This is my kind of capitalism. After 40 years, Christiania (a car-less, drug-addled autonomous squatter town surprisingly located in middle of urban Copenhagen) will buy the land on which it sits from the Danish government. But how to raise the money? The alternative society is selling symbolic ownership shares, and will have yearly “shareholder parties” which will no doubt be intense. The New York Times chimes:
Last summer, the Danish state offered to sell a good chunk of the 80-odd-acre former military base at the edge of downtown Copenhagen to Christiania, the alternative community whose residents had been squatting there illegally for four decades. For the residents, who fundamentally reject the idea of landownership, this presented an ideological quandary.
“Christiania has offered to buy it,” said Risenga Manghezi, a spokesman for the community. “But Christiania doesn’t want to own it.”
To resolve the contradiction, Mr. Manghezi and a handful of others decided to start selling shares in Christiania. Pieces of paper, hand-printed on site, the shares can be had for amounts from $3.50 to $1,750. Shareholders are entitled to a symbolic sense of ownership in Christiania and the promise of an invitation to a planned annual shareholder party. “Christiania belongs to everyone,” Mr. Manghezi said. “We’re trying to put ownership in an abstract form.”
Since the shares were first offered in the fall, about $1.25 million worth have been sold in Denmark and abroad. The money raised will go toward the purchase of the land from the government.
after a rocky decade under a conservative-led government, during which the carless, hashish-friendly community faced threats of expulsion and a Supreme Court ruling that said the squatters had no legal right to remain on the land, the residents made a pragmatic decision to buy the property — or, as many would have it, to “buy it free.”
“People were afraid, and we had to respect this fear,” said Allan Lausten, a handyman who took part in the negotiations despite an aversion to bureaucrats.