How to support a movement seen as necessary, important, but beyond one's participation? Since October 7 when Occupy Wall Street began, that question has been on my mind.
It was so close here in Portland, Oregon, yet so far away. Contribute some change to Occupy Portland. Last week Pay Pal notified me that Red Owl Media had returned the money. There has been a problem between those who wanted Occupy Portland to become a non-profit, those opposed. Money collected in two places. Now returned. It is all part of the formlessness of the effort.
Last week I left a canvas bag from the local, longtime Peoples Co-op with a miscellany--bags of millet and garbanzo flour from cooking classes at Bob's Red Mill, jar of Ron's strawberry jam, bedroom slippers I was discarding, toothbrushes from the dentist (have to stop taking these: we use electric), pony tail hair bands purchased for grandchild Zoe. And another bag: Keep Portland radical. Talked with a neighbor who had purchased a blanket from our thrift shop, made the bus trip downtown and left it with someone at the edge of the encampment. Hearing that I'd taken the short walk inside to hand over my stuff to a place about food, she asked, "How was it?"
Smelled awful, even on a sunny day there was an overcast, scruffy feeling--people living outside for a long time, and coughing. What could we expect? Radical political action is not attractive.
[Problem with this report, had to take down] By chance, what is happening in Vancouver, B.C., was broadcast as I was writing this post. The responses to questions by a volunteer medic are worth listening to especially the hard ones about a young woman found dead at this encampment. Is it my imagination or does this Canadian broadcaster seem far more respectful than ones in the U.S.?
Have watched the live streaming from here and NYC. Think how different it might be in New York where people around me would be talking about frequently, arguing its merits. In Portlande, even at Portland State University, there is not a sense in the halls that some of their peers are in tents only 10 blocks away, that what is taking place is work by those who speak for all of us who would never occupy but feel voiceless. But maybe that's the norm in other cities where many have opted out of full engagement with any kind of politics.
Lunch today at Pearl Bakery with Alon, who taught the delightful Sociology of the Bicycle. He has been to GA (general assembly) meetings at Occupy Portland, works with Education and Outreach groups there. It was good to talk with someone who has real time experience with the group. We have been concerned that our unsolved social problems in Occupy cities--homelessness, mental illness-- street people in need of food and a roof might overwhelm the political intentions of those who began the occupations.
He is hopeful; we want to be too. Love this video.
UPDATE Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, 8:15 p.m. (PST), Local TV news:
In an open letter to the Occupy Portland movement, Mayor Sam Adams said the current safety conditions at the encampment were "not sustainable," changing the previous day-by-day approach of the city.
Citing specifically increasing arrests, drug use and violent behavior, Adams said the purpose of the letter was to stress the urgency in dealing with these problems...."I have said from the beginning that I believe the Occupy movement would have to evolve in order to realize its full potential."