Sleeping next to activists in Copenhagen

December 12, 2009

There’s no concierge, no bellboy nor even a check-in counter. There’s no lobby, nor mini-bar and not even any heating. But despite the lack of amenities there was still something special about sleeping alongside 2,000 other climate change activists in an empty warehouse in an industrial section of northwest Copenhagen last night. 

It’s cold, loud and dusty. But the price is unbeatable and so is the atmosphere. CLIMATE-COPENHAGEN/You could say they were all happy campers.

There’s no charge but donations are welcome. There’s even breakfast available, a delicious porridge concoction.  And even free wireless, which is helping me get this post written.  Last night I managed to find a fairly empty corner on the cold cement floor of this drafty warehouse shortly before midnight but by the time I woke up at 7 a.m. there were hundreds more activists in sleeping bags crowded around me. They had been streaming in through the night.

One of the organisers just announced that there were 500 more activists from Britain due to arrive within the next few hours. “So could you please try to make some space for them by moving your sleeping bags together,” he said through a megaphone.

There are several such “communal accommodations” set up around Copenhagen this weekend — all the hotels and hostels have been booked out for months. Word at the train station last night was that several were already full but this one, called Ragnhildgade, still had space available.

Despite the near-freezing temperatures both inside and outside the warehouse, there’s an incredibly positive atmosphere going into today’s rallies around the city. There were a few complaints about the chill but otherwise most seemed unperturbed by the lack of creature comforts.

“I couldn’t just stay home and do nothing,” said one demonstrator from Sweden, shivering in the cold while charging up her cell phone on a set of communal plugs. “I had to be here. But it’s really cold. I’ve lived in squats that had better heating than this. I hope they get something sorted out by tonight.” Another activist from Germany added: “Who knows if the demonstrations will do any good? Who knows if any of those who are making the decisions will even notice us? But I didn’t want to miss the chance to do something about climate change.”

3 comments

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The writer could have summed up the entire event in one word… It was free and natural experience. But again what are these demonstrators trying to achieve? One expects heating, a contributor to climate change. Someone trying for connectivity, which means computers, mobile phones, again a contributor to climate change. They are wearing clothes, probably leather shoes, jackets too, again climate change contributor. Most of these folks would then be non vegetarian, again non veg takes longer time to cook, again climate change. Non veg also means allocating land for grazing, required in large area than vegetarians. Are the demonstrators aware what they are contributing towards global warming than these stupid demonstrations?

Posted by UrghAllah | Report as abusive

I agree that most people are not aware that they/we are actually contributing to the climate change by simply carrying on living as we’ve done in the past decades, nevertheless I believe thah these demonstrations also help in gaining awareness and possibly change some of our habits; it will take time, but, surprisingly, not as long as it might seem: ideas and news run ways faster nowadays than they used to, so I’m really hopeful.

Posted by thedwarf | Report as abusive

Considering the very slow progress of negotiations, it seems unlikely that any of the two side shall be taking the demosntration seriously. If they can not have empathy with sufferes of Climate Change then personal experience of adverse impact only can bring out the change. Mediators require meditation to empower themselves and influence the two sides. Only feeling or stick shall bring out the change, neither thoughts nor demonstrations.

Posted by Karun | Report as abusive

[...] action, after the Gogol Bordello concert at Hopenhagen Live, it was best to spend the night out in Ragnhildgade, a free activist housing space, with my newly made Danish friends. The graffitied warehouse housed over 1000 international [...]