Acknowledging our need for growth

Kanal is turning 30 this year, and though all of us currently residing in this space have only been here a tiny fraction of that time, we’ve been highly aware of the history and experiences that this time-frame supposes of a project like this one. Perhaps it’s because for us, the majority of our time spent here has been through the context of this pandemic wold-crisis, during which the challenges of our day-to-day existence have multiplied, with poverty and isolation hanging over our heads as we concern ourselves with the health of our loved ones, and find ourselves having to expand the scope of our mutual-aid, empathy and connection with transformative justice and accessibility movements… but we’ve barely had the chance to plan or think about partying to celebrate this milestone. Kanal is turning 30 this year, and we need to acknowledge all of its flaws, old bad habits, and physical aches in order to make sure that it can keep growing, evolving, and healing towards a more whole present and future.

Through the decades, there have been several disputes concerning this space. The history and conflicts from older days, as well as the new conflicts that arose in recent times, are still a part of Kanal’s story. For some of the conflicts that are traced back years, we personally took no part in, though as members of this collective, we also carry the responsibility to work and come to terms with them.

We’ve been working on providing opportunities for change and reflection to take place. By helping provide access for individuals to engage in therapy, resources for substance abuse support free of judgement, grounded spaces for reflection, transformative justice training, self-education, better crisis management techniques informed by people with lived experiences; and meet-ups with people that were involved in the things where we weren’t present for in order to get different perspectives on the histories, narratives and past dynamics of the place. We believe that we are a part of a long-standing, ongoing and open-ended process on remodeling the space and working against inherited racist, classist, transphobic and ableist thinking, that violates others.

It is certain that these are unhealthy habits, learned in capitalistic societies, where most of us were socialized, and it is sad to see that they also so often creep into our spaces and harm people. We recognize this fact and the weight of challenging moments carried in the long history of this project, and see the need to do more to keep facilitating changes and more sustainable approaches to community living and collective spaces.

We want to acknowledge and do better by everyone who didn’t feel appreciated in Kanal in the past. Spaces like ours should be homes to people, should be supporting people, should be trustworthy for people, for them to pursue projects, even though safety means different things for everyone, and cannot be guaranteed or taken for granted. It is our hope that together we can build a space where solidarity and support are present for everyone, free of carceral, or punitive responses, regardless of where they might be in their journey.

We also want to acknowledge the efforts of every person and group that have been a part of the history of this space, and do not wish to place value judgements on their experiences. In a radical space where people with great needs come to find shelter and community, we must understand that there is always going to be room to grow and do better, and acknowledge the accomplishments and hard work as much as the mistakes made. Everyone is on their own journey towards embodying their values and ideals, and doing the best they can with what they have available at the moment. This is an invitation for anyone who reads this to embrace the constant need for new growth, and be appreciative of how far they have come.

Grassroots and activist movements of all sorts tend to keep going through the years within capitalism through the same extractive practices of human labor we criticize- through unreasonable expectations of time commitment, prior knowledge and experience, often favoring those with more immediate resources; rapid member turn-over rates as a result of burn-out and lack of accommodation for different needs; and the repetitive pattern of placing additional emotional and physical labor on oppressed individuals, specially those of Black, Indigenous, femmes and disabled individuals. This is unsustainable, and we want to do things differently, even if we don’t have perfect answers or solutions yet.

As a conscious and intentional community, we see a history of patterns of abuse of power, of violence against Transfemmes, against Black people, against Indigenous and Migrant individuals; the very backbones of this project and reason for its existence, our own kin. We apologize, acknowledge and reject this kind of behavior, and hope to continue to unlearn these practices, to create new approaches to co-living and project organizing, while also honoring our values and vision, now informed by everyone who fought and resisted for us to be able to call this space a home. We see you all, even if we do not always see eye-to-eye on every issue, and we are grateful to be able to be a part of this ever evolving project.

That is why we want to put in the labor and efforts to make it nicer, more accessible, and more welcoming again. We are proposing a project to improve the living conditions of Kanal, as ensuring that basic needs are met, and that there are adequate and accessible facilities for everyone who uses the space, are absolutely crucial to create justice and foster an environment where we can all show up as our better selves. An inclusive space is what we are hoping to rebuild, so that everyone is able to visit the space to hang out, to meet and come together with other Queers, Trans, Migrants, BIPoC or Sex-workers; to garden, to fix your bike, to create wonderful carpentry projects and DIY crafts, to dance or to host an event.

If you would like to be involved in the upcoming changes and projects we’re developing, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We love to hear from you, and we’re listening.

More on our future, soon

Kanal 2021