There were two cities on a coast, each nestled on the edge of history. Standing on their edges, if you could see just over the horizon, you would gaze directly into the heart of land that less than one year ago let fall, like a woman letting her hair down, the weight of a time that had dictated to them but never listened. Freedom was blooming even in the desert.

There were two cities on a coast, like two stories, side by side, telling two different versions of who should write the story of the world. They were less than a days walk apart and they were worlds apart. In Cannes, a city like an ivory movie-set, the 16 most “powerful” men and 4 most “powerful” women met in a city surrounded by an army. What they talked about was so important that it was important that no one else be allowed to speak. The army maintained the silence: a thousand men in the same clothing, wearing the same story that’s been worn in the many disguises of empire. If power needs to be protected then it is a lie.

These Heads of State discussed, shook hand and smiled with confidence to show they could handle a crisis the size of the global economy. Confidence is the most important thing for the markets, so they pointed in pictures, shook hands firmly in the photos, smiled and laughed too much. When the cameras looked away, they scratched their heads, let their brows wrinkle, and huddled nervously with each other. After 36 hours, their private planes parted ways – parting the sky into pieces, on paths paved of CO2 heading in all directions. They fled.

4 years ago so many of us had followed a call to hope from one of those men. Who was he shaking hands with today? We had given our him our hope, but he walked off with it. So this time we’ll keep it for ourselves, and not give it away. Hope is the idea that we can hope, it should not be given away.

Strangely, for all their “power,” the leaders of the richest nations on the planet somehow could not find the funds to pay for a place to meet, couldn’t buy the fine food they dined on, couldn’t pay their own way. So corporate sponsors were invited to generously foot the bill. Societe Generale, a bank itself in troubled waters, contributed 50,000 euros so its logo might be present on the G20 website. The banks and their leaders were advertising security, whitewashing the crumbling walls of a system designed to fail – advertising themselves with our money. Perhaps the documents those 16 men and 4 women would sign to save the world from financial collapse would feature the logos of their generous corporate benefactors.

            In one city, you can pay your way in.
            In one story, there’s no way out.

30 kilometers away from the banquets surrounded by an army, we didn’t have money to pay for a space either. So we found one. In this city we helped the space evolve. We didn’t have money to pay for banquets, so we cooked all together and let everyone pay what they could. We met in the Abattoir, an old slaughter house: an unlikely place to discuss how to write the story of the world. The acoustics sounded like we were always in a submarine, and mere mumblings could make it sound like everyone was speaking at once. The light licked everything florescent in the long space and the ceiling still had the mechanic railways where once machines had hung and moved hanging carcasses until the floor shone red. We ate mostly cheese and omelet sandwiches from the free kitchen, and we sat mostly on the floor. We gave that slaughterhouse the best days it had ever seen. We filled it with life.

It was brimming. For four days we were beaming with the energy of so many atoms on such a small planet. Colliding like beams of light across our oceans of eager eyes, watching. You could feel the world moving; beating:
                    like a heartbeat
                    like a drum
                    like walking
                    like a journey.

Something had changed in the past year, and one could feel the earth rolling itself in a slightly new circuit. Perhaps its axis had been suddenly switched by a constellation of trickster gods: Raven, Jackal, Hermes and us, all conspiring together to pull the carpet out from under a house of cards – while pulling a new vocabulary from out of a magicians black hat, so we could write the introduction to the next story.

As the planet tilted there was a new gravity, it pulled us into the squares in our cities, into the plazas and into assemblies. It was like Raven switched a switch and changed the gravity of the planet from money to reason, from greed to love.

As the world tilted on its new axis, it gained speed from the great collection of the many steps the Indignados brought with them from Madrid to Brussels to Nice. They walked on this new axis and with each step pushed it spinning just slightly faster. We moved it and moved with it. We converged in this city: people from the sudden cities of occupations of this rapidly revolving planet.

