|"What seems to be, is, to those to whom it seems to be." --Blake|
Take off take offWhen I last visited the camp (on Wednesday evening) I'd left with grave concerns about the viability of the demonstration. On Sunday morning, some of those concerns were mollified. According to a gregarious young woman who introduced herself as "General Assembly," when the City reopened Main Street on Thursday morning, a lot of tension was released, and spirits were renewed.
Take off your stay-at-home shoes
Break off shake off
Chase off those stay-at-home blues
Down to the crowds in the street
They go their way
Looking for faces to greet
But we run on laughing with no one to meet
--Night in the City (Joni Mitchell)
|Tents pitched everywhere|
The bleak October sun displayed the naked world. In the cool morning air, neither the camp nor its denizens conjured any menace at all. Everything was calm, but Portland's finest were on hand. The officers patrolled around the outskirts of the camp, with their hands in their pockets, chatting amiably with each other and with the folks around them.
|Camp mascot: The flying tiger that eats banks for breakfast|
|Jeremy and Pinkie: colorful personalities|
The Food Not Bombs kitchen brings food every evening, and sympathetic web sites have set up programs whereby anyone can order pizzas for the demonstrators from local pizzerias.
In fact, while I sat on a park bench in the middle of camp, a delivery man came through with a pizza box, announcing "Pizza! Free pizza!"
|KBOO on hand|
At the information booth, I spoke with Raya Cooper, a responsible young woman with an open face and a sunny demeanor.
I asked her about the sanitation issue. Specifically, it did not seem that there were enough toilets to service all the people at the demonstration. She acknowledged that it was a problem, but assured me that the Sanitation Committee was working to resolve it and that demonstrators had access to the restrooms in City Hall across the street. (I'll bet that makes Mayor Adams happy!) And when I looked around, I was pleased to see that the sidewalks were swept and clean and that people were strewing fresh straw around the grounds.
|No friends to Democrats|
Raya held that the demonstrators are a cross-section of society, including young and old, professionals and blue-collar workers, homeless people, college students, and everything in between. She said it is difficult to accurately estimate the numbers at the camp. People come and go. There are lots of sympathetic observers (like me) who come to show solidarity and check out the scene, but don't camp. And there are some who go back and forth between their homes and jobs and the camp --rotating demonstrators, if you will.
To quote Joe Baegant, from The Ants of Gaia, "... hippie optimism dies hard." That is why I can't make up my mind about this Occupy Portland demonstration. I want to believe. And, after all, if the common people can't find a peaceful way to bring about much-needed political and economic reform --well, it won't lead to anything good.