Thursday, 27 October 2011

#OccupySLC : Three Weeks!

Three weeks ago #OccupySLC kicked off its encampment in Pioneer Park. I had no idea at the time that the camp would still be carrying on - let alone thriving - two weeks in, and here we are at week three. The base camp, while slightly more tightly grouped and orderly than the ramshackle construction that rose up out of the park, has maintained roughly its same layout and location for the entirety of peoples' stay there so far.

By now, the main nodes of Base Camp should be pretty apparent: there's the Circle-A Cafe, feeding the masses, with the First Aid tents nearby and the dish cleaning and sanitizing operation going out of the back. Most of the General Assemblies take place in a large adjacent clearing that seats a hundred people easily. The whole camp consists of about 60 - 70 "residential" tents (not counting the supply or Kitchen tents, &c.).

Today at noon, Jesse Fruhwirth hosted a media training for a small but attentive group of people (I counted about ten). He covered the survival basics of PR and speaking to media people, fielded some good questions, and in general it went very smoothly.

Speaking of smooth, here's Jesse talking to some media types about why #OWS can't/won't/shouldn't boil it's message down to a bumper sticker so the pundits can comprehend the phenomenon well enough to babble about it:

Jesse is good. And while we're on the subject, might I recommend Dahlia Lithwick's excellent essay on #OccupyWallStreet? Here's what she has to say about #OWS' media coverage:

The mainstream media thrives on simple solutions. It has no idea whatsoever of how to report on a story that isn't about easy fixes so much as it is about anguished human frustration and fear. The media prides itself on its ability to tell you how to clear your clutter, regrout your shower, or purge your closet of anything that makes you look fat - in 24 minutes or less. It is bound to be flummoxed by a protest that offers up no happy endings. Luckily for us, #OWS doesn't seem to care.
You tell 'em. The shameful media coverage that these issues receive in the United States is perhaps exemplified by a spectacle I took in tonight: Rod Decker's performance on Channel 2 News.

Decker, whose partially-inflated head and weird, mincing steps in Pioneer Park were certainly attention-getting, honked on about studies indicating growing income inequality in the United States and sub-studies showing that Utah has among the most evenly distributed incomes in the United States. Footage of people (real, not media, people) who have been living outdoors and participating in the life of their polis pretty-much full time for three weeks now was intercut with footage of Governor Herbert, well-scrubbed and mellifluous in a posh office talking about the glories of the free market to a small assemblage of media types. You know, based on stark visuals of income inequality alone, I think #OSLC won that one despite the best efforts of Channel 2 News, although I would have enjoyed the performance more on mute.

This weekend will bring a loud, enjoyable performance of sorts; #OccupySLC's next big date to put on your calendar is Saturday, 10/29/11. #OSLC will be holding a march at 12:30 PM MST, starting at Pioneer Park. Following that, there will be a teach-in on the G-20 at 2:00 PM MST.

Today marked my first visit to a brave new front in #OccupySLC:

The Beast!

#OccupyTheFed SLC, as I saw it this afternoon, is a smaller group than the main #OSLC body.

#OTFSLC has people strolling back and forth through the intersection with signs each direction during crossing signals, and even in the post-lunch lull when I visited, they were getting a surprising amount of raised fists and honks from supporters and fellow travelers in the downtown traffic.

While it's status as a mystical quasi-private, quasi-government vortex of secrecy and huge capital transfers puts it on my $h!t list, I don't bear the Federal Reserve the special animosity that some libertarians, money critics, and full-blown cranks do. I include that last category because the literature at the #OccupyTheFed SLC outpost...

Included a pamphlet from Campaign For Liberty.

I don't know if the #OTF SLC guys know this, but Campaign For Liberty is a Ron Paul front (just like "Organizing For America" is a front for Barack Obama). Between a few people suggesting an action on November 5th, the Guy Fawkes masks, and this, I think it's official: Ron Paul People have probably made a sizable incursion into #OccupySLC. I say "incursion," and think this is a bad thing, because among the first principles adopted by #OSLC is a rejection of political candidates, as well as political parties.

Ron Paul, of course, isn't the only candidate whose jackass followers are trying to hitch his wagon to #OSLC's star, though, and to be fair, my other encounter was back with the main group. About halfway through the media training at Base Camp, I was approached by a furtive, extremely anxious-looking young woman in thick spectacles who handed me two sheets of paper and hissed "this is serious, okay?" before she took off. Behold:

LaRouche has a thing about the British

If you've never had the good fortune to encounter the interesting opinions of Mr. Lyndon LaRouche, I'll give you the nickel tour. Mr. LaRouche has been, over the years, a many-time Presidential candidate of virtually no public support, a convicted mail fraud and tax evader, and head of a LaRouche "intelligence network." His followers have the cult-like and inwardly directed intensity of Ayn Rand acolytes (like Objectivists, they are usually found exclusively, in my experience, on college campuses).

The new schedule for Base Camp is as follows: General Assemblies on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday at 7:30 PM MST (the next few to focus on camp issues), with Town Halls at the Downtown Public Library on Mondays and Thursdays at 7:00 PM MST. Events on Saturday at 12:30 PM MST and 2:00 PM MST. There will be additional events and schedule changes to come.

The text tree is experiencing technical difficulties right now - hubs and such should be back up and fully updated soon. Three weeks in, #OccupySLC is experiencing pretty low turnover, all things considered. #Occupy is going strong here, and looks to have more staying power than anyone could have expected.

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