Women Warriors Of The Global Revolution Part 2: Birgitta Jónsdóttir

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.

She becomes;

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.

These next few days, you will see the same 7 questions posted here, again and again. But you will see vastly different answers. All of a unique and immeasurable insightfulness that is a gift, as a reader, to absorb.

In Part One we published the heartfelt words of Turtle Island, Canada’s Min Reyes.

Part Two is an exclusive interview with Iceland’s very own Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

Birgitta Making A Stand Against NDAABirgitta Jónsdóttir is a POETician and activist (member) of the Icelandic Parliament (since 2009), Chairperson for the International Modern Media Institute, Chairperson for Pirate Party in Iceland. (“These titles mean nothing really for I live by the rule of the circle of power“). She is an independent parent of 3 children, and was the first Icelandic female to develop websites.

A volunteer for WikiLeaks in 2010, she co-produced the video Collateral Murder and was on the Bradley Manning advisory board.

Birgitta is also a member of the International Network Of Parliamentarians On Tibet and an avid supporter of the civil liberties foundations EFF & the ACLU.

She describes her current role as “pretty much being the mosquito in the tent“.

This is the second time we’ve had the pleasure of writing about Birgitta. The first being the most popular Occupy Savvy post to date; last August’s “How Did Iceland Sack Its Government?

It is our privilege to call her friend. Without further adieu; our exclusive interview with Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

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?

Birgitta: In my wildest dreams: NO. I am forever humbled by the fact that my actions have somehow inspired others to act, to be changemakers in a world that so desperately needs for people to claim their responsibility of co-creation before it is too late.

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?

Birgitta: I have always been radical, so it didn’t need any encouragement to carry on from oppressive response. I can empathize with this statement for I saw it happen to many of my fellow activists.

Q3. Occupy Savvy: Activism messages appear to be increasingly penetrating the public consciousness. What is your experience of this awakening?

Birgitta: I define myself as an activist in parliament, the role of activists is to push the threshold of norms; if normality as we know it has become unsustainable and harmful, the need of activists is even greater. I have been told by other parliamentarians that I have changed the parliament by my methods of working there. It says a lot about this change we are experiencing that a person like me is accepted by the mainstream by being voted into the role of the lawmaker. Perhaps that is a signal that the times are changing.

I do at the same time feel that people are losing steam and feel that their activism is not giving needed results of change and feel in some ways that it is useless to engage. Sometimes positive change can take a long time, especially when it means total transformation. I want to urge that we cant give up midstream. We are so many, we have so many great minds, so many visionaries who need to come together in order to draw together the blueprint for the future.

I feel many people understand what is wrong with our societies but I feel we lack joint vision from going from here to solutions. The solutions are all there but we need to draw them together and start to work on them in a joint global effort. It is of utter importance to get people inside the system in order to understand how it works in order to change it.

Q4. Occupy Savvy: What has been your most satisfying moment of the global revolution, to date?

Birgitta: There is not one moment for me, rather the fact that the global revolution is an ongoing process, and the satisfaction evolves around the fact that it is still going on, new countries getting into the loop, new actions, more creativity, to see that many realize it is a long haul.

Q5. Occupy Savvy: In what way would you most like to see the global narrative shift, from this point?

Birgitta: Direct democracy and transparency is key to make the changes we are demanding take root. It is easy to get a revolution going compared to finding solutions in maintaining people engaged and to create social structures based on that engagement.

We need to transform our thought of power and lack of power. Pyramids are not a natural order, the circle of power however is. We need to move from EGOlogy to ECOlogy. Understand that we are all connected and that no individual has all the answers. Move from needing leaders to lead us from the mess and accept that our strength comes from being strong together rather then seeking strong leaders.

We are running out of planet and it is really important to remember that no change starts anywhere except through our own actions.

Q6. Occupy Savvy: What advice would you give to a woman becoming involved in activism for the first time?

Birgitta: Follow your gut, dont think things too much through. Just do it:)

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?

Birgitta: In 2009 we saw some really impressive possibilities for changes in Iceland. Clear demands for fundamental changes were put forward and adopted by all of the political parties who got voted into office in 2009, except the right wing party. The most important demand was that the people of Iceland would write a new constitution by and for the people.

