This should ring true for every Chicago Anarchist:
Seattle’s Wildcat Social Center is Closing
As members of the Wildcat collective, we are both relieved and bummed to announce that everyone’s favorite too-tiny social center will be closing its doors by August 15.
Since opening in February 2012 near the politically-charged intersection of 23rd and Union in the Central District of Seattle, the Wildcat has hosted dozens of speaking events, dinners, and films. It also housed L@s Quixotes, a radical lending library with a great collection of anti-authoritarian books and consistent open-hours. We opened the space during the crucial ebb-time between the eviction of the Decolonize/Occupy Seattle camp at Seattle Central Community College and May Day 2012. Without the Occupy camp or the Autonomia social center, the city’s growing and loosely-formed anti-state/anti-capitalist network desperately needed a meeting place to continue to encounter each-other and discover new affinities. For a time, the Wildcat was exactly that. True to our mission, our three-room cubbyhole was “a springboard for comrades to meet and launch their collective struggles toward freedom.”
Throughout the spring of 2012, the Wildcat was a clearinghouse for posters promoting what would be an unforgettable May Day. The space bustled on summer weekends as folks circulated in from the Food for Everyone BBQs that took place down the street in front of the mostly-empty Horace Mann building, a site of historic contest in the Central District. Along with the Umojafest PEACE Center across the street, the Wildcat helped to spread anti-police and anti-gentrification sentiment in the neighborhood. Upstanding citizens complained about all the graffiti, posters, and demonstrations.
Unfortunately, developers are currently planning to destroy the southeastern block of 23rd and Union in order to build a giant apartment building similar to the ones on Capitol Hill. This development may ultimately destroy Umoja and the black- and brown-owned businesses currently located next to it. While we have no love for capitalist enterprise in general, we recognize that this development is yet another step in a process that is rapidly transforming Seattle into an over-priced, sterile, white-washed dead zone. In this context, it is really sad to see the Wildcat go. The yuppies would have really, really hated us.
It’s no secret that the space has been experiencing financial difficulties since last fall. We think this happened mostly as a result of the onslaught of repression against anarchists in the northwest that began just after May Day 2012. The impressive amount of energy and fundraising that we all put towards grand jury resistance unfortunately sapped a lot of life from the Wildcat, and we have never really recovered. Sadly, this is exactly the sort of damage state agents intend to inflict when they initiate counterinsurgency operations like this grand jury investigation.
The state mobilizes its repressive forces not only to spread fear, discourage action, and stifle rebellious energy, but also to send us into a hyper-reactive tizzy that too often disrupts longer term goals and infrastructural projects. And indeed, while we were busy scrambling to support our comrades and take care of each other, we sometimes neglected the space and didn’t properly promote our events. Thankfully, the new anarchist café Black Coffee was there to pick up a lot of slack. Its size and location (only blocks away from the former site of the Occupy camp in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s densest residential neighborhood) makes it perfect for hosting the large events that would overflow the Wildcat’s cramped quarters. But because we mostly relied on donations at large events for funding, the landslide began. Now we’re up to our necks and ready to call it quits.
It all sounds pretty depressing, but don’t despair! Every ending opens opportunities for new beginnings. There is already talk of opening another social center in Seattle, so keep your ear to the ground.
This leaves us wondering how we all can strengthen our projects so they’ll still be standing when the next crisis clears. How can we create sustainable antagonist infrastructure in an expensive city like Seattle? What kind of social center models could or do work well here? What do we need in an anarchist space that isn’t already provided by Black Coffee and Left Bank Books? How can an anarchist space become relevant to the neighborhood surrounding it? These are the questions that need to be answered as part of figuring out what will be necessary to open another space. [Poster’s note: Within the next month, there will likely be an open discussion about anarchist space in Seattle that aims to answer some of these questions.]
In the meantime, please come out to the Wildcat’s Bye-Bye Bash on Friday, August 9, starting at 8pm. And, if you wouldn’t mind, bring a few dollars for drinks and treats so we can pay our insane electricity bill. Or, if you can’t make it to the party, make your last donation here: https://www.wepay.com/donations/87344