Monthly Archives: August 2013

Updates on upcoming events


1st September – One year anniversary 

On 1st September, it’ll be one year since the ban of residential squatting. Commercial buildings are still legal to squat and we can celebrate what we have here in the Elizabeth Fry building.  To commemorate the ban, we will be having a one year birthday party – yaaay! We’ve been putting together an installation to share with everyone.

Join us for BBQ and music, our infamous bubble shows and a fantastic free shop. So come down on the 1st September from 2pm and join us for a great afternoon.

3rd September

The Dalston Eastern curve is kindly donating compost to us and we have got the super fit people from the Good gym to run there and collect the compost to bring here share with our front garden. What an awesome way to work out as a team. On the same day we will be receiving a van full of bicycle parts so we can get the bike shop up and running, as well as lots of stuff for our free shop.

4th September – Open work day

We will be having an Open work day and everyone is invited to come along and help us make this space function.

What we will be doing on the 4th

  • Gardening workshop  We’ll be starting to plant seeds in the front garden and planning for winter vegetables.
  • Making the place safe      Repairing anything on the ground floor that may considered unsafe (so that we can begin having workshops inside)
  • Painting and decorating (permitted we get the paint on time)
  • General cleaning
  • Cooking lots of food for everyone to share and eat

If you have your own tools, please bring them as we really don’t have that much. We will use this day to do as much as possible to have 195 up and running in the coming weeksPlease come and join us for a day of communal fun and productivity. . Get involved and show your support.

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A beautiful sunny day and no show from the ‘owners’

We had a good turn out of people to sleepover on Wednesday night. We had a great night with more barbeque food and music. We also had the long awaited arrival of one of our crew who had been away for the month so we all had a great time catching up.

I was up at 7am on Thursday morning, ready to sit outside and wait for these ‘owners’. Our neighbor came over at 8 with his coffee pot and some coffee to awaken everyone else in the house. I think it did a pretty good job. There was a great buzz of energy from everyone. A few of us enjoyed the morning sun out in the front garden for some hours before beginning to over heat and continuously splash ourselves down to cool off. We soon began to feel that the ‘owner’ wasn’t going to turn up, but no reason we couldn’t party anyway 🙂

The music played out the windows and we danced around and looked around for ingredients to make some veg burgers. We also received a pretty big bag of clothes donations on Wednesday so we had lots of new things to put out for the free shop. There were lots of great things in there and everyone had some fun trying on different outfits



As the second batch of burgers came out, some of the guys put on a bubble show with lots of popping bubbles from the kids around. Lots of people enjoyed the free shop, and we also got a generous donations of baby stuff from one lovely lady.

Everyone had a great day enjoying the sunshine and our beautiful space, and there was no show from the ‘owners’. This was a real shame as we wanted to speak with them and tell them about everything we’re doing and come to some negotiation or agreement with them. Its so important to been on good terms with them. According to the Hackney Council website, they would like to refurbish the building. That would be great if that’s really what they want to do, as this building holds too much value to simply be left to rot away, like it has been the past ten years.


Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter – search for @195 Mare street

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Lets keep 195 Mare street open

Right now we’ve got a great vibe going on, everyone sitting outside listening to chill music; the free shop is on display and we’re cooking up vegan burgers. Lots of people have been coming in to see what we’re up to and grabbing some stuff from the free shop – everything for free, they can’t always believe it.

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We’ll be doing the same tomorrow, letting people see that we’re here and that we want to do something positive for the community. So many people are keen to start running their own workshops and start making use of this amazing unused and abandoned space. We can’t wait either.

Join us on Thursday for lots of free food on the BBQ, popcorn, music, bubble show and lots more. We’ll also be having our free shop outside so come and get yourself some freebies.

Earlier on in the day we found 3 men knocking at our door. They told us they were contracted to come on Thursday and knock down the walls of the building, pull out the floor boards and pull out the plaster from the walls.  One guy became the ‘owner’ and said that he was going to knock down the building so he could build luxury apartments. The land registry is yet to be updated with who the new owner is, and if its only just been sold there in no way that they have been granted planning permission to do anything. The building cannot be knocked down or damaged because of this, and there has yet to be an owner who has been willing to invest in restoring this beautiful building.

We’re not sure how they intend on damaging a listed building to build flats without planning permission; there is nothing on the planning register that states any planning works to 195 Mare street at present. While this building is being left to rot away, we intend on making as positive use of this space as possible. Come and join us and make this an amazing space for everyone 🙂

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The evening standard got us

I mentioned the other day that Evening standard had come round to see us. They didn’t publish the next day, but they got round to it yesterday. Click here for the online article.

