An autonomous zone against an airport project and its world
For over 50 years, farmers and locals have resisted the building of a new airport for the French city of Nantes (which by the way already has one). Now in these rich fields, forests and wetlands, which multinational Vinci wants to cover in concrete, an experiment in
reinventing everyday life in struggle is blossoming. Radicals from around the world, local farmers and villagers, citizen groups, trade unionists and naturalists, refugees and runaways, squatters and climate justice activists and many others, are organising to protect the 4000 acres of land against the airport and its world. Government officials have coined this place “a territory lost to the republic”. Its occupants have named it : la zad (zone a défendre) zone to defend. In the winter of 2012, more than a thousand of riot police attempted to evict the zone, but they faced a determined and diverse resistance. This
culminated in a 40,000 people strong demonstration to rebuild some of what had been destroyed by the French State. Less than a week later, the police was forced to stop what they called “Operation Cesar”. Since then, la zad has been progressively freeing itself from the state and consumerist society and has been connecting with other struggles,
regionally and beyond. The movement is alive with the possibility of victories.
For the past 8 years (since a Climate Action Camp reinforced the
occupation of the land), this zone has been an extraordinary laboratory
of new ways of living, rooted in collaborations between all those who
make up the diversity of this movement. Despite this heterogeneity, a
shared framework to radically rethink how to organise, inhabit and work
the land without an airport, has been agreed upon, based on the creation
of commons, the notion of usage rather than property and the demand that
those who fought for the land are those who decide its use.
Zad’s future still has to be fought for
In the last few years, the movement has had to constantly organize mass
mobilisations and direct actions to prevent any new attempt from the
government to start the construction of the aiport. Last fall, the
entire zone was due again for expulsions. On October 8th 2016, tens of
thousands of people gathered on the zad to demonstrate the determination
of the movement. Honouring farmers struggles from the past, they came
with wooden walking sticks and staffs and planted them in the ground,
making a collective pledge to come back and pick them up again to defend
the zad if necessary. After months of tension and preparation for
resistance the government gave up on its eviction plans. The newly
elected government has chosen to save time via a 6 month-long
“mediation” about the airport. It might finally abandon the project or
reaffirm its necessity. But in any case, it will certainly try to find a
new way to put the zad under attack.
August 12th – 20th : A summer invitation in the zad
We’re inhabitants of the zad who wish to strenghten connections and
networks with groups and people from other countries. In this spirit, we
invite you to an Intergalactic week* in the zad from the 12th to the
20th of August. The week will include various activities, workshops,
Participation to the construction of the Intergalactic cabin :
During the whole summer, a intergalactic cabin will be built in the zad.
It will be a place to welcome groups and projects from all over the
world, a space with possibilities for trainings, meetings,
presentations, parties, and much more. It will be possible to join the
construction work during the whole week as well as discuss how you might
want to use the space when operational.
Meeting the existing local comitees :
There are dozens of local support comitees who have been active in
France in the last years. On the week end of the 12h and 13th, some of
them will also be in the zad. We’d like to create opportunities for
meetings between them and groups from other countries (potententially
through a big orientation course, among other things).
“Defend the zad” trainings :
We will organise practical trainings about the zad’s defense. It will be
an opportunity to share techniques and ideas for resisting a massive
police attack on the ground. This trainings were tried last year with
hundreds of people of various ages, desires and physical capacities. It
will also be an opportuntity to discuss the possibilities for off site
actions and blocades for those who won’t be able to come to the zad in
case of evictions.
Sharing the history of zad :
We’ll propose walks and times slots to share the history of the zad.
Reinforcing connections with other struggles and solidarities :
We want to discuss possibilities to stop capitalist projects, to take
part in revolutionary situations, to build autonomous zones on a long
term and large scale in a strong network, and ideally strengthen the no
border network. We want to exchange about your experience. There will be
times slots open during the week for various presentations and
Logistic and participation :
The intergalactic week will use the structure of a “mobile camp” that
was put together last year in case of evictions (however participants
need to bring their own tents, mats, sleeping bags, headtorch). Food and
logistics will be organized and will require everybody’s involvement.
Let us know if you are coming ! :
We need to know in advance the number of participants in order to
organize the programme and logistics (ideally we would like people to
come and stay for the whole week to develop a process in common). Please
tell us before by July 31st how many of you will come and for how long.
Let us know as which language(s) you speak so as to organize
We look forward to welcoming you in the zad ! Contact :
This Intergalactic Gathering is a tribute to the Zapatista’s incentive
to go beyond borders and a contribution to their recent call « The Walls
Above, The Cracks Below (and to the Left) »
An autonomous zone against an airport project and its world