do. Because their resilience is striking and I wonder how this understanding of how a human can survive could be shared with i.e. people afraid of the coming of refugees, because to me it seems like there would be less fear if people knew more about their own strength and ability to share.