ctrp397 Voices from Occupy Amsterdam

Occupy Amsterdam has just entered into its 3rd week. 3 weeks of building a community where people have come together and occupied a public space, where debates are an almost 24 hour phenomenon and cooperation is currency.

Over the first 7 days of occupyamsterdam I was there checking in with people and observing how things developed.  During those days I observed meetings of the General Assembly, as well as work groups that are dedicated to different aspects of the movement.  I observed teach-ins or education lectures. At the weekend I listened to and even participated in speeches and musical performances.  By the beginning of week two it had become a fully functional camp where some people could live and anyone can and did stop by to participate or look around.

The following 4 interviews are taken from week 1, they were carried out with people I saw regularly participating and attending events. My goal in these conversations was not to do what the mainstream media does: asking people why they are here as if I don’t understand. Instead, my goal was to hear about the details of how the movement functions and how it deals with a dysfunctional press that is unlikely to communicate their message with much accuracy.  Of course during these interviews opinions, experiences, and statements lead to a number of topics popping up beyond how occupyamsterdam functions. We also get into the feeling or spirit of occupy, the outside perception and challenge the group faces when it comes to being understood and heard, and of course the lesser known facts about how the banking system has impacted the very core of how nations function and how people live.

Lastly you’ll hear from legendary musician and activist Michael Franti.. as he walked right by me and climbed on stage to give a surprise performance and words of support for the occupy movement.

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Don’t Just Take a Picture

Occupy Amsterdam is officially one week old. Occupy Wall Street is now over a month old. Around the world masses of people occupy their public spaces to discuss and demand big changes in how governments and business have been conducting themselves for the last few decades.  Many do what they have always done: watch it on TV, read about it in the press, discredit the idea of taking action on such a broad scale.  Still the whole world is watching, the authorities are scared, they seek to find ways to diffuse the energy and passion that has been unleashed and seems to keep growing.  They’re counting on the weather, the entertainment industry, costs of living, and sometimes elements of public safety to shut down this dangerous movement.  After all, those in charge have built their careers on this system. They’re power and lifestyle depends on it.

Today at #OccupyAmsterdam, as I’ve been doing each day this week, I was speaking with people, interviewing, collecting information and testimony to report to you the audience.  Being the activist- journalist that I am, I climbed up on stage to say something.

My Buddy Marc took video that includes crowd shots. If you’re interested in seeing more of the atmosphere today.


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Your OccupyAmsterdam Moment of Zen

Two minutes captured during a General Assembly meeting on Monday the 17th of October.

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Not Yet A Report from OccupyAmsterdam

Occupy Amsterdam General Assembly Meeting

I’m reluctant to write anything yet about the #occupy movement, specifically my local occupy Amsterdam.  On the one hand it seems like everyone has already heard about the actions nearest to where they live, in the US, Europe, Asia, South America…. all over the world.   Which makes me think perhaps all the minds have already been made up. One role I don’t want to have when it comes to “occupy” is the one where I try to convince people of something and they try to argue counterpoints against me.  I don’t want to convince anyone to follow along, come on down, or anything like that.  Yet each day I still run into friends and strangers who have no idea what occupy wall street is, or here in our own city, what occupy Amsterdam is.  So I write, or at least, start to write, even if I’m not actually ready to write about everything I’ve seen and think from daily visits to this burgeoning community nestled on the former financial center of this city so famous for international trade.

We live in a world of categories. On websites. On forms. In our minds. You fit here, you fit there. Don’t fit, we’ll make you a new box if you’re lucky.  Even with alot of disorganization among us, we try to organize. You’re either this kind of person or that kind of person. Your action is either good or bad, in between is confusing and hard to process.  And when it comes to our protest activities, when it is about using or not using time, energy and resources towards a certain goal… the public tends to evaluate as quickly as possible and render their verdict if the cause is worth it.

Enter the occupy wall street actions- which are taking place all over the world. The average person looks, reads/watches briefly, and makes their decision.  Few visit, but many write or talk about it.  Based on images, sounds, text and other material coming from these epicenters, people make their judgement. They condemn, they approve, they ignore or something in between all these.  We still live in a world where you can ignore a lot and keep going about your life; war, corruption, injustice, the environment… few of these topics have stopped the general public, so it should come as no surprise that sustained demonstrations against the status quo would be any different.

And still they are out there, building something together. People ask “Are there still people down there?” They’d probably not believe me if I told them the truth – there are more everyday.

“But what do they want!?” – I knew you’d ask that.

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