On Tuesday, we were given the opportunity to visit Common House in Bethnal Green. CH was founded in 2013 as a reaction to the lack of free and available working space for activist and community groups. The emergence of these types of spaces is not a recent phenomenon however; the social centre, convergence spaces and protest camps are all examples of this sort of communal working space.
One of the key ideas endorsed by Common House is that the shared resources are not just used and consumed by members but also contributed to – give and take system.
One thing that I really liked about common house is that the space and community that use the space actively encourage involvement from new members, rather than just allowing people to passively enter the space. The walls are covered in all sorts of activist paraphernalia: Riso prints, placards and leaflets. Which to me is a reflection of their belief that many activists are actually artists without the necessary resources/skills to produce material – they prove that by pooling resources, some amazing pieces of work can be produced. Because of this, the concept of authorship/ownership becomes redundant; as long as good designs are produced, it doesn’t matter who made it. In order to encourage new members to join the Common House cause, a Riso Print Club was created. This club aims to get together regularly and think about the print process, creating a culture around creative practise.