Thursday, November 30, 2006

Isolate yourself

Isolate yourself
Saw this on the way back from the market this morning. Reminded me of a discussion I was involved in recently, where someone was talking about her brother being given a portable DVD player for Christmas, and how that encouraged him to spend less time with other people.
It's going pretty crazy in the city now, because it's getting close to Christmas. There's fake stars everywhere. (You often can't see the real ones around here at night, because of air and light pollution.)
Noticed that some of the Christmas advertising is encouraging isolation too:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What happened during the G20 - day 3

I got back to the embassy after the concert at about twelve thirty. There wasn't really any space left for me to lie down and go to sleep, so I just sat against the barricade. Ben turned up on his rollerblades, with two containers of rice that he'd cooked for us.
I ended up not actually sleeping, because there were so many people out.
Not long after I got there this drunk guy ran up to the barricade and started to climb over, and then jumped back down, and continued walking past, yelled a heap of abuse at us, and then got grabbed by the police and put in the back of a truck.
Another drunk guy came up to us, who I recognised from the U2 concert. He'd been standing just in front of us.
I said, 'Hey you were at the U2 show tonight, weren't ya? What'd you think?'
He said, 'Yeah, was good. Get a job ya f***in' hippy. Pay some tax.'
I told him that I already had a job and paid tax, but he was wandering off again.
We had a lot of people tell us to get jobs. Was talking to Ben about how it seemed as though people presumed that because you do something you strongly believe needs to be done, people presume that you're only doing it because you don't have a paid job, and therefore just don't have anything better to occupy your time. Also found it interesting that people think it's fine to abuse people that they believe to be unemployed.
We also had a lot of people come up to us because they genuinely wanted to talk to use and find out about why we were protesting. We had two Catholic students come up to us and say that we should've advertised what we were doing at the unis, because would've liked to have been involved. They asked wat I thought of Oscar Romero and liberation theology, and I said I didn't know much about Oscar Romero other than that he was assassinated by the Salvadoran government, but that I'd read a bit of Gustavo Guiterrez and liked what he had to say.
There were three Israeli backpackers who wanted to know where the protests had been, and whether there were any protests planned for Sunday. They asked if I was a student, and I said that I wasn't, and they asked what I did. I said that I did cleaning and I cooked food with people and did art with people and hung out with people, and explained what Credo and Urban Seed are like. Before they left one of them said, 'Isn't it great that two Jews and Muslim and a Christian can hang out and have a decent, civilised discussion?' Reminded me of the 'COEXIST' bandana that Bono used as a blindfold during 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'.
There was a couple who came up to us to ask us why we were protesting, because they didn't know very much about the G20 and wanted to find out a bit about it. I explained that the G20 was started after certain Asian and Latin American economies crashed in the '90s, so that the G8 countried could try to stablise the 'developing' economies that they depend on on for cheap resources and labour, so that their own economies would be safe as well. They said that they'd heard that the G20 were trying to alleviate poverty getting 'developing' countries to open up to foreign developers. This often means that people make more money, but also need more money. They go from having a subsistence economy, where they can produce everything they need themselves, or buy it locally, to being part of a global economy, where they are just producing masses and masses of the one item, and having to import everything else from far away. This is particularly a problem if they're producing a luxury item like coffee or tobacco. The fact that everything is produced a long way away also makes it a lot easier for companies to charge a lot more for a product than it costs them to produce the product.
Someone had a guitar, so Ben was playing it for a while, and one of the police asked if he took requests (they would've been pretty bored standing there all night), and he explained that he couldn't actually play any songs, he just made stuff up as he was going. And then he skated around in front of the barricade playing the guitar.
Later on we had a guy come to talk to us because he was offended that we had a cross and icons out in the street. For a long time he just kept saying, 'I'm mortally offended! How dare you? How dare you?' He eventually explained that he was offended because the cross and icons weren't made by someone who'd been ordained by the Roman Catholic Church. He also reckoned that you shouldn't mix religion and economics. There was another guy hanging around at that time who was a Pentecostal, and said that he could understand why he was offended, because he reckoned we looked like a cult, because we had a cross and icons, and some of us had been lighting candles earlier in the evening, to symbolise prayers.

