Saturday, October 29, 2011

Worship at San Diego Concourse

We didn't have any of our Meeting's introductory pamphlets... So Anne suggested editing down the piece about Portland Meeting's endorsement of Occupy Portland; with a little trimming it fit as a good one-page intro for 'Occupiers'.

Rocky was delayed coming to pick up Anne & me; meanwhile a homeless young woman across the street thought our sleeping bags had been left out to give away, so she came over to ask about them. We were afraid we might have to use ours, so Margaret went upstairs & offered her her own bag... This woman was tiny, needed something smaller & lighter, so Margaret suggested we donate her bag downtown. (We did dig up a rolling suitcase we probably won't need again, which ought to help at least with the young woman's lugging difficulties.)

When we arrived downtown there were no parking spaces closer than 3rd & Ash. So we left the bags in the car and hurried down to the Concourse. There were police barricades at the entrance, police lined up against the buildings, a relatively small but angry crowd milling about, some with signs, near the entrance.

Since "Quakers do it in the Light" we three set up on a well-lit terrace in the midst of the stairs coming down from the building to the north. Goings on around us were sporadically on the ugly side, the police marching into the crowd from time to time to deal with some provocative individual while the people nearby yelled indignantly.

(The best of the local 'Occupy' leadership was in jail; the others were holding things together as well as they could manage, but not easily.)

Anything sittable we had was back at the car, so we sat on our coats. I don't know about Anne or Rocky, but I was working pretty hard at connecting to God while broadcasting heavy-duty "Calm Vibes". Worked on me, anyway. Anne says the crowd at the entrance really was quieting down, some.

[Later, on my way to the bathroom, I found a small group of Krishna's who'd come with what I think was the same purpose, settling down the raging emotions thereabouts. As we couldn't hear them from our spot, I've got no idea how long they'd been around.]

A couple young women joined us by our sign, later a couple guys. One of the young women, who'd been crying, thanked us. The young people went on their ways; we continued until the nearby sound system started playing rock music.

When I got my shoes back on, I found Anne & Rocky set up over by the fountain, and we resumed. Sue Rios and her husband joined us somewhat later. And Charles wandered by, there to report for Zenger's. The music varied from Bob Dylan & Beatles to moderately-ugly 'heavy metal' (Congratulations are due to Anne for sitting through the latter!)

I had a brief talk with a young man who thought we were "like the people who drive buggies in Pennsylvania-- the Amish, right?" He talked about Ma'at, showed me some notes on Egyptian religion he'd made at the library on brown butcher paper. It looked interesting, but hopeless to read in the dim light so I handed it back.

Anne informed me the Meeting was over.

Since the food distribution center had been disrupted by the police, Anne & I went around trying to pass out banana bread. The place was filling up with union people who'd come for their support rally, and they'd all eaten; when I offered a piece to the Krishna just outside the plaza, she told me she was fasting, then asked if I'd like to chant with them. (I found the notion tempting, but wasn't in the mood.) Some homeless people farther along took a few slices, but it took us awhile to find a tiny organized center where we could leave the rest.

The union rally was... just another union rally. Rabbi Laurie & others of the 'Worker Justice' gang presented some vocal prayers; political speakers started doing their thing. There was an ongoing effort to collect bail for people in jail.

Wayne had come for that; we were glad to see him but chased on with Rocky, who was taking pictures for the OB Rag and trying to catch up with someone he wanted to interview. Couldn't find, couldn't find-- and then all these bicyclists from Critical Mass came through the plaza, many of them in Halloween costumes! Some friendly interactions between them and our crowd; they left; someone out front started tipping over police barricades & draining the water out. The police did not approve. Rocky disappeared into the middle of that, clicking away madly!

A crowd of Occupiers formed out in the intersection, and started a small march. No sign of Rocky, who (He told us later) was out near the front at first, but limping along at the back by the time they returned. Anne and I begged a ride from Wayne and were quite content to have to sleep at home in our warm bed.

The Portland minute was evidently written by a Meeting with members actively working within their local 'Occupy' movement.

We don't have anyone like that. Anne & I admire this group, but we've got no particular connection with them, or any plans to do anything but help and wish them well.

We have members with heavy emotional investments in electoral politics-- while Anne and I consider the Occupy movement an essential response to the bankruptcy of that system as practiced in America today.

We are therefore unlikely to agree on anything like an unqualified endorsement. But the effort of seeing what we can agree on-- seems very much worth-while!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our City Council Morning

Anne woke up this morning to a announcement that the Oakland police had just violently attempted to close down the 'occupy' protest in that city.

Learning that our local 'occupiers' would be marching to City Hall to talk to the City Council about a resolution to support their right to protest rather than seek ways and rationales for suppressing it-- Anne & I jumped on a bus, went through a long metal-detector line, got into the meeting soon after the Council passed a resolution congratulating women for having gotten the vote (by some highly stressful protests, violently opposed by the authorites, as one young speaker pointed out) awhile ago.

We were happy to meet our Friend Wayne there. (Rocky Neptun was also there covering the event for the 'Ocean Beach Rag' but we didn't see him until later.)

The San Diego City Council has many times tried measures to restrict their public comment period, which has been the venue for a great many issues they really didn't want to hear about or deal with. They've reduced it by 1/2 since our day...

Anyway, before Public Comment there were items on the "Consent Agenda". Things which would be automatically passed unless someone spoke up in opposition. There were about 1/2 dozen speakers against a proposal for a new district benefiting hotel owners near the Convention Center. They received their 3 minutes each; then the Council voted unanimously for it.

The "President of the Council" announced that the Occupy people had a great many requests to speak... and that he had decided they fit into five topics, which he designated... and that each topic could have 3 minutes total devoted to it.

The first topic was the resolution the group had asked the Council to approve. A young reader got most of the way through reading that resolution, whereupon she was told her three minutes were up. She kept reading.

Anne says this went on for some time; my own impression was that it wasn't long at all... her reading, others in support echoing her words... until the City Council walked out, adjourning about 1/2 hour early so they wouldn't have to waste over three minutes listening to anything other than the needs of developers & real estate hoarders.

Wayne left about then (I gather he was frustrated & indignant about the Council's attitude. (?) We saw him later, picketing by the plaza entrance.

About this time, someone got word that police were moving in a threatening way towards people's belongings downstairs in the City Hall plaza, whereupon most of the young 'occupiers' left to see to that. (This was a threat; this was only a threat; all was calm by the time we made it downstairs.)


Rocky had a notion that Friends might want to hold an ad hoc Meeting for Worship in the plaza some time this week... any individual Friends who might feel so led. [I have no idea whether it will happen, but hope it does!]

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Signs of These Times

Make your signs beautiful, for God to see.
They are prayers, not to be wasted
on that gang of lying brats who swindle us of power;
they're for that starved angel they keep
chained in the national basement.

Make your signs bright, for the blind to read
and don't expect victory, just miracles.

Don't demand peace or call loudly for justice.
Beg mercy. Our nation's trial
is now in the sentencing phase.

Witness. We live here
and we don't need
vacant assets; we need neighbors.
Not insurance plans, just doctors;
nor more school buildings, only people
teaching with love and understanding.
We don't need masters, just the right
to do what's needed and to not
be made to fear.

I first saw you in the 60's;
now we're back again five decades later
and the lies we face haven't changed
enough to matter.

is never ours, but miracles
keep rising up from our ashes.
It's been a long death, but we're still here.

Forrest Curo
Oct 2, 2011
[revised from a version
of pre-war 2003]