Saturday, October 1, 2011

Down at the Demonstration

Well, given what's going on in New York as I write (mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge -- among other things) the first organizing meeting of #0ccupysacramento was... tame. To say the least. But our time is coming.

Ultimately there were maybe 100-150 assembled at Fremont Park to hash out the means, methods and actions, including dates and times, of a local occupation. Like New York and other #occupation actions, it was a leaderless participatory democratic meeting, concluding -- but not ending, by any means, with a somewhat chaotic but informative and amorphously definitive General Assembly.

Ah, the General Assembly! All hail!

I think this is the most iconic element of the #occupation actions, and it is critically important for the health and success of the movement, as it will be critically important for the future should the Revolution actually succeed. It is an appallingly difficult process -- or at least it seems to be when you're in the midst of one -- to reach some sort of consensus, or at least buy-in, from the participants. Everyone has their say -- more than their say if they want to -- everyone has a vote, everyone with an objection is heard, all ideas are considered.

And when some kind of decision is reached, it may not be immediately clear what it is. The process can be immensely aggravating -- and yet it can keep you involved and get you more involved than you ever thought you would be.

There are in this movement many elements of what I've been involved with -- much more heavily in the past than I am now -- for many years. The same kind of people, many of the same issues. But truly, there is a different energy that has to do with the predominance of the young people who haven't been involved in direct action, many of them ever.

Us older people are there, many of them anti-war activists from a decade ago or more. A few Dean people. And we might offer a nudge or a bit of strategic advice from time to time. But as a friend -- a real war horse in the field -- said during part of the GA today, "If the necessity for action isn't taken up by the young, it's over. For all of us."

Oh yes, they are taking it up. It's hard, but they are doing it, and they are owning it. Yay!

We split into working groups, if I recall correctly, there was a media group, a location/time group (I was mostly with that one), a messaging group, a supplies group, and an education group. All of their efforts were reported back at the GA, and there were several votes. [Note: the People's Assembly model does not provide for votes. Instead, it operates on the basis of consensus, which is reached through a democratic process which does not include voting. The model is quite unfamiliar to most Americans, and to my eye, it is rather more revolutionary than most people realize.]

Communications will be maintained via email and on Facebook for now (oh, how I have resisted Facebook!); the next scheduled action is a training in leadership and legal issues the morning of October 6, and then a joint march (the People United, etc) concluding with an... occupation. Sounds good. Because there will be other actions during the month of October, it looks like the Occupation will align with those that place people above corporate profits. There will likely be ongoing demonstrations at the banks lining Capital Mall, but at this point, I wouldn't say it is an absolute.

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