postvirtual

Portrait of an Acampada

In Acampada Sol, Madrid, Spain on 25 May 2011 at 23:47

Dear friends,

It has just turned Wednesday. I have found a corner in the ‘Politics’ working group to bring you a report on what is going on here. It’s too much for words, so I will be limited to a series of rough sketches. The rest is up to your imagination.

The comrades around me are discussing excitedly. They have just returned from a three-hour assembly of ‘Politics’ on one of the squares behind Sol, and now they cheerfully keep going on. It’s a constant buzz, all the time, all around. And you can always hear the sound of a guitar or a tambourine, and sometimes a violin or a harp to accompany the buzz. It only stops when the companion of Internal Coordination asks for it through the megaphone: “Por favor, a minute of silence at the stroke of midnight out of solidarity with our comrades in Syria.” Then the square, filled with over 25.000 people, is dead silent. Afterwards, applause. “Madrid stands as one with all peoples who are fighting for their freedom!” Cheers.

What am I doing here at the Politics working group? I do not know, they were looking for volunteers, so I signed up. I have to help them run the place because all the other comrades are in assembly. It doesn’t matter that my Spanish is not that good. You just have to talk, then one way or another you will understand each other. Someone from ‘Culture’ comes along, he asks if we can better synchronise our schedules, because today ‘Culture’ and ‘Politics’ gathered at the same time at the same square, which led to some interference. So they kindly request us to adapt and pass it on to Internal Coordination.

In Internal Coordination you will find a large scheme with all the cultural activities and the meetings of the working groups. ‘Economy’, ‘Art’, ‘Immigration’, ‘Education’, ‘Environment’, ‘Legal’, ‘Thinking’, ‘Action’, ‘Music’, ‘Theatre’, ‘Spirituality’. Every day new groups are born. ‘Extension’ is very popular these last few days. For next weekend they are organising assemblies in all the neighbourhoods and all villages and towns around Madrid. They are collaborating intimately with ‘Communications’ on this.

On the tourist maps of the acampada which you can get at ‘Information’ you will not only find the working groups, but also the commissions that form the backbone of the camp’s practical organisation. ‘Nutrition’ I, II and III, ‘Respect’ I and II, ‘First Aid’ I and II, ‘Kindergarten’, ‘Library’, ‘Toilets’, ‘Waste’. Along the fountain a little Vegetable Garden was set up yesterday. From today all plastic, paper, organical and other waste is collected separately.

As you will understand, the Library is my favourite place. I like to withdraw there from the heat at noon to read through the daily papers. On a table at the entrance you will find the major national and international press. There are benches and chairs, there are carpets and mattresses, everything is covered from the sun. The library space is separated from the streets that cross our camp by the bookcases. They are full and they are growing. The books are neatly divided into themes, and have recently been stickered: ‘Literature’, ‘Politics’, ‘Economy’, ‘Sociology’, ‘Philosophy’, ‘Comics’ etc. People are reading or studying. I’m in between there, writing. Next to me people are playing chess.

Today was my fourth day in the camp. I sleep in the Rest zone next to the fountain on a piece of cardboard with one of the blankets distributed by ‘Infrastructure’, I use my bag as a pillow. I’ve been seriously in need of a shower and clean clothes lately.

The debate never stops, and neither does the music. It goes on all night. But when you’re tired you’ll sleep through it anyway, even on the stones.

When I wake up in the morning, around eight o’clock, the comrades of ‘Nutrition’ are already serving breakfast. Coffee, tea, juices, hot chocolate, cookies and muffins. Everything is donated by sympathisers.

I stretch my legs, I leave the square and I go into town to look for a bar where I can visit a bathroom and plug in my computer to make my translation.

In a few hours I’m done with it. When I walk out onto the streets and I find myself among the tourists, the bars, the shops, the people in suit and tie, the banks, the advertising, it all seems very unreal to me. Hopelessly old fashioned in a certain sense. I return to the acampada.

“Ask not for whom the sun shines. It shines for thee!” Every time new notes and poetic thoughts have appeared. Every time the camp seems to be expanding. It is also becoming more permanent. In ‘Information’ the wooden planks have already been replaced by a real ‘front desk’. All of that as well, the material, is donated. If it goes on like this there will be log cabins here soon, and then the masons and the cranes will arrive…

But in the course of the morning the sea of ​​tents that covers the square and the adjacent streets largely disappears. Room has to be made for the General Assembly which is celebrated once or twice a day.

I have my cup of water filled by one of the comrades from ‘Nutricion’, who are walking around to provide people with fruit and water. I want to do something. I want to take part. So I walk over to ‘Participation’ to ask if they still need people. It isn’t easy. Everyone wants to participate. Whenever a volunteering opportunity is offered, the position is immediately taken. You need to be lucky. I drop in at ‘Communications’. “Comrades, do you need a translator? English, Dutch, Italian. No problem.”

“Come on in. We are still looking for someone to translate our manifesto into Dutch.”
So there I am, in the nerve center, I open my laptop, and I start translating. Opposite to me sits an Italian, next to me a Frenchwoman and the ‘Translations’ coordinator. Further down behind their computers are the comrades of ‘Web’, ‘Social Networks’ and ‘Documentation’, sending out the Good News into the world. Behind us the generator hums along to make it all possible. Messages about events across the country are coming on, we are receiving solidarity from around the world. Everyone is with ‘Sol’.

So that’s us, ‘Sun’.

What will happen with this movement in the future I do not know, but the micro society that has spontaneously sprung up here in the present will definitely go down in history.

Sweet Dreams, comrades!
Oscar

 

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