10 April 2012
A guest post from Marta Suárez in Madrid:
Madrid, May 15th, 2011. After a big demonstration for a real democracy, Madrid main square, Puerta del Sol, is occupied by a group of young people. The Police try to move them away but, instead of that, more and more joined them and camped there. For some weeks, the square is full of tents, posters and people, assemblies are celebrated at every time. No one is unmoved; Sol never was so crowded… the 15-M Movement has been born.
The 15-M Movement is the resurgence of people’s anger, facing the government and the markets which control it, but I do not want to write an extensive text about what is the Movement, how it works and what it does mean, since I am sure a lot has already been written about. I only want to tell my personal experience as a person who has been involved mostly since the movement started and is still part of it or, as many people know us, as an “indignada”.
Sol was only the beginning. About two weeks later, the movement was decentralized, and assemblies in most of the districts and towns of Madrid were announced. I remember the first assembly in my neighbourhood as one of the most exciting days in my life. About 500 people (or more) were gathered together in front of the District Council, something that I could have never imagined, since my neighbourhood is a well-off area in comparison with the numerous working-class areas which exist in Madrid. Many people spoke, giving their opinion about very different issues and suggesting what we should do. But we had (and still have) a long way to go and the first step was to organize ourselves so, the following week, at the second assembly, we create four working groups (social, environment, politics and economics). These groups would be the space to work on the proposals which would be explained at the assembly to reach a consensus on it.
I got involved in the environmental working group and, thus far, we have organized two conferences -one about Degrowth last November and, more recently, one about Agroecology, which included talks, film screenings and workshops. We have been working on setting up a time bank, which will probably start to operate on the following months, and have promoted the establishing of a new consumers group: a group of consumers who organize themselves to acquire organic and local food, when it is possible, directly from the farmers in the neighbourhood.
Personally, the 15-M Movement has been the opportunity to know what was happening in my neighbourhood, to meet my neighbours and to get involved in the place I live. Thanks to it, I have known projects which had begun before the movement started but which totally fit the same principles, like the communal urban allotment which was set up two years ago by the neighbourhood association.
It has been said that the movement is dead, that it hasn't achieved its objectives, that if it doesn't engage to the majority of the population it makes no sense... It is true that we are not the 500 hundred people who went to the first assembly, that our aims are so big and our influence on the government so small that it is very difficult to achieve what we want, that there are people who do not agree with us. But there still are many people working for a better future and many small projects - bank times, new consumers groups, urban allotments, work cooperatives, eco-villages, a newspaper, barter markets - have set up for the last ten months trying to build a new society, a new economic system and a new way to relating to other people and the environment. In short, trying to build solutions that the government are not capable to build.