Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Occupy Bath big announcement - further details

Occupy Bath have released brief details of the "big announcement" at a speech prior to the union march today. Essentially we will be starting a People's Assembly at the Friends Meeting House in Bath from 7.30 this Friday. Further details and discussion after the big announcement at 4.30pm, Queen's Square, Bath.

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Occupy Bath to make important announcement following the trade union march

Occupy Bath have issued the following press release:
"Occupy Bath will make an important announcement at the Queen's Square camp at 4.30pm on Wednesday 30th November, following the trade union march in Bath. We support the march and some of the camp will join in solidarity with the marchers. We invite the trade union members and all other members of the public to come to the camp for the announcement. Following the announcement we will have speakers and we want to explore common ground with the marchers on the issues that are affecting us all.

Last weekend, delegates from Occupy Bath attended the UK and Ireland Occupy Conference in London, meeting with delegates from over 20 other occupations, sharing ideas and inspiration. The Occupy Movement in the UK and Ireland is now well-connected and organised."
The details of the announcement will not be publicly announced until then, but will be of particular interest to supporters of the Occupy Movement, residents of Bath and those concerned with economic injustice and the current state of politics in the UK. The announcement is not aimed specifically at the trade unionists, but concerns them also. Come along at 4.30pm on November 30th or check the facebook page for further details following the announcement. Standing Stone's Blog will also be covering the announcement, with comment about what it might entail for the people of Bath and the aims of the Occupy Movement. The Bath Chronicle printed part of the press release, omitting the details about the Occupy conference, and are still stating that the Occupy Movement is "anti-capitalist" (which does not apply to everyone involved), rather than "pro-economic fairness", which I consider to be a more accurate term:

Also, one of our number went on Question Time last night armed with questions about the Occupy Movement. Unfortunately she was not selected to ask a question, but two people who have been to the camp put similar questions to the panel.

And finally, there has been a lot of talk lately about why the new constitution in Iceland has not been in the news. Some have commented that the new constitution has many similarities to aspects of the Occupy Movement, such as a more direct version of democracy.

Previous post on Occupy Bath: Occupy UK and Ireland Conference
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Further Reading

Guardian article:

The Constitutional Council - General Information:

Iceland Review Article:,

Monday, 21 November 2011

Occupy UK and Ireland Conference

The Occupy LSX general assembly at St Paul's Cathedral

This weekend (19/20 November 2011), delegates from most of the UK and Ireland Occupations came together in London for the first UK-Ireland Occupy Conference. Starting in the early afternoon on the Saturday, delegates gave short speeches to the crowd assembled outside St Paul's Cathedral about how things have gone so far with their camps and the activities that they have been involved in.

The Occupy Bath guest tent in Finsbury Square
Camps represented included Bristol, Bath, Peterborough, Plymouth, Glasgow, Isle of Wight, Cork, Brighton, Norwich, Birmingham, Liverpool, Northampton, Portsmouth, Exeter, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Sheffield and London (and probably a few more that I've forgotton - I met a LOT of people this weekend).

The speeches were followed by a series of informative and sometimes moving talks from representatives from organisations and groups such as UK Uncut, Climate Justice and Women Against Rape.

In the late afternoon, we relocated to the quieter Finsbury Square camp and were allocated tents for the night. It was a bit of a cram (4 of us somehow managed into squeeze into one average-sized tent), but the tents were kitted out with decent bedding and REAL pillows - a luxury after many nights of using my rucksack as a pillow! After a cup of tea and much mingling between the delegates and the Finsbury Square camp, we reconvened to go as a group to visit London's third Occupation - The Bank of Ideas.

Occupy Finsbury Square
The Bank of Ideas, a derelict building owned by UBS, whose main office is situated just across the road, was repossessed by the public just last week. A huge building with numerous offices and large open areas is now in the process of being converted into a place where people can trade ideas through debate, discussion, talks, arts and music, not through money.

Dinner was served later that evening at Finsbury Square, and the camp General Assembly took place in the meeting tent, followed by a speaker bringing news from Wall Street.

The rest of the evening was free, and a bunch of us wandered back down to St Paul's and sat on the steps listening to music and talking to people. I struck up a long conversation with a few sixth-formers who informed me "even the chavs are talking about politics in the playground these days". I was reminded of my primary school days, when kids used to make up rhymes about Thatcher - "2, 4, 6, 8, who do we really hate? Maggie Thatcher, put her in the bin, glue the lid on, sellotape her in". It really hit me there that these times we are living through, and this movement that we have started, have got everyone talking.
The Bank of Ideas
The atmosphere at all three sites is vibrant, with late night tents serving tea, musicians singing protest songs, lively debate inside and outside of tents - and so many warm hugs from so many genuine people. As a certain senior politician once said: "We're in this together".

