Re: Request for info

Graeme Bacque (
Sun, 30 May 1999 22:19:56 -0400

rosaphil wrote:

> i lived in tsp. what and why do you want to know?

As the temporary supply of winter beds goes offline in Toronto more and
more people find themselves with no choice but to seek refuge in city
parks - and are facing ruthless persecution from the cops for doing so.
(This situation has been getting progressively worse over the past several

This summer OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) is hoping to serve as
a catalyst for bringing people together in one location where we might be
better able to provide a measure of safety and security for one another,
rather than leaving smaller isolated encampments of people to fend for
themselves. We are also looking at using this as a lead-in to a second
trip to Parliament Hill in Ottawa in the early fall.

When we began initial planning last week the Tompkins Square community
came to mind because (as I understand it, anyway) this functioned
basically as a self-controlled community of dispossessed people for a
number of years, and I thought the experience of people there might give
us some thoughts around how to organize and I offered to seek more info.

I understand the TSP community sort of evolved spontaneously over time,
while what we're attempting here is a more pre-planned kind of thing, but
the type of experiences I'd like to hear aren't related to the physical
creation of the site. Actually promoting and physically establishing the
project is the easy part - what I was asking of people was how they went
about organizing things such as security/defense for the site, how people
engaged in decision-making, extra-curricular activities that may have been
organized at the site, that kind of stuff. All pretty general - but
firsthand experiences from the community would give an invaluable sense of
what worked for folks - and perhaps even more importantly, might alert us
as to what pitfalls to avoid.

OCAP is calling it's idea a 'safe park' but basically the idea is for a
squatter's community not too much different from TSP. How long to sustain
this is very much up in the air - we're looking at a tentative launch date
towards the end of July and the plan is to stick it out (if possible)
until at least the fall but the initiative could well wind up becoming
self-sustaining  beyond that time. We view this as an emergency policical
response to the immediate crisis of people lacking _any_ form of shelter,
but also plan to keep the demand for long-term afforable housing front and
center throughout.

Thanks in advance!