It was totally amazing to be in Barcelona for the 'manifestacion' on the 15th of October - there were thousands of people there - and I just had to keep moving as more and more people arrived from the different barrios and surrounding villages. I went with Llume and Fermin (who I know from PBI Guatemala - who trained me and Matt, and who I went on to run the trainings with). They are both big trade unionists (Fermin in Telefonica and Llume in teaching) and activists involved in all sorts - anything that is unjust and needs sorting as far as I can see. So I was lucky enough not only to be looked after by them at the demo but was introduced to the world and it's mother! - all ages, all backgrounds, all struggles - they are loved and respected by everyone (as they should be!).
I had some really interesting converations about the 15M (as it is said in Castellano - meaning 15th of March) movement - both in the demo and before/after it - how much it's changed some people's lives, making them realise they aren't alone and they can change things by just doing it together with people, and also how it's made people friendlier to each other in general.
One story was of a group in a local area taking over a bit of unused land and creating a space to grow food. How the older people in the neighbourhood came and asked if they had permission, and when they said no and explained why the response was that they couldn't help now but they'd be along the next day with seedlings from their own gardens.
Some people feel it's calming down now, that it died out in the summer. Others feel it got quieter in the summer as everyone goes away out of the cities here in August, but that it's getting stronger again now (which the demo did seem to be leaning towards!). It's an amazing example of consensus working in big groups - it was really funny on the demo to be walking along and someone would shout a phrase or chant and everyone would stick their hands in the air and wave them about in the consensus I agree fashion that always seems really strange to do in meetings - and really love it!
People I spoke said they did find it a bit weird at first to do that in meetings, but then they saw that it makes loads of sense and cuts down the amount of rambling that goes on (which can make for a long meeting if you've got hundreds of people!). Other logistical things have been to create sub-groups for different activities that need doing, meeting every week at the same time/place (with people opting in and out if they can't make it), so all quite normal for us meeting stuff, but just happening on an impressive scale, and being used by people who normally don't work in this way at all.
Oh another thing i thought was interesting was that one group created a meeting just for people who wanted to talk about their situation - some people who are having a hard time really need to talk about it with other people, but not everyone does. So it was a conflict in the meetings between stopping people talking too much so that decisions could get made/practical steps be agreed, and giving people enough time to talk about the things they needed to talk about. I think this solution was a great idea!
So just a few snippets of 15M for you - will add more if I come across more views or examples.
Another interesting thing I've just learnt from Stella who staying at Mas Franch for a bit while I was there (and is a sign launguage teacher and support worker for a deaf student), is that the hand signals used in consensus decisison making are also used in sign language - so the 'I'm in agreement' signal in sign language is applause - so the more you wave your hands the more you are applauding someone/thing, and the block sign also means I don't agree in sign language. I'm sure loads of you already knew that, but I didn't and I think it's a great different way of presenting the signals - they are part of an existing language used by loads of people (rather than slightly weird/hippyish seeming hand signals).