TO OCCUPY PORTLAND

I started Occupying in my home town of Portland and left to NYC in early December. It was such a beautiful experience seeing the town I had lived in for so long be awakened in such a phenomenal way. I had never felt more connected and more proud of a group of people than I felt with my fellow Occupiers. It was a sincere honor to stand in solidarity with the beautiful people of Occupy Portland.

Occupy Portland has done a lot of things right. And we certainly didn’t try to do some of these things.

Firstly, I never really realized how brilliant this was, but eliminating blocks from our process was a perfect way to ensure that an infiltrator couldn’t simply come in and screw everything up. Here in OWS there is a group known as the Blocking Committee who come into every single GA and Spokes Council and will most likely block every damn proposal that gets brought to the table. A block is simply to much power for random people who are uneducated in the GA process. The 90% consensus model is perfect for figuring in all factors if all participants are, well, participatory.

Secondly, the financial scandal that happened early on in our Occupation where upwards of $20,000 went missing from our paypal account went missing was one of the most brilliant things that could have happened to us. The healthy distrust of finance that came with this “travesty” was such a blessing. This allowed our movement to stray away from the use of money and rely completely on in-kind donations. It may have presented a lot of hardships for us, but it forced us to rely on ingenuity and strenuous outreach all day everyday.

When I tell people in OWS that OPDX doesn’t use any money they get wide eyed and begin sparkling radically. There is so much money here… so much. It is horrifying. The very first day I got here I was handed $2000 and told to go buy Metro Cards. Everything that happens here is dictated by finance, it is a tremendous block to the progress of this movement. The juxtaposition of the GA here and the GA back home is almost laughable. The GA in Portland is a place where we make decisions that will further the safety, security and success of our Movement. On a personal level its a place to get your actions endorsed with the Occupy Portland name and to do a bit of advertisement. Here, the only reason to go to a GA is to get money, and money, and more money. There are no progressive conversations, it is simply an ATM.

I don’t mean to bash OWS in any way, this is my personal observation of just one aspect of this Occupation (albeit a very large aspect). The experiences I have had here have been nothing short of absolutely spectacular. The modesty and clarity of these revolutionary people is truly inspiring. The very first action I participated in (#D12) was the most alive and free I had ever felt in my life. We simply need to find sustainability.

So, fellow Occupiers and non-Occupiers alike, how do we move away from the use of money within this movement? How can we buy out of the system that we are all so displeased with? There are ways to do it, people do it every day. But, to have an entire sub culture do it is a completely new undertaking. Let’s group think some business folks!

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  1. Fascinating-
    I come to the Occupy Portland website- and there are clear requests for “in-kind” donations everywhere on it. All existing members hang in. Try to attract more sympathizers, but be real at the same time.. difficult task/

    • portlandcopaseticzimulation
    • December 28th, 2011

    The Financial Committee incident was a big turning point for OPDX. Looking back, I think that the shock and ensuing distrust just made it way more difficult to do anything other than promote actions that didn’t cost anything. I don’t think it was wholly good or bad. You’re right on the good side– but on the other hand, our guys could have used some TriMet passes for running between planning and camp related errands. Or, you know, gas money. It forced the group to think in more creative ways, but this is still a (delightfully impure) capitalist country, and the lack of cash is still a painful limitation.

    • gambit
    • December 28th, 2011

    hells yeah tony! keep up the good work. we @opdx are so proud of you!

    • Thanks Gambit! Give me a call sometime if you want a report back, I’d love to here more about what’s going on in OPDX right now.

  1. December 30th, 2011

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