Sunday, November 06, 2011

Occupy Cork loveliness by the River Lee


Strolled up to Occupy Cork on Friday and Saturday and wonderful indeed it was. As exchange visitors from Occupy Dame Street we were very impressed. There was much we admired and many ideas we shared from our experiences as well as many more to take back to Dublin from the People's Republic. Lovely location, with actual actual grass and actual soil, the kind you can actually anchor tents into. Those tents were in straight lines and had a startling innovation tied on to each one - a number by which you could identify it.


Then you could check whether it currently had a resident on the handily located tent registry board.


The camp is sited around a war memorial, which they are in negotiations about, as 11/11/11 is the anniversary of Armistice Day from the First World War, and commemorations are planned, as well as that day happening to be a global day of action for the Occupy movement. Twas good to the see the potted plants. There is also a Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial at the site.


Their camp is still open plan so anyone interested can walk through it, reaching the sturdily constructed large tarpaulined shelter at the back. This shelter was built by folks who knew what they were at and is fairly secure, though I imagine it is more difficult on windier and rainier days than when we visited. It has a large blue Doric-ish column in the middle which can be easily removed when the winds get too high.


The shelter houses the nicely arranged kitchen on one side.


I guiltily felt this kitchen put Dame Street's somewhat to shame, despite the sterling efforts of the food team, but when I returned the next day the Dublin kitchen had been transformed into a model of order and cleanliness - well done folks. Occupy Cork had an array of condiments (including Hershey's syrup!) for the delectation of its residents and visitors, and plenty of tea and coffee on the go. All the comforts of home (i.e. of Occupied Dublin). They have moved to using crockery and metal cutlery, though they are having to get people to take it off site to wash and then return it, so not ideal.


They have recycling and composting happening.


Nearby under the shelter are a noticeboard with lots of newspaper articles and other info, and the library. There are also whiteboards advertising the day's events.


They generally have more in terms of informational signage - something I'd love to see more of at Occupy Dame Street, it helps people to share knowledge and to engage with what's happening, especially new people who are appearing for the first time, as well as being a crucial communications channel to keep systems functioning.


A sturdy and waterproof sandwich board to dispense leaflets - simple genius.


They have a yurt, but they also have a liferaft:

Seeing as part of the camp is actually on the boardwalk over the River Lee with the water flowing a few feet below it, visible through the boards, perhaps a liferaft isn't such a bad idea.


They've had their share of random entertainment - for example a fleeing inpatient from Cork University Hospital showed up there yesterday morning, IV still stuck in their arm.

Interestingly they mentioned similar issues to the Dublin camp in terms of how to welcome and work with homeless people. They have similar security issues too, with people being on shift for far too long, and generally with participants' burnout. They have had problems with drug users, and dealers, coming on to camp, as has been a problem at Occupy Dame Street, and the less thorny issue of residents occasionally drinking excessively.


Storing and managing money and donations securely is something they've tackled through taking cash off site every day and they've opened a Post Office account, to avoid having a bank account - which would after all hardly be in keeping with a protest against the bailout of banks. Didn't get to attend a General Assembly but their are apparently still quite focussed on internal camp issues and logistics, sometimes tackling policy issues, and often going on for quite a long time. They had a silent protest on Saturday morning with people with tape over their mouths, and had a sit down protest in a bank previously which got a lot of positive media coverage. Lots of enthusiasm and good will from businesses and passersby, lots of people signing up, plenty of music (they too sometimes beat to the sound of the dreaded drumming circle) and lots of folks beeping their horns as they drive by. Lots of similarities, lots of differences, plenty to learn from each other.




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