Activist Jan on the reasons for occupying Villa Tocama:
âThe property has been bought by the Woonbedrijf Aardbevingsgebied Groningen Foundation (SWAG). Swag is 100 percent owned by the Dutch state and is financed by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and is used as a purchasing tool for the various buyout programs. According to their own website, they act in the public interest and without a profit motive, have a specific focus on the liveability in the area and manage the acquired properties to prevent vacancy, deterioration, squatting and vandalism. Unfortunately, it remains with this general vision, because practice shows a very different picture.â
Currently, the foundation owns 35 properties. Of those properties, 3 are used as temporary housing and 8 are in use through vacancy management (anti-squat). Of the remaining 24 properties, no use, destination or future vision can be found in the foundationâs overviews.
Jan: âLook at the Geertsemaheerd in Slochteren, bought years ago, now for sale for a paltry 425 000 euros. All the copper gutters and lightning rods have been snatched off and occupation by squatters has only exacerbated the decay. What was once, not so long ago, described as a stately national monument is now waiting for some private trader to see his chance and build all kinds of student dormitories in it. Gone grandeur. The lack of a concrete vision with regard to reuse is to blame for this. These often beautiful buildings deserve a real chance to be redeveloped. In our opinion, the wishes of the residents should be central and these buildings should be given a good new future with the local knowledge and expertise built up over the years here in Groningen.â
It is precisely the lack of any vision about the future of the acquired objects that has prompted the activists to occupy this property.
Jan: âNot only do we hope to halt the further decay and theft of the copper lightning conductors etc., above all we want to expose the issue and see what is possible together with the inhabitants, the business community and the educational institutes in the province, and enter into a dialogue with the foundation.
If the corona measures and safety allow, we would like to set up a room in the museum section in the near future that will become a large notice board on which anyone who has an idea, can do something, wants to learn something, contribute something or whatever can put it on paper. We must look for the opportunities and possibilities that these buildings can offer residents, businesses and educational institutions. No more waiting until it rots and is worth nothing. Cherish those pearls!
The occupiers hope to have talks with the foundation as soon as possible.
Some squats in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/NL/squated/squat
Groups (social centers, collectives, squats) in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/NL
Events in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/NL