The Albert St. Autonomous Zone stands for basic liberatory values, such as equality, workers’ self-management, and solidarity. For a full discussion of these values, and a “participatory economic” vision consistent with them, feel free to check out the PARECON website.
Autonomy & Solidarity
We believe that organizations seeking social and political justice require relative autonomy to pursue diverse agendas, as well as solidarity with others engaged in parallel struggles. The A-Zone is about respecting and promoting diversity within a broad-based grassroots movement, while fostering a spirit and practice of cooperation and mutual aid.
Anti-Colonialism Begins “at Home”
We recognize that the city of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, the Canadian State — and by direct extension, the A-Zone itself — are colonial impositions that only exist as a direct consequence of the dispossession, massacre, ethnic cleansing, and subsequent imposed dependency and impoverishment of the indigenous First Nations of this land. Even more important than acknowledging that we ourselves live on stolen land, we further acknowledge that the colonial process and genocide within Canada continues to this day, and we commit ourselves to working in solidarity with First Nations peoples across the land, and supporting the self-directed struggles of grassroots Indian communities and activists.
Fair & Equitable Work
We believe that necessary labour must be shared, such that all people engage in both creative and empowering work on the one hand, and rote and menial tasks on the other. This is known as a “balanced job complex,” balanced for overall empowerment and desirability of work circumstances. Not only do member groups share in the responsibilities of building maintenance, but the A-Zone collective (which assumes some of the more “managerial” tasks) is, in turn, made up of representatives from a range of A-Zone member organizations.
Safety & Respect
The A-Zone strives to be a fascist-free, hate-free, bigot-free space, in which people of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation will feel welcome. Safety of all people within the space is a primary concern, and respect for diversity of opinions and beliefs is expected from all members and guests. However, our emphasis on individual freedom, conscience and autonomy does not mean that “anything goes.” The A-Zone will not tolerate racist or fascist intrusion, physical threats, sexual harassment, or other coercive and discriminatory behaviour.
We believe that organization is not synonymous with hierarchy or centralization. The A-Zone and member groups advocate (and attempt to utilize) non-hierarchical decision-making principles, such that those most affected by a given decision have greater proportionate input and say.
Community Economic Development
The principles and practice of the A-Zone are consistent with the values of “community economic development” theory. The A-Zone seeks to “invest” in, and foster, the development of fledgling, alternative institutions by offering low (or non-existent) rent to aid start-up. Flexible, negotiable rental arrangements have helped alternative businesses such as Mondragón, Arbeiter Ring, G-7 Welcoming Committee, and Natural Cycle to grow and solidify their operations during difficult start-up periods. In addition, where possible, the A-Zone attempts to utilize products and services provided by member organizations (or other institutions) committed to local and community development.
We believe that confining one’s activism to local and internal development, or pre-occupation with the well-being of one’s own membership, can lead to parochialism, isolation, and elitism. Local struggles must be combined with an awareness of the inter-relatedness of world struggles, with empathy and solidarity for all people, and with an awareness of the structural causes of exploitation and domination. The A-Zone is committed to the advancement of social, political, and economic justice the world over, and we see the existence of our community space as merely one voice among many, calling for the complete abolition of capitalism, class privilege, war, ecological devastation, as well as hierarchy and oppression in all its forms.