Sunday, January 15, 2012

100 days of Occupy Dame Street

Today is a celebration of 100 days of continuous occupation by Occupy Dame Street of the plaza in front of the Central Bank of Ireland in Dublin city centre. A lot has happened in these 100 days, much of which I am not going to try to review here, not least because I want to get back to the camp to support it and join the celebrations, and the reinvigoration of camp organisation and working groups that is planned today to help the protest, and process, move forward in 2012.

Good to remember how it all began on a sunny 8th October:


It has been a pretty amazing and often awful 100 days. It is impressive that the camp has managed to last over three months, and it's now one of the longest running Occupations anywhere in the world, following the forced evictions of many Occupies in the US. At the same time, along with many others, I have been reflecting on what it is or isn't achieving, and trying to figure out what level of involvement I'd like to have with it. That process is still ongoing so we'll see how it pans out in the next few weeks.

I took a break from writing about Occupy, though not from being at the protest itself, back in November, and while still being there quite frequently I tried to get back to making some progress in the rest of my so-called life. A great deal has happened there meanwhile. Re-reading my last post of 21st November 2011, we were waiting to see if a court order would be taken against Occupy Dame Street the following morning. That didn't happen, and indeed the concern and public support shown during that Monday helped the camp to consolidate and get more energised. It also brought into focus why people were there and what they would or would not be willing to risk to continue the protest.

At that time after three general assemblies on the topic and much internal discussion ODS had decided not to officially support the Dublin Council of Trade Unions anti-austerity march on 26th November. A lot of people were supportive of it and attended the march in a personal capacity. I felt it would be important in light of the decision not to formally link with DCTU that Occupy Dame Street take stock and come up with its next phase, the topics and areas of focus and alliances that it would pursue next, that it overcome the divisiveness of the issue and move forward in a way that a lot of people could get behind. That didn't really happen, though we did forge good links, for example participating in the wonderful Spectacle of Defiance and Hope on 3rd December.

Now at the start of 2012 ODS is taking stock in order to remain relevant. My gut feeling is that it now needs to become more of a mass movement than a symbolic protest, it always aimed to provide a platform for the 99% to come up with and start implementing their own solutions, rather than dictating and demanding allegiance to a rigid set of unachievable policies, and being that platform for the majority is something unique and very valuable. Hopefully we can find a way to expand, join with others and start facilitating those alternatives to happen.

There's a lot more to say and a much overdue review now that the camp is more than double the age it was when I last wrote. But that will have to wait for another day and ever-elusive sufficient time. Instead, a moment to mark that Occupy Dame Street is still here. This is what it looked like on day one hundred:


For now, to celebrate 100 days, I've posted all my photos from the last three weeks of ODS, including photos of Liam O Maonlai and other musicians playing at ODS on Xmas Eve, mince pies and Santa on Xmas Day, and the original statement we stuck up in October, still in situ on New Year's Day 2012. Those and 500+ photos and short videos of ODS from the last 3 months can be seen here. Here's to the next 100 days, and finding a way forward for us all.

UPDATE: changed the photo above from one during the week to one on day 100.



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