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!