Friday, October 21, 2011

Two weeks at Occupy Dame Street

Two fairly productive days, I'm marginally less tired than before but still exhausted. I'm trying to reduce the number of hours I put in at Dame Street though today some of those got replaced by a couple of hours on the computer at home. Typing up fecking minutes of fecking meetings, this gets more like work by the day. But has to be done.

Somehow I ended up facilitating a G.A. two nights ago that somehow, again, became about the issue of political party and/or union literature and flags being appropriate or not to have on the march planned for this Saturday - an issue which has been very contentious here but which I have next to no interest in. Possibly that means it was lucky that I was the one who happened to facilitate it, but it was a long if quite tryingly entertaining hour trying to wrangle the group to an agreement. Good that it was only about whether or not a line about this could be included in the press release about the march, rather than the entirety of the issue itself. The arguing about the line was, rightly, strenuous. Eventually, with the messy, slow and participatory process that is democracy in action, a consensus was reached amid cheers. It does feel good when you get somewhere together - and everyone is cheering, even those who had the earlier objections.

Two good friends had arrived right as this began and I got to have some food and sit down to try and relax with them later on. With only occasional interruptions. I had chosen Sweeney's as the venue so only myself to blame, it's the heated, sheltered second home of many Campers, some of whom went by every few minutes. It was really only as I took a short break from camp business that the full scale of my tiredness hit me, I felt I was mumbling unintelligible inanities and unable to even keep my concentration for long. Got to bed fairly early that night at least - by which I mean after midnight.

Was impressed by a video of Occupy Galway - they built scaffolding! They have waterproof signs! They have a shelter! All within 24 hours. Ah young Padawan, you have learned much, while after 2 whole weeks we are becoming Grand Old Dame Street. It is strange the things that don't seem to take here - like we still don't have a sheltered table that can provide leaflets and information to passersby. And the log books aren't labelled as General Assembly minutes, or Comments book, or Incident log. But then have to remember that the camp never knew it would survive and it is in a very harsh environment with few anchor points, making constructing shelter very difficult. Plus the fact that some people come and go while others who have been here a good while and sort of know how things kind of work are themselves very overloaded. Meanwhile it's great to see the Occupy movement spreading elsewhere in Ireland.


Yesterday evening the legendary Jinx Lennon played, using amplification provided by two megaphones in the absence of a P.A. He played songs such as Houses Everywhere, a laugh as always. I found myself wondering how much the total cost of tickets would have been to see the people who have played here over the last two weeks. Some Campers and friends played guitar under the tarp, a few people piled in out of the light rain, myself included, and that felt like real time off. People here have so many talents and abilities and complex lives that occasionally emerge into the light, or at least into the orangey glow of the perpetually lit Central Bank plaza, and it's good to see. And hear.

Folks from the Camp desperate for a shower came back to ours last night for one, which again seemed entirely normal. Wish I could provide such luxuries for people more. I did wonder what they thought of us having seen our flat, it's like a different world, all of us down there know so little about each other, with none of the usual markers to guide us, of clothes, homes, jobs or even many conversations about the normalities of our lives or what we do. We talk politics, and social change, or else just camp logistics, and it's amazing to engage with people on the basis of what we want to do, or what we think about things, not being afraid to talk about things that seem to matter, immediately. What do you think of this? What could we do about this? How could we make this better? It's so refreshing and it also bonds you to people quickly. But odd when you reveal your 'ordinary' self to people, in a situation where having a shower seems like a novelty.

Yesterday despite being at the camp nearly all day, I managed to miss a friend who had brought a class of students down (because I was across the road typing something up), my brother (because I missed his text) and another friend (because I'd left the camp minutes before, about 10.30p.m. and then encountered him on the road). I did get to show another friend around, which was a real treat because it is quite up her street. She also happens to be visually impaired and in a wheelchair, the camp was proven not exactly accessible but not as inaccessible as I'd expected, which was encouraging. And she's not the only visually impaired knitter to be linked to Occupy Dame Street apparently - definitely an expanding niche.


Today we mainly planned for the march tomorrow. It is exciting anticipating it, though I've no sense of how it'll go or how many people will show up - everyone is hoping for more people than last week, but not having had much time to plan or advertise it, who knows. We just have to wait and see. 2p.m. from the Garden of Remembrance, and Billy Bragg is playing. Which ought to be fun.

We also tried to get more people to volunteer for various shifts - someone worked out it would in theory take 45 people each doing one 4 hour shift a day to fill the tasks that are needed just in coordination, security, food and construction. More passersby and supporters did offer to help in the coming days - the problem is being able to coordinate and direct them, we really don't have enough people, and definitely don't have a system to do that effectively. There needs to be a system that enables and empowers people to get involved, however they can, online, in person, a few minutes, hours or days, and slowly that system is forming, but we've a long way to go.


A man in a suit wanted to help, when I could only locate a broken pencil for him to try and sign up, he asked if stationery was needed, I said yes it definitely would, and he arrived back shortly afterwards with lots of much needed pens, paper and tape. Last night a somewhat drunk actuary who worked on the sixth floor of the Central Bank got into a long conversation with me and a few of us, it was quite entertaining, he and his friends (out on a stag night) stuck around quite a while even though they claimed not to be interested at all in what we were about. He told us to go home, have some hot chocolate and watch TV, we then established that none of us, including him, actually owned a TV. He and his friend (who said he worked directly for European Commissioner of Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn) both kept saying how what had happened in terms of the crisis in Ireland was obscene and terrible, so perhaps it made them think that maybe it was worth trying to do something about that, even if camping outside his place of work wouldn't be his choice.

It's entertaining, and it's good to have these conversations. I'm very tired, and I'll have to take it much easier after tomorrow, but just talking like this, making these points by and with our very presence, is something worthwhile.



Post a Comment

<< Home