The Turritopsis Nutricula house (named after an immortal jellyfish), located on 23rd and Alder in the Central District of Seattle, has now been in existence for a month. Within the span of that same month, over a dozen squats have also sprung into existence in as diverse places as Bellevue and White Center. One of them has recently set up a screen printing studio. An informal network of people from Occupy Seattle consistently brings food and supplies to the house on 23rd and Alder. The food is free for everyone who comes through the house.
The Turritopsis Nutricula house is the only one of the squats that is public and open. The person who owns the building is a man named Denmark West, current executive at BET and former employee of Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and MTV. Because of his sympathy for the movement, he has taken his time in starting an eviction. However, the city has now threatened to fine this Harvard graduate 100 to 1000 dollars a day if he does not move to evict the residents of the house. It is unclear how long the next legal process can be drawn out, but regardless of legality, there is a core of over 100 people who would respond to an eviction.
From the upper floors of the house, one can look west and see the towers of Downtown rising up from behind the hills. Below the towers, cresting down the hills, is a view of the Central District. It is this area in particular that has witnessed an invasion of outsiders over the past 15 years. Looking westward from the top floor of the squat, one can see in the expansion of wealth and capital moving over the hills from the financial core of Downtown.
Recently, there has been a high-profile instance of graffiti in the Central District. An ugly cubist-fascist-brutalist style house had the superior wood of its fence tagged with the phrase GENTRIFICATION KILLS. This caused some controversy within the gentrification community. The last time there was graffiti in the neighborhood (several tags giving the time and date of the Port of Seattle shutdown), a scared man went on the news and read a statement of condemnation against Occupy Seattle and the hooligans who would dare to tag on a church. All in all, given the massive success of the port shutdown and the continued existence of the Turritopsis Nutricula, the people who throw a tantrum after every instance of graffiti are appearing more absurd to the neighborhood as time goes by. One of the massive banners within the march to the Port of Seattle now hangs on the outside wall of the squat.
Seattle is very wealthy. Just as in all major coastal cities, massive amounts of capital flow through the Port of Seattle every day. Viewing the towers of Downtown as luminous crystallizations of capital (which they are), the view from the top floor of the squat takes on a new meaning. There are multiple squats in existence and each one of them, whether public or clandestine, is an assault against the logic of the economic system that powers the lights of the skyscrapers.
Many have found that simply throwing oneself into an effort at mass-squatting has now born far more fruit than expected. The desire and the intention to squat was there among a diverse group of people that formed its bonds and trust within the chaos of the now imploded and destroyed Capital Hell Commune. The experiences of mass-squatting are now multiplying and the new bonds and trust and skills that will be developed amongst this new group of people during their efforts will be even more powerful. In addition to this, another group connected to Occupy Seattle is starting an anti-gentrification campaign in Capitol Hill against the never ending condos that continue to be built in the bohemian neighborhood. The barricades at the Port of Seattle and the previous takeover of a warehouse are collective experiences that continue to power everyone forward.
This author would like to encourage everyone push for similar efforts and initiatives. The interest is most likely prevalent in cities that have had large occupations. We believe all that is lacking is a committed effort to establish and maintain various squats and building occupations. If more cities make similar efforts, the idea of taking over property will continue to take root in the minds of others and if it becomes generalized, it will be far easier to maintain occupied houses along the west coast. In the meantime, we hope everyone can stumble upon more tactics and innovations that they can spread and share.
More photos here.