Thursday, October 27, 2011

Well into week 3 at Occupy Dame Street

Three days have passed in a flash it feels like. My efforts to return to the three-weeks-neglected other aspects of my life outside of Occupy Dame Street have had some, rather limited success, and have mainly served to point up just how tired I really am. After some mopping up of my own abode on Monday night, Tuesday was spent dealing with the fallout from the flooding and the insurance company, and also trying to sleep - not very successfully. So wasn't down at Occupy Dame Street that day, apparently missed Michael Franti of Spearhead dropping by. The celebrity spotting has been going on for some time - Kevin Connolly (Eric from Entourage, for those of you who, like me, can't seem to shake an inexplicable liking for this sexist, shallow, unironic, everything-I'm-normally-against yet strangely engaging American fluff television show) passed by a few days ago, expressed support and said he'd come back, and Michael Moore was 'retweeting' Occupy Dame Street last week apparently (Twitter, another thing I'm not keen on - the clue is in its name - but that's another story). To be honest I'm glad that there's been relatively little attention paid to the alt-celebrities who often appear in the protest world - this is a movement of individuals, large masses of them, and about spreading consciousness and change among people from many walks of life, who speak with many accents but one voice. That's something I've really liked about this movement, the opportunity to meet and work alongside so many different people, all with a common purpose, who bring very different life experiences, approaches, hopes and pain to the struggle, and through their willingness to share themselves and be themselves within this, have endlessly enriched my own experience at Occupy Dame Street over the past three weeks. I've learned so much, laughed a lot, cried a little, and immensely valued those connections, and that sense of sharing something important through all our superficial differences continues to impart great joy and power to this movement.


Various things have happened over the last three days. A new kitchen area got built, which great if rather worrying insecurely sheltered, yet again with a large and not very wind- or rain-proof tarp covering it, I did express concern considering the dangerous and abrupt ends of the last couple of efforts at such construction. But it's better than some previous efforts and hopefully the high winds and torrential rains of the last week are now behind us. And Natasha, creator of astonishingly delicious raw chocolate delicacies in her eponymous Living Foods company, came down and sorted out the kitchen properly, which is great.


The yurt was moved, so that the local business owners could retain line of sight from Dame Street to their premises, as promised previously. The yurt is by all accounts very cosy and generally great, for meetings and sleeping. Usually not at the same time, though occasionally meetings have been held around an unconscious protestor, it's a tiring occupation situation.


The re-energised Facilitators' group is meeting regularly after the 6p.m. General Assembly, we put together a standard agenda that can be used for all General Assemblies, to ensure the basics of Occupy Dame Street, hand signals, the working groups etc are all mentioned at every one. It has also ensured that there are facilitators and themes in place for recent General Assemblies, to avoid the situation that does crop up, especially for the 1p.m. meeting, with someone running around five minutes before it's due to start (or five minutes after), trying to come up with a theme and find someone to facilitate. Instead we want to have the themes up online in advance so people can plan their participation as much as possible. Fairly slow going, and we've just gotten to being able to plan one day in advance, but overall progress is being made.


Got to attend some good workshops, one by Patrick Bond yesterday on the IMF, Africa and Ireland, during which people were informing themselves about key personalities using the entertaining medium of playing cards - Iraq's Most Wanted, as actually issued to American soldiers, if I'm not mistaken. Though they could have been the retaliatory cards depicting the rogues' gallery of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush et al. Remember them?


There was a really excellent workshop this morning with members of the Travelling community from Tallaght and Clondalkin. Very interesting for them and members of Occupy Dame Street to share experiences, find common ground, debunk myths and start thinking about how we could link further and more concretely together in future. As one Traveller woman put it, we all have hurt, we all have pain, and we all are alike and can share with one another in that regard, to find a place where we find what's common between us, rather than what separates us. The Travellers are an ethnic group in Ireland that is not recognised as such by the State, they have a distinct culture and traditions, and have traditionally lived travelling around the country, unlike the settled community that make up the majority of the population. It was a good discussion, and I hope it'll lead to something more.


On a couple of nights, there were again problems with some people within the camp drinking and becoming aggressive, which is difficult to control and manage but has to be dealt with effectively for the camp to continue to succeed. Hopefully this will continue to improve. There also seemed to be problems with interpersonal (and possibly class-based) conflicts between a few members. Some of this is inevitable, people are under physical and mental pressure almost constantly on some days, and conflicts have to be dealt with, not suppressed. But I hope people can recognise that everyone is under pressure at various points, people have different (and not always compatible) personalities, everyone's contribution may not be immediately clear but that does not mean it does not exist, everyone brings something valuable to the movement. Instead of getting caught up by the differences in our personal histories and the problems the current political, economic and social system has created for each of us, let's remember we are more united by what we share and the changes we hope to see happen, and only together can we move towards those better possibilities.

Photos of Week 3 are here.
And all the photos from Day 1 until now are here.



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