For anyone considering fixing up a bike, sourcing bike parts, or with an interest in perusing a yard full of years’ worth of trash-turned-treasure, now is your time.
Loop Groop – the Eden Terrace co-op that rescues and repairs old bicycles and provides space for people to tinker with bikes themselves – is being forced to shut up shop after property developers bought the land their workshop is on, with plans to build a carpark. This means everything has to go, so for the next two weeks Loop Groop will be open on Friday and Saturday between 12 and 4pm, with all bikes and other bits and bobs free to a good home.
For the lads of Loop Groop, Carl Naus and Dylan Pyle, the next step is unclear. “We’re leaving that open-ended,” Naus told The Spinoff. “This space worked because of the grace of the previous landlord. She charged way below market rent, she was very supportive of the kaupapa and this space lends itself to this kind of thing because it is – was – just an empty lot.”
Now, with the developers “itchy to get the bulldozers in,” the duo have been given until the 1st of July to clear out. For anyone who has seen the sprawling treasure trove of bike bits and pieces that is Loop Groop, this is no mean feat.
So, for the next two weeks, Loop Groop will be open 12 to 4pm on Friday and Saturday for a free-for-all. As for the rest?
“We’ll scrap a lot of the metal, burn heaps of the wood, and I guess we’ll have to landfill some stuff… there’s probably quite a lot of “op-shoppable” material here too actually,” Naus said.
Loop Groop’s policy of never saying no to a bike has resulted in rather an impressive accumulation of bikes, bike parts, and some “bike shaped objects” as they call the less salvageable ones. This collection influenced their reaction to the news of development plans, when they were faced with the dilemma of risking the bikes to fight for their cause.
With both Pyle and Naus identifying as anarchists, there was the temptation to create a stir. “We considered just occupying and being naughty about it but then that puts all the stuff here at risk. They’d just come in skips and get rid of everything. So we decided to do it properly, make sure everything goes somewhere good,” Naus said.
“And it kind of risks the ideologies that we stand for,” Pyle interjected. “If it turned into a massive fight or legal battle shit show…”
But isn’t that kind of the point of anarchism? “Well kind of,” Naus said. “I don’t mind a good legal battle to be honest. But there were these competing factors of the ideology… this is so much about integrity for us. The integrity of holding space and making this a common space versus the integrity of making sure all this stuff gets recycled.
“That one won out because it’s more important, the other one is just kind of ego.”
Although Naus and Pyles sacrificed their own political agenda to save the bikes, it wasn’t like they had much time to create placards or hatch a retaliation plan. It was the sudden appearance of a ‘for sale’ sign that first alerted them to the potential demise of Loop Groop, and despite the assurances from their landlord that it might not even sell, two weeks later fresh owners were on the block.
To add yet another touch of irony, these new owners run a business where they recycle concrete, which was kick-started with a grant from a fund called the Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund – the very same fund that the duo got a grant from to start Loop Groop.
“I met them on the site and it was a really funny conversation actually,” Naus said. “Concrete is a massive waste product so I was like yeah that’s cool that you guys do that but it’s not cool that you’re property developers.”
According to Naus, the plan is to fill the purchased land with smashed concrete, fence it, chuck cars in and then eventually turn it into a building. The developers did apparently have the grace to be aware of the irony at least, but this was of little consolation to Naus. “[They said] ‘I understand that us buying this place and trying to get a commercial return on it is entirely opposite to what you guys believe in… but we’re gonna do it anyway. So basically, I’m very aware of this but I’m going to fuck you over anyway.”
For Naus and Pyles, Loop Groop was a way of living out what comes naturally to them.
“It’s not like we read a book about anarchism. This is what feels right to us and this is why we do it this way,” Naus said.
“Yeah we’re both political people and Loop Groop even has a manifesto but we never talk about that, whenever we are here we don’t have to talk about it because it’s the action you know,” Pyle added.
It’s not just the bikes and access to the parts that will be lost, but the space, and all that it stood for. “Social circularity and mutualism is the central part of this kaupapa. It’s about circulating resources and circulating knowledge and circulating labour,” said Naus. “Quite often I’ll come down here to pick something up and there’s somebody just tinkering around with a bike or pulling something out of the graveyard.”
Even as we sat down to do the interview, someone approached the boys in their scrapyard kingdom, picking his way past the pile of multi-coloured kids bikes to speak with Naus.
“That’s pretty typical of this place,” Pyle said, as the guy ambled off, probably to return later on.
This open door policy is a key part of what Loop Groop is all about, with the open fronted shed a way to “display that kaupapa visibly.” Consequently, the junkyard attracted those who understood the notion of shared space, and acted as a place for people to come and have a play around.
“The people who need it most understand it. You find middle class people don’t really understand it, they kind of come down and get very confused by it,” Naus said. “But we get streeties and homeless people coming down and they know what to do.
“One time I came down here and there was this guy cleaning up… I was like ‘oh hey man’ and he was like ‘oh so great to meet you, I come down here all the time, I’m an artist, I build stuff out of junk and come down here to get materials so I thought I’d just give back and clean up a bit.’
“I was like, you fucking get it.”
Loop Groop is open Friday and Saturday 12-4pm for the next two weeks, with everything going for free.