Occupy Vancouver (excerpt from www.commoninterestcanada.blogspot.com)
Occupy Vancouver kicked off at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of the city on October 15 along with other demonstrative movements taking place in over 1,500 cities worldwide. Numbers were estimated at 5,000 at the events peak with about 2,000 maintaining their presence throughout the day. The loosely organized, leaderless movement was trying to find it's ground and direction with opinionated voices speaking about issues that covered many topics.
Some were confused, others focused, directed, some for and some against the gathering itself but all in all the air was positive as citizens joined up for a dialogue on many pressing issues. The scattered opinions and ideals were on full display at the microphone with many messages, rants and raves.
The question many are asking is to what end? The movement is still in its infancy and the crowd is optimistic about the possibilities for positive change in the world with mass mobilization such as this. The Occupy movement prides itself on being inclusive and leaderless with many meeting up in workgroups, committees and workshops to begin the dialogue on what change they would like to achieve and how to do so.
The day was filled with music, dancing, meditation groups, networking and observing with an air of jubilation and community building. Information tents were set up by a number of organizations including Food Not Bombs who continue to serve free food to anyone all day and all night. The grounds also have an information library, first aid, kids zone and more.
The movement appears to be a rebuilding of social infrastructure and democracy from the ground up. Providing a space in cities that display the social nets needed. Boiling it down to the basics for human life, food, shelter, water and community.
The inclusiveness gives all a chance to voice their thoughts on basically any subject. During the general assembly and other meetings, all are welcome to put forth their ideas. As in any social experiment it’s interesting to watch the axis of conversation and interests of the crowd and although communication within the group can be difficult, a strongly democratic theme runs through the gatherings.
Some indeed may see the actual ‘occupation’ of setting up tents in a public space as secondary to the actions of the group or meaningless. But for those who are being left behind in our system with no place to live and no food to eat, without health care, the occupiers have now created communities to gather and demonstrate how easy it is to care for each other.
Music filled the air throughout the day with DJ's playing at breaks, acoustic guitars, drum circles, choirs and more entertaining bringing the crown together.
The occupying tent city was estimated to have about 60 to 80 tents but it is difficult to pin down actual numbers of those who were planning to stay over night.
Speaking to both Officers from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and City of Vancouver employees comments were positive on the gathering and permitting of the occupiers setting up tents on the gallery grounds.
During the first day the VPD @VancouverPD tweeted "#VPD
thanks those attending@occupyvancouver
today for their cooperation & helping keep everyone safe#occupyvancouver
”. A positive bridge building comment to the public.
The demonstration was peaceful in nature with the only reported disturbances of a homeless woman being arrested for reasons unrelated to the gathering and a small crowd of about 20 people choosing to have a non-violent 'sit in' in the middle of the intersection of Howe and Georgia. Police wisely decided to close off Georgia in between Howe and Hornby to accommodate the larger crowds, but for reasons unexplained the small group ‘took over’ the middle of the intersection, snarling traffic with no direct cause apparent. There was plenty of room and a microphone to have their voices heard in front of the gallery, they instead chose to gather a crowd of police and more onlookers to prove the point that indeed it was 'their streets'. Eventually they decided they made there voices heard and joined the rest of the group.
Organizational and brainstorming meetings took place all day including the general assembly at noon and 7 p.m. which has been made a daily occurance.
Occupy movements also took place in cities across Canada including Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, Halifax, Calgary and Edmonton among others.