Sunday, 13 November 2011

Occupy Bath - Two weeks old today!

It's two weeks today since we set up camp in Queen Square, and just over three weeks since many of us met for the first time at the planning meeting. I feel like I've known many of my fellow occupiers for years. This afternoon I walked away from the camp feeling happy, tired, sad, reflective and optimistic about the future of the world. I'll be back soon.

Occupy Bath camp in the early morning

The public reaction has been extremely positive. We have had support from many individuals and organisations - far too many to list here. Every day (and night) people wander in to give support or to find out more about what we are doing, and after talking to us they usually leave with a much clearer picture of the many issues that we are concerned with and the possible solutions that we are beginning to discuss. The mainstream press refers to us as anti-capitalists and protestors. I'm going to make it clear here: We are not all anti-capitalists, although we have among our number some who would refer to themselves as such, and this isn't just a protest - it's a place for people to voice their views and work together to find solutions. There's a very insightful blog entry by Marcus Moore here. The community we have formed lives very much by the principal that all are equal. Our discussions involve direct democracy, where all are able to have a say and all opinions and ideas voiced are considered as a group. People come and go from the camp, some are there on a permanant basis, others several days a week or just come when they can.

The original Occupy Bath sign

Sometimes the occasional person shouts to us from outside of the fence - "Get a job!" or "You're a bunch of lazy layabout hippies". A quick show of hands last night revealed that most people have a job. Most of those that don't are students - and some have both a job and go to university. As for laziness - we are constantly working while at the camp, from talking to the public, putting on music and talks that all can attend, holding daily meetings, cooking, cleaning, litter-picking, raking, networking, giving interviews, writing letters, coming up with new ideas and much more besides. And hippies? Yes there's a few who would probably descibe themselves as such, as there are people who would probably describe themselves as workers, pensioners, students, unemployed (and actively looking for work), scientists, union members, members of certain religious groups and political parties, musicians, photographers and many other labels besides. For a non-hierarchial community we are exceptionally well-organised. Pretty much everything that needs doing gets done. People stay up on security duty every night, the camp is kept clean and tidy and we all put a lot of effort into discussing local and global issues with each other and the general public. Recycling is important to us, and we ensure that all rubbish is divided up into our separate recycling bins.


In order to keep the camp going, we need our supporters to come along and help out when they can. If you can camp with us, even for as little as one night a week, it makes a massive difference - it would allow someone to go home and get a good night's sleep, or to catch up on things like university work, family life and other things that people in the camp do besides occupying Bath. And if you can't camp, the daytimes are just as important too. There's a list of 10 ways you can help the Occupy Movement if you're not camping in my previous blog entry.

Yesterday we had an events day - our way of giving something back to the city of Bath, and an opportunity to engage the public in discussions about the current global economic and political situation, and the possible ways forward. Musical performances from Kevin Brown, Steve Rowcroft and Frome Street band were very well-recieved and enjoyed by most who attended. Talks and discussions entitled "The future of capitalism", "An introduction to the Zeitgeist Movement" and "Freeman on the Land" were well-attended and conversations on these subjects continued well after the talks had ended.

Music Day

Music Day

Music Day

Today is Remembrance Sunday. Several of us attended the service at the war memorial this morning. You would have been hard-pushed to tell us from the rest of the crowd. We laid two wreaths by the memorial, one of red poppies (out of respect to the servicemen who died defending our country) and one of white poppies (for peace, and out of respect to the non-military casualties of war), tied together with a band reading "Occupy Bath". It was an emotional event for us all, and we walked back to the camp with our arms around each other with some close to tears.

The poppy wreaths - the only white poppies laid at the war memorial in 2011

So, if you want to join in or want to find out more, come along and see for yourselves. We're always happy to talk to you and if you support the Occupy Movement you're welcome to join us too! We appreciate any help that we can get, and I would like to say a personal thank you to all that have helped so far.

Next post on Occupy Bath: Occupy UK and Ireland Conference

Disclaimer: All views and opinions above that are not stated facts are those of myself (as an individual parcipitant in the Occupy Movement), except where stated, and do not necessarily represent the views of a particular Occupy camp or those of the Occupy Movement as a whole.

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