The Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE)

After the G8, I resigned from the Autonmous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE). I felt pretty much associated with it since I first arrived in Edinburgh six years ago.
But now I feel pretty exhausted and burnt out.
It seems to me that the centre demands endless supplies of efforts, enthusiasm, motivation and resources, without ever giving back anything or too few to its users.
One of my philosophies was that, if I myself put lots of energy, work and resources in something, than others will join eventually to realise the project and then to share the benefits of it with everybody getting their equal share.
With ACE, I felt like often, if not always, that it was a lone battle which wasn’t rewarded at all, apart from using ACE as a mail address for communicating with political prisoners and other political projects, it did not seem to give me much, though many of the groups based there, did.
I tried to extent the political video archive, but whenever putting in originals, they were lost or stolen. When putting in copies, people did not borrow them, but wanted to give them away, and did so. I did never get any financial support for any tapes to put in, so I gave it up after putting in about 10. I do assume that copying all the videos, printing and photocpying out the desciptions and a catalogue would have probably been about 100 pounds or so, but of course it could have been stacked.
I tried to sort out mail and magazines sent to Counterinfo , which has its mail address at ACE, but there wasn’t actual enough office supplies to sort it, the ones there were, were often faulty and old und sometimes even rusty, and everything had to be noted down, but hardly anybody ever did it, it was more demand than action. And the steady flow of foreign language magazines were interesting, but hardly anybody ever made use of it, particularly not for Counterinfo, as this newssheet alwys came out rarely, did not have enough editorial space, and often the news were too old. Counterinfo eventually seemed to become less important with the rise of the world wide web and news websites such as Indymedia , especially Scotland Indymedia.
One also disillusional thing was the organisation of the Foot and Mouth event. Although it was a good street party, the conference, the Mouth bit was disappointing, except for the playbus. It took almost a year organising it, and then the outcome of the conference was limited, so I think political people in Edinburgh are not that interested in political theoretical discussions. Not to mention the difficulties with having a women’s space in the conference.
ACE feels draining – often too dark and too cold, the heating is broken and the water system leaks. Indymedia was based at ACE, but often, when calling for a meeting, Indymedia volunteers and interested people would become less and less, over time, till meetings consisted of myself only.
I hope that now, that Indymedia Scotland is based at the Forest, the meetings will be better and a new second life will be blown into the project. It is nice to know that the Forest is open almost every day, so people coming early do not have to wait in the cold and the rain, there is a nice cafe with warm food and hot drinks, toilets and entertainment in the building, and even wireless access. The cafe is also good for combined projects such as film screenings, discussions, and little projects such as speaking tours and similar, and it attracts a wide range of people, from non-political to environmentalists, and also the cafe is based beside the university and has an art gallery, a free shop, piano, music, library, vegan and vegetarian food. (Although I have to admit that the food has stayed pretty much the same for the last past five years there). There is not that much which can be done without a cooker I guess, and for not having a cooker, the Cafe has really made the best out of the possibilities.
But the main reason was the G8. I just did not feel there was much – nor any support from the ACE collective for the G8 mobilisation. Not many members of ACE tunred up to the anti-G8 protests or even helped supporting these in any way. ACE offered its back room, but there was never any support for using it effectively. I was getting very angry, when the computers donated to ACE about a year and a half ago, the Imacs, are missing now their CD-Rom drive and other parts and are more or less unusable. When ACE got them donated I was pushing for buying hard disks for all of them, having an install workshop and then setting all of them up. Now individual Imacs have been taken by individuals or other projects and out of the centre, and only one of the formerly six ones is set up in the centre. That really makes me angry. Again, ACE wanted to save money.
The same with the high-speed internet connection. The money was given from Dissent to install it and set up a computer network, but it was never used – nobody really cared about it.
ACE also got a donation to move. I tried to find nice buildings, and one which I would have found ideal, as it had heating, 2 kitchens, was freshly renovated and ina former trade union building. As this opportunity wasn’t taken up, which was the last opportunity really before the G8 to have any new premises to support the protests with crash space, cooking facilities and similar. I got so angry – especially with the academic armchair anarchist fraction in ACE, that i decided to resign.
Now i got a letter basically telling me that I got unsubscribed from the email list, should pass on the keys asap and trying to defend any criticism of ACE as the fault of the inidvidual.

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