Occupy Savvy Exclusive! One of the coolest things about activism is that it doesn’t have celebrities – it has role models. Recently, we put 7 poignant questions to five of the world’s most inspiring women. These women hail from Iceland, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and for their profound actions, deeds, words, generosity, heart, and perseverance, we deem them “wahine toa”.
In Aotearoa, New Zealand, we describe a fearless woman of soul and substance, as “wahine toa”. This very loosely translates to “woman warrior.”
The Maori dictionary explains it as;
wāhine: (noun) women, females, ladies, wives.
toa: (stative) be brave, bold, victorious, experienced, accomplished, adept, competent, skilful, capable.
But wahine toa is even more; to us she is;
kaitiaki: (noun) trustee, minder, guard, custodian, guardian, keeper.
ūkaipō: (noun) mother, origin, source of sustenance, real home.
She is “atua” in the sense of; “a way of perceiving and rationalising the world”.
If it were audible; we could almost hear our ladies blushing through the screen. The truth is; they deserve every accolade we can give them, as they live this wild journey called life to the fullest, inspiring so many of us to follow their path, by discovering our own.
This last couple weeks, you have seen the same 7 questions posted here, again and again. But we saw vastly different answers. All of a unique and immeasurable insightfulness that is a gift, as a reader, to absorb.
Part One saw us publish the heartfelt words of Turtle Island, Canada’s Min Reyes.
Part Two was an exclusive interview with Iceland’s very own Birgitta Jónsdóttir.
Part Three was an introduction to Aotearoa, New Zealand’s Marama Davidson.
Part Four covered Australia’s original “Tentmonster”, Sara Kerrison.
In Part Five, the series finale, we speak with Occupy Oakland livestreaming legend Jessica “Bella Eiko” Hollie.
(Photo by @ripperhollow)
Occupy Oakland spawned some of the greatest livestreamers in the world; brave, brutally honest eye witnesses who broadcast their on-the-ground experiences of local activism events, around the globe.
A quick scan of the 45 posts on this website about Occupy Oakland shows that they have endured just about every discomfort imaginable; from blatant state repression and suppression, to financial stresses and resource depletion; to the tear gas, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and other “non-lethal” (in reality possibly-lethal) weaponry sporadically employed by the Oakland Police Department.
Unwitting citizens on the butt end of such brutal tactics might never have their stories told were it not for the efforts of citizen journalists. Through them, we have witnessed corporate news media helicopters LEAVING the scene of protests immediately prior to weaponry being deployed.
We have witnessed ex-Iraq war veterans shot in the head by the police; we have witnessed incidents inside the halls of power that go under-reported, mis-reported or entirely blacked out by the conventional so-called “media”.
Much of what we have witnessed, has been thanks to the superhuman efforts of Bella Eiko.
Bella is part of a new media revolution that is the last vestige of public truth and record. It is impossible to overstate the historic importance of her very existence, or the sheer crap she endures to continue to play her part.
Having seen Bella take us places few, if any, corporate journalists would dare go; to see her as an orator, not just a livestreamer, added a new dimension to our appraisal of her. Watching the below video has made grown women cry. It is the epitome of speaking truth to power. Raw emotion and raw honesty. It is highly recommended viewing.
Don’t miss the last 30 or so seconds of occupiers chanting “the system has got to die! Hella hella occupy!”
(We covered the above video in greater depth in a May 2012 article)
From the halls of the Oakland City Council to the “Free Speech Zone” (read: media-confining pen) at President Obama’s visit to Oakland to the Anaheim “riots”, Bella has gone above and beyond to amplify the voices of the people.
As Min Reyes said in Part 1 of this series (paraphrasing); the movements come in waves, each a little bigger than the last, all blurring into each other until the individual banners are meaningless and meld into one.
In Part 2 Birgitta Jónsdóttir described the revolution as an ongoing process; where we needed to abandon ego-logy and embrace ecology.
Part 3 saw Marama Davidson deliver the stark reality; we can no longer attempt to be the human boss of Earth. Such wankery is running us into utter ruination.
In Part 4 Sara Kerrison reminded us that every single thing we require to liberate us exists already within ourselves and on our planet.
Without further adieu, here follows Bella Eiko’s heartfelt answers to the same 7 questions we put to the other wahine toa featured in this series.
Q1. Occupy Savvy: Strong women abound in the Occupy and Idle No More movements. Did you ever foresee that you would contribute as meaningfully as you have, to such momentous events?
Bella: I never expected that my contributions would even amount to anything, I just thought they were necessary. I knew that the Occupy movement would make its mark and during it I got majorly motivated to try and effect the type of change I always talked about. As the movement continues to evolve, I hope that I can continue to help and make a difference. Now more than ever as I come close to delivering my son.
Q2. Occupy Savvy: An ONZ admin says “Activism didn’t radicalise me; the state response to activism radicalised me.” Can you empathise with this statement?
Bella: Yes I can, as a matter of fact it was the horrible response to political dissidence that made me want to speak out more, to do more. Eventually all people reach a breaking point, I think seeing the state violence that many innocent activists were subjected to made a fire light inside of me unlike ever before.
Q3. Occupy Savvy: Activism messages appear to be increasingly penetrating the public consciousness. What is your experience of this awakening?
Bella: I see more of the public buying less of the empty political promises and expressing their anger and frustration towards biased media stories. However, I still fear that being too hopeful and in a rush to believe we are in an actual democracy are still major factors hindering the success of real significant social change. There is also an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Many times we simply don’t know what to do and pass the buck to governmental entities to tax us for “solutions”. This has got to be tackled by real community fueled alternatives. How do we do this? I wish I knew..
Q4. Occupy Savvy: What has been your most satisfying moment of the global revolution, to date?
Bella: Most satisfying is hard. I think at the top of that list is definitely Occupy the Farm. This action was not only positive and giving back to the community, it made a major statement, kept going on, had/has major support from both city officials and the community and was radical direct action! This made me very happy.
I was also pretty satisfied by the continued reemergence of Occupy Oakland, and how the response to the severe oppression in the streets was to defend head on. I loved the shields, and barricades along with the gas masks. Defending our right to protest in various ways & in turn publicizing the brutal means the state will use in an attempt to control.
Q5. Occupy Savvy: In what way would you most like to see the global narrative shift, from this point?
Bella: I would like to hear more solutions for community alternatives at this point. Viable ones that can successfully combat the abusive structure of the current government & economy. We have successfully highlighted many of the issues, lets start focusing on solutions.
Q6. Occupy Savvy: What advice would you give to a woman becoming involved in activism for the first time?
Bella: Have thick skin, be prepared to be vocal and be judged. No matter what, do not get so frustrated that you quit, find ways to fight against all forms of oppression and always keep your voice, not the one that others want you to have.
Q7. Occupy Savvy: In what way have you seen your country change, over the last 18 months? In what way would you see it change, in the next 18?
Bella: I have seen my country start to show more and more dissent and attention to the abusive and underhanded tactics of a corrupt government. Although I have not seen the same type of revolts that are happening in Spain or Egypt, I see the people starting to not only understand the injustices but also wanting justice for them. In the next 18 months I would love to see the government held more accountable and the people come together to actively replace this abusive power structure and the economic terrorism that has been unleashed because of it.
That concludes our first web series “Women Warriors Of The Global Revolution”. We thank Bella for repping the US of A in this series and for being such a fantastic role model for women in her country.
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OCCUPY NEW ZEALAND MEDIA TEAM