Finsbury Square was peaceful at night and despite having little space in the tent, I slept better than I have done in any night I've spent on Queen's Square, Bath or College Green, Bristol.

In the Bank of Ideas
On the Sunday, the real work began. A large discussion took place in the morning on welfare issues such as security, drugs and alcohol and burnout, with all of the delegates sharing ideas and experiences. After lunch, we broke up into separate groups to discuss various aspects of the movement, including government cuts, climate change issues and squatter's rights. After a small debate in the climate change group, a consensus was reached that climate change is directly related to the economic and political situation and the group decided to return to their camps and try to incorporate climate change issues into events and camp statements. A group dealing with communications debated at length the various ways that the UK and Ireland Occupations could keep in touch, work together and share ideas.

This blog entry presents a very brief overview of my experiences at the conference. I have omitted many details, mostly on purpose. All of the delegates present know what's going on and will be reporting back to their various Occupations. I now feel confident enought to state the following (as an individual, not on behalf of the Occupy Movement) to any doubters still out there:

We are now organised, our support is growing by the day, we are connected and we are one step closer to creating a fair and equal world. 

Watch this space...

Meanwhile at Occupy Bath, a debate was held on the Occupy Movement that was apparently enjoyed by most who came, with some commenting that they now have a better understanding of the Occupy Movement. Read about it in the Bath Chronicle link below. We will be supporting the trade union march in Bath on 30th November and some of our Occupiers will be marching with them in solidarity. Also, one of our number has been selected to go on Question Time this Thursday, and the Occupy Bath Info page on Facebook is asking for suggestions for questions - there will be a vote this Wednesday night at the General Assembly from 7.30pm. Oh, and our kitchen is getting a makeover this week - looking forward to dinner afterwards!

At Occupy Bristol they are organising a Move Your Money day on 2nd December, encouraging people to move their money away from the greedy high street banks to more ethical and democratic banks like the Co-operative and credit unions. Find our more on the link below. I shall be moving mine.

Finally, Occupy Bath have some potentially big plans that are currently under discussion (with a big announcement following the march on Weds 30th November) which are likely to be implemented in the coming weeks - again, watch this space...

Previous post on Occupy Bath: Occupy Bath - Two weeks old today!
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Further Reading

Guardian article on the conference:

Occupy London article on the conference:

Bath Chronicle article on the debate:

Move Your Money Day:

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.

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.

Monday, 7 November 2011

10 ways to support the Occupy Movement if you're not camping

Not everyone can camp out every night (myself included) due to a variety of reasons, but there are many things you can do to help your local Occupy camp if you can't be there all the time:

1. Come down when you can
Many Occupiers have other commitments too, such as jobs, university or children, and can't be there all the time - particularly in normal working hours. Come down and lend a hand with the camp for an hour or two so that they can take care of other things in their lives.

2. Write letters
If you are of the opinion that your local Occupy camp and the Occupy Movement in general is a good thing, write a letter or an e-mail of support to your MP, local councillors and/or local and national newspapers. Lets outweigh the complaints with positive letters.

You can find your MP's contact details here:

3. Donate
Many camps have a donation box and also a "wishlist" of equipment that they need. Food is always useful and welcome (be aware that most camps don't have freezers and may have vegetarians/vegans among them).

4. Educate
Tell your friends and family why we are doing this, comment on blogs and news articles and try to explain that this is about issues that affect everyone. Share relevant news articles, pictures and videos with your friends on social networking sites like Facebook.

5. Keep the Occupiers up to date
Bring a newspaper, share important news articles on the Facebook pages, and pop along if you've heard something really important. Camping out and talking to the public 24/7 with no electricity can sometimes result in little time to keep informed of current events.

6. Play some music
Some Occupy camps have music sessions. If you play an instrument or sing, offer to come along and play a few songs. You may find yourself with a fan club! Check with them first, as some camps may have restrictions on noise at certain times of the day or have other things planned.

7. Inform yourself
Do some reading about some of the issues that are responsible for the current global economic crisis and/or are relevant to the Occupy Movement. Some suggestions are: Fractional and Federal Reserve Banking, find out which corporations have donated to which political parties, research alternative political and financial systems. Share what you have learnt with others.

8. Diversify the Movement
"We are the 99%". Some groups are working to ensure that all are represented within the movement. An idea that has had some success in Bristol is making a safe space for women. Family days, where people with children are encouraged to come along, have been successful also. If you think that any section of society affected by this crisis isn't represented well enough within the movement, talk to your peers and your local camp about it and try to come up with ideas to involve them.

9. Printing and distributing
Some camps have posters and flyers. If they need help, offer to print/photocopy some for them and/or distribute them around town.

