Monthly Archives: October 2011

another resignation

The Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral resigned today. This is the third resignation in a week. As criticism of the Cathedral’s approach to the OccupyLSX camp mounted, the Dean – Graeme Knowles – felt that his position had become ‘untenable’.

OccupyLSX released the following statement:

“The Occupy London occupations… are about social justice, real democracy and challenging the unsustainable financial system that punishes the many and privileges the few.

The management of St Paul’s Cathedral is obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause – but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the Cathedral.  Nor have we ever called for ‘scalps’ as reported in the media.

We ask that St Paul’s Institute publish its report into remuneration in the financial sector and call on those of all faiths and none to be part of a call for change. Together, we are the 99 per cent.

We reiterate the need for open and transparent dialogue involving all parties, including the Cathedral, the Corporation of London and others, through our relevant liaison groups. This is a historic opportunity to make a real difference and a real change for all in our society, in the UK and beyond.”  occupylsx

OccupyLSX – images

pics by julie lever

links to the truth

So much has been said in the media about the Occupy Movement and OccupyLSX… and a lot of it is nonsense. I’ve been searching around for stories, articles, opinion pieces etc that reflect the truth as I’ve experienced it during my time at St Paul’s.

Here are a few extracts and links that express something close to the reality, or provide a background to what’s going on in the Occupy Movement. I’ll be adding to these over the next days and weeks.

oaktreegarden.wordpress.com – one blogger’s take on economics, ecology, non-violence and the Occupy Movement.

ianbone.wordpress.com – an anarchist’s outlook.

why-the-protesters-are-going-to-win – support from the New Economics Foundation.

Madeleine Bunting, in The Guardian, 30 Oct – ‘Occupy London is a Nursery for the Mind’:

Over the last two weeks… Occupy London Stock Exchange [has] attracted an extraordinary amount of publicity – much of it hostile. Yet the derision… has not inhibited the campers’ striking degree of self-possession… In part, that comes from pride in what a couple of hundred people have managed to create from scratch in a few days… The level of organisation is remarkable… There is nothing chaotic about this experiment in community in which no one is turned away, and everyone has their say… In part, the self-possession comes from the steady flow of enagagement with sympathetic, curious passersby… There is a steady flow of donations of food and money… “I just wanted to say that I’d be with you if I wasn’t too old to camp and I didn’t have a full-time job,” I overheard one lady tell a protester. Everywhere there is the hum of strangers talking to each other about politics…”  whole article

Guardian Editorial, 30 Oct – ‘The Rich and the Rest…’:

“In the Times this weekend one Tory columnist suggested the St Paul’s campers were on to something. In the pink pages of the Financial Times, the City’s own organ, a former investment banker called for moralised markets, while the FT’s brainbox-in-chief asked why the arrival of Occupy London Stock Exchange had taken so long…”  whole article

Lucy Mangan, in The Guardian, 28 Oct – ‘St Paul’s, embrace your new flock’ :

Lucy takes a humorous slant on why St Paul’s and the Protesters should be on the same side.  whole article

Andrew Rawnsley, in The Observer, 30 Oct – ‘The Protesters seem more Adult than the Politicians and Plutocrats’:

“With a few nylon tents and some amateurish banners, the Occupy movement has rattled the establishment… it is twisted knickers time amongst pundits, politicians and prelates…”  whole article

Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie, in New Scientist, 22 Oct‘The Network that runs the World’:  a Swiss study uses mathematical modelling and massive databases to show that a few interconnected trans-national companies control most of the world’s wealth… The New Scientist report claims that whether these companies team up to exert political power is an as yet unanswered question…  (subscribe or buy NS magazine to read the full article)

Owen Jones, in New Statesman, 31 Oct – ‘The Revolutionary Moment’: an in-depth look at the historical, political and global context of the Occupy movement.  whole article

Re the thermal imaging hooha, a funny bit of video:
and then there’s the consultation with a military scientist:
Patrick Kingsley, in The Guardian, 26 Oct – ‘…empty tents claims based on ‘rubbish science’‘  full article
An overview of the story, counter-arguments and all, is at: fullfact.org
[OccupyLSX has made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over this story]
The Ekklesia website – a ‘beliefs and values thinktank’ – makes some interesting points.
Check out this one in particular for a look at how the Occupiers may be able to defend themselves from an order to ‘move those tents’: Jonathon Bartley’s blog

A Week in The Life… of LSX Occupier Hazel Hedge

Monday. Big debate during General Assembly today, ending in a decision to make the camp an alcohol-and-drug-free zone. While we can’t stop anyone having a sneaky dram or can in their tent, a reduction in public drinking and drunkenness will make the camp a calmer, cleaner, safer place… and will be good for PR.
After Assembly I swept the steps to St Paul’s.
Finally got decent lighting in the kitchen tent – LED spotlights donated by a workers’ co-operative.
Elderly Christian lady holds an all-night vigil in support of the Occupiers on the steps of St Paul’s. Is overwhelmed by offers of tea and blankets from the protesters.

