Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Haifa's Tent City

Though Haifa's "tent city" can't compare to Tel Aviv's, it has grown from three tents to about 50. But not only has the number of tents increased - a real culture has sprung up, along with hierarchies and role divisions, and local norms. The infrastructure has expanded to include chemical toilets, an ecological dish washing system, a living "room" and kitchen, and other amenities.
The kitchen includes a full-sized refrigerator which is constantly stocked with donated goodies from local cafes, restaurants, and bakeries. Trash is sorted into compost, plastic, paper, and waste.
In the living room area, discussions are held, as well as spontaneous jam sessions. A stocked bookshelf contains literature on socialism and other topics.

Some of the alternative values that have taken hold at the tent city are reflected in this "free market." People leave items they no longer want and may take whatever they want ("freecycling").
There's even a "playroom" for the young protesters, though I haven't seen too many of those. Most of the tent city inhabitants seem to be in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.

Information in the tent city is transmitted through several vehicles: on-site leadership, detailed bulletin boards (including a dynamic events-calendar which lists extra-curricular activities, lectures, and more), and Facebook groups.

In addition to the various lectures, the diversity of the activities is pretty amazing: poetry night, acrobalance, professional massages, workshops on stress and other topics, guerilla gardening...
One thing that has characterized the protests until now (including the tent city and the demonstrations that have been taking place up to three times a week) is their peaceful nature. I haven't heard of any incidents of violence or looting, which is reflected in the atmosphere at the tent city: quiet but determined, respectful but opinionated.
It's been 23 days since the tent protests began in Haifa. The protest grew quickly from three tents to an almost functioning microcosm of a (tent) city.


The Haj said...

Nice piece, to bad I left a month before (became homeless)

Elna Loa Longmore Hale said...

No looting! No VIOLENCE! 23-days! WOW! This is a peaceful demonstration. And organized, they are EVEN separating the recycling.