    • Occupy Wall Street sent its first ambassadors across the ocean and into this evolving dialogue that dances when its done speaking. They could recount long histories of actions, like old men speak of victories – of bridges occupied, of squares filled with people debating, of actions in the neon glowing heart of a problem. They had a lifetime full of stories they had lived in the last 6 weeks.    

The world turning should never cease to surprise you.

    • Occupy London came from their home on the steps of that great church of Saint Paul’s. They had become the story of their nation, as a church chose tourist revenues from entrance fees rather than the dispossessed living on its steps. The church had requested the police to evict them, and 3 resigned in protest. An ancient patriarchy got pulled into the debate. The camp asked: “What would Jesus do?” He who cast the money-lenders from the temple. The London Stock Exchange was just meters away.            
    • Occupy Amsterdam had hitched down and hopped trains all the way from their camp that was already huddling in for the winter in their tents (“Now is the winter of our discontent”). From their camp you can see the digital numbers flying across a stock exchange screen, updating themselves by the minute as imaginary numbers rise and fall like an uncertain ocean near the end of the world. They are camped two meters away from the oldest stock exchange in the world, in a city that once bet its fortunes on tulips instead of futures.         
    • Occupy Brussels, where the indignados had arrived into that feeble heart of governance. They had arrived the 8th of October. On the 15th they were there when cities all over the world opened their eyes.                
    • Occupy Toronto spoke softly and called themselves “Decolonize Toronto”.   
    • Occupy Melbourne had been beaten but not broken. They were making plans again.
    • Occupy Valencia had already moved on from its center square.            
    • La Plaza del Sol in Madrid smiled.        

While we spoke Occupy Oakland blocked the ports and France prepared to Occupy Paris.        

On Wednesday we found ourselves all seated in a circle on a gymnasium floor. We agreed we came as individuals, caring – not representatives of our movements or occupations. We were a large circle and everyone was hanging on each other’s words like they were notes that had just arrived in bottles from across oceans. The circle was silent except for the stories, so we spoke them slowly. We could see them weaving themselves into one.

It can be said you do not dream alone. At night, your dream dances with all of the other dreams – swimming and sharing common characters. We let our dreams speak directly to each other; they filled the gymnasium with hope. Our young movements and occupations were not alone. We had some among us with as many years in the struggle as we had been alive. One reminded us of the words of Marx: “Capitalism will give us the rope with which to hang it.” They spoke to us, like guardians. They gave us the wise warnings of experience.

    • Greece spoke like a mother who knows the dangers of a necessary war. There had already been deaths as a bank was exploded. Three died, one a pregnant woman.
    • Italy told us of a movement of hundreds of thousands that now fought amongst themselves because of the actions of hundreds.        

            Both spoke like they knew the situation of their struggle would be changing rapidly, there were huge amounts of negative space in their countries and economies that would soon be filled by something completely different.

    • Senegal reminded us: “We are not behind you, we are with you.” This is not a linear movement, it is expanding in space, not moving along a path. Stories do not just get passed on, they spread.            
    • Israel with one foot in the middle east and one hand in the west, had spent the summer in occupations. Their occupations had ended and were successfully housing those with no homes, their camps were engaging now in politics.            
    • Egypt told us the truth – they had ended their empire. It had fallen faster than anyone imagined. But when it fell, there was nothing there to replace it.        
    • Tunisia spoke in Arabic and slowly of a story still concocting itself. Of its first elections where millions of hands dropping thin pieces of paper into boxes for the first time and a religious party had won the majority. Then he invited us all to join them to meet again, early in the spring in Tunisia: just a short year since it had all started blooming. What will 2012 bring?        

We took each word as the advice from tender teachers, who had seen something of the stories we might be writing ourselves into: explosions divide in Italy, empty space, lobbying, a new patriarchy. They gave us chapters not to rewrite.

Our circle sat breathing, scarcely believing that we were all in the same circle breathing, for the first time. It was like the start of some great legend, writing itself in so many languages. No one knew where it would go, or how far we could dream; we had already surpassed so many dreams in such a short time. They filled the large gymnasium and our small bodies, brimming on the verge of something extraordinary. Hours had already passed, we decided to meet the next day to speak of where our story could go from here.