Those that have held the reigns of power since we claimed our independence from Denmark in 1944 have done EVERYTHING in order to destroy this process of modern democracy, and now it looks like they are winning. We have elections late April and ignorant people seem to think they can entrust the very same people who caused this country to have the world 4th largest financial meltdown in recorded history the power to look after their interests.

We have seen many positive changes occurring that would not have been possible unless we had a good crisis. Perhaps the crisis was not bad enough in order to push the needed fundamental changes through. We have seen similar development in other countries. It leads me to the conclusion we need to know exactly what we want in the aftermath of crisis and implement it very fast, just like bad laws and fundamental changes are imposed during times of shock.

Iceland has been made into some sort of poster child of the revolution, and i guess many feel they need to see prove that activism and revolutions change things for the greater good. The fact of the matter is however, that we are far from a poster child. We are far from having achieved the things set in motion during times of crisis. But if we are fortunate enough to understand when crisis will hit again that we need different approach to democracy, our current system is outdated because of many factors, if we are wise enough to offer alternatives that the common people can rally behind we will change things and transform politics as we know them.

I am a pragmatic anarchist and I understand and accept that many do not want to spend their time as responsible citizens, they want to transfer their power to someone else, thus I want to help create the tools in order for this transfer of power to be truly democratic and revokable. This is why I have helped create a Pirate Party in Iceland, in order to experiment with liquid democracy from our own internal work to the representatives in parliaments.

I understand that the suffering of others is my suffering, I understand that despite the fact I live on an island that we are not islands, but interconnected, and that the fate of humanity rests on those that are willing to accept the responsibility of co-creating our societies.

It is time to zero the dysfunctional self serving systems and create smaller systems that will be crafted from our love for our societies and respect for ecology, and the fact that we are all equal in the circle of power.


To us, the best way to finish an interview with Birgitta is by sharing her poetry. It is the raw narrative of revolution. Once again, she has blessed us with a piece. A living reminder, that some things have no monetary value. Gifts of the heart are priceless. For us this poem is a taonga – a sacred treasure. Thank you Birgitta.

Changes – by Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Something big is happening
Gaia has regained her consciousness
her way of surviving

A picture
growing in my mind

A whole universe of possibilities
to make the invisible seen

Be a part of
this movement
of awakening

Learn to listen to our mother’s voice
through her infinite creations

I keep making the picture bigger
so I won’t lose myself

Earthquakes move through me
volcanic eruptions of insight
as the revolution
of silent changes
begins.


If you haven’t seen “The Mouse That Roared”, a background documentary about the Icelandic Revolution; it is a must-watch. Embedded below for your viewing pleasure!


That concludes the second part of “Women Warriors Of The Global Revolution”. We thank Birgitta for repping Iceland in this series and for all the time she has invested in us. Keep an eye out in the coming days for interviews with other wahine toa; from Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

This site operates on a $0 budget & so if you loved this article all we ask is that you share it with your friends and family. Help us spread the sentiments expressed by these ladies, around the world. Thank you!

Women Warriors Of The Global Revolution Part 1: Min Reyes

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.

She becomes;

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.

These next few days, you will see the same 7 questions posted here, again and again. But you will see vastly different answers. All of a unique and immeasurable insightfulness that is a gift, as a reader, to absorb.

We are kicking this series off with the answers of Canada’s very own Min Reyes.

thegorgeousminMin is described by Wikipedia as a ‘political commentator’ but she has been much more. She was an early participant in the social media blitz that has formed the backbone of the communications networks of the 99% in all its forms.

Without discrimination, she has been a conduit, a voice, for those who without her may not have had one.

From her incredible compositions at her blog 404 System Error, to her 135,000 tweets, Min has experienced – and amplified – the highs, lows, ebb, flow and slow crescendo, of the global revolution.

It is our privilege to call her friend. Without further adieu; our exclusive interview with Min Reyes.

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?

Min: I have had the privilege to meet and learn from great women and men through Occupy and Idle No More movements. I have never really defined myself nor my ‘social and political’ roles based solely on my race, age, class or even gender. While I am not undermining the arguments for feminism nor the efforts of those who day after day are working for social justice for women, I must state that I have tried to maintain a sense of self through the numerous factors that influence my perspectives such as my surroundings and my experiences in their totality. I have learned that choosing one particular aspect to define my role in any given social movement tends to be rather exclusive and thus limiting, often resulting in the creation of an “other”.