I was saddened by the fact that there was nothing positive written in there.  It’s seriously disappointing that Linsday (the journalist) said she would write a positive piece, but of course couldn’t guarantee that the editor would keep it as it was, thus she said she would email us the original. That never happened. In way, what was we to expect – from I have heard the evening standard are partly owned by the daily mail. Whether this is true or not I am not sure. As someone naive to the media, I imagine either that they are really bad at listening and recording information, or that they have their own motives to what they want to get across to the people who travel on the London underground – I assume its the latter.

The ES mistakenly thought this notice was ours - and the dead mouse. They were there when we got there

The ES mistakenly thought this notice was ours – and the dead mouse.

I logged onto the evening standard website, hoping to post a lovely positive comment (what good I was hoping for I am not sure).     ‘awaiting moderation’ – but they never added it to the comments..

I personally, am not letting this moment pass by as nothing – it’s easy to ignore it and think, “well its just another negative press”… but when we are personally involved and I know that this has been inaccurately presented I can’t help but have to address the injustice in this. If there was nothing I could do, I would do nothing, but as I am aware that I can doing something. I will do so. Keep posted for the next steps.

Anyway on a more positive note, on the 3rd September, The Dalston Eastern Curve are kindly donating us compost for our front garden – and the Good Gym will be delivering the compost by running with it from the garden to 195. Yes a bunch of runners are going to dig up compost and run with it to here 🙂  What a fantastic idea!!  We’re really excited to get our garden started. Before the compost arrives, we’ll be having a gardening work day to toil the soil, so if you’re interested in helping us out, keep posted.

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Everyone wants to know..

We’ve been here just under two weeks now and we’ve already been grabbing the attention of various forms of media.

We met a lovely lady at our Open meeting last week and she asked if she could write a blog piece. She was kind enough to print us out a copy to read before publishing it. Click here to read the article on the London review of books. I think its quite a positive review (well its not particularly negative). I wouldn’t know if many people actually read that blog, but hey at least its something good about us 🙂

The next day after publication, we soon found out that people do read it. Coming back to 195 I found 2 women – from the Evening Standard. Turns out they read the article on the LRB. We of course were very nice to them, honest and truthful in everything we said. However, as a group we have already agreed that people cannot take pictures inside the building without our permission, so thats what was done. I don’t think the photographer was too pleased about that.

I personally don’t know all that much about the Evening Standard, I don’t have the energy to waste on newspapers. However, whenever I have had a look, I have never been too amused and I know that they don’t particularly make squatters look very nice in any way, so I can’t imagine what they would want from us. Either way, they hung around for a while and I guess we did have an interesting conversation.   Turns out we didn’t give them a good enough story as we checked the paper the next day and there was nothing in there. I guess no news is good news.

I went online to search if the ES had posted anything online, I didn’t find anything but turns out the Dalstonist also considers us news..  There’s this strange feeling I get when I realise that I have now been labelled as a squatter.

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Making progress

Its been a pretty productive week, and the building is starting to look like a community center more than it ever did. We’ve been meeting lots of new people everyday and there has been real positive vibes circling this place.

On Saturday, we had a BBQ – beans were boiled in the morning to prepare the burgers and we creativity stacked up concrete blocks laying around to make ourselves a BBQ. We had a last minute sweep and the place looked amazing.

Early that morning, we received a donation of 3 fridges and some mattresses form the hostel next door. The fridges are well appreciated- food can last so much longer and we won’ have to worry about wasting anything. So if you’re wondering, I don’t think we need any more fridges right now. But we would happily take a working washing machine off your hands.

Vegan burgers on the BBQ

Vegan burgers on the BBQ

Greg's amazing vegan burger mix

Greg’s amazing vegan burger mix

Through out the afternoon, lots of people passed by and joined us for a while, checking out the building and admiring the space. There was a moment when it began to rain and again creativity was pulled out the hat and we managed to make a canopy shelter. It was pretty impressive for a quick job.

To make things even better, a neighbor of ours dropped us a sofa, which we now proudly have in our front garden

Later on, the bubble making happened. A few of our crew started making bubbles in front of the house, attracting lots of passers by and children.

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Locals are really interested in what can be done with the space. One man was shocked when I told him that we wouldn’t be charging rent to use the space – “free?” he asked. The pleasant surprise he displayed when he realised that people here were not interested in profit was beautiful.

When it started to get dark, we began to move ourselves insides with cushions, bean bags and mattresses. A few people shared their awesomeness playing and singing with their guitars. We even had a guy juggling on the stage. It was a great night and I hope everyone had as much fun as we did.

We all took a well needed rest on Sunday.

Now Monday, we’re back to work. We’re working on fixing up the toilets for the social center so thank you to everyone who already cleaned out the toilets – now we just need to make them work properly and we can open up our doors to you all.

We’ve got lots of talk on things that will be happening here at 195. Its confirmed that we’ll be running a bike workshop and a juggling workshop and later on someone will be dropping off a projector so we can host a film screening.

