Discussions about the next phase underway

Following a conversation with one protester yesterday BBC Bristol ran a story titled “Occupy Bristol to leave by mid-January” This was based on a misunderstanding and is factually incorrect. We quickly contacted them to make them aware of the error, in the hope they could correct the information quickly. Yesterday afternoon they updated the story to make it slightly clearer that this was not a position the camp had agreed by consensus.

We have since made a formal complaint in the hope that they will update their website to reflect the reality of the situation:

There are a range of views within Occupy Bristol as to the best time to move on to the next phase of our campaign. We continue to have a dialogue with the Dean, to see if there is a way of moving forward that everyone is happy with.

Agreed by consensus by those on the camp this evening.

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Occupy Bristol end of year report

Bristol Cathedral with Occupy Bristol tents and a multi-coloured teepee in the foreground.It’s been just over two months since Occupy Together Day, 15th October. There are so far 2,686 occupations listed around the world. All sending a message to the 1% that people have had enough now.

Time to take stock of what we’ve achieved so far at Occupy Bristol. Reporting on what we do is part of how we are accountable to you, our fellow citizens.

In the last two months we have:-

  • Run eight community days at weekends, with talks, discussions, crafts and kids activities. This is an opportunity for anyone to get involved and learn more about what we’re here for. Whether you want to have an in-depth political discussion, sit and do some crafts, or just have a cup of tea and a chat. Themes have ranged from inter-faith picnic to circus to food.
  • Organised the Move Your Money campaign to encourage people to vote with their wallets and hit the banks where it hurts by moving to more ethical banks or credit unions.
  • Performed political actions to publicise our Move Your Money campaign and highlight the way banks are screwing the rest of us.
  • We’ve raised important issues like how inequality has grown dramatically over the last 30 years and got more people talking about them. For example, the Cathedral are now planning a series of discussion events next year on inequality. Potentially in partnership with Occupy Bristol.
  • We asked the council about ethical banking and they are re-considering their financial investments and putting in place an ethical investment policy.
  • Hosted talks, discussions and workshops on everything from the financial system to Greenham Common to democracy in ancient Athens.
  • Hosted meetings for all sorts of progressive groups – from Stop the War to Bristol Social Enterprise. One thing we can do is provide a central space for meetings and help bring groups together who are concerned with critiquing, or finding alternatives to, our present systems. Please get in touch if you’re a group interested in working with us.
  • Free skills sharing – everything from bike maintenance to listening skills to Polish.
  • Open mike nights
  • Performances from local musicians, and from Mr Billy Bragg.

If you’ve got ideas about what you’d like us to do in the new year, please let us know in the comments, or get in touch!

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University of Bristol Student Union in support of Occupy Bristol

Dear Occupy Bristol, in all your many forms,

Recently, at a Bristol University Students’ Union democratic meeting involving over a hundred students, a motion was passed entitled Support Occupy Bristol, the ‘believes’ and ‘resolves’ of which are as follows:

This Union Believes:

  • That the coalition government’s conversion of a private sector crisis into a public spending problem is unjustified.

  • That the protesters taking part in the Occupy movement have tangible and justifiable reasons for taking part, due to the rising cost of living and declining quality of life.

  • That the political system in this country fails to engage, represent, or consider the majority of the population, based on voting turn-out figures and rising levels of inequality.

  • That the coalition government’s attack on publicly funded higher education is part of a wider ideological programme aimed primarily at reducing public provision, not the public spending deficit.

  • That in recognition of shared concerns between Occupy Bristol and Bristol Students’ Union and a concern for the most vulnerable in society support and solidarity for the Occupy movement is justified and appropriate.

 This Union Resolves:

  • To support Occupy Bristol and convey a message of solidarity.

  • To support Bristol students and Union officers in taking part in the protest and resisting eviction.

  • To publicise Occupy Bristol to Bristol Students, with an explanation of the Union’s position of support.

So, in fulfilling the first part of my mandate on this, the Students’ Union conveys a message of solidarity to the Occupy Bristol protest. We recognise that our fight against marketised higher education is part of your fight against inequality and social injustice.

With regards to the third resolve, I would like to invite members of the Occupy movement to speak at the Union in the New Year to tell their stories and give students their perspectives.

On behalf of the University of Bristol Students’ Union, in solidarity,

Max Wakefield

Vice-President Community

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Bristol Quakers Statement on Occupy Bristol

Full text of the statement:

“We have received the statement from Our Recording Clerk and unite with it. Several local Friends have been active in supporting Occupy Bristol on College Green and we thank them. We encourage Friends to read the statement and to consider how they might contribute.

Quakers in Britain share the concern for global economic justice and sustainability expressed by the Occupy movement.

We agree with the statement of Occupy London Stock Exchange that our current economic system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives. We, too, want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich,” (as stated in Occupy LSX initial statement). We are grateful to the various Occupy groups for raising these issues so passionately and respond to the deep spiritual significance that we recognise in the movement.

