Saturday, 29 October 2011

celebration and inspiration - saturday 22nd - occupy lsx (part 2)

The excitement of Dr Nawal's visit set off a day of celebration and wider sharing of inspiration, as Occupy LSX celebrated their first full week at St Paul's.  The actions of the Dean of St Paul's (closing the Cathedral with no apparent good reason) did not detract from the Public Assembly, and perhaps swelled its numbers - i spoke to a few tourists who were sympathetic to the aims of the camp, thought the closure of the cathedral was, at best, unnecessary (and also foolish), and who were happy to be entertained and welcomed on its steps instead.

The camp's open day started with spoken word poets and musicians who managed to mix political engagement with lyrical skills that pulled in an evergrowing crowd.  Stone steps and pavement aren't exactly the ideal bleachers, but no-one seemed to notice or care, as were appraised of the new political abc, and reminded that Jesus was a revolutionary.
The floor was then opened to activists, and representatives from groups from all around London.  They came to share information, inspiration and solidarity, the latter being strongly reciprocated by the crowd of campers and visitors alike.

While the talks went on, Tent City University hosted a 'tour of Corporate Greed' - little did any not involved in the planning of this realise what it would lead to... A few words on the beautiful occupation of Finsbury Square to follow in another blog.

For now though, some pictures from the Public Assembly.

ps - my favourite random moment from the day was, after a bit of displeasure from the crowd at the poet dennis, just dennis being hurried as he went over time, the saxophonist stepping up and doing an impromptu jazz version of 'somewhere over the rainbow' to sooth everyone's ruffled feathers. it worked, i think.

you can check out the rest of the photos from last weekend on my flickr account, just here.

celebration and inspiration - saturday 22nd october - occupy lsx (part 1)

A week ago, St Paul's Occupy LSX camp was visited by the brilliant author and life-long activist, Dr Nawal Al Saawadi, one of the outstanding voices and faces of the Egyptian revolution.  She came to share her own experiences, and words of encouragement.  She urged the campers not to be moved, to stay for as long as they needed to, and to believe the struggle would not be in vain.  Visiting the camp on her 80th birthday, she refuted that this was a movement of the youth - it is, she stated, 'everyone's revolution'.  

As she moved about the camp, she was followed like a sage dispensing wisdom to adoring followers.  Which , I guess, is almost exactly the case.  What was also lovely was how she was also inspired by the existence of the camp, and the Occupy movement around the world - she motioned to the camp:
"To me, this feels like Tahrir Square...being here is like living a dream"

Rather than try to reproduce her simple but totally rousing words of encouragement and inspiration here, i'll post the videos and photos i shot (some videoing was secured with the help of kind and willing people nearby, as i went crazy with my other camera).  i also point you to the first edition of Occupied Times, which features an interview with the doctor ('this is not a revolution').  
I got the chance to chat to Dr Nawal a little, which was at once awe-inspiring but also somehow normal as she just spoke to everyone with such ease and not a bit of remove.  She said she may use a few of my photos in an article she was going home to write (if i believed in being nonchalant about stuff, i'd apply that here - but i totally don't, so i am super-excited at this possibility).

Right, I'll leave the rest to the photos and videos (more videos will follow once they've finished uploading to photobucket. flickr - sort it out, with your 1.30 limit on videos!), though with the final word to Dr Nawal: 

"Hope is power...we will win!"

catching up - Occupy LSX and Occupy FS (others to follow)

the past week seems to have zoomed by faster than the speed of neutrinos on uppers!  i wish this analogy could be applied to me also, but unfortunately, I seemed to have compensated by sinking into a go-slow, overloaded with:
- work-work (i leave my current job in a week, and there suddenly seem to be way too many loose-ends that need securing), 

-home-work (visitors from liverpool; a naming ceremony; packing to go to nigeria, and more importantly, getting my mum off yesterday morning...we arrived at the airport at 5.40am...i dozed my way through work), 

and life-work (um, well, i say 'work' - tweeting, readingarticles, being in touch with friends and going to see John Osborne's brilliant 'John Peel's Shed' have hardly been taxing - they just take time).

my eager blogging of the week before has fallen by the way side this week, but maybe in part because there's been so much going on, it's been a bit much fitting in the part where i sit down and relate bits of it.  rather than squeeze it all into one giant blog, though, i'll do a few blogs with photos of stand out bits.  so yes, click on to the next.

for a quicker catch up, though, you can just check out my flickr photostream:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

occupy LSX - day 7 - shift in faith


- the catherdal issued this statement which basically can be summed up by the following excerpt from the Dean's open letter to OccupyLSX:
"With a heavy heart I have to tell you that St Paul’s Cathedral has to be closed today until further notice, because of the legal requirements placed upon us by fire, health and safety issues."