He also reckoned we might be a cult because we looked like hippies. He said that he used to care about the environment and social justice too, but that was before he became a Christian. He said that now all that mattered was saving people's souls from Hell. He reckoned that we shouldn't protest, because converting people was more important. He reckoned we should just pray that God will change things. The Catholic guy also reckoned I wasn't a real Christian because I hadn't been baptised as a child.
At about five o'clock Ash woke up, and we watched the sun come up at five thirty. Then I went home to sleep for a few hours.
I didn't wake up until twelve. While I was asleep the police took the Credo cross away from the embassy, because they reckoned it could've been used as a missile. I think they underestimated how heavy it was, and how difficult a missile it would be to launch, because they gave it back again once they'd had enough of it.

(This is the same cross that Brent, Cookie and Jono stood with between the protesters and the mounted police during the World Economic Forum in 2000.)

When I got back to the embassy one of the protesters who'd been chanting the day before was there again, and some of the others from the embassy were chanting with him. There were also two elderly English ladies holding signs. We ended up having a discussion about the chanting, and decided to stop the chanting, because not all of us agreed with the chants, it didn't seem very peaceful, the police seemed fairly tense, and we'd found just being present and talking to people had been more productive.
We wrote a letter about why we were protesting, and when Peter Costello came down to the barricade to shake hands with the police (it was all set up for TV) we asked if he'd take it, but he ignored us. I suppose we weren't in his script.
At five o'clock I went up to the Baptist Church for their G20 church service, but I wasn't in there very long, because they guy running the service mentioned this guy called Simon who'd come in, asking for a Bible to read to the police, so I went out to see what he was doing. He was sitting on the trams tracks, against the Collins Street barricade, and screaming. I asked him what he was doing and he said he'd just arrived that day from the Gold Coast, and it'd taken him seven days to hitch to Melbourne, and he wanted me to scream at the police with him. I said I wasn't really into yelling at the cops, and told him about what we'd been doing at the embassy, and he said he'd come and join us later, if he could find us.
After the church service I went back to the embassy, and we ended the vigil with a shared meal. A lot of it was freegan stuff that the Jesus Christians had gathered.

We celebrated the eucharist using chocolate bars that the police had given us, and some cask wine. Afterwards with passed the peace with each other, the police and other activists who were still around.

I think that our public action was quite successful, in that we were able to have a good relationship with the police and with other protesters. I think we gained a lot of respect from other protesters (who are generally not too fond of Christians), particularly because we were there from Friday morning till Sunday evening. I think we were also able to get our message across fairly clearly, through the media and through direct conversations with people. Because we started on Friday we were able to actually talk about why we were protesting, which was good, because by lunchtime on Saturday all the mass media was interested in was violence.

Here's some of the media coverage we got:
'Christian pacifists demand tickets to G20' - Melbourne Indymedia
'Costello snubs Christian activists' - Melbourne Indymedia
'Christian protestors moved by police' - Melbourne Indymedia
'g20 vigil busted and moved' - Melbourne Indymedia
'Christian group in G20 tent vigil' - The Australian
'Christians, cheerleaders and lots of barricades' - The Age
'Christians kick off G20 protest' - Sydney Morning Herald
'Protesters pray ahead of G20 summit in Melbourne' - Reuters
'Protesters pray ahead of G20 summit in Melbourne' - oneindia
'JIHAD20' - Tim Blair
' 墨爾本: 廿國集團峰會墨市用鐵馬陣' - Singtao
'G20 Christians protest' - Herald Sun
'G20 Radical Christian response' - Crowlie
'More on the G20 Melbourne Christian collective' - Crowlie

Credo Lions vs Sacred Heart

Instead of having lunch in Credo yesterday, we decided to go to Edinburgh Gardens in Fitzroy, and watch our cricket team play against Sacred Heart, and have a barbeque there. Sacred Heart are supposed to be Credo's archrivals, and this time they beat us.

