Here’s a “Wall Street” investment opportunity for you, brought to our attention by the Danish business newspaper Børsen:
“Christiania”? That’s the renegade area of Copenhagen which since its initial squat in 1971, on what had been an abandoned area of the city’s defenses, has styled itself the “Freetown” of Christiania, subject (by and large) to its own laws and maintenance of public order rather than those of the Danish state. (We’ve had occasion to cover this subject here before.)
The problem is, Christiania needs money. The area is still government land, strictly-speaking, and the new strategy of the Danish government for cracking down on it is to have the residents buy it, for 76 million Danish crowns (a little over €10.2 million), if they want to stay there. They’ve got until 1 April 2012 to come up with the first installment of DKK 46 million (a little over €6 million); so far they have been able to gather together a little over DKK 4 million into their Freestate Christiania Fund.
In the spirit of Willie Sutton, then (“because that’s where the money is!”), the fund has dispatched a representative to Wall Street, an “economics advisor” named Risenga Manghezi, to push Christiania folkeaktien (“people’s shares”) there. But the piece’s headline (and the tweet) reveals what “success” Manghezi has had so far: she has raised $10.
That probably should come as little surprise. For what are these “people’s shares” exactly? An earlier piece in Børsen on Christiania’s buy-out plan (actually, a “leader” or opinion article whose title is “Good for you, Christiania”) fills in details on what writer Christopher Arzrouni calls “a nice initiative, but also a paradox”:
You decide yourself how much you want to pay, and people will not worry about how much the people’s shares rise or fall in value. It is in fact not a proper share. People receive a symbolic co-ownership and support something that is not commercial.
Maybe that meager success – so far – in gaining money from Wall Street is not such a surprise after all. Still, in the original article referenced by the tweet Manghezi declares him(her?)self delighted at the “fantastic” way things have been going: “This has been a big challenge to get through to these men in suits, but the most important thing is that the shares have been in Wall Street’s hands. This is really important symbolically.” Manghezi next plans to cross the tracks to visit the Occupy Wall Street protestors to see if she might get some interest in her folkeaktien for Christiania there.