06 November 2011

#OccupyDameStreet - People's Republic Edition

I like your manifesto, put it to the testo
#OccupyCork, Cork, Friday 4th November
Patrick Street, The English Market, the River Lee, the South Mall and Cafe Paradiso (twice), this weekend I have mostly been... in Cork.

For folks unfamiliar with our happy little isle, the relationship between Cork and Dublin is one of friendly, good-natured rivalry, akin to that between Springfield and Shelbyville, and while I won't say which is which in this equally-insulting analogy, a less charitable man than I would suggest that in Dublin cousins cannot marry. The nation's other capital is a food-lover's delight, home to 100% more opera houses than Dublin, gave birth to the fantastically atonal Sultans of Ping FC, can play both types of GAA and in recent years has hosted both dolphins and whales in its slightly-less polluted river. All this and more has given Corkonians an inflated sense of self-worth that is, though it pains me to say, more often that not completely justified.

Case in point, the latest addition to the cavalcade of wondrous marvels that grace the streets of the People's Republic, #OccupyCork.

Took me down to meet the anarchist party. Met a groovy guy, he was arty-farty.
#OccupyCork, Cork, Saturday 5th November
Hanging precariously over the river on a boardwalk surrounded by what can only be described as grass, #OccupyCork was a joy to behold with a graceful symmetry to the Camp, tents for about thirty arranged in nice rows in two separate areas (one behind a little string fence with notes and prose hanging from it), a most welcoming covered kitchen with seating, library and noticeboards, a yurt and what for all the world looked like an actual inflatable lifeboat. While the proximity of the river no doubt makes this a necessity for #OccupyCork, many has been the day where I wished for such a protected escape mechanism from the torrents of Occupied Dame Street, but alas like the Titanic before us our Construction team have deemed our Camp unsinkable, so no easy refuge from the flood waters is to be found.

I see your Yurt, and I raise you a lifeboat
#OccupyCork, Cork, Friday 4th November
The #Occupiers of Cork were as welcoming as their kitchen, and we spent some time swapping anecdotes, horror stories of night-time passers-by and bemoaned the lack of volunteers for security jobs and how no-one ever seems to do their own washing up. We also shared best practices, though the sharing seemed a little lop-sided for these folks really have got good structures in place, both physically and logistically. They also seem to be far more active off-site, with numerous direct actions taking place each day, from leafleting at major city locations through to teach-ins with children at a nearby bank, and on the day we visited they were just returning from a silent protest with taped-up mouths and a quiet dignity. My head was spinning with ideas to bring back to Dame Street from the outlandish (lifeboats, hooray!) to the mundane (noticeboards, also hooray!).

Be very, very quiet. Please note the grass, and lack of hard, cold granite.
#OccupyCork, Cork, Saturday 5th November
It was amazing to see how many structures we had in common, less amazing perhaps if you consider that we probably are all drawing inspiration from the same sources, but an interesting study in parallel evolution all the same - Jazz Hands are as popular in Cork as in Dublin and Consensus Decision Making is as laborious, occasionally frustrating but ultimately rewarding as on Dame Street. Tired people are grumpy no matter where they are, and the level of public support is overwhelming, and at times the only thing that keeps people going.

Where's me jumper? Where's me jumper? Where's me jumper?
#OccupyCork, Cork, Saturday 5th November
We on Dame Street can learn a lot from #OccupyCork, as we no doubt could from #OccupyGalway, #OccupyWaterford, #OccupyLetterkenny and #OccupyBelfast. The more visits we have between all the camps (and #OccupyCork were suggesting a road trip), the closer to reality the notion of #OccupyTogether actually becomes. Its not about having a single #OccupyIreland movement, the true value I believe remains in local autonomous groups doing what is needed in their community, but by sharing knowledge, experience and best practices we can only become stronger individually, and as an idea and inspiration in the minds of the wider public.

Visiting #OccupyCork was inspirational. I just wish they didn't make it look so easy.

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At 9:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm totally impressed by you Occupiers wherever and respect what you're all doing in the face of apathy to put a spotlight on a corrupt banking/political mess.

Appreciate the hardships you're enduring, out of country so can't join but through twitter trying to support you and your various wants.

Power to you all and a BIG THANK YOU for leading and waking up an apathetic public - bless you all x


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