Grassroots Gathering 1 - The Important first Steps - Nov 2001

On the 24th and 25th of November an important event took place called the Grassroots Gathering in Dublin. Individual activists called for this meeting from the following organisations - Irish Mexico Group, Gluaiseacht, Workers Solidarity Movement, Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation, and the Alliance of Cork Anarchists.
As I arrived at about 10.30 on Saturday morning I was impressed with the numbers of people walking in and signing the registration forms. All in all almost 100 people registered over the course of the day. We all had come to the gathering from all over the island as activists to try and set up a new network based on the principals that people should be in charge of their own lives.
We wanted to reject the top down organisational model for one that's open and truly democratic. People had come from various backgrounds with different concerns - but we were in that gathering to work together to find a means to working towards some solutions that would bring about empowerment to those effected.
The first day was divided into 3 separate sessions and small work groups were set up. A good idea was that the workgroups were set up randomly (i.e. in an attempt to put people together who hadn't met before) and we each addressed the topics. Why we were there ? How to organise from the bottom up ? What could we do in the future?
From a personal perspective I found the 3 sessions very refreshing and though provoking. People attending were all coming from an activist background - and we could all learn from our different experiences. There was also a good display of mutual respect for differing opinions and tactics. We came up with some ideas of trying to spread knowledge on the various issues we were all working on. Nobody was there to specifically sell a line - convince you to buy a paper or join The Party. This led to a productive day were we agreed to work more closely in the future on specific agreed issues.
The second day we met up in Spacecraft (a warehouse) and the people there tried to come up with what could be done in the future. A planned national anti-war demonstration at Shannon - was organised from this meeting and that duly took place on the 15th of December. We also plan to involve more people - swap information about what the various groups are up to - and we plan to have another gathering - in Cork at Easter.
I found the whole experience very inspiring - and was impressed to see so many motivated activists who are not only yearn for a better world - but are intent and prepared to work towards it.
Dermot Sreenan - for Workers Solidarity