On September 7th we began a new experiment in the area just outside RDA69. As we’ve said before, our main goal is to give continuity to a series of services and forms of mutual aid that had already begun with the solidary cantina.
If in the previous months we were used to seeing a line of 200 people waiting every day for a cooked meal, at the present moment the space outside RDA69 is occupied and appropriated by nearly 40 people who, more or less collectively and on a daily basis, prepare their own lunch.
Like before, there are two shifts per day for people to wash their clothes, an electric extension for them to charge their phones or other devices, and water. Adding to that, we also provide fresh coffee, a place to sit down, toilets and showers. Now, the big difference lies in the fact that there’s a kitchen being set up every day equipped with a stove, pots and pans, spices, canned food, pasta, rice and some vegetables… Moreover, there’s always someone who went dumpster diving and decided to bring some more vegetables, chicken, or even flour in case anyone feels like cooking Naan or bruschettas for everybody.
Although to open and maintain the space we still count on the help of a group of volunteers, in the past month we’ve witnessed a growing involvement from all parts in this process. If the space opens at 11:30AM, small groups of people are already gathered there 15 minutes before to help and set the tables, the awnings, and fill some water bowls to later wash the dishes. Despite the fact that there’s always someone leaving dirty dishes behind, the same happens during closing time: many of them help around to clean and tidy up the place. In this process of looking for new forms of life, there’s a continuous play between possible tensions and new social ties. Who’s the first one to use the stove? Who didn’t wash the pot? With whom are we sharing this can of beans or some other ingredient?
Thus, following the end of the solidary cantina and the beginning of this new project, we’re trying to go beyond the distribution of a certain number of meals per day. We’re aware of its impact but at the same time one cannot ignore the power underlying the creation of new dynamics, forms of sociability, and, above all, “communizing” practices. People are now more involved with the space and we can sense a growing cooperation between them. Far from just going there, deciding what to eat based on what there is, cooking, having lunch and sharing a table, we can see a re-familiarization with certain practices, such as cooking and making decisions in common. If there’s a person who doesn’t know how to cook, there’s always someone ready to give a hand; if someone has more cooking experience, they’ll end up cooking autonomously for themselves and for the others; if there’s another group using similar ingredients, they try to cook together and share the whole meal.
During the solidary cantina’s activity, we saw bonds being created and new ways of being and doing rehearsed. If we decided to put an end to the solidary cantina due to a lack of resources and to our own personal limitations, in this more experimental and constantly shifting new format we’re not only witnessing a continuity of already ongoing processes, but also a more autonomous praxis based on the collaboration of all parts, thus defying a divided and stratified *savoir faire* – for instance, between who cooks and who doesn’t.
At the moment RDA69 provides essential goods and a sort of daily food basket for this activity. Nonetheless and since money and other resources aren’t infinite, we’re still accepting donations (IBAN: PT50 0035 0100 0003 1497 5304 1) or other goods – rice, pasta, canned food, laundry detergent, olive oil, towels, coffee – which you can leave at RDA69 every day from 11:30AM to 3:30PM.