In regards to contribution, I do not honestly believe I have meaningfully contributed yet as I am constantly re-evaluating my role in this long journey. As my perspectives and understanding of my surroundings (including social and political spheres) shift, so do my priorities and course of action. I do not believe I have ever set out a specific goal to achieve in terms of “social movements,” but perhaps that’s exactly what keeps me going and evolving as needed.

I am not sure exactly how I would have contributed – if at all – to the larger goals of these movements. But I know that having engaged with them in one way or another has greatly helped me identify and overcome a lot of my personal limitations, assumptions, and shortcomings.

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?

Min: Radicalism has been a concept appropriated by those who are invested in maintaining the current disruptive status quo. I guess in this context, the concept of “radicalism” is not much different than that of “terrorism.” In order to maintain the current system and culture of war, both concepts must remain vague, to potentially apply to none while applying to all.

The only aspect that changes is the increasing elusiveness of the so called “enemy”, by design.

I think a lot of us are responding to radical government policies that undermine human rights and dignity, environmental sustainability, and peace. I myself refuse to adopt the narrative of those invested in criminalizing citizens who are expressing legitimate concerns. Thus I will NOT say that the state or its actions have radicalized me.
Let’s keep the facts straight and simple: money in politics, corruption, and greed have radicalized politicians, the very people who have promised to serve and protect the people. In Canada, even petitions are now considered forms of “attack” by the current government. Who are the radicals here?

Q3. Occupy Savvy: Activism messages appear to be increasingly penetrating the public consciousness. What is your experience of this awakening?

Min: People are waking up to global patterns of oppression and corruption. We are beginning to realize that there is a much larger system working above the imposed boundaries of geography and nationality, limitations that do apply to citizens though.

I have never considered what I do as activism per se. Many of us shy away from the term activism because it implies we are taking on more than we are required to. We are not only exercising our rights but we are, more importantly in my opinion, fulfilling our responsibilities as global citizens.

In regards to movements I am learning that they materialize in waves. The Arab Spring, Spanish Revolution, Greek Revolution, European protests against austerity, Occupy, Maple Spring, Idle No More, all seem to be manifestations of the same global revolution. And whereas at the onset they do seem to form under banners, the spirit of the revolution can no longer be contained under one specific banner. This revolution no longer belongs under one specific banner… it’s all banners coming from all sides creating a tidal wave. No one owns it, no one can claim it… everyone is becoming a part of it. And I believe it will only grow from here as more and more people become affected by the current broken system.

Q4. Occupy Savvy: What has been your most satisfying moment of the global revolution, to date?

Min: I don’t necessarily have a specific favourite moment… Personally I find that the effects have been cumulative in the sense that global awakening has many faces, many voices, and numerous moments. Each moment, each voice, just strengthens my resolve and belief that we are as a species on the right track.

Q5. Occupy Savvy: In what way would you most like to see the global narrative shift, from this point?

Min: Wherever we look today, narratives are divisive, fragmented, reduced to extreme polarities. This is not only true of politics and mainstream/corporate media but also within social movements and progressive groups. This zero sum game approach dominates our debates.

We seem to lack the willingness to find compromise. What is more important, we seem to have forgotten the merits of meaningful listening. Whether in politics or in social movements, everyone has something to say… but far too few are actually willing to listen to and elaborate on opposing and dissenting views.

I would like to see a global narrative revolving primarily around human dignity; a narrative that is constructive rather than destructive, holistic rather than fragmented, inclusive rather than exclusive. But before we even get there, we need to find a way we can actually build a new narrative based on mutual respect, understanding, and most of all, listening. I guess we need to learn to meaningfully communicate before we even decide what we want to communicate about…

Q6. Occupy Savvy: What advice would you give to a woman becoming involved in activism for the first time?

Min: Be true to yourself. It is easy to fall trap to group think and confirmation bias. Every so often, remind yourself that this journey of change begins within oneself. Keep an open mind and be, above all, honest to yourself.

Don’t despair when faced with challenges. When tired, take a break. Make sure you take the time to enjoy your life so that you don’t lose sight of what you are fighting to protect. Constantly ask yourself whether the choice you are about to make is driven by love or fear, recognize that these are the two driving forces.

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?

Min: Canada is undergoing some radical policy changes under the current conservative government. But I remain optimistic as more Canadians are becoming aware of the social, economic, and political implications of these changes.

