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Why the Occupy LSX protest is the perfect place for kids

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I really believe in activism. I am absolutely sure that protesting changes things, so bringing the baby on board was always gonna happen. But today I realised that sometimes a protest is the perfect place for the baby. Not just as there is an extra amount of people she can woo and then phones she can steal and chew.

We had a wonderful time with the nippers up at St Pauls for Occupy LSX today– facepainting, parachute games, poetry, juggling, one of the dads even turned up with a bouncy castle. While some of the older kids reflected on and drew their ideas of utopia all around us debate, speeches and conversation took place about how we can change the utterly bankrupt society we live in right now.

I’m no stranger to the shaper edge of protest. In fact (don’t tell my mum this) the first protest I took Ramona on saw us sitting down to breastfeed in a cafe just as a Black Bloc walked past- they picked up a bus stop and smashed the entire front window with it. About 3 feet away us. I have also been in peaceful, sitting down crowds as riot police have bought their truncheons down on heads.

I realise it is not always balloons and bubbles.

But the cost of our younger generation NOT being there is higher than the tiny, one in a million chance of them actually getting hurt.*

For it is here that the little ones learn that there is HOPE – that people do believe in an alternative to the economic apartheid we currently live in. Here they see true, live,  democracy – people listening to each other and voting together. Here they hear the melody of diverse voices, discussing problems and solutions.

But it is also the perfect place for them as it reminds us why we do it. Because they are the generation who will either inherit all this- greed (and the inequality greed gives birth to) – stretched and bloated, many time worse then we have even now, or they will inherit a much fairer and more beautiful society. It is completely up to us.

Someone told me today that there are over 900 occupied cities in over 82 countries. There is an incredible global connection happening that is totally unprecedented. The Occupy movement is gathering momentum and could become enough to change things. As a friend pointed out this week, anti-apartheid protesters couldn’t envision the world beyond apartheid- all they could do was say ENOUGH, enough of this injustice. It doesn’t matter that Occupy LSX doesn’t have a list of policies, we are simply saying ENOUGH.

We have had enough of a world where FTSE 100 directors experience a pay rise of 49% on average compared to 0% increase in the public sector. Enough of a world where CHEESE is the top shoplifted item, because people just literally need to eat (baby formula is the FIFTH, the FIFTH!!!!!) and ENOUGH of a world where one years worth of bankers bonuses could pay for 23 years of the youth service being shut in every poor community in the UK. (More on all this in Polly Toynbee’s excellent article here.)

For our children’s sake. We have had enough.

If you’ve had enough too but weren’t sure about bringing your baby along to Occupy London, please get in touch and I can introduce you to some of the coolest parent and kid activists in town.

There.

I’m sorry, all seriouspants once again. I promise my next post will be about poo.


* There are safety measures you can take, I for one would almost certainly leave with my baby at the first whiff of the riot police or other violence.

**Also, beware of the haters who can be equally vicious. Someone told me off today for taking Ramona to Occupy LSX, suggesting I was teaching kids about squatting and oppressing the rights of others. (Eh?!)  Thankfully it was only on Twitter so I was able to take a breath and graciously respond about how we were actually teaching kids about equality, justice and a loving, fair society. (While mentally taking his 140 characters and flicking them at his ragey right wing eyeballs of course.)

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Feasting at the Occupation- a glimpse of utopia

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There is a little old lady who lives round the corner from us with a tree in her garden that is spilling over with fat, juicy apples. A few weeks ago we plucked up the courage to knock on her door to see if we could pick some.  She was completely delighted as she can’t reach them and doesn’t even like them (I know! Who doesn’t like apples?!) and in all her time living there (she has lived there FOREVS) no one has asked.

So this morning we packed a few bags of those scrumpcious morsels and took them up to the protest camp in front of St Pauls – Occupy LSX. As we wandered over to the kitchen we saw a table GROANING under the weight of abundant fruit, sandwiches, chocolate, lentil soup. It was exactly like the harvest festival at my primary school when I was a nipper but with a lot less baked beans.

Throughout the course of today this food has been handed around, shared out, feasted on. It is a beautiful, utopian picture of how the world could be. Where people who have lots, bag it up and pass it round the crowd.  Mums and babes getting served first (woo!) along with the really hungry and vulnerable. Skips delved into, bringing out still the freshest of delights; nothing wasted.

It is a really tiny aspect of Occupy LSX, the feasting, but the rest of it is pretty up there with ideal too; the huge diversity – every age, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and salary represented, the creativity and friendliness, the slow and steady democratic process – and the patience shown throughout it.

Of course it is only a tiny corner of the world, but it reveals what is possible AND highlights what a complete, criminal, joke our current global system is- where people simultaneously die of obesity and starvation.

If you haven’t already joined your local occupation, take a few hours this week to join in the antics – even if it’s just for the food. (Jokes, that would be well cheeky. You should at least make a placard or something.)

Today we started a Kids Space, which will be every afternoon from 2-5pm by the big statue in front of the steps. We have bubbles, toys, paper and pens.

This blog was written for Blog Action Day 2011, the theme is Food, coinciding pretty superbly with World Food Day. Check it all out here.

Why we’ll be going to Occupy London today

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I took Ramona to her first protest when she was three months old. It was the TUC march against the cuts and she managed to sleep her way through most of it; brass band, fireworks, whistles and chanting were mere fleas to be flicked off her giant love of snoozing. She sleeps now as I gather together the things we will need for today, her second ever protest. Snacks, marker pens for bespoke placards and bunting. Occupy London here we come!

Today we get the opportunity to march against greed. “You can’t protest greed!” someone Facebooked this week during a little chat about Occupy Wall Street on his wall – try telling that to Gandhi and his salt marchers.  Greed is the source of many of the world’s issues past, and for this present one we are talking about Corporate, Global, Policy-supported Greed. The kind of Greed that in a not-that-roundabout way has us (the less-greedy or the 99%) tangled up in joblessness,  homelessness and even extreme hunger.

Greed can’t be protested? It CAN be protested and it SHOULD be protested. It should be shouted at, danced on, wrapped up in bunting and thrown out.  Every crumb hoovered up by the sheer hopefulness, principles and will of the Occupy movement! Some people do think this is the revolution that will achieve exactly that. Personally I hope that it may at least put the last bit of momentum needed behind the pain free, economically sound and essentially good Robin Hood Tax. Hopes are high, but as Naomi Klein puts it

“With so much at stake, cynicism is a luxury we simply cannot afford.”

It is an absolute outrage that vulnerable families in the UK and seriously poor countries find it even harder to put food on the table because some suited up men in financial institutions play global economics like slot machines and other suited up men in high rises pay their taxes like they pay a visit to the Jobcentre Plus (that is, never.)

Someone needs to start building a path out of this situation and the Banks and Corporates don’t have the morals and Osbourne and Cameron don’t have the balls.

I think the world stands a better chance with Ramona and her blocks frankly.