On 20th February we dismantled the camp at Hay Hill, stacked up the rubbish at the side of the plaza – amazing how much we had collected! – swept the pavement and took a look around at a place that had become very special to us. Of course, when we set up on October 15th last year, none of us knew how long it would stay. In the event, it became one of the longest continuous occupations in the world. In that time we met thousands of people, and even if not everyone was happy to see us there, at least we did what we promised – a peaceful, legal protest that shone a little bit of light into some rather dark corners.

Of course, some were reluctant to leave. My car for one. Long past midnight, and with the mass of timber that was the frame of our beloved yurt on the roof, it refused to start for the first time since I’ve had it. So in the end it was not the Council or the Police that waved us goodbye, but the RAC.

One of the questions we were often asked, sometimes rather belligerently, was “So what are YOUR solutions?” But Occupy isn’t about handing out solutions. We are conditioned from birth to accept the system as it is, and to take our ideas pre-chewed and pre-digested. Parents, teachers, gurus and politicians – all ready to hand us a school book, rule book or holy book with the answers. Read the rules, tick the box that says “I agree” and stop thinking. If Occupy has achieved anything, it is to make people think differently. Many people have come away with their eyes opened, realising maybe for the first time that, just as they are part of the problem, so they are part of the solution. As the old Norfolk saying goes, “Do different.”Do Different

So, we move into 2012 with mixed emotions. The camp was a big part of our identity, a visible statement of our refusal to accept that things can’t change. I only braved the elements on four cold nights, but for many of the determined campers it became a way of life. They achieved more than we ever hoped. But it was also a big drain on our resources and organisation, and a lot of other plans were put on the back burner. Now we can devote our full attention to them. Peaceful direct action, both on the ground and on the internet; music and arts events; the planned Peoples’ Assembly; workgroups and education groups on a whole range of topics; and of course building stronger ties with all the other groups working towards a fairer, more sustainable future. As we move into Phase 2 of Occupy, there is plenty to keep us busy for a long time to come. 2012 promises to be an interesting year.

 

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