Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Christchurch

I went along to the Occupy Christchurch rally and march on October 15th and it was amazing, lots of people there from different walks of life; university professors, builders, students, hippies, people who live in the red zone, unemployed, employed, Maori, Pakeha, young and old all getting together to voice their concern about the way the world was going. I have been very vocal about my support of the occupy movement over the past few weeks but I haven't been down to the Occupy Christchurch site since the initial march.

Today I went there to check it out and to talk to some people about the issues and see what conclusions they had come to over the past two weeks. I was very disappointed with what I found when I got there. I didn't exactly expect a complete cross section of the people that attended the original event, but I did expect more diversity than what I saw. It was almost 100% Hippy, there was only one sign out of the many around about anything to do with the original cause. There were pamphlets and books around about the financial crises but they mostly all had an anarchist or socialist groups spin on things. There were free hugs signs, people playing bongos, dreadlocks, lots of signs about communal living, vegan, vegetarian and organic information everywhere. I don't necessarily disagree with these things but I don't believe this to be what the movement is about, and for people who don't agree with these things it can all be very alienating. In order for the occupation movement to grow it needs to be welcoming, but at the moment it doesn't feel that way at all. It isn't an intentional unwelcoming but it is there nonetheless. I was asked if I wanted a free hug and all I could say is, no i don't really feel comfortable with physical contact with people I don't know. I wanted to go there and talk to the occupying people about what they thought and what they had talked about over the last two weeks but they mostly just talked about the occupation and not the issues. The occupation has now become the reason they are occupying. I can understand after two weeks of living in the park that it would be a major thing to talk about to them but I think there needs to be some rethinking of what they are there for. I'm unsure about what it is like in other cities or countries but now I am feeling a bit less skeptical of the mainstream media that is painting all the occupiers as a bunch of smelly hippies. I felt uncomfortable pretty much the whole time I was there, so I did what I usually do, went to the supermarket and bought a packet of salt and vinegar chips and ate them all.

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