Jackson took these:

(Sorry I haven't finished the G20 stuff yet. Been having malware problems. Hopefully will be able to finish it today.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

What happened during the G20 - day 2

Saturday morning I found the embassy right at the bottom of Russell Street, which was where all of the cars and buses and police where entering and exiting the blockaded area.

This guy called Lorian turned up, and said that he'd heard about what we were doing and wanted to join us. A couple of other protesters came and stood on the traffic island, chanting at the cars and buses that went through the gate:

Globalise justice! Not exploitation!
Globalise peace! Not war!
Globalise happiness! Not suffering!
Fair trade! Not free trade!
Power! Corrupts!
Absolute power! Corrupts absolutely!
Power to the people! Not the corporations!
We had a film with photos on it from when the police made us move, so I took it up to a newsagent in Swanston Street to get it developed. Went up to the State Library, where the march was supposed to be starting at twelve, to see what was going on. There were an awful lot of people selling Green Left and handing out flyers and stuff, which I normally find fairly irritating, so I didn't stay all that long. On the way back to the embassy, when I came to the Collins/Swanston Street intersection, there were about a hundred protesters in white suits coming down from the east end of Collins Street, and a whole heap of mounted police and riot police coming out from behind the barricades, which the protesters had managed to break through.
When I got back to the embassy, almost everyone had gone up to the State Library to join the march.

During the march Simon called us and said that the march had split up, and that it seemed like some people wanted to act violently. The officer in charge at the barricade told the officers to stake out their batons, and said something about people throwing missiles, and about driving people back to Exhibition Street.
My brother Adam turned up, because we were going to be seeing U2 in the evening. We went and checked out the Make Poverty History festival down at Alexandra Gardens. Was a bit bothered by the fact that Mount Franklin had a stall where they were selling water at $2 a bottle. I was bothered because one of the causes of poverty is companies trying to turn eveything into a commodity (eg. water, public space, communication, relationships) that has to be bought and sold.
After a while we went back to the embassy.
Late in the afternoon me and Adam and Gin decided to walk around the block and see what was going on everywhere else. (The protest was quite peaceful where we were, but Simon reckoned it didn't look good in some other places.) We had a look down Flinders Lane, and the vibe there wasn't very good at all. There was a lot of broken glass and masonry on the ground, and there were people throwing stuff in the air. (Some people reckon the glass and masonry was a set-up.) There wasn't a lot of yelling, but there were a lot of people belting out a drum beat. Apart from all the protesters against the barricade, the place was almost completely deserted, and there was no traffic. Seemed really weird, like we were in an urban warzone or something. Apparently the protesters had managed to get through the first row of barricades, and had been right up against the police, who'd driven them back with their batons. Further north, a whole heap of people had gathered in the middle of the Collins/Exhibition Street intersection, and were mostly just sitting around chatting, or playing drums, or dancing. There were a few people running around with hankerchiefs over their mouths, which seemed really irresponsible, as though they were just trying to frighten people.
After we'd finished walking round the six blocks that had been joined together by the barricades, we went to the ecumenical church service at St Paul's Cathedral. The Archbishop of Capetown, who'd visited our embassy the previous day, spoke. I was quite impressed, because he actually said that Westerners need to change the way they live, and not just ask politicians to change everything. I haven't heard anyone else from Make Poverty History point out that we need to make affluence history.
After the service we went to the U2 concert. It was kind of interesting listening to some of their lyrics after what had gone over the last two days:
I was on the outside
When they pulled the four walls down
You looked over the rubble
I was lost
I am found
('I Will Follow')

