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Occupiers balance work, activism on civic lawn

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

CIVIC SQUARE occupier Michael Wallace does not have far to go to work – just around the corner in fact.

The call centre operator heads to work early to shower and change before the start of the working day.

Like many at the site, Mr Wallace is juggling the realities of a working week with social activism.

He has been living in the occupy campsite for five days because he believes it is time to take action on social issues such as the gap between rich and poor.

“It seems like this hasn’t really happened before.  The whole world is starting to stand up and want change,” he says.

Occupy Wellington has been running for several weeks, and protestors say they are part of a global movement for real social change.

The camp has become an alternative home for many, who are fulfilling their normal commitments such as work and family, and returning to the camp to discuss ideas and activism.

“There are a lot of ideas for how we can change, but there is no real consensus at the moment.”

He also thinks the mainstream media quickly resort to stereotypes to try and discredit the protesters.

“There is a whole lot of people from different walks of life.  I don’t think you can judge before you have come down here and had a look at what we are doing” he says, “How they portray it in the mainstream media is ridiculous, I haven’t seen anyone eating mung beans.”

Signs have been erected around the campsite declaring it a drug and alcohol free zone.

But Wellington City Council says the group is monopolising public space.

“Staying indefinitely is unreasonable and against our bylaws. They are privatising public space and denying its use to the wider public.” says senior council media advisor Grahame Armstrong.

“Obviously we don’t want the protestors there forever but there are no plans to move them at the moment”

The protesters say they are prepared to passively resist any attempts to move them along.

Yet the group has proven to be flexible, moving their main site for a Halloween party yesterday and getting involved in the Rugby World Cup victory celebrations, as reported by NewsWire.

The camp is also running a series of daily talks and workshops entitled ‘occupy your mind’ for the public.

Guest speakers range from academics to community organisers, and they hope to further develop what they are calling the ‘free university’.

“I’ve received numerous messages of hope that this community education program can be an ongoing thing,” says occupier Benjamin Knight.

Sarah Adams was at the camp yesterday to present a workshop on sustainable food.

“I think we have lost our relationship with food,” she says.

Ms Adams believes we need to recapture the idea of seasonality and growing our own food in order to reduce the environmental impact of our lives.

She is at the camp to talk about skills such as preserving which have fallen out of favour.

Musician Jeremy Desmond is visiting the site for the sustainable food workshop, and agrees that today’s topic is important.

“I think it’s an interesting way to tackle issues of governance,” he says.

 

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is A Journalism Student at Whitireia in Wellington, New Zealand. His specialty areas are digital culture, politics and cyber-crime.
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