For anyone considering joining us for Occupy Half Term, I wanted to tell you more about how the events have shaped up for the day:
1. Meet at Cambridge train station at 10:00 for the 10:15 to London Liverpool St - stories and snacks on the train as well as sign-in and prep talk by me. Foremost here is that this is a neutral fact finding mission and we have much information to collect and ponder.
2. Arrive at Liverpool St Station at 11:45. The train will be met by some people from the camp and some other mums joining the event. We will walk together to St. Pauls
3. 12:15 A look around and orientation before meeting Anonymous - the group who wears the Guy Fawkes masks. They have promised a completely on the level question and answer period, where kids can ask them why they are there, what they are doing, why they wear those masks and what they want.
4. Lunch at the Vegan Cafe - There is a free Vegan Cafe that has delicious plentiful food so a packed lunch may not be necessary. While we sit and eat lunch, a very nice lady named Ruth from the outreach committee has promised to talk to us about the camp and what has happened and why they are camping. [Please bring your own plates if you can or food if your kids are not into lentil bake type arrangements - there is always plenty of fruit and cakes and tea] Please bring your own bottled water and be prepared to have a bit of an issue finding the loos.
5. 1:00 General Assembly and Tour: This unique leaderless format of direct democracy in order for a group to come to a consensus came via the Spanish indignados and Tahrir Square to Occupy Wall Street and thus to all the occupations in the world (more than 1000). It has its own protocols and sign languages and it is fascinating to watch. The kids won't watch a whole session, though, they will watch for a bit before they tour the camp, including the prayer tent and free book store, first aid tent.
6. 2:00 Tent City University: This will be amazing. The facilitators at the camp's Tent City University have promised to be there and listen to the kids and help them have their own general assembly about what they have seen, what they want to do next. The function of listening humbly while all have their say has really been a great personal learning experience for me.
7: 2:30 Dancing: There is a lot of joy in this camp, a lot of hope for a better world, a lot of pleasure in simple human activities like dancing and listening to music - things that do not cost money. It didn't seem that the kids would have a true taste of it unless they could let it rip out there on the steps with the Samba band: the band has not been confirmed, a kind person may have even written songs just for us, but there will be some music and movement before:
8. 2:45 departure to catch the 3:15 back to Cambridge. People from the camp have promised to walk us back .
St Pauls Cathedral: Several people have expressed concern to me that St. Paul's will be closed. It will probably be closed. I have directly requested that it open on the day for the kids; I have been involved in these negotiations and I firmly believe on the basis of the evidence that St. Paul's has decided to close because its Board of Trustees (Banks) do not want the protesters around; the health and safety reasons being a pretext. I promise you, this camp is clean, the kitchen is lean
Police: The police, unlike 15 October when the camp was set up and Fritha and I were kettled by the police, are totally friendly, plentiful, talking in a relaxed manner with the protesters and generally very cool. Certainly there is nothing even approaching tension or a lack of safety.
I have attached a flyer if you can't come but can think of someone who might come. I also provide somewhat obnoxiously the following links:
--A video of Saturday at St. Pauls including (starting at 11:30) my address to the General Assembly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
--A short video of me and other mums at Occupy London made by Jon Cheetham
-- I am taking Liberty and Owain, and we may well be the only people at the train station under the Occupy Half Term banner, because I respect the vitality and love that is being infused into their hopes for a better world. I respect the idea of a leaderless general assembly. I respect their call for justice, my heart has the same call. I know everyone has plans for half term to make your kids more educated, happier and well adjusted, I know it is expensive and exhausting to get into London but I also know that this is the beginning of something and it could be something big and good, and the more good people who come and are heard, the better it will be. We are very busy raising our children but what kind of world will they have when our work is done?
A 2.5 min interview of me with the Independent on Sunday and other Mums:
The press release for the event is at www.occupylsx.org and my blog, as always, is strident and messy at www.libertyandowain.blogspot.
The Facebook page for Occupy Half Term is http://www.facebook.com/pages/