Although Occupy Canada, the Quebec student movement, and Idle No More have been defining movements, there have been many countless other protests and demonstrations that have helped maintain momentum and increased local awareness and engagement throughout Canada.

I have no blueprint for change. All I wish is for Canadians to become a little more aware and engaged especially in issues related to human rights and dignity. I think it’s time for Canadians to take on a greater sense of responsibility on important issues at home but also abroad.


That concludes the first part of “Women Warriors Of The Global Revolution”. We are extremely proud of Min for repping Canada in this series. Keep an eye out in the coming days for our interviews with four other wahine toa; from Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

This site operates on a $0 budget & so if you loved this article all we ask is that you share the articles in this series with your friends and family. Help us spread the sentiments expressed by these ladies, around the world. Thank you!

Occupy Savvy Asks Birgitta Jonsdottir: “How Did Iceland Sack Its Government?”

Working in Occupy Media is the most incredible and profound professional experience imaginable. You literally never know what is around the next corner; what you will see, who you will meet, who you will learn from, who you will teach. You become both the interviewer and the interviewed. The manufacturer, the wholesaler, the retailer, and the customer, all wrapped up into one.

A combination of elements from what some consider coincidence to what others call fate, karma or destiny – along with the energy you invest into each action and each venture and your own desires, epiphanies and subconscious choices – culminate in possibilities and potentials that ever increase in pace, magnitude, scope and impact.

It is a global arena and our individual sources of origin provide richness and culture as we eye-witness for and speak to a worldwide platform.

Although the above might not resound with those unfamiliar with Occupy Media, thanks to social media, the topic of Iceland is bound to.

Touted as the only known modern example of a successful (read: peaceful) revolution, word has trickled all the way from the Northern to the deep Southern Hemisphere of the incredible feats achieved by the people of Iceland.

Namely; engaging citizens in politics at an everyday level sufficient to achieve “critical mass”, then engaging their human intellectual resources to forge a People’s Movement and Assembly; engaging in direct action that secured the resignations of its entire sitting Parliament; having its citizens collectively draft a new “Constitution of the People of Iceland” now recognised as the “supreme law of Iceland”, and serving as a model of success to the rest of us still struggling with step one.

Their Constitution reads like a dream to any human rights activist. A written guarantee of the ultimate rights of the Citizen in all manifestations, industrial contexts & in civilian governance, the document leaves no stone unturned in its quest for the protection of the citizens of Iceland.

Despite a profound lack of international corporate media coverage of their revolution, Iceland’s associations with Wikileaks, Occupy Media and the global independent press, have carried the day to spread the message of their achievements.

But what the many and varied Iceland memes circulating Facebook were yet to successfully convey was the “how” rather than the “what”.

So it was with great delight that through the fantastic networking tool that is Twitter, I recently discovered myself having a late-night (NZ time) conversation with none other than the magical Birgitta Jonsdottir – Member of the Icelandic Parliament for the Movement, “activist inside and outside of the system”, supporter of Wikileaks, web designer, revolutionary and accomplished poet.

She had tweeted a reference to the children behind the now-famous “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks – an appeal to remember the humans for whom the events were not merely an international media sensation, but a first-person memory; children who had lost their father (he was attempting to help wounded civilians to obtain medical care when his vehicle was fired on by Apache helicopters using heavy weaponry); children who were themselves seriously wounded in the same attack.

Birgitta pointed me towards this document; the medical reports of the children involved. It is a heart-clenching and devastating read that quickly brings home to bear the personal reality for these human beings, so severely victimised by the injustice of “war”.

Innately sensing that my conversation with Birgitta was not yet concluded, I mentally poured over everything our Media Team had heard, read and shared about Iceland throughout Occupy. It was obvious to me that something was missing, so I put my head together with some other team members to work out what it was.

Someone I refer to as my “Occu-Mama” (for her steadfast support for other occupiers and her continued care of us) had the breakthrough.

“Ask Birgitta – HOW did they do it? HOW did they get all their corrupt politicians to resign?”

Fearlessly, from my ridiculously overly-surveilled Twitter account, I asked the question. Sure enough, she replied:

“Massive protests leading up to pots and pans revolution, putting the parliament under siege for 3 days. They got scared.”

