Umbrella Movement and Imagination of Community in Hong Kong
One of most striking features of the occupation was its diffused leadership and decentralized organizational form. “No organizing committee” and “you don’t represent me” were slogans frequently used by some young protestors. This movement structure led to serious problems in formulating strategies and negotiating with government. But it also unlashed tremendous space for spontaneous participation resulted in strong sense of ownership among protestors. The “communities” created during the occupation manifested four important values celebrated in the movement:
Equality: every barricade was “owned” and managed by protestors who called themselves “villagers”. No top-town decisions concerning the opening of barricades could not be made by OCLP and student leaders without first deliberating with these villagers.
Sharing: food, medicine, skills (music and handicraft), and knowledge were shared in different supply stations, hobby corners and forums.
Environmental concern: recycling and regenerated energy were promoted.
Aesthetic creation: artists scrambled into the occupation space to paint, erect sculptures, dance, sing and participate in other creative activities.
The occupation is in a way an emergent public space for people to communicate and co-create a community of their own. This quest for community reflects people’s discontent to the existing hierarchical, utilitarian and over-disciplined society. As the author is one of the leaders of Umbrella Movement, primary data was collected through participant observation. Surveys done by academic and social groups were also used.