We broke from our circle and roamed freely into circles of our own devising. The joy of a party where everyone is fascinating wove itself into a thick blanket that completely covered the slaughterhouse until everyone lay themselves down to dream again together.

That night in another city, writing another story, the IMF met with Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel, and Berlusconi in a secret hotel meeting. It may as well have been a back alley with a knife, if the IMF threatens you have no choice. Italy agreed to austerity. “The measures include changes to the labour market, pension reform and the sell-off of state-owned assets.” Somehow the IMF had snuck past the army guarding the city, gotten inside the conference, and staged a coup. The tragedy is they were invited.

The next day we resumed our meeting. No time or space had been clearly decided, but everyone found each other from the sheer desire of wanting the conversation to go on. We met in Fridge 16 of the Slaughterhouse.

Consensus decision making is a consensus to a process: the agreement to a structure from which the architecture of our ideas may be constructed and inhabited. Our hands spoke all at once so we didn’t have to. We reminded ourselves that we were individuals in a room, we spoke only for ourselves but would return to our movements with heads full of ideas. They would spread, undoubtably.

Los Indignados would return to their moving, turning the earth underneath their worn soles. From Nice they would walk to Rome and then to Athens for a grand agora. The world was changing as they passed it, spreading dreams like seeds. Greece and Italy, Athens and Rome: these seemed like fine places for democracy to return to and grow from. Cities with thousands in the streets as a new empire of thought decolonized itself in the space left by an empty debt. We were like water that had been steadily heated, unnoticed. Since Seattle, bubbles started appearing on the bottom of the vessel, it was just starting to boil. It would be roaring soon.

What if there were exchanges between occupations? Caravans? Global Working Groups? Global Assemblies? There was no limit to the waters that had started warming, we were becoming vapor, and could go anywhere. We would rise faster than the oceans.

A call for collective action had come out that very morning from Madrid – the first of its kind since October 15 – a proposal for a global day of action. December 10 is the International Day of Human Rights and the day after the next fiasco of the UN failing to stop climate change. What are human rights when the wealth of public resources is trickling into fewer and fewer private hands? When GDP is more important than clean air and water, when companies may legally produce poisons, when the US army has more money than many countries, when companies are speaking of cracking the earth’s mantle to get at the gas beneath, when the very weather is being changed? In such a world, the protection and reevaluation of basic human rights becomes a necessity, and demands deep changes to even the way we think.

We were borrowing on other human’s abuses. How much of this worlds debt is funded by China? How many monks must burn themselves, or factory workers kill themselves or rebels disappear before we decide there is a limit to who we will borrow from. Are we addicted to their debt? Can we stop?

It felt like we were a body awakening, about to stretch its rested limbs and stand upon sturdy and fertile ground. An idea growing into its body, a body growing into its idea. An idea growing out of its body, a body growing out of its idea. There would be many such movements in the dance of the coming years. In 60 years though, what stories will we tell of how we changed everything? Will it be the story of CO2 and machines, of money that changed it all and made this planet a harder landscape to live on? Will it be the story of meetings protected by armies for the 16 men and 4 women from the richest places? Or will it be the story of all of us, creating a new currency of reason?

 January 14th, the first anniversary of the first of the chain of revolutions– the revolution in Tunisia. January 25 in Egypt. May 15th in Spain, September 17th in New York, October 15th everywhere. We were accumulating dates that would ring deep through the calendar of our years. Perhaps one day, each day would be a monument to what we can do when we let time change us. Each day its own reason to the rights of humanity.

All over the world there are people writing stories. Stories as alive as a dream, as a march, as a community, as a kitchen, as a clown kissing a policeman, as a garden, as an assembly, as a hand raised, as a voice. We sit in circles the shape of dream-catchers and suddenly everyone has space to speak the story that dreams inside of them. Once it is spoken, it is free.

So are we.

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