It been a long time coming, but here is my Occupy Providence update. Some observations from an event I attended followed by an interview with a fellow occupier:
-The unique qualities of each individual occupy movement:
-Shared news about Occupy Denver: “Take me to your leader”, the group elected a dog.
– Interesting note about Occupy Spokane Washington: occupiers had anti-immigration signs
-Audience comment: this needs to be about: education on colonization /imperialism…most importantly, increasing self-love in order to get rid of our internal ‘isms’.
The Role of Art
-world carried by artists, able to think out of the box
-creativity allows healing: Art Therapy
-Words create our world
-taking this energy and knowledge back to local community
-what are we already doing that makes the world better?
-need to first educate self about structure we are a part of before we break away from it.
-revolution to evolution
-next steps for PVD: mobilize our own physical /economic structure. This starts with redefining what is a resource, not just money/ material wealth
Observations provided by New Shoreham, Rhode Island resident Steve Miller:
So many I don’t know where to start. Some observations: 1/2 of all the men I spoke with were ex-military (as I am) or veterans. There were plenty of homeless and other street people; some of them were very involved in the politics, some were there for the “scene”, some were there for the food. I was struck afterward with what a miracle OP was for them; they needn’t worry about getting rousted off of benches, nor did they have to steal or panhandle for food, best of all, they were part of a family if that’s what they wanted. From the minute I arrived on Wed afternoon, I started to talk with people…and I never stopped. There is a sense of purpose that permeates the camp: as I spoke with folks I could see a determination, even a burning desire for changing the broken system. I participated in the GA, we voted to take the fight to the city concerning the “eviction, before they could take it to us! I met three or four Facebook friends I had never seen in person before, and we really hit it off…….I talked with people and exchanged ideas for hours on end. I realized that participating at OP gave me a feeling similar to voting, or going to a Town Council meeting where stuff gets wrangled out, and you have a great feeling of helping work out the very mechanism of society…..except about a hundred times better!!
I Found a drumming friend who has been camping there full time (other than his job) and we drummed with another serious drummer who is at OP a lot. I have not felt so free, so wildly free, in a long time. We sat on benches surrounding the fountain under a sliver of moon playing drums while OPers and young street people alike came and went, applauded, did little dances…’til after midnight. I went for coffee with one drummer, the only two patrons at the bar we went to confronted us aggressively about our Occupy affiliation, angry about the protest inconveniencing the downtown. We talked it out with them, and left with mutual respect between us, if not complete agreement. Back at camp there were people engaged in conversations in little groups of twos, threes, and fours. I finally went to sleep around four am….with long underwear, lined pants, a fleece and a jacket with the hood up, and my gloves on. The glare of the downtown lights illuminated the inside of my tent, sirens and voices made it difficult to sleep until, next thing I knew I heard a car horn blasting repeatedly by someone I was later told was a regular….he/she drives around Kennedy plaza two times honking the horn @ 7:00 am. There were donuts at the kitchen tent, and commuters straggling by as people wolfed donuts and waited for coffee to percolate. Not too many people are around in the morning; many OPers work, and start trickling back in in the afternoon. In the morning you will see young people, college students, and the homeless.
Some of the men there have spent months in tents in Afghanistan and Iraq; they are learning tricks from the homeless about cold weather survival. The serious people are glad that the real cold weather will deter the less serious, and hangers-on….those who tend to make OP look bad due to drug and alcohol use and rowdy behavior. I sat in a meeting about camp security…..a Boston Occupier said potentially violent people are surrounded by thirty or so people who “talk them down”, and that it has been very effective in Boston. There was talk of whether people caught using drugs should be exiled or given warnings, and if so, how many. In addition to it’s core precept of non-violence, OP does not allow drugs or alcohol. The problem is detecting it, because it’s easy to hide the behavior in tents; and enforcing the rules when someone IS found using. Shortly after the meeting started, a man walking by stopped, and stood listening intently. He asked why people were here in the park protesting. By the time he had heard three or four people give their reasons, his skepticism about the movement turned into enthusiasm. He asked where he could donate, left and bought food to donate…..then returned to the group and offered to pay for prescription medications if anyone couldn’t afford them.I suppose the community spirit and sense of purpose won him over; I wish I could ask him. I had another interaction with two banker/executive types that were very negative.
They did what almost everyone who says they don’t like the Occupy Movement does……avoided the main issues that Occupy is for, and kept trying to marginalize and minimize the movement by emphasizing all the things the media feeds the public regarding drug use, not understanding the message, and “not getting anything changed by camping in tents and bothering people”. Of course, this is sheer bullshit, because you don’t need the sense God gave a fucking chipmunk to discern that Occupy stands for (a)Getting the money out of politics so giant corporations and the wealthy are no longer able to give unlimited anonymous campaign contributions to their bought-and-paid-for politicians, (b) Holding financial criminals accountable for ruining the country’s economy and putting millions of Americans out of their homes, their jobs, and their life savings, and (c) bringing the tax code back to where corporations with multi-billion dollar profits pay taxes on those profits at the same rate or greater than secretaries pay.
A huge thanks goes out to fellow occupier Steve Miller!
Want to share your Occupy observations? Hit me up: firstname.lastname@example.org