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!


Marlan Warren said...

Well done, Forrest & Anne, et al.! So glad you could be present, unharmed and somewhat effective.

Glee said...

Thank you for posting this detailed account. I am here with Multnomah Meeting of Friends in Portland. It is good to hear that the minute created and approved by the meeting is sensible to other Quakers witnessing this movement. We have formed a support committee of a growing number of friends to be available to the Occupy movement in various ways. We are just beginning the process of holding regular meetings for worship at the Occupy sight. So, it is good to hear of your efforts to hold the peaceful space. In the light. Glee