Following our call for support, the following letters have been sent to the landlord. We would like to thank their authors for writing such well-argued letters.
From Hellekin O. Wolf:
I’m aware that one of your premises in Stockholm is being squatted by a group called AK4, of Anarchist affiliation. Although that may sound antagonist to your principles and ethics, or even paradoxical, I urge you to consider the following arguments in support of their action.
Abbenay HackSpace is a HackerSpace, an ad-hoc, associative, civil & public laboratory where advanced techniques and off-bounds concepts are researched and transformed into technologies, where people join forces, resources and brain-power to explore issues that would otherwise be ignored for the lack of immediate (or obvious) profitability or the lack of mainstream attention.
Such research and development includes electronic devices, next-generation tools and software, self-fabrication workshops, etc. Recent examples include robotic self-replicating builders, operational drones, pollution monitoring solutions, even advanced pattern knitting that could benefit from your Biteam 3D printing technology.
Although their methods are questionable, please consider what benefits you and your fellow citizens could enjoy from having such a dedicated team of goofy researchers in your capital city. Beyond the obvious press coverage from the place being squatted, you would be surprised of how productive and ingenious these people can be, and how shaking and beneficial such an endeavor can be for the local community.
Hackerspaces fill the gap and setup bridges between academic knowledge and corporate research, between the scientist and the artist, between engineers
and the public. They can help discover new talents and seed innovation.
Many successful hackerspace venues abound around the world, such as the Metalab in Vienna, the C-Base in Berlin, HacDC in Washington DC or
/tmp/lab in Paris. They attract highly skilled people in many technology or art-related fields, as well as a public audience eager to learn about technology. Workshops are held regularly in such places, and open to anyone, from kids to retired people, to share know-how and techno-savvy culture with the community. From computer programming to electronic devices soldering, from machine design to space exploration, hackerspaces help the people catch up with technological acceleration and lead the way towards a comprehensive and open society.
Please, mister Winberg, give the Abbenay HackSpace a chance to demonstrate what kind of talents the Swedish hacker community can deploy with an adequate venue and focus. Hackers are dedicated people, they respond to a creative impulse and a drive to seek and build knowledge. Hereby you can make history by granting them a space for a couple of years: this is an island of another way through the world, that won’t harm anyone but give a chance to see things differently.
I thank you, mister Winberg, for your attention and generosity,
From Nick Farr:
Greetings! I’m Nick Farr, an Accountant & Consultant based in Washington, DC.
I’m writing to you in regards to the group currently occupying your building at Lövholmsbrinken 4 in Stockholm. I’m writing today not necessarily to voice my support for the actions of these tenants or their methods, but as a fellow Businessman and, in a global sense, a Stakeholder in the activities of a subset of this group.
I believe you have a unique opportunity to constructively engage this group, a segment of whom are operating a unique laboratory and creative space similar to many others that are emerging around the world. My colleague Hellekin O. Wolf, who wrote you earlier today, described these spaces far better than I when he said they, “…fill the gap and setup bridges between academic knowledge and corporate research, between the scientist and the artist, between engineers and the public. They can help discover new talents and seed innovation.”
I refer to these laboratories as “Hackerspaces”, and I am a founder of my local Hackerspace, HacDC and a member of the C-Base in Berlin, Germany. While each of these Hackerspaces have varying organizational forms and political orientations, we all share the common goal of forming spaces to learn from each other and make what we imagine a reality.
If you look back on the histories of corporations that innovate, you’ll see incredible similarities between the activities of their founders and the activities of those in Hackerspaces. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple Computer in a space they shared and collaborated in. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started the company that bears their names in a similar space. What many people don’t realize is that both of these companies were founded in bad economic times, in 1976 and 1939, respectively, and all four men carried their ideals, once considered incredibly radical, into business success.
Even though the OECD Economic Outlook for Sweden predicts output will recover in 2010, unemployment is expected to continue to rise beyond 11%. Throughout the industrialized world, the “jobless recovery” is creating an increasingly tense political climate. It is becoming clearer to me that in these times of increased joblessness, actions by governments to protect the rights of property owners are being met with disproportionately hostile responses.
I offer the rise of the Pirate Party as an example of this phenomenon. The jailing of the founders of the Pirate Bay in Sweden set off a wave of concrete political action and activism. Pirate Parties, directly inspired by this arrest and conviction, have created a viable political force in several EU countries and the EU parliament itself. It’s becoming increasingly clear that hostile action towards the Pirate Bay and corresponding global media attention has increased overall public awareness and acceptance of anti-copyright methods, thereby accelerating the erosion of the value of Intellectual Property.
In a sense, the government of Sweden may have missed an incredible opportunity. Instead of engaging and exploring the shifting realities in our world, of attempting to understand the global phenomenon in play, they did what governments typically do and put a stop to it. It’s interesting to note that one of Sweden’s most successful businessmen, Ingvar Kamprad, once faced a similar problem. Threatened by the revolutionary business idea of being the lowest cost provider of furniture, suppliers caved to pressures of IKEA’s competitors and boycotted Kamprad. In response, Kamprad began designing his own furniture in 1955 and in turn, created one of the world’s most successful brands.
While I believe it somewhat unlikely that the Anarchists in your building are currently planning the next great global brand, I do believe that those involved with the Abbenay HackSpace are in the same kind of situation. They are innovators, pioneers and at the forefront of the technology that is rapidly changing our world. Citing the examples of history, I argue that it is more profitable and a better long-term strategic investment to negotiate an amicable lease and engage this group and their ideas. Granted, I don’t necessarily agree with their politics, but as the examples I cited show, great ideas have come from unusual people innovating in interesting times.
I believe those occupying the building have the best interests of the property itself and the community at heart, though their methods and rhetoric may not reflect this. While they may not be able to pay market rates today, I suspect that your property rights are best served by respectfully negotiating a proper lease with this group. If you extend a certain level of respect for this group and an understanding of their situation, I do believe they will respond in kind. While I am unfamiliar with the tax laws in Sweden, there may be an opportunity for you in allowing this group to officially organize in a manner similar to groups that have rehabilitated properties in East Berlin. At the very least, allowing them to become financially viable protects the value of your property and wins you a new customer in the process.
However, I believe that engaging this group allows you to become a unique investor in the kind of people like Jobs, Wozniak, Hewlett and Packard–pioneers and innovators with a radical spirit. What you can learn from them and what they can learn from you has the potential to create an incredibly positive economic impact. Even if the next Ingvar Kamprad isn’t among the squatters in your building, you would definitely be buying a great deal of goodwill from a very large international community and help to show that Capitalism isn’t the evil that Anarchists make it out to be.
I thank you for your time and hope I’ve done something to explain what I believe is a wonderful opportunity you have the choice to participate in. I am more than happy to do whatever I can to facilitate an amicable resolution to this situation and offer you whatever credibility I have in this community to achieve such an end.
Thanks again for those letters. If you want to support us and help against our eviction, you may want to consider writing a letter as well. You are also most welcome to join the Facebook support group.