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Reclaim the Streets "Guerrilla Gardening" Conference WorkshopWalking in to a fully packed room, there was a sense on eagerness on peoples faces. The three speakers were prepared with seeds and compost around them and a general discussion had already began on the philosophy and aims of RTS.Questions asked to the speakers included issues of why the group had chosen this concept of guerrilla gardening and how the event was going to end.The response regarding the choice and style of the action was that guerrilla gardening was designed to be a move away from the idea of protest to a more participatory event. This action was described as one where people were expected to create and transform an urban space, working collectively with focus and determination. In this way the participants were encouraged to work for positive change, not just to make the space environmentally friendly, but also a space where all the people in the area, who were reclaiming their day of solidarity and celebration, could chill out and have fun. The emphasis was on transformation, not just of the concrete landscape but also conceptually, the possibility to see alternatives to the consumerist production of needs (food, living space etc.) to develop our own methods of collective production. Everyone was asked to bring along plants, saplings, water and energy, and despite the numerous police reports of gardening tools as weapons for aggression, no-one was encouraged to bring these implements along!! The audience was also inspired to bring musical instruments, games, and other entertainment to keep everyone amused.During this response there was much emphatic nodding and beaming smiles of encouragement. These smiles however became strained at the next main question, the scale of the police presence and their agendas, especially towards the end of the day. The response was one of a refusal to be intimidated in carrying out what is planned to be a proactive, positive and peaceful action.This led to the question of how to close the action in a way that both people and police would not get frustrated.The decision had been made to wind down with an open public forum. In this non-hierarchical way, the participants could come up with ideas themselves as to where they would like to go and what they would like to do. Perhaps go to a party or perhaps a collective consensus on a specific time to leave. No matter what the decision though, the decision seemed to be one that was going to be made by the people themselves, not by the suited-up presence from outside.
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Selected Links: RTS | Guerrilla Gardening | Mayday Conference | London Mayday | Primal Seeds | PGA | IndyMedia USA