Market Day and the FSHC
Market Day and FSHC
There are moments in my life, and no doubt yours, when suddenly you look up and several days have passed. Other times each day comes and goes at pretty much the right speed. Time just flew by lately, and I am now telling you about an important event in my socio-political local life which took place a week ago. And I had assembled notes for a story about Market Day, which was four days ago. This afternoon I want to have a nice ride, as the sun is shining, it is dry, there is not too much wind. Turned out to be a lovely 28k ride, up a couple of hills. As I was writing this, I got interrupted by a Skype from a pal who is moving to somewhere in Normandy for a year. Time just goes by like that. On Sunday afternoon there was a pretty useful Fete de Recup, waste disposal, re-using, eco building, in the park just a short walk from my house. No time to tell that story.
So the meeting on Friday was excellent. It was well up to the most optimistic expectations any of us had. The context is the revitalisation project for the Social Forum. There are no other Social Forums within an hour and half drive, none even in Beziers or Montpellier. It is quite unusual for a town the size of Bedarieux to even dream of putting one on. I am the co-daddy of ours, although not always deeply active over the years. The Forum Social des Hauts Cantons (FSHC or just FS) was very quiet a year ago. An occasional event short event, maybe two a year, or co-sponsoring someone else’s event (we had some money left over). But no meetings of the organising committee, no plans to have another one, people just stopped after the last FS, at least on the organising committee as such. Although I forget exactly why, I took it upon myself to revitalise the FS and plan another one. It was not always fun, but it was a challenge. This most recent event was organised, partly by one new active person, as “the last attempt” to attract some new faces to the group (le Petit Comité) that does the actual basic organising work. Booking the rooms and places we need (there are 6-800 people who turn up). Finding people to organise the workshops, talks and demonstrations. That is easy enough since there are loads of people around here who can do workshops, but the basic organising takes precision and lots of time to fit them all in. Picking a few movies. We also need to hit up the Mayor for a few thousand euros too. Do publicity and print leaflets. And so forth. Before this event we simply did not have the personnel to do this base work. The FS was in doubt, it might not happen again, the group might fade away. Certainly if this meeting was not good, I would fade away from the FS. I would have said, nice try, but some organisations just die and get composted into the next movements or organisations.
BUT, I do love stories with good middles (the end is not yet in sight), the meeting was uplifting and quite exciting. There were about 40 people, and I didn’t even know half of them. In other words, not at all “the same old faces”. We had an animateur, who set up and guided the whole evening. It was a new experience for some, making a modelling clay model of “Democracy and Decroissance”. And then we answered questions by ourselves on a paper, and told the others in our small group how we had answered. We were all supposed to be with people we didn’t know, which was cool. I was with three older women, one of whose name I knew but that is it. And we chatted in between. Then we individually thought of the three most important things to do deep work about, suggestions on the wall, vote three times, once for each of your favourites. Very unusual chats going on constantly during this effort. Then work on the top four concepts or questions. That sort of thing. We never sat in rows, for that matter circles, only around tables which changed constantly. Then a fairly adequate pot-luck, and more chatting. Then some “traditional collective dancing music” by a fairly good live band. I didn’t dance, but next time I might try to get a guitar player pal who does classic rock and jazz, so I can dance. Still some people liked it, after all they are French and some of them wish to preserve their traditions. Finally, I added six names to the list for the Little Committee, the organisers. So maybe, possibly, if we get lucky, the FS might live again. That would make me very satisfied.
There is more to say. No doubt it will come later.
I often find that Market Day, the Monday morning between 9-12, is a good barometer of my quiet life here in the sticks. It is the only time of the week, perhaps excepting Saturday morning, when I can drift into the centre of town and have some sort of semi-spontaneous social events. Admittedly there is a backbone to the short time. The Attac informal ruling group sits down for a coffee every Monday from about 9.30 to 10-45, when they decamp and set up the Citizen’s Table in a central location from 11-12. This has been going on, almost without stop (no table in August, or if it is raining, for example), for over a decade. I used to have the key to a storage place and set it up for a year or two, when I was also President. Long ago. The informal meetings is needed because Attac is probably the liveliest and most active of all the groups in town. They do lots of projects. One member is also the Agenda 21 worker for the Mayor. He is a vital connection for work, ideas, support, and so forth. Also a source of conflict, but that comes in a later blog.
In addition, on Monday and Saturday, I ring up Yves on the way into town, see where he is, whether he has time for a coffee, and if so we sit and chat for half an hour or more. The rest of the time on Market Day, I wander around, looking for action. Last Monday I actually had a longer than normal chat with Elodie, who runs Le Local, the cafe, food, resto establishment, the “alternative” city centre hot spot. She knows a lot about what is going on and what people are thinking. I also had a moment when I chatted with one of our near neighbours, an older guy who goes swimming at the same time we do, in the summer. Excellent swimmer, also teaches ball room dancing for the old people’s association. He had a serious injury to his arm recently and is in rehabilitation. So we talked arms for a bit. In addition, I had an exceedingly short chat with Ute, the German architect, two kids, a woman who lives on the causse. Later, on the way home, I pass the cafe where the guy who writes in the Midi Libre hangs out almost every day. ML is the regional paper which covers the whole South up to Marseille. I had my first ever long chat with his son, who is a VERY keen cyclist. Way younger and fitter, I have never ridden with him. But we can still talk about bikes. He is a computer guy who works in Montpellier, but hangs at the cafe on Monday mornings. Early on this morning, I found out that Yves was not coming, but of course met him on the street, where he was doing a job. I miss our nearly weekly chats, but it does free up time for more semi-spontaneous social events. Oh yes, I leaned against a wall, out of the flow of traffic, and listened to a very good tenor sax player. He was sitting on his sound system which was playing rhythm (bass and drums as I recall), while he played live sax. I felt privileged, as he played mostly accessible jazz like things, none of them familiar. THAT was a real treat. Must hung out without moving for 15-20 minutes at least. I hope he comes back. Loads of people dropped money in the hat, so he might return if the weather is good. I forgot I also saw and chatted with two Anglo immigrant women who I often see on Market Day. We don’t have any other social relationship, although several common friends. But I always enjoy myself and I think they do too. We look for each other. Their trip into the Market is totally different than mine. But for a short period we share the space.
I love Market Day when it is sunny, warmish, not much wind, and the place is buzzing.