Occupy Wall St - Occupy New Zealand. An outsiders view point of Auckland.
Occupy Wall St came quickly to NZ. They had to mobilize fast, with very little to no money. Had to self organize, volunteers with varying degrees of skills and had to unify fast, many vastly different people were instantly thrown together to bring order out of what could have been chaos. As most people were not financial, many without jobs or cash, the Occupy Movement were scrambling to pull all the threads together for a coherent and orderly occupation. It took major skills to negotiate agreements, huge patience to have as many views heard and noted. A logistical exercise like mobilizing a small army.
It took heaps of self discipline by people who were very new to understanding self organizational principles.
On top of this Occupy had to be leaderless, so as to conform to the ideal of everyone being a sovereign being in their own right.
Food, finance and hygiene were paramount and listening to peoples concerns was a priority.
However there was also the challenge of how would outsiders respond and support the Occupiers whilst sitting comfortably secure at home in their living rooms and lounges, TV remote in hand in front of large plasma/LCD TV screens. Would they break out of complacency and come out en masse for the Occupiers and what they were expressing?
This was important.
So when many ordinary New Zealanders showed up to march up Queens Street Auckland, 14th of October 2011, there was so much enthusiasm from a wider sector of NZ society who were awake to what was happening behind the scenes particularly in the corporate and banking realms. So much that I managed to get the afternoon off work to drive 75 kilometers into Auckland to add my presence to the excitement and the possibility of a world renaissance within the economic world and to rid ourselves of the distorted banking system. In particular my long held ideal of the 'ecology of commerce' where ecology is first and foremost, because it gives us life, our bodies, our breath, water and food all from the planetary biosphere that underpins our existence. Then comes the economy.
So what happened here in NZ?
After the encampment next to Aotea square, I returned to it on a number of occasions to see if I could be supportive, because I believed that if the Occupiers kept engaged with the broader community across New Zealand and have them visit and be supportive of what the Occupy Movement offered. A more conscious connection would evolve.
Below are some of the things that I noted regarding the Occupy Auckland Occupation. Where in hindsight, I felt what really needed to happen and that it had to be organized more like an 'Expo' and a living example of how 'conscious occupiers live harmoniously together.' That eye catching elegant signs surrounding the enclosure be artfully drawn and painted in splendid colours that vibrantly showed the passion of the 99% and that the message was so cleverly articulated via these posters and signs that a level of sophistication was evident.
The camp site had to look impressive and well presented.
Why? Because first impressions count!
That there needed to be organized a welcoming committee that greeted each and every visitor or new comer in the spirit of Aroha and welcome them and then guide them through an orientation of what OA offered.
With numerous skilled, ambassadors, 'tidily groomed' and articulate, they would take the visitor to the Camp HQ where a large NZ map show where the other NZ Occupy Movements are situated, from Auckland in the North, to New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill in the South. And that every Occupy Group is in contact with each other.
Then to the world map showing the thousands of Occupy sites around our planet and that a number of these were being contacted on a daily basis. So that we could learn from each other and evolve new strategies.
Continuing to the communications area, in many ways the 'hub' where links are made via the web, computers used to access data, convey messages and assist in self organizing of the Occupy Village, and the GA, the General Assembly where everything is openly discussed such as all the logistics of kitchens and food, toilets and water, cleaning details, rubbish and recycling, meetings and workshops and where volunteers are organized, for rest and recreation, healing and learning/sharing centers.
Then to the kitchens where all the food is lovingly prepared in a clean and hygienic surroundings, to where the tents are all caringly pitched and taken care of.
Finally the colored murals that the chalk artists had drawn on the pavement that showed the degree of artistry of helping us remember and to stay on message of what the Occupy Movement means and have our guides farewell off the inspired visitors with their smiles of goodwill and I trust a donation given to the Occupiers so that they can continue to model what it is to bring community closer together.
This was in part what occurred yet bringing it all together needed much more assistance to realize it. Due to the very fluid situation, newness of everything, there were many drop outs resulting in the Occupation as being perceived as disorganized and being very rough and ready.
Being myself of European ancestry I am also of Maori descent, Ngati Kahungunu Te Wairoa, whakapapa and wanted to connect and share aroha and unconditional love as this was the time and place to express itself. Sadly, I did not feel any aroha from the tangata whenua that were encamped, so feeling an unwelcome vibe I moved on. Yet, there is also another Polynesian expression that of Ho`oponopono, the Hawaiian code of forgiveness which means to heal and clean up past hurts and grievances and must be the way we clear up our relationships with other people in our lives and correct previous wrongs.
I had been hearing varying reports that our whanau (family) of indigenous brothers and to a lesser degree our sisters having challenges around depression,frustration and anger (which are in my estimation very valid) as to what's been happening and like many people today, have not been taught the social skills and means to express themselves with elegance and grace - in the spirit of aroha.
