Note: A draft of this statement was first adopted by the Firestorm Collective on 3/11/19.
Our mission: To demonstrate the feasibility and desirability of a workplace based on free cooperation. We seek to sustain and nourish our collective through fulfilling work, personal empowerment and equitable compensation while providing a hub for anarchist thought and culture in WNC.
Firestorm is an intentional space created by our collective for a specific purpose. It is sustained through the continuous work of our collective, often as a labor of love, because we believe in the mission of the project. And while the space may mean different things to different people, we believe that we have a responsibility to advocate for our vision.
We invite individuals and organizations to participate in Firestorm within the framework that we've created. This framework centers co-operative economics, grassroots community programming, and political development. To that end, we welcome the following:
- Discovering new ideas through our book inventory or free public computer
- Engaging in social activity and encounter that is curious, brave, and consensual
- Attending or organizing community events
- Patronizing our co-operative to sustain our work
Over the course of ten years, we have struggled with the misuse and overuse of our space by individuals who appreciate our welcoming atmosphere (and, perhaps, the fact that we don’t call the cops). We recognize that we exist within the context of aggressive gentrification, where resource scarcity means that a growing number of people’s needs are not being met by society. As an anarchist collective, we choose to support grassroots organizing to uplift one another through direct action, rather than to provide services to soften the effects of Capitalism.
Firestorm is not a drop-in center and is not resourced to function as a community living room. Although we might otherwise be comfortable with activities that are appropriate to a community center, the impact of many people engaged in such activities, regularly and for extended periods, crowds out our ability to do the work for which our space is intended. It also leaves us, as those responsible for and dependent on the space, feeling burnt out. Historically, this burnout has contributed to high levels of turnover within our collective, undermining the stability of our co-operative and the impact of our work.
How We Move Forward
We seek to maintain an atmosphere that is welcoming, pleasant and inclusive to a wide range of people. Accordingly, we will request that people change their behavior or leave our space if we feel it is disruptive, disrespectful, or dangerous to ourselves or others. Additionally, we affirm the following regarding the use of this space:
As worker-owners, our ability to sustain ourselves depends on the generation of revenue. Therefore, we ask visitors to be mindful of how use of our space and resources impacts Firestorm as a retail environment. We will request that visitors stop using our space or resources due to overuse or misuse.
As anti-capitalists, we reject the idea that a person’s right to exist and occupy space is dependent on their spending power or status as a consumer. We will never ask someone to leave because they are not spending money.
As anti-authoritarians, we reject the use of coercive state violence as a tool for mediating or resolving conflict. Where relationships exist, we will strive to use restorative and/or transformative justice paradigms in response to harmful behavior. Our efforts aren’t perfect, and we welcome feedback.