Just like that, the penny dropped. For months we had been reporting on Manifecours/Casseroles and the Canadian protest movements – utilising pots and pans to literally rouse sleeping civilians to awaken to the reality of their political situation; to get off their backsides and do something about it. We knew the tactic, knew it was a successful one; but we did NOT realise it had been utilised in Iceland prior to the Canadian mass protests!

A follower then threw this Wikipedia link into the fray – one which makes us wonder how we had ever failed to search the Icelandic revolution Wikis. (A failure easily corrected!)

At this point, it is clear we have to pass on that knowledge to fellow activists. Utilising the ever-handy Topsy.com I quickly compiled a recap of our past retweets about Iceland.

Here is the resulting treasure trove, for your convenience, with the month tweeted, for search reference. (NOT date of source publication.)

December 2011: CEO’s of Glitnir Bank In Custody

February 2012: Global Justice and the Future of Hope

March 2012: Iceland Puts Former Prime Minister On Trial Over Crisis

March 2012: Iceland Say “Hell NO” To Prison-Cell Economy

April 2012: Ex-Prime Minister Of Iceland Convicted

May 2012: Iceland Forces Debt Forgiveness

May 2012: How To Start A Revolution: Learn From Iceland! (Must watch documentary!!)

June 2012: The Constitutional Council Hands Over The Bill For A New Constitution

July 2012: Iceland A Peaceful And Democratic Regime Change (Features another embedded must-watch documentary; “Pots, Pans and Other Solutions”)

July 2012: Iceland Hires An Ex-Cop To Hunt Down Bankers That Wrecked Its Economy

August 2012: Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Recovery In Best Forgiveness Story

August 2012: More On Iceland Holding Banks Accountable

Also, by searching “Iceland” on this very site we discovered the first piece we had ever shared about Iceland – back in October 2011, a mere few weeks into our Occupy Media journey: Why Iceland Should Be In The News, But Is Not

There is more; much more. Pictures and memes about Iceland abound on other social media platforms most notably Facebook; but unfortunately many are fooled by the ensuing trolls who too-quickly state that the Icelandic Revolution is an urban myth; a legend, and not rooted in fact.

The above links collectively disprove that claim. Hopefully this article will clearly and decisively silence the pessimists, once and for all.

To Birgitta, thank you for speaking with us, you are an inspiration. We were delighted when you told us of your time spent in New Zealand. Thank you for sharing not only your knowledge with us, but your poetry. There is no better closing for this article than your poem: “Warriors of Words”, which to us, encompasses flawlessly, the relentless mission of Occupy Media. Thank you for your permission to reprint it.

Warriors of Words by Birgitta Jonsdottir

listen poets of the world
your words are mighty
your vision is clear
war is war is war
never peace
never healing
if war

the oracle of history speaks
through your words
through your courage
fight with the pen
with your vision
but most importantly
open the space between space
the world between worlds
between your words

the world is not simple
it is not even one
it is in layers of understanding
create that empty space
of understanding
by heart on fire
by compassion
by being unbearably honest

create that space for free thinking
curling through your words
to hit in the heart of hearts
like a bolt of enlightenment

you are the carrier of the flame
the favorite of the muse
the warrior of words
truth truth truth
seek it speak it

the bush is on fire
illusions run deep
seek speak the truth
and hope shall remain
peace shall remain
in the s p a c e

dedicated to all the people that took part in making the Book of Hope & the
World Healing Book possible with their work and with their spirit.”
——————————————————–

Iceland Puts Former PM On Trial

Iceland’s former prime minister Geir Haarde went on trial on Monday for failing to prevent the island nation’s 2008 financial crash, making him the only global political leader to face prosecution over the wider crisis that engulfed most of the world’s economies.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/05/iceland-trial-idUSL5E8E595720120305

Global Spring 2012 – The Call To Worldwide Action Is Out

takethesquare.net, a site inspired by the Occupy movement has put out a call for a global day of action on May 12.

The call is out to chapters of the Occupy movement worldwide to march in solidarity with the countries in which uprisings are currently taking place (Syria, Greece, Egypt, Tunisia, Iceland and India to name a few).

http://takethesquare.net/2012/03/04/call-for-a-global-spring-in-may-2012/

Why Iceland Should Be In The News But Is Not

“Icelanders have quietly carried out a revolution by toppling a weak government, drafting a new constitution and seeking to jail those responsible for the country’s economic debacle.”

 http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/728.1

Source: Facebook

First Posted: October 28 at 11:38am