Dear Tovarna Rog,
I heard about what's going on with Rog at the moment. I used to live in the city and I felt like I needed to write something, so I wrote an open letter addressed to your mayor. Feel free to use/publish it if you think it could help the cause in any way. I'm an urban planner working in Stockholm so I deal with similar issues professionally. You guys are doing a great job!
Here's the letter btw:
Dear Mr. Jankovič,
I used to live in Ljubljana. Nowadays, I’m an urban planner based in Stockholm, which is where I’m from. I felt obliged to write this letter after the current events at the autonomous social centre Rog came to my attention. It’s my understanding that Rog might be subject to redevelopment. The plan is to demolish the smaller buildings whilst renovating the main factory building. After that, Rog’s fate appears a bit less clear.
Autonomous social centres and creative hubs like Rog are indeed rarities. Still, those areas are often what bring interesting and creative people to produce culture in a city. It’s also a big part of what makes a city attractive in an international context. Cities like Amsterdam, Berlin and San Francisco serve as evidence. The urban studies theorist Richard Florida puts it simply as:
“An expansive, open culture which does not discriminate, does not force people into “boxes”, allows them to be themselves and to validate their varied identities; it unleashes human creative potential, and in doing so, spurs innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development.”
There are physical spaces in Ljubljana that are still inclusive for people with big ideas but small economic means. Those spaces have much more value than any single investment can bring to a city. They enable artists to focus on their art and to give back to their city – that is something very precious and rare. If Rog were to be taken over by establishment, that would unavoidably mean more outside control, higher prices and less possibility to channel creativity. This is not only a problem for Rog’s users but for everyone in the city – no matter if they like places like Rog or not.
Urban planner and former resident of Ljubljana