Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Protest for the community gardens

I finished medieval philosophy and my friend and I walked back into the main part of campus together. When the fountain in front of the library became visible we also saw a large crowd. Someone was talking on a loud speaker and the protest band was playing. I feel a moment of pride. UVic has it's own little protest group. That's something special. The protest band is a group who attend various events on campus with drums and sometimes trombones. They attended the career day in protest of capitalism which made me, really not wanting to be there at the time, rather happy until I realised they had destroyed a Canadian flag. It isn't illegal to destroy the flag of Canada but that doesn't mean it doesn't have an effect. Canada for me is like those old friends you have had since middle school who just cannot get their lives sorted out. You love them and you desperately want them to succeed, but sometimes you just cannot stand being around them. So I am not the most patriotic person there is, but I can't see the symbol of Canada destroyed without feeling hurt and upset. So the protest band always puts me on edge, and so do loudspeakers.

The man with the loudspeakers said, 'just keep walking. Go to your next class. Do not look at what we are doing. This is subversive activity. Just keep walking. That's right.' I decided not to make a challenge. Later I come back. As I walk by he says, 'just keep walking.' I stop. "Okay, stay there but do not come any closer." I step closer to him. A girl behind him starts laughing. "Very, well, you can step closer to me but do not look at what is going on behind me." I stand there laughing as he continues his speech. "Just go back to your studies. Study is what is important. Do not look at what is happening here." A little crowd starts to listen to him. He is not so serious and he is not so threatening when people are listening to him. Eventually he gets bored and leaves. I leave too.

I want to tell him I agree with him. I want to ask more questions. I want to talk to the people, but I do not. I leave.

The protest is about the community garden and as I approach I can see people digging to the music of the trombine and pouring soul into little 24" by 24" box plots.

Recently an article ran in our student newspaper: Campus Community Garden calls for support.

So today in protest the students are digging up a section of land near the fountain and setting up a garden.

Isn't it a waste? I ask. It'll be gone by nightfall after all.

"But they are making a point!" Replies a friend. Everyone is so enthusiastic.

I think of how the University will respond. It will lash out not only at the group responsible but also fringe groups. But this is because I am pessimistic right? The loudspeakers and large crowds scare me. I am an incredibly passive person. I hate making a show and making a fuss. I look even at benevolent authorities as dangerous.

Everyone else is enthusiastic.

"It would be great to have garden in the middle of campus."

Yes, I say, but it won't last 'till sundown.

"It's making a statement even if it doesn't last, and everyone is having so much fun."

Yes, I say, they are. It makes me want to join in. Students with big buckets are running to the pond behind the library to get water. Most of the crowd do not even know what is happening. They do not realise it is a protest. They think it is the 4:20 group having a good time. That's what I thought too when I heard the loudspeaker. I'm glad there are people protesting, but I am upset as well. I have all these reasons that they should not be and all of them seem to be things I picked up in passing, and not my own conclusions. Societal bias, it always scares me when I find it in myself.

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