- a statement was issued by OccupyLSX in return, basically stating that the camp feels it has met the requirements placed by the London Fire Brigade, and Health & Safety officials.

The conclusion of an emergency meeting held this afternoon was a consensus that the camp will stay in place for now, and continue to pursue a positive dialogue with the church, in terms of finding out what exactly are the issues to health & safety, given the above all-clear.

I took a BBC reporter to task for 

In other news, tomorrow there will be celebrations of the camp's first week anniversary; there will be a public assembly at 1pm; and there is a march around the city, due to leave the Cathedral at 2.30pm - come along and bring your friends.

Final thing - I've realised a few things over the past week:

- I possibly should not be allowed a twitter account, as I quote and retweet with a vengeance, and have probably dizzied anyone attempting to follow

- My usual reticence to blog about news and current affairs, especially international events stems from not feeling I know enough about them.  I've blogged all this week, following events at OccupyLSX, but the reason I've felt able to do that is because I've been there.  I still don't feel qualified to get too deep into the politics of it, but I can relay my impressions and experiences.

- I really enjoy blogging and spreading the word.  So maybe this will be the springboard for me to move onto things further afield.  Events in Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya (and the list goes on and on) and of course those around the UK, are all ones that I am deeply interested in, and want to raise awareness of.  But I still worry - about my lack of knowledge, about passing on information I don't know for sure, about making an idiot of myself...  I'm thinking Twitter (especially in the past week) has been a good introduction to attempting to approach a more 'to hell with it' attitude (today I had a go at a BBC reporter for being biased in his live report - which he denied!).  I guess I'll see.

Meanwhile, just a few photos from today.

Emergency assembly - spirits remained high - as did numbers

Rather confusing sign - are they closed or not?

Hmmm - the hi-vis jackets seemed to have cleared the camp - but they've moved vans into Paternoster Square...

Friday, 21 October 2011

occupy LSX - day 6 - photos - Solidarity, harmony

Few words today, as I am falling down tired.  Realised that my enthusiasm and need to get to the camp every day, and determination to blog every night is meaning even less sleep than I usually get.  Still, probably more sleep (and definitely more comfortable) than those sleeping out on the cobbles, with just a a few pieces of canvas and zotefoam (new word, learnt tonight - thanks AG) as a pretence at shelter.

Tonight at camp, the projector showed pictures of occupy groups around the world.  I was open-mouth stunned at the sea of people in so many of the places shown.  The solidarity of this movement is such an important element - feeling, seeing, knowing it is not just us, we are not alone in this struggle, in these feelings of discontentment.  This is truly a global movement, and I hope it is true that it is 'too big to fail'.

Over by the sukkah, a Jewish service was held for the festival of succot (please, please correct me if I have this detail wrong!).  Congregants invited all to join, as they sang (beautifully harmonious somehow, even with people singing at various speeds) and read from the Torah.  It was good humoured, warm and inviting, and attracted a small crowd.

I had the most amazing cheese sandwich by the way - just two slices of some absolutely unbelievably tasty garlic bread with chunky slices of cheese.  It took about twenty minutes to eat, as I kept stopping to take photos, and chat to friends, but all the way to the Blackfriars Bridge busstop I kept bring it back up to my friend..."that really was an amazing cheese sandwich". I obviously need to get out more.

And as we left camp, tonight's prolonged general assembly were discussing the contentious issue of whether or not to implement a ban on alcohol and drugs on the site.  As we left, the discussion was still in full swing, but a few tweets seem to indicate a ban has been agreed, in the interest of the safety of all at the camp (again, if anyone knows better, please do correct me on this).

Finally, looking across the swell of tents, as I do each evening, noting changes and growth, it was clear to see the city grid structure had been successfully put into places.  Walkways run through blocks of tents, adding to the order already apparent in many areas of the camp.  Wishing all in those tents (whatever city, country or continent) a peaceful night's rest.