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ITQ goes to the G20: So why are we gathered here today?


 

12:05:46 PM: Oh my. I’m — not sure what I’ve gotten myself into. Or rather, what we’ve all collectively gotten me into. I do hate ending sentences with a preposition, but I haven’t slept since yesterday morning, so cut me some slack. Anyway, after an adventurous wander through the ultrahigh security zone that is Westminster, I’ve made it to the briefing, just in time for the tail end of a presentation by Save The Children, which is quite insistent that we – the G20Voice bloggers – make sure that the leaders meeting tomorrow are reminded that the economic crisis isn’t the only one. I think that pretty much sums it up; as I’ve already noted, I was a bit late. Aside: Even for an O-Day survivor, it’s quite surreal outside this oasis of earnest, well-meaning calm that is the Methodist Central Hall. Everywhere you look, there are police – bobbies, I guess, but it feels so pretentious to call them that – strolling in pairs, huddled in clumps, standing at tube stations, alone but steadfast and waving at the people in the trains going by. Oh, and being accosted by rapidly-approaching-frazzled Canadian journalists asking timidly for directions, of course. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t able to help because, as the first one so besieged explained, they’ve been brought in from all over the country, so in most cases, aren’t any more well versed in Londonian urban geography than I am. Okay, so this event – the prebriefing – has, while I was typing the above missive, now transformed from presentation to roundtable. Well, it’s in the process of transforming; it’s a very consensus-keen group, so the question of whether to break off into table-sized chats or hold a room-wide plenary is being debated, in the politest possible sense of the word. Right now, however, someone whose name I didn’t so much miss as was never given at all – at least, not while I’ve been here – is waxing angrily eloquent about Germany, and its resistence to adopt the proposed financial regulatory system proposed by the other European countries. It’s an “overarching denial”, apparently. Anyway, the moderator throws it to the floor, and the guy sitting next to me eagerly seizes the microphone to agree with him: if there is insufficient stimulus for developing countries, the future is bleak for dealing with IMF loans and — saving the children. Oh, and apparently this session is being livestreamed – so if anyone out there is watching, you may get to see me — or at least the top of my head, bent as it is over this BlackBerry. I don’t think anyone in this room disagrees with the main point — that tomorrow’s meeting has to deal with the issues facing the developing world. “It’s going to be a mess,” another speaker predicts. Not sure if he means the conference or, you know, civilization as we know it. “We need signposts at this summit.”

12:25:24 PM: And now, a blogger activist from who was part of the first New Green Deal — oh, suddenly I just got a flashback to the last election – which puts forward the contention that economic policy that destroys the planet is — not good. Another blogger – I didn’t catch her name, but she’s from something called Mum’s Net – wonders what, exactly, “SDR” is. He tries to explain the theory behind it, but manages to not include the words behind the acronym until the end. Special Drawing Rights, if that makes a lightbulb go off over anyone’s head. (Not mine, sadly, but I’ll Google it later.)

12:29:46: PM And now we’ve moved onto how blogging will save humanity – really! It will! A guy at the table behind me explains his movement or group or whatever it is: “We20”, which is based on the idea that any twenty people can have their own G20. Ish thing. I’ve never felt more like a member of the fourth estate than I do right this minute. It’s kind of isolating, actually.

12:32:15 PM: A blonde woman with a bright green scarf has a more optimistic view: She believes that *something* good will come out of tomorrow’s summit, although it’s unlikely to meet all the demands and expectations. She wants to know what we – the G20Voice bloggers, that is – should put forward tomorrow, to “keep the spirit alive” without bringing everyone down.

12:35:58 PM: Look! It’s my fellow Canadian, Mark Lussier – spelling probably entirely wrong – who is taking up the challenge, and exhorting the various grassrootsers in the house to go forth and — use twitter? Yes, and Facebook, and other social media, whatever it takes to get people excited, and “invite them into the room” tomorrow. “Tell other people about this event,” he says. Make your “followers” get other people engaged, and tag *their* thoughts with G20Voice. This isn’t just about the fifty people in this room: it’s about everyone.

12:45:02 PM: More about involvement – getting people off the internet and into the streets. Suddenly, I’m starting to get deja vu to that Manning Centre conference last month. The difference here, I guess, is that this isn’t strictly partisan – or even narrowly ideological, at least beyond a general, fuzzy left-of-centreness. Oh, the Voicer who was upset about Germany thinks it would be interesting for the people in this room to discuss what could go into an “alternate communique” after tomorrow’s meeting. Actually, that’s not a bad idea – like the Alternative Federal Budget that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives puts out every year.

12:49:16 PM: You know, I have no idea what time my stomach thinks it is, but it’s definitely making its hungry presence known. I wonder if they’ll feed us meat. Not that I’m that zealous a carnivore, but a little protein might go down beautifully right now.

12:53:21 PM: Jason Worjezki – again, spelling apologies – just said something interesting about bloggers vs. “journalists who happen to twitter”. I think I definitely fall into the latter category. He was one of the main players on the Obama campaign – web-based, that is – which means he’ll probably be swarmed as soon as we’re released. Which is — now, apparently. We’ve got from now until 1:30, apparently. Whee! I wonder what’s happening outside?


 

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