Those of us who have visited have been welcomed, and found the Occupy sites an exceptional learning experience. We honour the values and positive ways of working within Occupy communities: without hierarchy, based on care for others, open to the contributions of all and searching for the truth. These are in harmony with our Quaker practice and business methods.

The idea that another world is possible is crucial for us too. We cannot accept the injustice and destructiveness of our economic system as it is. At the annual meeting of Quakers in Britain in August 2011 we wrote: We need to ask the question whether this system is so broken that we must urgently work with others of faith and good will to put in its place a different system in which our testimonies can flourish”. We support the process initiated by the Occupy movement to create a path towards a different future, and to develop it democratically.

We hope that individual Quakers will continue to provide support, both moral and practical, to the movement. We greatly value its peaceful quality and we pray that this can be actively supported by all, including the civil and ecclesiastical authorities who have the difficult task of maintaining simultaneously both public order and the right of peaceful protest.

Signed Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain”

Original Document

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A better Bristol 2050

We recently became aware of the 2050 plan for future of the city. Some of the thinking has clearly been contributed by the Conservative party. (Some of the .pdf documents literally bear the title ‘Conservative Manifesto’)

The lead in this project is John Savage a Merchant Venturer and the corporate partners include HSBC, a company with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The proposals put forward by the Bristol 2050 team are probably best described as a ‘damp squib’ including some truly bizarre suggestions, such as plans to support young people “with attitude”. It is a pro-business, pro-growth vision that completely fails to acknowledge the changed political and economic situation we find ourselves in.

Putting aside such nonsense, we do actually agree that we need to be taking a longer term view of how we plan our society and our city. A clear flaw in the Bristol 2050 plan is that the only voices heard in it are ‘business leaders’ (with one day event with some 14 year olds in a community centre for window dressing).

Not only is this undemocratic, it’s also self-serving and short-sighted. There’s plenty of evidence that wider public participation in decision-making means better decisions – because it means more knowledge and ideas go into the mix. And frankly, it’s business leaders who got us into this mess, so who on earth would think they have the best ideas on getting us out of it?

We are therefore pleased to announce that we will be engaging with the Bristol 2050 idea and organising our own series of events to map out some possible brighter futures. To this end we have purchased www.bristol2050.org.uk and have had some initial conversations with Dick Penny about hosting some of our own 2050 events at the Watershed.

The future of Bristol is clearly linked to the kind of global system that we live in. The localism agenda is only going to be one of the strings to our bow,  as we continue to critique and challenge the global economic system as well.

We look forward to hosting some inspiring 2050 conversations.

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Neo-liberal Capitalism is morally, intellectually and actually bankrupt.

A view from an occupier.

Over the last 20 years we have witnessed remarkable technological achievements and advancements in our understanding of the sciences. Today, we have the opportunity to purchase items and engage in activities the likes of which our grandparents could never have imagined. Nevertheless, despite capitalism’s best attempt to satiate our every desire via the use of technology and marketing, the current economic system continues to fail many within our society. Poverty, homelessness, depression, addiction, war and an ever increasing suicide rate, are all symptoms of a society who’s happiness has diminished to the point that it has become, for some, almost unbearable to live. NHS figures reveal prescriptions for antidepressants have risen by 43% in the past four years to nearly 23 million a year.

Personal debt has skyrocketed due to a stagnation in wages and continued consumer price inflation. House prices and the cost of private renting have ballooned to the point whereby many people can barely afford to rent a single room, let alone a flat. Unemployment has continued to rise, while at the same time the Murdoch press would have us believe that those who unfortunately find themselves on the dole are simply work-shy layabouts who lack ambition. If capitalism cannot provide hope by delivering jobs with a decent living wage and pension, educational opportunities for our young people, adequate housing to bring up our children and security for the elderly, sick and vulnerable, we are morally obliged to create an alternative system that can.

Today the number of billionaires in the UK is growing an ever increasing rate. At the same time the number of children living in poverty is on the increase. We have more children living in the British care system than at any other time in its history. The youth of our society are not violent mindless thugs, they are angry at the betrayal they have been subjected to. All of us were told as children if you work hard you can achieve what ever you set your mind to. This simply is not the case. The class division within our society is greater than ever. When faced with the current economic reality, Social mobility has almost become a utopian fantasy.

Neo-liberal Capitalism is morally, intellectually and actually bankrupt. Now is the time to work towards alternatives.

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Moving on

Photo of Billy Bragg in our half complete communal bender. By Dru Marland

We had a really good meeting earlier where we pulled together some loose threads. It had felt for a couple of days that the camp had been beginning to fragment. We got together and cleared the air. We also took the opportunity to restate and re-affirm our commitment to both the Statement of purpose and the Safe spaces policy. We recognise it will continue to be a challenge to implement the Safe Spaces policy, but this evening we made a collective commitment to step up our efforts to do so.

