Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Portland - Portland's occupiers

The barricades arisen
The Occupy Portland protest is now well-established in downtown Portland at SW 3rd and Main Street. A visit to the web page earlier today alerted me to an urgent need for food storage space.  So I picked up some big plastic storage containers at Costco (oh, the irony!) and took them down to the camp.

I wanted to help and I was curious to see what I would see.

Organized and administered
The camp and the occupiers are well-organized.  Tarpologists (as they are called) have hung tarps throughout the park to hold off the worst of the rain.  (And it has been raining today!)  There is a kitchen serving donated food.  There is a medical station and an information booth.  The camp is run by various committees:  Sanitation (the self-named "shitty committee"), Information, Food, and so on.

Keeping informed, informing
There is a lot of cooperation and a lot of determination, and a good dose of hippie ingenuity.  No one hangs tarp like a hippie.  It's in the blood.

Not all the folks at the camp are hippies, though.  Not by a long shot.  There can be no categorical description of the people at the camp.  They're just Americans.  Everyday Americans.  (I did meet an elderly woman from Argentina, la quien habló conmigo de San Carlos de Barriloche.) 

Serving kitchen
Last week, as told, I attended the demonstration and march that initiated the protest.  I was hopeful, but I'm always hopeful after a march.  Then, I noticed media coverage picking up and my hope grew.

Still, I have learned over these last two decades, one protest march isn't going to change anything.  If we want change, only a sustained and organized effort will suffice.

So, I've been thinking about the Occupy Portland folks ever since the big march.  Every day, I've held my breath, hoping that their efforts would not falter.  It's hard living in a camp in the rain in the middle of a bustling city. But they're doing it.  And they can't be ignored. So I have to help. 

Let me encourage you, dear reader:  if you're at all sympathetic to this movement, this statement of outrage, this demand for reform, go to 3rd and Main and see for yourself what is down there.  And, if you can find some way to help, so much the better.

This could be history in the making. 

Power-generating bicycle
I've been attending political demonstrations ever since Bush the Elder launched the first Gulf War, and there have been some cruel defeats over the years.  But this time may be different.  Maybe.  If we pull together.  If we rally.

That's just it with humans. Broken hearts don't give up. The romantics among us go through life with the forlorn hope that there is deep wisdom in the Universe --a wisdom we cannot grasp, but that we know is just and beautiful. I'm banking on it.

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