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<nettime> Edgar Bursic: Monteparadiso in Pula
Patrice Riemens on Wed, 14 Nov 2007 14:16:33 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Edgar Bursic: Monteparadiso in Pula


Monteparadiso, now within the Karlo Rojc former military barracks in  
Pula (Istria, Croatia) is a god example of a DIY cultural initiative  
& hothouse (cultural incubator?) combining music, ITC and community/  
public domain work.                                                   


>From the re-reader 2006/2007
Biro Beograd
(fully downloadable at: birobeograd.info/re-reader.pdf)




(This text is part of the transcript of a discussion con- cerning
activism and anarchism in the frame of the Discussions on Anarchism,
held on 17th October 2006 at the Dom Omladine (Cultural Center DOB) in
Belgrade, with the speakers Edgar Bursic & Igor Todorovic.)


Monteparadiso developed from an infor- mal collective to the formal
organisation it is today. We started in 1992 with the organisation of
concerts at the Casoni Vec- chi fortress. The fortress was neglected
and overgrown by grass and bushes, we cleaned it up and began to hang
around there. The place is in a quarter of Pula called in Italian
â??Monteparadisoâ??, so we overtook this name for our collective. We
started to organise Monteparadiso hardcore punk festivals, back then
we were teenagers between 14 and 18 years old, loving underground
music, punk and hardcore. The first festival took place in 1992.

We had to lock up our space in the fortress to avoid to attract drug
addicts, for Monteparadiso is notorious as a drug quarter. The second
bigger festival we had in 1993 with a bit more international bands.
We cared about having low prices for entrance and drinks and always
offered food for free. We were angry teens and considered all these
festivals too commercial. We wanted to organize something ultra cheap
and ultra noncom- mercial, where everybody could do what she or he
wants. This went on for some years and was in the main connected to
music.

In 1997 we had to found a citizenâ??s group to be able to go on
with the organisation of concerts and we registered an organisation
named Monteparadiso. In this time it was most important for us to
work with music, which was the height of activism for us, punk bands
singing something about anarchism. We quickly understood that this
was not enough for us and that we would like to do something more.
1999 we moved from the fortress to the former barracks Karlo Rojc.
The barracks were built in the end of the 19th century and during the
history there were stationed the austrian-hungarian, ital- ian and in
the end, until 1991, the Yugosla- vian army. To the Rojc first moved
refugees from Bosnia, who stayed until 1996. After that the building
was more or less neglected, it remained only organisations that had
been doing humanitarian work while the refugees lived there.


In the void between the refugees and some general undefined status of
the building, the first ones that started to work there were various
bands and other organisations. The city gouvernement told us that we
would have to pay 15 kuna/m2 for a space of 100m2. We moved in, but
never wanted to pay. We took 400m2 more to go on with other activi-
ties and helped also other organisations to find space. The barracks
looked not so nice in some moment, as many people came and stole
various things, like installations for heating, radiators, windows and
other ele- ments of the building. There was a lot of ma- terial as the
barracks are huge, before 1991 there were over 7000 soldiers there.

In one moment there had come together a very large number of
organisations and the city decided to give everything to them, but
with the obligation to pay. Not one single organisation wanted to
pay, because all had to build everything on their own and the city
paid only water and electricity. The build- ing is still in the
ownership of the Foreign Ministry of Croatia 2, but given to the city
for use, so that the legal situation is not precisely regulated.
The city in the end ac- cepted the fact that nobody would pay, but
that we can talk about building alterations. At the moment there are
working 77 quite different organisations3 there. There is us with our
Monteparadiso Hacklab, which is connected to media activism, free
software and use of new technologies, there is a Roma kindergarten,
a group of the Macedonian minority, Hungarian und Serbian minorities
have a space as well as some organisations of disabled persons,
aerobic clubs etc. There is anything and everything, as well what
we donâ??t like, because besides organisations that are useful for
the community there are also organisations that succeeded somehow to
legalize their private business telling the story about â??building up
the civil societyâ??.


What has all this to do with anarchism? Not too much. In my opinion,
approaching anarchism means to do something for the community, but
in the community there are not only anarchists. It is important
that things that are reserved for the rich can be used by the whole
community. For that we are spreading wireless internet through the
whole city. Who likes to, can put up an antenna at home and have
internet access through us. We have internet connection via the
Croatian Academic Network we are collaborating with in the wireless
project.

Together with CARNet we set up a number of antennas in the city and
of course on the top of Rojc. If somebody likes, we can install
it, if we have time, of course. At our Hacklab took place the
international hacker meeting in 2004 (Trans Hack Meeting â?? www.tr-
shackmeeting.org), bringing together about 300 hackers from whole
Europe. The ideas of the meeting were autonomy and do it yourself
(DIY). Everybody cooked and cleaned, had all rights and duties and
all decisions were made in consensus. The participants were mainly
programmers and experts and all of them could earn a heap of euros
monthly somewhere, but they preferred to give their knowledge to the
community by creating software that is free and gratis and to build
up hacklabs in Europe that of- fer free access to the internet. This
is how we imagine our Hacklab and what we offer there. There is the
possibility that people set up computer or we do it. We collect old
com- puters that people throw away but that are still very useful.
People who have too much money constantly exchange old things and buy
new computers. In addition we offer web space, email, mailing lists
etc for initiatives that are useful for the community.

There was an tragic incident in 2004, when two young people left the
Rojc at 4 in the night. They were heavily attacked by a group of
nazi skinheads. Until then, police in Pula said that there donâ??t
exist any nazi skin- heads or similar groups. We asked if they had
to have proofs for a nazi movement to consider them as an organized
group. After this we succeeded to organize together with the other
organisations from Rojc a protest with some thousand people taking
part. We were astonished that so many people came, because Pula is a
small city. After that, this group of nazi skinheads was charged with
attempted murder and the main perpetrator was sentenced to 6 years
imprisonment.

In 2004 we organised the EYFA Winter- meeting together with the
European Youth for Action (EYFA) from Amsterdam, which organises
for example Ecotopia and Bike Tour cross Europe. We offer our space
to dif- ferent initiatives or whoever asks for a room to organise
meetings. All these years we have had quite â??importantâ?? and
interesting guests at Hacklab, for example this year came Richard
Stallman. There were also John Zerzan and various collectives. For
we celebrate 15 years of existence in 2007, we thought to make a
bigger festival to bring together vari- ous people that in a way
mark these 15 years, but the organisation we gave over to the young
activists and we will see how it will be in the end. Currently,
our most interesting project is the Monteparadiso Netlabel that
distributes music completely free and gratis and bands from Pula and
elsewhere can publish their music absolutely free.

Links:                                                     
http://twiki.monteparadiso.hr
http://netlabel.monteparadiso.org
http://fazan.org 
http://twiki.pula.org

This text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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