We are also planning to re-structure and consolidate the camp to both improve the look of it and to help us prepare for the cold days ahead. There will be a few new small & low impact ‘bender’ structures made out of hazel and canvas appearing. We will also be taking down some of the other less practical and visually appealing structures, as well as some of the tents. We are looking forward to completing our communal bender which will be a warm dry place that we can conduct meetings and workshops.

We are still trying to organise a space to have a wider discussion about our tactic of camping on College Green. We still hope to use the council house, but alternate suggestions would be welcome at this stage.

We have a number of exciting projects, plans and schemes for moving our activities beyond College Green and we will be announcing these in the coming days and weeks.

Watch this space..

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Want to meet exciting, varied, inspiring people AND help to change the world?

A rainbow over College Green, with some of the Occupy Bristol tents in the foregroundWant to meet exciting, varied, inspiring people, see your skills making a real difference AND help to change the world? Well volunteer at Occupy Bristol and you get all that and more. Does that sound better than what you were planning to do this Saturday? Then come on down!

Do you feel sickened by bankers still getting million pound bonuses while millions are out of work and libraries and health services are cut? Do you want to add your voice to the people saying that what’s happening is wrong? Do you want to work in a space that’s vibrant and open, with other people who care about the world being a better place? Do you want to feel like you’ve DONE SOMETHING?

Then come down to Occupy Bristol and bring your skills. Together we have 99% of the brains, the knowledge, the ingenuity. Together we can do something.

I know it can seem like a task that’s too big. But there are well over 2,000 occupations around the world. This is the first ever global protest movement. People say think global and act local. If each occupation does something to improve things in their local area, then added together, that makes a difference.

Help us do something here in Bristol. Help us raise awareness. Help us function as a community. Help us listen to the public. Help us explore alternatives. Help us bring people together.

We all know that Bristol is a special place, with an amazing sense of community and a willingness to do things for ourselves. If anyone can do it Bristol can.

Bring your skills – whatever they are – and find out how you can help. Come down to our Food-themed community day this Saturday, find out what we’re all about and come to a volunteers’ meeting in the Marquee at 4pm.

Some of the skills that can help us:-

  • Artists, art students, makers – help us make the camp look nice and help us make signs.
  • Writers, online techies, social media experts, journalists, photographers – help us get our message out.
  • People with vehicles – help us move things from one place to another!
  • People with people skills, counselling skills, listening skills, expertise in organisations and change, sociologists, anthropologists – help us work together and make the community as effective as we can be.
  • Chefs, washer-uppers – help us feed the camp.
  • People with construction or gardening skills – help us build the camp and minimise our impact on College Green.
  • People who know stuff (even if you think you don’t know stuff) – if you can give a talk or facilitate a workshop or discussion, we’d like to host it – from understanding the financial crisis to basic bike repairs. Anything that helps people to live happier lives, or understand more about what’s going on is great.

This list is only a start. There’s plenty of other skills we could use. If you can’t come down on Saturday, then email us if you want to get involved.

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Occupation is an idea, a tactic. It cannot be intimidated or evicted. We welcome bold, fresh ideas on how to build our movement and advance our arguments 

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A view from a (non) occupier

It restores my faith in hummanity to see the collective on college green sticking at there peaceful protest. whilst the shoppers whizz past supporting the big cooperations hopefully a moment of self reflection will happen and slowly but surely we can try to make a better world where we support local traders, where people can use there skills instead of being trapped in a dull rat race against the clock and towering debts.

The occupy movement shows that we as people have a right to live our lifes as we want to, not trapped in a gray world where we are not creative, where are buzz of life is more than supporting sweatshops and buying plastic rubbish that soon will be landfill. What we do, what we buy reflects on all mankind, People power is strong.

Be the change you want to see in this world, it has to be us that makes this move.

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Estimated 20,000 in Bristol for rally

According to Bristol Anti cuts  Police have estimated 20,000 people in central Bristol today.

Public sector workers across the country took to the streets today on strike regarding the governments planned changes to their pensions and pay. The centre of Bristol ground to a halt for an hour whilst marchers processed through the streets.

The march itself, through the streets of Bristol, was a peaceful affair. Many teachers and even some of their students processed through the centre from the Occupy Bristol Village to Castle Park.

Occupy Bristol protesters brought a festive atmosphere to proceedings playing cuts related protest songs through a megaphone, singing along and holding one of the biggest banners on the march saying “No Ifs No Buts No Public Pension Cuts. Supported By Occupy Bristol”

One Occupy Bristol protester gave a rousing speech to strikers as they gathered on park street, and the last speaker at the rally in Castle Park encouraged union members to support the occupation saying “we’re all on the same side”.

Full story By James Chorlton   

“Holiday atmosphere at demonstrations and pickets in Bristol. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to seems to support strike” Via @stevemorris20 Guardian Journalist

“More than 140 of about 180 schools in Bristol are shut or partially closed.” Via BBC Bristol

London breaking news here

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