Tuesday. Early morning solidarity march with striking electricians.
Later, thermal imaging is the theme of the day. Media claims only one in ten tents are inhabited at night. That’s so wrong. First off, those cameras are not very good at detecting people in tents – as our own experiments and a military photographer questioned by the Guardian confirm. Secondly, not many people in the camp go to bed before 1am; The Times photo was clearly marked ‘11.12pm’. And… how come when I crawled out of my tent in the morning, three people in the vicinity were simultaneously crawling out of theirs, while another two were cleaning their teeth?
I’d say about 75% of tents are occupied at any one time. Camp occupants do occasionally go elsewhere to fulfill other commitments or to get a good night’s sleep and a shower. So what? The media would rather we stank and then they could complain about that.
My tent leaks in heavy rain. Luckily Tent City Surplus has a stack of spare tarps and some string.

Wednesday. St Paul’s Cathedral finally comes up with a health-and-safety demand. We must move nine small tents and a couple of bicycles into a previously fenced-off area… and the kitchen tent must shift forwards about five feet. Italian chef refuses to cease cooking lunch. Future of camp hangs in the balance. Sweet potato, pumpkin and pasta soup is served. Small army of protesters lifts entire kitchen in air, repositions it in new, healthy, safe location. Cathedral can now open. Occupiers jubilant… heathens back on good terms with Christians.
Launch of quality newspaper The Occupied Times.
Flashmob Evensong attended by hundreds – approximately 50% media, 25% protesters, 25% public.
I addressed 500 people at the General Assembly today and didn’t spontaneously combust with stage-fright. Subject: even more important than a change in structures and systems is a change in values – away from self-interest, towards co-operation and social/ecological responsibility. Then we discussed evolution versus revolution and whether we need to put Capitalism out of it’s misery… could we revive and transform it, or is it a lost cause? No big answers yet but lots of big conversations.

Thursday. Canon Giles Fraser resigns. Media frenzied. Occupiers and members of public moved to tears. Yesterday’s optimism premature. Church in cahoots with City of London in wanting to evict us.
Flashmob meditation on cathedral steps.
Starbucks has banned protesters from using their toilet but not their wifi. I prefer the shopping centre and local pub loos anyway – these are designated public toilets so there’s no need to make a purchase to pee.
London Debating Society host “This House would Occupy the City” at Ye Olde Cock Tavern.
Night raid on camp by anti-terrorist police looking for firearms. No weapons found.

Friday. Cathedral opens with a well-attended celebratory service.
City of London and St Paul’s officially announce intention to evict. This provokes a second resignation within the church – Fraser Dyer, part-time chaplain, is ’embarrassed’ by St Paul’s decision to pursue legal action.
Camp documents leaked to the Guardian. Perhaps not entirely a bad thing… the published statement, while still a work-in-progress and not mandated by the camp’s General Assembly, gives a glimpse of the archaic, ‘unconstitutional and unfair’ legal structures of the City of London Corporation. We’re going to strike at the heart of the beast and will be revealing its ugly, greed-riddled flesh as we go.

Saturday & Sunday. At work. Even though ‘work’ is my own small ethical business I don’t want to be doing it this weekend. The OccupyLSX camp has become my home and away from it I feel strangely dislocated, ineffectual. I’d rather sleep on the cobbles than in a real bed right now. Can’t wait to get back to Tent City.

Occupy LSX

The surreal shanty-town in the heart of London appears, initially, somewhat shabby and chaotic. Closer investigation reveals a micro version of the kind of society the Occupiers would like to see replicated in the wider world.

This is an inclusive, democratic, compassionate, hard-working community. A well-organised temporary village complete with central kitchen (run by a flamboyant Italian chef who feeds several hundred people three times a day – campers and bankers alike); Tent City University; the Occupied Times newspaper office; a free shop (aka ‘Tent City Surplus’); medics and lawyers; a piano; a peace-keeping Tranquillity Team; recycling crew; twice-daily General Assemblies (true democracy in action); a faith-liaision team; and the infamous Occupy London FC (“football for change”)…

The Occupiers are a diverse bunch with a wide variety of backgrounds, beliefs and priorities. What we have in common is the knowledge that the way things have been run – nationally, globally, politically, financially, socially – is wrong… combined with a passionate belief that “another way is possible”. The Occupiers agree that a change in values is required – we need to start putting people and planet before profit. This means nothing less than a severe shake-up and restructuring of our political, financial and social systems.

A tall order? Yes, but the Occupiers believe we’re worth it and we can do it. How? That’s the big question and Occupy LSX does not pretend to have all the answers, although the rate at which protesters are educating and applying themselves (skill-shares, knowledge exchange, debates, lectures and workshops happen 24/7 at the camp) means that possible solutions are beginning to emerge. The Occupiers want a transparent and truly democratic decision-making process; an end to corporations and financial institutions that are more powerful than governments and ‘too big too fail’; an end to oppression of majorities by unaccountable elite minorities. The camp’s International Commission is working with the Occupy Movement worldwide because in an increasingly globalised world the solutions have to be co-ordinated on a grand scale.

Find out more: OccupyLSX    You & I Films: Molly Shapes History    The Guardian

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