We will also be hosting our first ‘official’ event tomorrow, so we are pretty excited about meeting lots of new people – and catching up with old faces 🙂

BBQ and Open mic night tomorrow Saturday 17th

We want to meet lots of people, share great ideas and inspiring conversations. We would also love to attract some donations to help run our center more smoothly.

Join us tomorrow from 1pm for a BBQ out in the front garden (if weather permits)

At 6pm – we have open mic.                 Come down, chill, share your skills, jam and relax..

Hope to see you there 🙂

Keeping it moving

Yesterday was pretty eventful. We were first graced by Max and his mushy pancakes 😉 before getting to work. It was a bit of a slow morning, but as the day went on the energy began to pick up and more people began to arrive.  We carried on cleaning up the inside of the building and later on people came over to help with the garden space.

Many people were walking off the streets to come and have a look at the building – people are really interested in the building’s history and it got me probing into doing some research online about the building.  It’s been through a lot of people and the structure of the building has changed dramatically. Jack even gave me short tour this morning of the original wallpaper – its pretty impressive stuff, being inside a building with so much age and energy attached to it.        Click here if you’re interested in the building’s history.

Loulou got inspired and began painting a banner to hang from the building


And it looks pretty awesome..  However this morning the wind got the better of it so it needs some readjusting..


Some worked in the garden and others on cleaning up the theater space. We’ve also managed to make a temporary roof over the toilets of the social center so that rain water doesn’t make its way in anymore. It rained over night, we checked on it this morning and saw that IT WORKED..   yaaaaay

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We also got creative the other day and painted a notice board to put up outside – painting is always fun 🙂


We held a meeting at 7, everyone sitting in a big circle by the stage area. We were hoping to speak to local residents and discover what kind of ideas they had. Already having spoken to so many people during the past few days, we are starting to group ideas together of the kind of things we can do here.

There was a good show of unknown faces, as well as many familiar ones. It soon became clear what kind of things people wanted or expected from the space. The creative energy expressed by people is inspiring and infectious, and receiving criticism always gives us something to think about . Local residents had lots of ideas and suggestions and we also received some good advice from people previously involved in other social centers.

We definitely will have activities happening in the garden, there’s talk of a bike workshop and many people are willing to run their own activities.

We’re hoping to have a small fundraiser for the center on Saturday, so any ideas for that would be amazing.

Thank you to everyone who has been helping us over the past few days 🙂   We still got loads to do but with our energy and enthusiasm, we’ll be able to prepare this space in no time.


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Open Day Wedneday 14th

Open day

Join us from 10am – 5.30pm to help make this place ready to become a fully functioning social center. Our lovely Max will be making banana pancakes for all the early risers 🙂

We’ll also be making a skipped food dinner for all the people who worked all day.

7pm  – Get involved and join us for an open meeting to share any ideas and energy you have. Everyone welcome!

The more people that get involved, the quicker we can get our feet off the ground. We have an amazing space to be put to good us. There’s a beautiful theater stage and bar area and lots of space in the basement, as well as a great sized front garden.

Things to do:

  • General cleaning of social center space
  • Fixing roof of social center toilets
  • Gardening and planting
  • Share lots of energy and enthusiasm 🙂

Getting stuck in

Only a few days here at 195 and its clear that we seem to be attracting attention from people passing by.  I guess its a mix of seeing us grinding hard in the front garden, reading our signs on the gates and quite simply not be able to walk past such a big and beautiful building without noticing it. 195 Mare street really does stand out on the main road. It has been extremely refreshing to speak with people all from different journeys. So far we have received only a positive response from the local community. Sharing ideas feels wonderful and exciting and its always fun showing people the awesome space that we now have for use.  We are beginning to visualize what this place is going to evolve into.

Yesterday, the guys worked hard at removing the weeds from the front garden so stuff can be soon planted. The rooms on the top floor that had pigeon poop all over the place have been cleaned out, and we have a temporary cooking space. It was a great day with lots of hard work and many a conversation.

Some of the guys went on an epic skip trip as well yesterday!!!  — some students (and maybe some other random people) threw out the entire contents of where ever it was that they lived.  I’m guessing fashion/art students as we’re stocked on oil paints and over large paper. Lots of clothes, bedding and kitchen stuff was thrown out as well as random food stuff—- yaaay bean protein!!!  We’ve now got enough stuff to start our own free shop, so we’re gonna have to start sorting out the stuff and building an area for these things.

Some of the boys have been working on connecting our water today – so we can have flushing toilets. Good times.

Connecting the water through the house

Connecting the water through the house

Casing the water pipe

On Wednesday we’ll be having an Open day —   so if anyone wants to come down and help clean up the building and set up spaces for different workshops please come down from 10am. We’ll be working all day as a team till around 5.30pm..  Hopefully we’ll be able to skip some food and make some dinner and relax a little before we open up a meeting.  If you would like to voice your ideas, make a proposals and genreally get involved in running the social center come to the open meeting at 7pm to share with us.

We would love to see you there.

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