What happened during the G20 - day 1

Early Friday morning we arrived at the blockade, across the intersection from the Hyatt, outside the Gucci shop, and set up our little gazebo. (It was fairly difficult to set it up because there were so many media people getting in the way.) Then police told us that we couldn't have it in front of the shop, and that we'd have to move it into the road, in the lane that was blocked off. So we moved it over there, and we started laying down the cardboard we'd brought to sit on, and then the police told us that we couldn't have a structure, because it could block traffic. So we started dismantle the gazebo, while Jess explained in front of one of the TV cameras that the authorities had decided that the third world and the environment we're allowed to have a structure for shelter. Once we'd packed up the gazebo, the police decided they wanted us to move back onto the pavement, outside the Gucci shop.

Because there weren't many other protesters around we got a lot more media coverage than we expected, and we were able to get our message across pretty clearly, before the big protests began, and the media just started sensationalising everything. At about half past ten I got a call from Mum, who'd forgotten about what we were doing, and had gotten a surprise when she saw us on TV. We spent a lot of time talking to people about why we were protesting. We got a lot of encouragement from various anarchists who'd turned up to see if anything was happening yet. We got along quite well with the police as well. In the afternoon we had a visit from Melbourne Radical Cheerleaders.
Friday evening I had to go to work. When I got back at about midnight I was absolutely wrecked, so I didn't sleep at the embassy.
When I came outside Saturday morning the embassy was gone. Turned out that the police had woken everyone up at 3:30am and said that they were extending the barricades, and that they had five minutes to vacate the area. Three people decided they weren't going to move, so the police moved them.

Friday, November 17, 2006

We've gotten a mention in The Age:

Tomorrow, a group calling themselves "a G20 Christian Collective" will begin a 60-hour vigil outside the Grand Hyatt demanding "tickets" to the summit on behalf of those excluded from it.
The group - which includes teachers, lawyers and church ministers - will set up a temporary "embassy" and some will consume nothing but rice and water for the duration.
We've also been mentioned in the Herald Sun and Australian.
Going down there now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Today Luke is back, after getting married the weekend before last:

Monday, November 13, 2006

What's going on during the G20?

This weekend the G20 meetings will be taking place at the Grand Hyatt, just up Collins Street from here.

There are going to be prayer vigils held on Tuesday and Thursday outside the Hyatt (Russell St entrance) from 7pm till 9pm. (Thursday's vigil is going to be held as close to the Hyatt as possible, because the barricades will have been set up by then.

Wednesday night between 7:30 and 9:30pm there's going to be a G20 Bible Study called 'Luke, Capitalism and the Kingdom of God' at the Den (our education office), 116 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. The Den's number is (03) 9663 0699.

I'm part of A G20 Christian Collective who will be attempting to set up a Third World and Environment Ministers Embassy beside the barricades surrounding the Hyatt as a way of demonstrating the exclusion of the poor and other essential factors in the G20 meetings. We're planning to be there from Friday morning until Sunday evening. This will be a peaceful 60 hour non-stop vigil in solidarity with those who won't be represented in the meeting. Others are welcome to join us.

On Saturday from 9am till 3pm there will be a prayer and reflection space on the steps of Collins Street Baptist Church, with a sausage (and veggie burger) sizzle.

On the Saturday Stop G20 are parading a Carnival Beyond Capitalism, which will be starting at the State Library at noon.

On the Saturday, Make Poverty History is holding a festival in the Alexandra Gardens between 10am and 8pm. It will feature bands, stalls, information booths, and reflection spaces. I believe my brother Justin's going to be doing some artwork there.

Update: Justin's art demonstration at the Make Poverty History festival has been canned because it is believed that it may be seen as an endorsement of graffitti. But he might still be able to do it as part of the prayer vigil on Saturday, at the Baptist Church.

