Saturday, 22 October 2011

#OccupySLC : Day 15 "Pioneer Park; This Is The Place Edition"

Last night, #OccupySLC's General Assembly voted to stay in Pioneer Park. I spent most of the GA meeting seated right next to a reporter from the Tribune (which has a write-up this morning). The impression I got is that the Trib's presence, and the absence of KSL and Channel 4 News &c. - is a positive development, as the Tribune's coverage of the #Occupy protest in Salt Lake City has been fairly neutral.

The camp is still amazingly tidy, considering that around 60-75 tents have been set up there for over two weeks now.

If you're curious as to what this #OSLC business is all about, the hub site is  here  (national hub site for #Occupy protests  here  ). Facebook group is  here  . Twitter feeds  here  and  here  . Media/Outreach Spokesperson William Rutledge can be reached  here  .

There are still daily marches, and plans for more extensive actions are being hashed out at each meeting. A contingent of Occupants has, as of last night, split from the main group to "Occupy the Fed." As far as I know no permits have been or will be issued for overnight demonstrations anywhere but Pioneer Park, so this could mark a new, sad chapter in the relationship between the SLCPD and their brothers and sisters who are also part of the 99%.

The Tribune's article about last night's decision contains the following statement from Jocelyn Johnson, which I couldn't agree with more:

...[Johnson] spoke in strong support of keeping the original base camp in a park already occupied by the homeless. "To have it here is absolutely brilliant," Johnson said. "This is where it should start in every city in the country. It would be a mistake to think we could run away from this and resolve any of the difficulties that are part of being the 99 percent."

Well said, Dr. Johnson. I haven't seen a thorough enough write-up from any other city to know whether #OccupySLC is really as revolutionary and creative as it seems to me. A major factor in how impressed with #OSLC I am is the Circle-A Cafe, which began it's life as the humble "kitchen tent," and now serves around 200 people per meal-time rush. (based on my rough count and estimate).

This sign could be a slogan for #OccupySLC:

Before last night's General Assembly, Randy Holladay and Julian Cossmann-Coope (who is a Quaker) provided excellent training on consensus-based decision making and meeting facilitation.

If you're looking for something about #OWS to make fun of, you won't do much better than the meeting structure that is as much a part of any #OWS franchise as protest signs. Mock away, but it's worth keeping in mind that this screwball amalgam of Robert's Rules of Procedure and a love-in has kept #OSLC going strong for two weeks and two days now. As messy as these meetings are, they get things done: #OSLC has subcommittees that are in charge of food, the Free School, which is taking instructors and donations:

...the First Aid tents, media outreach, sanitation, and public safety.

Usually I'd throw in a barb about whether the Tea Party could pull that off, but instead I'm beginning to hope - based on the small but admirably philosophically consistent group of libertarians I've met circling the fringes of #OSLC - that they will join #OWS. We'll see, I suppose.

Speaking of infrastructure, the Circle-A Cafe stays open for business fairly late:

The updated wish list for the kitchen reads as follows: Canned soup, glue sticks, help from people with food handlers' permits, non-disposable cups, non-disposable silverware, C and D batteries, plates, and musicians.

The General Assembly started a little late, and ran very late. Different subcommittees that were assigned tasks (and, in many cases, funds) reported on their progress. The amount of organization that #OSLC has pulled off is unbelievable when you contemplate that this group has no leaders and a very anarchic, communitarian decision-making structure. They even have walkie-talkies now that help the Police Liaisons and Itinerarnt/Homeless Liaisons deal with the bike cops that puttered throw every hour at :27 on the minute. The cops still hassled a lot of people and handed out tickets, but so far things in Salt Lake City seem unlikely to go the way of Denver or Boston (or Oakland or Cincinnati or...).

The "layout subcommittee" reported that they had purchased tape flags and the like so that as #OSLC heads into winter people's campsites will have a uniform pattern: two feet between tents and four feet between rows of tents, so that people can maneuver with greater ease. The layout right now (which has been more or less the same since day one) is kind of scattershot:

The Circle-A Cafe plans to move to a cement surface in their section of Pioneer Park soon so that they can keep their propane tanks and lanterns &c. on stable and level ground. The fact that #OSLC is fully prepared  for (and even looking forward to) winter should give those who trash the consensus-driven democratic process something to think about.

I'd recommend going to the Downtown Farmer's Market today, incidentally. Our long, wet summer has led to an astonishing harvest this year. Once this morning's Farmer's Market clears out, the plan is for #OccupySLC to reconvene. I'm going to try to get over to the new offshoot, #Occupy the Fed SLC, as soon as I can to see what's going on with them.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post. One correction: the Occupy The Fed people need no permit. They have had extensive legal discussions with ACLU Utah and SLCPD and what they are doing is legal without need for permit--one can legally sleep on the sidewalk so long as you're not blocking the walkway (who knew, right?!) Also, they've been sleeping there already three or four nights, but they come back to base camp sometimes for meetings, discussions and food. They deserve our full support--and I'm happy to see that they have yours :)

    I love this: "screwball amalgam of Robert's Rules of Procedure and a love-in." Beautiful writing!