Still occupying our thoughts

It’s been a year since people gathered in Centennial Square in support of the global Occupy movement.

It’s been a year since a group of individuals calling themselves the People’s Assembly of Victoria gathered in Centennial Square in support of the global Occupy movement.

Looking back, many of us in the media found covering the group’s activities at times an exercise in frustration. As people accustomed to finding distinct themes, objectives, solutions and resolutions in our news coverage, we found it tricky to write about a loosely organized collection of individuals that seemed bent on refusing to be defined.

We saw divides emerge – a clear generation gap developed – and those willing to have a discussion about Occupy often found themselves in disagreement over what the movement stood for and what it hoped to accomplish.

But it wasn’t strictly about arguing that Wall Street is bad, that capitalism promotes corruption, or that the distribution of wealth increasingly favours the rich. People who chose to have a discussion, if they didn’t throw up their hands having failed to get their point across, sometimes found themselves taking new ideas away, or grateful for a chance to offer their perspective.

Encouraging communication between disparate groups or individuals may have been one of Occupy’s key accomplishments.

Interestingly, the website for the People’s Assembly of Victoria (occupyvictoria.ca) gives its supporters tips for being interviewed by the media. In general they speak to inclusivity and courteousness, sticking to specific topics instead of making blanket statements, and being pro-change, not anti-system.

It’s information that might have helped writers who, at the height of the protests last year, struggled to create a level of understanding about the local Occupy movement and why it was relevant in Victoria.

Little has changed since then in terms of the redistribution of wealth, either in the Capital Region or globally. That doesn’t necessarily mean Occupy failed. For an unfocused, unfunded gathering of malcontents, the movement was remarkably successful – it woke people up and changed the conversation.