Buy a share of Christiania for your Valentine :-)

Ok, in reality I have never been crazy about Valentine’s day! Let’s say I use the Valentine excuse to talk about a really cool project that we discovered a while ago. And to style a photo with heart-shaped candies…

As many of you may know, Christiania is the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood in the heart of Copenhagen, founded 40 years ago when a group of people, hippies and dreamers, occupied a disused military based by the canal. Christiania has been ever since a Freetown, and one of Denmark’s main tourist attractions. Recently, however, Christiania had to face the government’s new plans for “normalisation”: in other words, the status of Christiania as a Freetown was threatened. The goverment wanted to force the construction of new conventional housing development over the autonomous area. Luckily, a solution has been found in order to “maintain the Freetown as the property of everyone and none”.

The community was offered the possibility to buy the area at a sub-market rate, maintaining their autonomy and their system of communal land ownership. So the Freetown has issued Christiania shares (Folkeaktier), in order to raise money to buy Christiania free.

(shot of my Christiania share certificate with Sweethearts candies!!)

When you buy a Christiania share you are contributing to the survival of a unique town, a sustainable, self-governed community with a thriving social life. Christiania residents explain that, unlike stock options, Christiania shares “promote community, sharing and autonomy in contrast to the financial speculation currently causing great harm to communities all over the world. . .it is our modest hope to inspire the development of social models of investment, that value common wealth rather than profits”.

The Freetown is simply lovely in spring and summer…

You can buy shares for as little as 20 Danish crowns (around 3 euros) in bars around Copenhagen, and from 100 to 10.000 Danish crowns (from 14 euros up to 1300) on this website. The shares have a serial number that you can register officially – and as a donor you’ll be invited to special social events. The shares are actually really beautiful! They are printed on FSC-certified high quality paper from Sweden: the wood comes from Swedish forests and waste from the sawmill is used as raw material and biofuel.

The design is by a local artist, and they are individually signed. Here you can even see two cool videos on how they produced the shares.

As of today, Christiania runs “five childcare institutions, renovates and develops 100 acres of mixed housing and green areas with a focus on ecology, and houses a number of cultural institutions, live stages, café, restaurants, workshops, collectively run businesses”. Besides the concert-halls, Sunday jam-sessions, vegetarian restaurants, organic grocery stores, bars and cafè, what I love about Christiania is the eclectic mix of building styles:

(source: Tiny House Blog)

(source: Dave Gorman)

It’s beautiful to just walk around the canal, looking at how different people built their own houses with reclaimed materials. And if you are in Copenhagen during the spring, you can also explore the interiors of most houses during the Open House day.

(The interiors of a Christiania house from Danish lyfestyle magazine Bolig Liv)

Naturally, Christiania is also really cozy during the winter. You go there, and you find hygge! The canal freezes and is covered in snow, and you can enjoy a hot chocolate or a hot hyldeblomst (elderflower drink) in one of the many little cafè. Or a Christiania beer, obviously! Just go past the over touristic Pusher street, explore the surroundings, immerse yourself in nature and climb on a treehouse.

This is the link to the Christiania Share website (English version): http://www.christianiafolkeaktie.dk/index.php

And an article on the current situation of Christiania from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/24/christiania-community-big-society-40-years

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