During my time at the Apprenticing to the Earth gathering at Axladitsa, the Greek Real Democracy movement was taking embryonic shape in Syntagma Square in Athens. We were with them in spirit, holding the whole worldwide movement in our hearts as we engaged with the land and with nature and each other in our experimental ways. But it was really hard to know what was going on. Unlike the gatherings of the Arab Spring, seized upon with glee by the news channels as the sensational downfall of some ideological ‘enemies’, the rise of the indignados in the very bosom of civilised Europe has been greeted with deafening radio silence – this movement is not being covered by the mainstream media. We were wondering why that was – the question has been asked on the Art of Hosting mailing list, and we have rather reached the conclusion that it’s a good thing to be ‘under the radar’ at this time.
It’s time, if ever there was one, for experimentation and learning – not for soundbites and propaganda in the only language the conventional media seems to understand: language that fits with the unexamined assumptions of today’s politics and economics – that the way things are done now is the only way they can be, and that heroic leaders and political parties can somehow plan and design their way out of the perfect storm heading our way.
So the news coming out of these cradles of Real Democracy are by word of mouth. Maria Skordialos is now in Athens, and she sent us back the following account of her experiences in Syntagma Square:
“The evolution of consciousness is definitely on in Greece – with our Greek spirit rising in a beautiful way – yet, here in Athens surrounded by people now living in Greece from different parts of the world, (English, Germans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Africans, etc.).
I want to share with you what we experienced last night (5 June 2011) and from further conversations with a friend who is working closely with what is emerging.
There were about 500,000+ people out in the streets of central Athens – the streets from Syntagma (Constitution Square) to Omonia were filled – people of all ages and nationalities.
Syntagma Square itself was filled with people – many were walking on the roads around the square, talking, friends meeting friends, children on parents shoulders. Walking into the square – there was loads of food being sold/offered – drinks, etc. There is a feeling of a festival – with big banners saying – We do not owe, We are not selling and We are not paying!!
At the centre of Syntagma Square – something was happening – people were sitting on the floor in small groups – there was a microphone and a screen. A strong energy of love was present – people listening, helping each other, creating pathways in case of people needing to move – my sister Stella has a bad back – several men stood up to help her so she can sit. Suddenly – on the screen – we are connected with Barcelona – we greet them in Greek and they greet us in Spanish – a deep sense of connection emerges in us – we feel a new sense of courage that we are in this together. A Spaniard speaks to us – tells us that they are with us – that together we can find the courage we need to make our lives our own. We cheer and shout thank you. One of our men responds and tells Spain how we love them, thank them for being together with us, and that we know that we are creating a new Europe. The Spanish cheer back and start chanting how much they love us. We switch to Madrid – more love is poured between us – we thank each other and the screen goes blank.
A few moments of silence and then a woman’s voice speaks that the council is open. She invites anyone who wants to share a proposal of what we should do next to step up to the microphone – 200 numbers are given out which is the number of voices that can be heard for up to three minutes each. We begin to hear proposals of the actions we need to take collectively. The main proposal that came up again and again was stopping the next decision being taken on 14 June for more severe measures to be placed on us living in Greece – a call for the movement to not allow the ministers to enter the parliament – for millions of us to be present – from all neighbourhoods and parts of Greece – to show that we do not want the IMF – or even our government. The hosts of the council – one guardianing the time and the others inviting the next number – invite us to not clap or boo in response as this is disrespectful to the speaker and stops their flow. Instead we are asked to wave if we agree – and to put thumbs down if disagree – but no sound. People listen to each other – different ages of voices speak – different accents (not all are Greek) – really wacky ideas are given – everyone is listened to. At 11:30 p.m. from teh voices have been heard – a harvest of 6 key proposals have come from the wisdom of the crowd – it is time to vote on the proposals, (not all 200 voices were heard but after the vote- the voices can continue to be spoken and any proposal will be taken the next day). For the voting – if you agree you raise your hand – if you disagree – you thumbs down. It is easy to see the decisions that are taken clearly and are passed. One is not clear – a vote is retaken asking everyone to vote – it is clear that it is not to be passed. 5 decisions are made, (if a decision cannot be made – people sleep on it and comes back up for vote the next day).
Drummers and other musicians play until 4 a.m – bringing back the feeling of greek ‘glenti’ – celebration.
This is happening every night in Syntagma – this movement is asking at a fundamental level for new democratic governance – and it is powerful because it is being practiced/prototyped real time. It was begun by a hand full of people – and thousands are joining in. Many more are circling around this centre – people who do not understand the process or are not ready to join in this way – but still want to come. In some way they are protecting the non partisan democracy that is emerging from the middle – protecting this from being too known to soon and being squashed by riot police.
And there is more that is happening – from 12 onwards every afternoon – self organising ‘infrastructure’ groups meet – to have medical care available, the panic team (to support people if riot police attack so they do not panic but hold our ground), the secretariat team (the harvesters in our language), the artist and musician group, etc. And then from 6 to 9 there are thematic conversations – which also give rise to new groups, e.g. we have a group that are accountants and solicitors who are reading through all the legal documents of IMF and other democratic decisions made – finding chunks of money missing – they are now thinking of taking the government to the International Court.
So – this is a story of the resurgence of Hellenic Democracy – with a new collective consciousness – that everyone knows is bigger than any one of us. Those that called this and are giving shape to this democratic architecture know that it is running ahead of them – there is no holding it back. A new democratic governance pattern is being practiced – a new constitution is being birthed – we are becoming the democracy we want.
And we need a lot of holding on 14 June (if this stays as the decision day for the next set of measures) – because if we block the parliament – the army and riot police will retaliate – and we do not want blood shed – but will go there if we have to. Keep calling in peace and weaving this field with us.”