How would you define Occupy ?
An attempt to develop and make public a new way of relating, and to bring about bottom up change for a more democratic, sustainable and peaceful political economy, globally, nationally and locally.
What were you doing before Occupy ?
Working for constitutional change with assembly based decision making at the heart. Organising against the banking system (eg G20/Bank of England). Trying to spread the word about 15M. Trying to make their call for global action on 15th Oct a reality in the UK. Cheerleading Occupy Wall Street. Making links internationally.
Why did you participate in Occupy?
In the hope that it would make a change for people everywhere.
What impact did Occupy have on your personal life?
Not much. My wife was supportive and as I became a father at the same time as Occupy started, I didn’t attend the camp enough for it to make any kind of negative impact.
Did Occupy change the ways you think, feel and interact with the world? If yes, how so? What do you feel that you learned (or unlearned) that was unique to Occupy?
Not really – I suppose I was both heartened and disheartened by the experience. Heartened because it actually happened, and it was a global phenomenon which was a first and a step in the right direction. Disheartened as it couldn’t make the jump from camp / assembly to radical neighbourhood ‘subject’.
What impact do you think Occupy has had on the economic and political situation?
It had an impact but I don’t think it’s easy to say how much – maybe historians one day will be able to when there is more temporal distance from events.
Given the current political and economic situation, what is your view on what people can do to bring long lasting systemic change?
1) We need to develop new communications and support mechanisms and regular meetings at the very local level where we live.
2) These should be non ideological (ie they should consciously keep politics and religion out of the equation), social, easy and fun to engage with..
3) They should be based on a) matching up individual human capacity and human need and b) being social (with a regular, say, monthly low key, fun neighbourhood gathering).
4) People should work to make this happen on the very street or streets in the immediate vicinity of where they live.
5) Each neighbourhood movement people facilitate should loosely but consciously connect with the others (i.e more than one community operating independently of one another but also collaborating / supporting / sharing info with others).
6) People should try and synchronise the local meetings and public activities going forward, to create a situation where people can see, feel and hear they are part of a greater movement (eg we could build up to a big event in Spring /Summer 2017, 2018 2019 where neighbourhood and local town groups gather publicly on the same day).
7) At a fundamental level it should be about developing social support and not veer into political territory until the feeling comes naturally from the widest possible group (ie not something schemed by us, but a natural response of the network to what is happening in the world). Our job should just be to help create the new structures to allow for structural change, but in a very human and organic way.
8) At a later stage, once people can feel the benefit of the project, once it gets a good name for itself in people’s consciousness, once the project is stronger and happening in lots of places; discussions, decisions and public activities to shift the status quo politically and economically will certainly become possible and very natural.
9) It is important that people should be helping one another locally because it is the right thing to do, in and of itself. Even if it only goes that far – i.e fails to bring about long lasting systemic change – we should remember this work is precisely what we should all be doing, everywhere.
10) Where it leads to is, in this sense not the end goal but rather the end goal is the human to human support we are able to share and offer in a very organic way.
11) That said, if people do it right (ie actually help one another and make the space for others to do so locally, and also begin the work of re-creating the community fabric as well as connecting up across our different communities nationally and also further afield) then surely ‘greater’ and more ‘political’ things will become possible.
12) This should not the central thrust of the project – rather it should be about finding ways to support one another as humans are supposed to.
13) As a by-product of this we will naturally build longer term trust and friendships, beyond political and religious sectarianism (and at the local national and even global levels)…
14) By way of testing the water, I have found this is fairly easy to do, especially as the appropriate response to the epidemic of loneliness, isolation and despair and linked mental health problems endemic (and widely known about) in modern societies.
15) By coming together to counter these issues, I have started a promising group in my local neighbourhood and would welcome others getting in touch who wish to do the same.
16) I have used the concept of a ‘neighbourhood support network’ as a first step. And guess what – it’s easy and fun and a refreshing change from the usual activism!
17) To conclude: once we have developed real and meaningful neighbourhood relationships and a sense of shared purpose / pursuit of the greater or common good, as well as working to stay connected across the communities – much else will become possible.
[While preparing this project where I live, I was not convinced using the word Occupy would accomplish the aim of supporting people and (hopefully) growing a movement. Wrongly or rightly the name is linked to a particular political ideology and therefore prevents us from being 100% inclusive. That said, I strongly believe the project to be in the spirit of Occupy. Instead of the name Occupy there is a FB group called People in Common where people can find out more and/ or share experiences and ideas across the communities.]
Before Occupy, were you involved in activities related to the reasons why you participated in Occupy? (Activist groups, campaign groups, media platforms, volunteering, research, etc)
15M, G20 Meltdown, A World to Win, People in Common
Are you still involved in activities related to the reasons why you participated in Occupy? (Activist groups, campaign groups, media platforms, volunteering, research, etc)
People in Common
Are you still actively working or engaged with people that you met through Occupy?