‘Zad’ in french stands for an activist occupation intended to physically blockade a development project. Called officially in France, the Zone d’aménagement différé (zone for future development), it was renamed by protesters as the Zone à défendre (zone to defend). The ‘Zad’ of Notre Dame des Landes in west France was the first place to be so named.
Since 2008, after a call by local farmers and inhabitants, a living utopia was formed around a fifty-year-old struggle against an “airport and its world”. By the beginnings of 2018, approximately 300 activists had organised their lives around this protest, horizontally and collectively, despite the markets and the state.
On January 17th, 2018 the french government officially announced the cancellation of the airport project. But with this decision came another: the french PM also announced that the community had until spring to leave.
I had a short time to get a glimpse of the community’s life before eviction operations started, comprising 2500 gendarmes, armored cars, drones and helicopters. French newspapers calculated the cost of these operations around 5 million euros just in their first phase. Today negotiations with the state are still ongoing.