Danish Hippies Who Oppose Land Ownership Seek Funds to Buy Commune

September 27, 2011 - 9:00 AM
Denmark Christiania

A resident sits in the sunshine in the self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of Christiania as it celebrates its 40th anniversary in Copenhagen, Denmark on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. Christiania, one of Denmark's largest tourist attractions, has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. (AP Photo/POLFOTO, Mathias Christensen) DENMARK OUT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Residents of Copenhagen's freewheeling neighborhood Christiania raised more than 1 million Danish kroner ($180,900) during their first day of fundraising to save the hippie haven, they said Tuesday.

According to a real estate deal made with the government in April, residents of the enclave must pay 76 million kroner ($13.7 million) before 2018 to buy the land. The first payment of 43.3 million kroner ($7.83 million) is due on April 15.

The neighborhood was created in 1971 when hippies began squatting at a derelict 18th-century navy base on state-owned land. It became a flower-power community with psychedelic-colored buildings, open trade of hashish and limited interference from the government.

Enclave spokesman Svend-Erik Krogh said the community had received 1.5 million kroner ($271,340) by midday Tuesday after launching a bogus share issue on Monday. Stockholders won't get any property or voting rights.

Christiania will also raise money through bank loans and events, Krogh said.

Proceeds from the so-called shares — in denominations ranging from 20 kroner ($3.62) to 10,000 kroner ($1,809) — will go into a fund which will carry out the transaction on behalf of Christiania's roughly 900 residents, who will remain as tenants.

"Christiania has never ever liked the idea of owning something, that is not our philosophy," Krogh said.

Forty years after its creation, Christiania offers a sharp contrast to the rest of Copenhagen, and it is one of the capital's biggest tourist attractions, averaging 1 million visitors a year.

In 2004, authorities started cracking down on the illicit drug trade there, and Denmark's Parliament announced plans to tear down buildings to build new apartment blocks. Residents sued the government two years later, claiming they have the right to use the land, even if they don't own it.

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Online: http://www.christianiafolkeaktie.dk/index.php