10. Occupy your life
If you have had a positive experience at a camp and/or learned something from this movement that you think would be great to have in everyday life, try to put it into practice. Things such as consensus-based decision making, not buying unessential items, reducing your carbon footprint, moving to a more ethical bank, stop buying from unethical corporations and encouraging discussions on local and global issues are all things that could work in the world outside the tent cities.

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.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Occupy Movement - Occupy Bristol: The beginning

In solidarity with the Occupy movement that went global on 15th October 2011, Occupy Bristol met and set up camp on College Green, overlooked by Bristol Cathedral and the council offices. The scheduled meeting time was 12pm. Numbers grew steadily throughout the afternoon, and the first general assembly took place.

I arrived in the late afternoon, curious to see how things were going. Within 10 minutes I had been offered room in a tent and a sleeping bag for the night. The atmosphere was incredible and throughout the evening more people came and put up tents. A small disagreement broke out over whether or not a fire would be appropriate, with some arguing that they were cold and others arguing that a fire may give the authorities a reason to evict the occupation. But this minor event did not cause the occupation to fall apart - a valuable lesson was learned on why consensus decision making was a crucial part of keeping the parcipitants in the occupation together.

The first few tents at Occupy Bristol
The fire was eventually lit in a wire basket, and the fire brigade came. They confirmed that the fire was not a health and safety risk, and many of those initially opposed to it (including myself) breathed a sigh of relief. The fire was soon transferred to a metal wheelbarrow and the basket was turned over and used as a grill to cook food on. A friend phoned me from Occupy the London Stock Exchange with news of kettling and the Julian Assange speech. Later, several people returned from London with further news about the occupation there.

Reggae music played at a moderate volume until the early hours of the morning. Many people out on the town that night came over to dance and to talk about what the occupation was there for. Several police officers stood on the outskirts of the encampment and occasionally chatted to the occupiers. One officer that I spoke to seemed sympathetic to the views expressed by people at the camp, as police jobs are among those threatened by government cuts. At approximately 1am, someone attempted to call a general assembly. Few people were interested, and most people I spoke to were of the opinion that that night was a time of celebration, and that the real work would begin the next day.

I spoke to a wide range of people that night, and almost everyone gave a different reason for being there. I met teachers, nurses, IT technicians, veterans soldiers, students, homeless people, shop workers, gardeners, pensioners, people on incapacity benefit, freelance journalists, film makers, cooks, parents, environmentalists, owners of small businesses and people from many other backgrounds.

Due to a combination of music, talking and the cold weather, many people did not sleep well on the first night. But few were willing to give up just yet. Like all happenings, a few teething problems are to be expected, and many of them were ironed out in the coming days and weeks. After a litter pick, a meeting was called the next morning under the Occupy Bristol banner.
Morning general assembly on the second day of Occupy Bristol
A number of items were discussed, in particular statements to the press and a wish list of items for the camp. The BBC came along during the meeting, and someone was elected to give a short interview. Throughout the morning, people made signs. Members of the general public came to the camp to see what was happening and to talk with occupiers. A Spanish couple, aware of the Indignado movement back home, came and played songs on a guitar. Some people did not venture further than the signs, highlighting their importance in explaining why the camp was there. Aside from a single man shouting "you should all have your benefits cut", the general public were largely supportive, with people coming over to tell us what a good thing we were doing and asking how they could help. Donations of food and equipment started to come in. Around mid-day, a general assembly was called. There was much to discuss, namely the role of the police, the reasons for being there, engaging with the public and the future of the camp.

News came in from London that Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, had asked the police to move on, and said that he was happy for the protestors to stay on his land. Word circulated around the Bristol camp that the Dean of Bristol Cathedral was happy for the camp to stay for the time being (although he later stated that he did not actually give his permission).

Many people put a lot of effort into founding the camp that weekend, from making food, putting up tents and banners, engaging with the public, providing music and other entertainment and playing an active part in discussions. I walked away that afternoon in the sun with a smile on my face, wishing I could stay, but also with a reaffirmed sense of responsibility towards my job and my personal life. I promised I'd be back.

Further reading:

Occupy Bristol Facebook Page:

Occupy Bristol Website:

Some videos from the first weekend of Occupy Bristol can be found here:

News articles:


Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Occupy Movement - Occupy the World

With the Spanish Indignado movement and Occupy Wall Street in full swing and gathering widespread support from across the globe, it was inevitable that the protests would spread to other parts of the world. In September 2011 the date was set - on the 15th October, marking the 5 month anniversary of the start of the Indignado movement, similar protests would occur simultaneously in the major, and some not so major, financial centres across the world.

