Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Agora and the Occupiers

: a gathering place; especially : the marketplace in ancient Greece

The dictionary definition sounds benign, however the wikipedia description suggests that the gathering place in Greece and in Rome (the forum) was under government control.  I can't imagine freedom of speech was a coveted right in ancient Rome .  We have only look to the Christian martyrs for proof.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is slowly disbanding across the globe by government decree, by ennui or by inclement weather.  If this movement is to survive, and it has to, what will replace it?  There isn't one sane person who believes the occupiers can camp out forever, but I wonder, "how can we use the village square as a place of the people to be heard?"

The answer may be "agora", the gathering place of civilisations long past.  What if?
A view to City Hall Square in Windsor, Ontario
  • Local government created a place in the square for a permanent "soapbox" of sorts, that included proper audio visual, and perhaps a recording aspect that municipal politicians could access and listen to.  Yes, Much Music in Toronto did it first, but why not continue it into the public square?
  • Politicians, wanna be politicians, protesters and loudmouths alike would have equal access to the soapbox, not regulated or monitored except by the patience of the assembled
  • This place is protected and celebrated, not merely tolerated. 
We regularly see protests in front of government buildings.  What I'm suggesting is town square by design.  Windsor's City Hall square has some nice flowers and benches and a cenotaph, but I can't see where the right to freely gather was built into the design.

We are citizens first, before we are taxpayers or voters.  Let's encourage and elevate debate.

Here's another look at the Occupy Wall Street movement; interesting reading:

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