Karl Rahner

Last week Tab posted a quote from Karl Rahner, so I've been rereading the chapter on his ideas in The Tapestry of Christian Theology. There's a fair bit that I don't understand.
One thing I find interesting is Rahner's understanding of the hypostatic union - the nature of Jesus as completely human, but at the same time completely God. It seems like Rahner reckoned that it made sense for the Christ to be completly God and completely human because if God became a human he would actually be more human than the other humans around him. He would be human in the way that he origianlly intended all people to be. In 'On the Theology of the Incarnation' he says,

Thus Christ is most radically man, and his humanity is freest and most independant, not in spite of, but because of its being taken up, by being constituted as the self-utterance of God.
It seems he also reckoned that since spiritual things and material things both come from God, they shouldn't be seen as though they're in conflict with each other. He thought that we shouldn't want to transcend physicality, because we can learn about God's nature through his physical creation. (That's what the quote Tab used was about.) He reckoned that a person is constantly in relationship with God, but not always consciously, or in a way that they could explain with words. It's similar to Michael Polanyi's idea of tacit knowledge, that 'we know more than we can tell.'
There's a whole heap of other stuff too, but I find it difficult to get my head around. Might write about more of his ideas another time.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

After church tonight, Tex (he's into country music and says he's a cowboy) was giving everyone all these Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) tattoos that he'd gotten at a community fair or something. So now I have a sleeve of MFB logos.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pain in the Arts 2006 Exhibition

Me and Tomsy and Nigel got most of the installation at the City Library Gallery done last Friday. I took this picture of Tomsy when we were taking all the art over there:

I was thinking it looked like he'd just been shopping, and bought a heap of paintings.
Tonight we had the exhibition opening. Nate-Dawg took these:

(I've got some more pictures of artists with their work, but I need to check if it's okay with them before I put them up here.)
After the opening, me and Damo and Nomes went out for coffee. On the way there we ran into someone we know who'd been at the opening, and he asked if he could come with us, and we said that was fine. As soon as he finished his coffee, he got up, said, 'I have to go now,' and rushed off without paying! We didn't really mind paying for him though, because it was pretty funny.
At the moment there's an animation of Damo doing some of his writing, being projected from the Vic Hotel onto the ground in our laneway (Baptist Place, off Little Collins Street). It's going to be running at night during the exhibition.

(The photo's a bit blurry because I had to do a 6-second exposure for it to come out clearly.)
There's info on the exhibition here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

'Field notes from the underground'

Just read this article from the Boston Globe, about America's underground economy.

ON A COLD FEBRUARY DAY on Chicago's South Side, two men are having an argument in a church parking lot. One is a local hustler who fixes cars and does his work wherever he can. This month, he is paying a local pastor to use the church parking lot. The week before, he paid a nearby store owner to work in a back alley.
On this day, he has just fixed the car of a local resident who is not happy. His customer thought the cost to repair his rusty 1986 Cutlass Ciera was $20, but the mechanic insists that his estimate was $30.
The dispute quickly gets out of hand. The mechanic refuses to return the keys to the car. The car's owner throws the mechanic to the ground, punches him repeatedly, takes the keys and drives away in his repaired vehicle. Bloodied and angry, the mechanic pursues him.
The mechanic makes his way to his customer's apartment building, where he begins yelling for him to come out. In full view of the neighbors, as well as the local block club president, he grows frustrated, breaks into the apartment, and walks out with a TV and VCR in hand. He utters a profanity, shouts "You better believe I get my money," and marches off.
It's interesting to hear how the conflict is resolved.

Fire escape films

I managed to set up the dataprojector on the fire escape, to project onto the adjacent building. Tested it with Zoo TV Live from Sydney, and took these pictures:

Then we watched this video that we made early in the year of Jono (an ex-resident from Urban Seed) playing some of the Credo songs for us, so we could learn them. After that we took the projector back in (it was cold and windy) and watched Lost Boys.