I also heard that recently released prisoners ended up at OA as like moths to the flame, they felt that they could be cared for more than anywhere else, also OA was taking on the 'system' and it was a natural thing to have an alliance with those who have a grievance against the 1% who control the worlds economic system. It has been suggested that 'the authorities' were either intentionally or unintentionally sanctioning the 'sending' and by doing so put even more pressure on the occupiers and breaking up what cohesiveness that they had there. Recently released prisoners carried varying levels of trauma, anger and sorrow and needed counselling and aroha. AO was most definitely not the place to have broken down/recovering beings residing there, they needed to be with their whanau/families and kin far away from the city and what it represents - a pakeha/white/Western mans problem.
The same happened for the homeless. They found both food and shelter at OA, however again being dissempowered they increased the pressure on a movement that was working as diligently as it could as a self organizing entity that was doing its best to give everyone a say and work to the best level of consensus and agreement.
Now on the evening of the 14th of October the day of the global mobilization, TV in NZ on the main news, showed a news clip of a young something stating to the interviewer that Occupying and staying at the camp site was going to be FREE!, free accommodation and free food. They were elated. However, what it conveyed to Joe Six Pack and Carolyne Cardigan, sitting comfortably at home, was that the Occupy movement was littered with bludgers and takers. This TV news clip was a PR disaster for the Occupy Movement.
So from day one, with the assistance of compliant corporate media, the 1% had seeded the idea to doubt the Occupy Movement.
However, what came out of these two situations, was that both the released prisoners and homeless people found a duty of care and rehabilitation with the Occupiers by staying and working as best they could at the OA base. Stories emerged of how many very challenged individuals changed for the better by being empowered and validated as they grew as human beings and by being included as part of a local community.
So what the Governmental authorities did not accomplish, Occupy Auckland achieved.
It was imperative that conflict resolution be taught at OA and
reconciliation of opposing points of view be learned ASAP. The Peace Foundation in Auckland had those skills, however I am not aware that these were incorporated in at this time. So much to do and so little time and with few resources.
The kitchen people were noted for their capacity to produce as healthy food as possible and they did it admirably with a friendly smile and dedication that embodied the best of team spirit.
New Zealand is unique as we have a Maori terminology namely Aroha. Love, what is yours is mine and what is mine is yours. A very high ideal When we omit to embody this universal virtue, then the whole exercise will fall, not due to unknowingness, but of ignorance and lack of inner knowing to change things if they are not working. Aroha brings fulfillment, joy and goodwill. It is the greatest gift that we can emanate. It is the glue that will hold a family, group, organization, community and country together.
There were also concerns around security and safety. I heard first hand experiences from different women that they felt either uneasy or in differing ways threatened by male behavior that was accentuated by alcohol and drugs. Zero tolerance was asked for, but people were indulging off site and coming back drunk or out of it. This was a greater problem further South of Auckland.
Another big ask was the need for the well off and educated to support OA and dare I say it? The middle class! Yes! A word that became taboo in the NZ Occupy movement. They are the key to any change within a country. When you have an educated passionate and principled middle class with you,(wishful thinking?) Change must happen. But … where were they, how many showed up? So, why was there not greater support for the Occupiers? Were they burnt off, why did they increasingly fall away as the days, weeks and months passed for the Occupy Movement and this was not only in Auckland.
It could have been influenced by first impressions!
The problem of public acceptance was glaringly obvious. What I continually hear from well off NZers is that the occupiers looked like squatters or refugees. Yes, cleanliness and how we present ourselves is the elephant in the bathroom here. Nature is exquisite … Mother Earth, Gaia, Papatuanku embeds and embraces profound beauty and magnificence. Watch the marvel of a flower unfold, the exquisiteness, colour, geometry, fragrance and manifestation. Note a bee preens itself, same for all birds ... you never see a dirty seagull, cats preen themselves as well, so if the nature kingdom makes every effort to present itself in its best light, why do so many humans show up looking and smelling like a downward dogs breakfast!
This is what we have to overcome by presenting ourselves in our best way possible to the world at large.
From what I gather there are only two basic challenges, one is behavior and the other is cleanliness.
In many subtle ways our society policies itself, and having just visited another Occupy site here in NZ, there was nothing that drew me to it. It looked and felt like a refugee site, and in many ways it was because the inhabitants were actually homeless persons, too psychologically disturbed to be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and thus instead of being a self organizing, dynamic synergistic system, they were fragmented, dysfunctional and unable to achieve this level of coherency.
This is our collective challenge, to be able to inspire and enable 'we the people' the 99% to get up and running efficiently, cooperatively and effectively.
Trusting that this little piece of info assists us all in the future as:
We need to be adept at obtaining our own news and thinking strategically.
We need to have organizing skills. Know how to negotiate and willing to give and take.
That we are team players, being disciplined, responsible and on message.
It is a huge task when you are under resourced with lack of money, time, and equipment and able volunteers.
Putting your everything on the line was a huge sacrifice for those involved. However, as the 1% ramp up more control issues, we as the 99% have a a long and gnarly road ahead.
To be a conscious human, aligned with our spirit is our continuing journey. Much to do.