Just wanted to write a quick note before I continue with other posts. My little experiment wasn’t a complete failure. I did read the two articles, but by late May more pressing things came up, and following the events took all my free time—I never got back to writing the post I had promised. I ended up going to Turkey in July to visit my family, and stayed for about two weeks. A lot had happened, a lot had changed. I was happy to experience the little bit of it that I did.
After the (now famous) park was closed to the public, some people got together at another park to discuss the events. The idea of such public assemblies quickly spread, and people utilized parks throughout the city (the country, even) for public discussions on their recent experiences, the future, the right to the city—everything they found worth talking about. Having watched live streams of these fora, it was great to experience them in person.
Conventional wisdom has it that participatory democracy is worthy in principle but unwieldy in practice. For groups devoted to social change, sustaining a decentralized, nonhierarchical, and consensus-based organization seems to mean sacrificing the quick decisions and clear lines of command necessary to winning concessions in a hostile political climate. Once participatory democrats enter the realm of contentious politics, their indifference to strategy seems to doom them to failure. This book tells a different story.
A few more pictures (all except the first are from the same night):
Tear gas did not seem to be such a big deal anymore.
When people heard that the park was finally re-opened after all that had happened, they rushed there at 2am in the morning to celebrate.
Everybody seemed to know each other.
An impromptu memorial was built for those who had lost their lives during the events (it was to be taken down by the authorities and rebuilt repeatedly during the following weeks).
It was not just any old park, anymore. It belonged to them.