Social media websites, particularly sites such as Facebook and Twitter, were the major tools used in organising the global Occupy movement. Small groups often met prior to the occupations to decide on locations, which were then publicly announced via Facebook groups, or used the groups to collectively decide on locations. By the end of the 15th, approximately 950 protests did occur, with the majority of them setting up camp, intending to stay.

Occupations involving over 100,000 took place in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Valencia. People also turned out in their thousands in London, Lisbon, Brussels, Frankfurt, Santiago, Athens, Vancouver, Paris, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and many more major cities.

In the UK, London grabbed the headlines. Thousands of protestors marched on the London Stock Exchange, but were forced to move towards St Paul's Cathedral by police using controversial "kettlling" tactics. Julian Assange, the founder of the website Wikileaks (which publishes leaked documents from governments and corporations), was among them, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask (from the movie "V for Vendetta", and also worn by the hacktivist group Anonymous, who have shown support for Wikileaks). Police removed his mask and shortly afterwards he gave a speech to the crowd.

Overwhelmed by the reports that demonstrations and occupations had erupted worldwide, on that day, my small role as a physical presence in this movement began.

Further Reading:

Julian Assange speech:

Next: Occupy Bristol

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Occupy Movement - Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street took the template of the Spanish Indignados, gave it a new name, gained widespread media attention and influenced and inspired thousands of similar protests throughout the world. Indeed, Occupiers and the media alike are still often under the impression that Occupy Wall Street was the original.

In July 2011,  Kalle Lasn, co-founder of  the Adbusters Media Foundation, based in Vancouver, Canada called for a march through the streets of Lower Manhattan, culminating in an occupation outside the New York Stock Exchange - a similar move to protests in Tunisia and Egypt. In his own words "When we started this, it was just a hash-tag. We knew something big was going to happen in the US. But when it spread across the world, it was a big surprise".

The internet hacktivist group Anonymous took this idea and ran with with it, calling for its members to join in with this movement, releasing a video and statement on their website "On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people to flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months". The actual figure was approximately 5000, with about 300 people staying over in Zuccotti Park on the first night, but this was only the start.

Zucotti Park was a wise move. As it is privately-owned land, the Occupiers could not be moved. The landowners eventually attempted to get them to move so that they could clean the park, but thousands of union members descending on the park and the litter-picking was undertaken by the Occupiers themselves. Occupy Wall Street wasn't going anywhere.

Next: The Occupy Movement - Occupy the World
Also: Occupy Wall Street - 6 Month Anniversary

Further reading:

The Occupy Movement - The background

I've been following the Occupy Movement since it began, and the misrepresentation of it in the mainstream press and the focus on the negative aspects of the movement has appalled me - so this blog, for the time being, aims to provide an independent perspective and my direct observations from being involved in it.

It is a movement that is still young, continually evolving and still finding its feet - but movements as big as this (at the time of writing there are over 2000 Occupy protest camps in over 80 countries) are seldom, and the importance of it cannot be understated. The movement is not confined to the camps - there are many who are actively involved in spreading the word on the internet also. Last weekend, Occupy Bath was set up in Queen's Square. It is not outside a bank or a local government building, but surrounded by hotels, a science institute and museums, things that are not necessarily the causes of the problems. Someone asked me "Why, of all places, did you choose Queen's Square?". Through these blogs I hope to present a decent case for this location and explain why this camp is here. I'll start from the very beginning.

Our governments and our financial system have failed us. For the last few years, every new day has brought with it fresh news reports proclaiming cuts to public services, recession, mass unemployment, rising living costs, increased university tuition fees, wars and environmental degradation. The democracy our governments and their media claim we live in isn't working. Somehow it is possible for people to run the country with less than 50% of public support, and even then they do not always keep their promises. There's good reason to be a little disillusioned with the world right now.

And then, 2011 happened. In the Middle East and North Africa, whole nations went to war on their corrupt leaders and ousted them. Riots broke out in London and other areas of the UK. The Greek economic crisis peaked, affecting the rest of the Eurozone and other economies around the world. But amongst all of this dark news are glimmers of hope.

Although perhaps the most commented on protest in the world right now and, in terms of impact quite possibly the most significant, Occupy Wall Street was not the first of its kind. It started in Spain.

In May 2011, Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid filled with tens of thousands of people disillusioned with their country's financial situation and their government. But this demonstration was different to the usual angry mob, this was a demonstration with much optimism. People set up camp and began to debate about the root causes of the problems and come up with solutions, using consensus decision making rather than a parliamentary system to come to decisions. The movement spread across Spain to other towns and cities. The roots for the Occupy Movement began here, with the Indignado Movement, which is still continuing to this date and still continues to inspire. 

Further reading: 

Next: The Occupy Movement - Occupy Wall Street