I wish the University of West Scotland already had more of a community that could be in chaos. Currently it is the lack of community that is the problem. Many students who are studying alongside their jobs don't even think of themselves as students. Their course is just an added extra on the side. This lack of community is something we are trying to change, but it's a slow process building relationships, unless we reach a social tipping point.
When I was studying at UEA we had a guest lecture by Prof Tim O'Riordan, who had theoretically retired. He is an amazing man with amazing ideas and he spend an hour telling us about social tipping points and how, just as you get tipping points in natural systems, you also get tipping points in societies. Tipping points are often depicted as a ball on a hill (see the inset picture) with the tipping point being when the ball is at the crest of the hill. The system can quickly change from one 'steady' state to another. Five years ago we could already see society moving towards that tipping point. Now I believe we have reached it. As Mike's wonderful video on Sunday shows, things are changing. There is a growing realisation of what is evolving around us.
I can feel this at UWS and in Glasgow generally. There is an openness to change, an acceptance of the need of a different way forwards, a growing urge to build community that wasn't there a few years back. It is not obvious. I could not point at it. But I can feel it there.
In a university where engagement is generally fairly low, a group formed called Academics for a Better World, entirely independently (and unaware of) our environmental projects they decided they wanted to run events to promote a better world. This is of course not unheard of, but more and more groups like this are emerging. The momentum is building.
The challenge as I see it is linking up all of these groups, helping them realise how many of them exist, how they are not a minority and helping everyone who wants to to be involved. I am happy to be the hub at UWS if I can find lots of spokes to connect up, but what I haven't come up with a solution for yet is how you can let people who don't have the luxury of having free time to spend at protests or who don't feel comfortable participating in such activities, to get involved. There must be more ways we can occupy. After all I am fully in support of the movement, yet I have only made it to one Occupy event. Life gets in the way. Especially if your not sure exactly how to get involved. I'm not sure I can even sensibly participate in the strike action next week as I actually work for a union?
We need to make this movement accessible for everyone. Maybe, in our globalised society, we should try occupying the virtual world as well. Occupy facebook! Occupy YouTube! It would be a lot more visible and accessible to a lot of our society. Just an idea.