I was the first to arrive at Occupy and set up my children in Aotea sq hours before the planned march down Queen st. I had planned on being the last to leave. However last week I was forced to pack up the tent for a number of reasons.
The first was hygiene reasons as we had a few flies in our tent. Teenagers are not the most clean or tidy of kiwis.
I received a huge barrage of criticism for doing this and so was less than keen to return. The tent was tied to a tree and it was time to air the grass.
The Occupy movement was also a puzzle to me because it was described as a leaderless movement yet it was pretty clear who was running the show. While there is no intention to be mean, it is a little untrue to describe it as a leaderless movt. and then run meetings along the same lines as all other organisations, with a clear chain of command.
I also was horrified at the time spent in meetings and some of the processes used. Never again do i want to hear the peoples mike. Adults repeating verbatim is not only a little creepy it is just plain stupid. If it looks stupid and feels stupid, it probably is. I also felt a false sense of urgency was being created to make decisions quickly when perhaps ignoring and passive resistance was the better option . So apart from the direct cut and paste model used for Occupy I can say at least here in new Zealand we are attempting to put a more culturally appropriate model in place. Thanks enormously to Marama and others for taking this on themselves to correct.
Finally I had to say that there were too many leaders and not enough workers and that many of the rest seemed to be watchers, not doers.
One person who could not really be relied on to turn up on time or be committed to any task used the term organic to describe the work model. Slacker is a more apt description. I had to confront my own Presbyterian work ethic which is strong but also judgemental. I am not the one to watch others, not work. I felt all people had to contribute to be able to share. Yet many felt that being there was enough. Hence another reason for me to move on.
The person who angered me most will not be named but, as a person who had to be heard at every meeting with a chorus of I, I, I and letters to the council etc there was a feeling of being used. If you want to stand for mayor and posture to the council and be a big noter, why pick OCCUPY. Clearly you have your own agenda which is not a shared one. The Occupy Movement had become a reductive process where people felt excluded not included. Sure the most valued people at the camp should be the cook and the cleaners, not the people on the microphone.
In the kitchen the worst aspects of human nature are always revealed. The greedy and the selfish. The person who only boils water for one and not 20 was a reoccurring problem. Despite the message to make hot water available for all, at all times, the selfish among the group failed to grasp the concept.
I saw the attitudes that come with feelings of importance as well.
The water containers needed to be filled and by far the worst job, emptying the waste water, fell onto one person. Helpers willing to walk with 20l containers of dirty waste water were few and far between. One person ended up doing far more than one person should. Feeding the streeties and homeless is not our responsibility either and yet those, not cooking, felt it socially responsible to feed these folk.
And bloody Vegans! Pardon me, but the chef was not a vegan and neither were many in the camp, but Occupy is a vegan movt. Had they made that clear at the outset I'm sure only 5 people would have shown up. New Zealand is an agricultural economy founded on meat, wool and dairy so while vegans have good ideas I need to eat my eggs, meat and dairy. The many Unions that support us, exist in part today, due to jobs derived from our brilliant past economy, founded on meat , wool and butter. So vegans, at least cook your own vegan food, instead of dictating what is cooked. Especially for those used to a diet with meat , eggs and dairy. Warning for the squeamish- skip next sentence.My bum will also thank you, as it cannot cope with the roughage combined with no toilets on site. I am still feeling like I have been to Mexico.
The security team also did well in trying to manage a camp with some dubious characters. Living out in the open and on the street will bring the bottom of society into contact far sooner than the top of society. I felt it a case of the lunatics taking over the asylum. The security team managed all incidents in the camp and yet recognised that there was a danger in becoming, just like outside security guards or members of the police or army. The security team decided to become the peace keeping team.
My biggest complaint is with the lack of bonding. If we are to live together and create a better society the first thing to do is to build a community and that means learning each others names. When more than a week has passed and no one wants to know my name I know that I am still a number but not a person who feels valued. So despite my willingness to be committed, the reality was the same lack of support, as outside Occupy, and more rules in Occupy than outside.
I still support Occupy and will be available to show my support by marching. I have also learned a lot about myself and my own values.Will I move back onto the camp? Yes, if I think it will make a difference.