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Austin, Texas – March 11, 2009 - The Rhizome Collective is a consensus-run 501c3 nonprofit organization that has operated a center for community organizing and urban sustainability in an East Austin warehouse since 2000. This warehouse was inspected on March 3rd by officials from the Building and Standards Commission of the City of Austin. On Thursday, March 5th The Code Enforcement Division of The City of Austin delivered a letter outlining a list of code violations to the Collective. The City mandated that the residents and organizations based in the warehouse must vacate before March 16th. The Collective is looking into all options, but is preparing to vacate the warehouse by the deadline. Before this inspection, the Collective was in negotiations to buy the warehouse from its current owner.
The Rhizome Collective is making every effort to work with the City on this matter. Contractors are currently completing an estimate of the cost required to bring the building into compliance with city building codes. Based on conversations with contractors, the Collective does not believe it will be possible to get an estimate, obtain permits and complete the work by the City’s deadline. Collective members attended the City Council meeting to ask for assistance on March 12.
The Rhizome Collective including Inside Books, Bikes Across Borders and Food Not Bombs is making an international call to supporters. The Collective is seeking monetary donations, in-kind donations, funding sources and statements of solidarity. Donate through the link below.
The Collective is an internationally recognized model for intentional communities that comprise a massive movement focused on justice and autonomous sustainability.
Susannah Cummins of the Inside Books Project explains that, "Rhizome has been the central organizing point for so many different organizations over the years. It's really a unique place in Austin because you might go there to volunteer at the community bike shop and, in the process, learn about why people are sending books to prisoners. There's a kind of cross-pollination that happens at Rhizome that I think helps people make connections between different struggles and see things within a larger context."
In 2004, the City of Austin donated a 9.8 acre brownfield in the Montopolis neighborhood to the Rhizome Collective. The property served as a legally operated municipal landfill from 1967 to 1970, and was illegally dumped on for approximately fifteen years following the closure of the landfill. In the same year, the EPA awarded the Rhizome Collective with a $200,000 Cleanup Grant as part of their Brownfields Program. From January 2005 to July 2006, 680 tires, 10.1 tons of trash, and 31.6 tons of recyclable metal were removed from the brownfield. This property is not being affected by the code violations on the warehouse.
In the nine years of its existence, the collective has collaborated with many local, national and international organizations by providing free or low cost space and through direct participation in their initiatives. The Collective has provided space to people working with the organizations mentioned above and, to name a few others: The University of Texas, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Acción Zapatista, Rosa Clemente and Monkey Wrench Books. Members of the Collective have supported initiatives including projects of Indymedia, PODER, El Comite Obrero Fronterizo, Pastors for Peace, The American Friends Service Committee, The Student Farmworker Alliance and communities in both Mexico and Cuba. Inside Books sent over 18,000 books to Texas prisoners last year. Bikes Across Borders has organized more than fourteen bike delivery caravans since 2001, sending over 700 bicycles to Cuba, Mexico, and Central America. Projects directly benefiting the community have been prioritized at the Collective such as the creation of educational systems for sustainable living in urban areas, workshops on puppetry and street theatre, after-school programs focusing on bicycles, gardening and the arts.
The people affected include those who work at the warehouse in order to: furnish books to Texas prisoners, feed the homeless, teach neighbors how to fix their bicycles, run independent media projects and organize workshops on urban sustainability. The work performed here over the past nine years is a point of pride for the Collective, the greater Austin community and communities worldwide.
This is an official communication arrived at by consensus of the Collective.
For more information, please contact Laura Merner.
* Laura Merner, Collective Member
* Phone: (201) 739-6341
* Email: firstname.lastname@example.org