My Day–The Short List

So here’s a short list of what I did today, just so you’ll understand why I’m not writing at great length tonight.  I got up early to make an 8:30 AM Pagan Cluster meeting down at McPherson Square.  I did a nonviolence training at 9:30 AM for two hours.  Then we ran off to the rally for the tar sands pipeline near Freedom Plaza.  We had an intense discussion about gender issues during the rally as we couldn’t hear the speakers well enough to understand anything they were actually saying, but the whole thing had great energy.  At the end, we started a drum circle and turned it into a spiral dance.  Then we got caught up in the anti-war march and went almost to the Martin Luther King memorial before Linda and I had to break off to walk at a fast pace back to McPherson to do a consensus training.  That ended as the march came through heading to the IMF/World Bank building, and I couldn’t resist joining that!  By the end, my energy was flagging so we caught a cab back.  Just as I arrived, the Occupy DC group asked me to facilitate their 6 pm General Assembly.  I did.  It was a challenging meeting, but we got through it.  By the end, I was tired.  The Pagan Cluster was meeting over by the big tree, We fell down on the grass and duck doo doo and lay in a puppy pile and had hysterics for a while.  Then we went over to Freedom Plaza, where Jason and Riyanna were facilitating the General Assembly.  That looked like the meeting from hell when I arrived, bogged down on trying to get consensus to break down into small groups.  I sat in on the meeting to give them some support.  When we finally got consensus, and finally ended the meeting, we drummed and sang “We’re going to make a revolution” to the tune of “What shall we do with the drunken sailor.”  My friend Lisa is in town for just a day—I caught one glimpse of her on the march and had a few moments at the end of the day to catch up, drinking a beer at the hotel where I’m sleeping tonight.

All of this to explain why I’m not blogging at great length tonight.  In a way, it’s quite amazing—all sorts of people from all over the country just discovering consensus process, eager to meet and plan and share ideas and experience the heady thrill of direct democracy in the streets.  Is it my greatest dream come true—or my worst nightmare, trying to facilitate meetings with people who are unfamiliar with the process and yet have very strong opinions on how you should be running the meeting.  And there’s the People’s Mike—a technique we’ve often used on the streets for short announcements, having groups of people repeat a speaker’s words.  But here they use it for entire meetings and complex arguments!  And of course, it makes everything take twice as long.  But people love it.  It makes you feel heard, and amplifies your voice.  It makes even prosaic statements sound like religious liturgy.  It creates a great sense of unity and community, which everybody craves.

Something is happening.  Occupations are springing up all over the place.  One of the young women organizers told me she’d passed on my consensus download to someone about to start Occupy Mississippi!  There are union folks here from Wisconsin, displaced stockbrokers from New York, laid off policy wonks from here in DC, affable former corporate managers from Texas, ex-cons from the ‘hood here in DC, a lot of homeless people, and students who’ve woken up to the fact that they are debt-slaves.  What will happen if ordinary folks all over the country get addicted to having a say in the decisions that affect their lives?

I feel more and more ent-like by the day.  You know, those ancient tree-beings out of Tolkien.  It’s not just the bendability factor, but the time thing.  I’m sixty, and these young generations of activists seem to come up so quickly, as if they are in a different time-stream.  The truth is, activist fashions don’t change that much and this cohort looks enough like the ones we were marching with ten years ago that they could be the very same people, somehow ageless, only with some very different sets of assumptions.  Instead of smashing the windows at Starbucks, they’re using the toilets and in return, rating them high on the internet.  Here in DC the police have been extremely mellow so far, and one young man actually proposes marching to thank them.  True, he doesn’t gather much support, but no one shouts him down.  And they all seem universally, unquestionably devoted to non-violence.

But I said I wasn’t going to write a long blog.  Tomorrow will bring more surprises—and yet more meetings!

7 comments to My Day–The Short List

  • Tina H

    Thank you, thank you for being here. I’m an ordinary mom, frightened for my kid’s future. I’m going to bring him and come Occupy some small part of DC on Sunday.

  • ryan

    Hi Star, it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other! I was down at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Sq. earlier today, but didn’t see you. Nice to read your report from yesterday. I put this together with some old mutual friends, thought you might like to see it:

    I hope to run into you while you are in DC. Your new book looks like a great resource, and so timely with process and the general assembly model being so central the Occupy actions, kind of unbelievable timing, really!

    • So sorry to have missed you, Ryan! Was wondering if you were around. I’m back home now, but will check out your article. There’s a free download on my website, on the meeting stuff that’s up right now! Great to hear you’re involved.

  • Raksha

    Re “Something is happening.” Yes, something is definitely happening. Even though Riyana and I both predicted it and recognized it when it happened, it still makes my head spin to see how fast the “Occupy” movement is gaining momentum. And how quickly the whole country is recognizing the significance of it. People who were sneering and scoffing just a few days ago are taking it seriously now.

    That’s why I think it’s so important for you to focus your energies over the coming months into getting the movie made of The Fifth Sacred Thing, if it’s at all possible. The spirit or energy of your book and the energy of Occupation Wall Street are compatible, although the world may not know it yet. But I think if it’s actually in the theaters and people who may not have read the book are exposed to it, you will amplify that energy and help the new world that is now being born into manifestation.

    I feel so honored that my daughter is staying and blogging with you at this historic time.

    Blessed Be,
    Linda Sang aka Raksha

  • Sue S

    It’s great you’re there guiding process–Sounds like the start of something very interesting….

    Thanks so much for doing this–

    Sue S

  • There are several Occupy cities in Alabama and I am thrilled! To have grown up here and to have always loved it and yet moved beyond it at the same time, I can only say that I feel blessed just to post to the Occupy Huntsville Facebook page! Change really does happen! The only downside is that I don’t have the means to get to the protests so I am blogging it all and keeping up with what happens thru friends who will be there. The blog is for a social media marketing class I am currently in this semester and my teacher is pretty straight laced but I am proud to say she is taking it in stride.

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