The Old Market Autonomous Zone

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The Imperial Dry Goods Building, home of Old Market Autonomous Zone

The Old Market Autonomous Zone, or A-Zone, was founded in 1995, in Winnipeg, Canada by local activists Paul Burrows and Sandra Drosdowech, who also co-founded Winnipeg's Mondragon Bookstore.[1] Its name is derived from "Old Market Square," the historic Exchange District in Winnipeg's downtown core area,[2] combined with Hakim Bey's notion of a "Temporary Autonomous Zone" (or TAZ). The Winnipeg A-Zone occupies a three-story building, originally built in 1899 and known as the "Imperial Dry Goods Building." Like many buildings in the area, it is classified as a heritage building by the City of Winnipeg. Since 1995, the building has been known locally as both the A-Zone, and sometimes the Emma Goldman Building.[3] Along with Mondragon, the A-Zone has become a focal point of activism and organizing in Winnipeg since 1995. Both the overall space at 91 Albert Street, as well as member groups such as Mondragon Bookstore & Coffee House have become a source of inspiration, as well as a travel destination, for activists, anarchists, anarcho-punks, vegans, and proponents of parecon and worker cooperatives across North America, and beyond.[citation needed] On February 1, 2012 it was announced the Co Operative had purchased the property.

Purposes[edit]

The original aims of the A-Zone were to:

  • Bring together a diverse array of activists
  • Share common facilities and equipment
  • Network
  • Strengthen communities of activism
  • Foster a culture of solidarity and resistance to state-capitalism and other forms of concentrated power
  • Help inspire and fund new projects and worker-run collectives

Member organizations[edit]

The A-Zone supports worker-owned businesses, whether worker co-ops or sole proprietorships, as well as grassroots activist groups and collectives, and in turn been supported by them, since starting in 1995. Current member organizations include:

  • Canada-Palestine Support Network (ISM-Winnipeg)
  • Canadian Dimension Magazine
  • Junto Local 91 anarchist library
  • Natural Cycle Courier
  • Natural Cycle Cycleworks
  • Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre
  • Winnipeg Copwatch
  • The Boreal Forest Network
  • War on Music Records
  • Amphibian Design
  • Urban Eatin' Gardeners Worker Co-op
  • ParIT Worker Co-op
  • Spash Branding
  • FemRev
  • Cohort Custom Tickets
  • G7 Welcoming Committee Records

Past members include groups such as Food Not Bombs, Arbeiter Ring Publishing, Urban Shaman (Artist Run Aboriginal Art Gallery), Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, Amnesty International (Winnipeg), Okijida Warriors' Society, Manitoba Women in Trades and Technology (MBWITT), Dada World Data (DWD), Mondragon Bookstore & Coffee House, and others [1].

In 2007, the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre (r2c2) was founded on the third floor of the building, and according to the r2c2 website, functions as a "gallery and multi-purpose venue for social, political, and cultural events of interest to the anarchist, activist, and wider Winnipeg community."[4]

February 1, 2012 it was announced the Tenant-owned Co-operative consisting of Mondragon, Winnipeg Copwatch, Boreal Forest Network, ParIT, Natural Cycle Courier and Rudolph Rocker Cultural Center had purchased the building.[5]

Principles[edit]

The A-Zone's core principles include a commitment to Participatory Economics (or Parecon), autonomy and solidarity, anti-colonialism "at home" and abroad, fair and equitable work, non-hierarchical decision-making, community economic development, and revolution [2].

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°53′51.22″N 97°8′24.98″W / 49.8975611°N 97.1402722°W / 49.8975611; -97.1402722