My visit to #occupywallstreetOctober 4, 2011 Leave a comment
I made it out to #occupywallstreet last Friday night. Here is how my experience unfolded:
1. Culture Shock
I’m into showers, they’re not. I’m in my mid-thirties, grew up in a working class Puerto Rican community and I’ve been yupified over the years. I didn’t see a lot of people of color and I wasn’t feeling the vibe. I wondered how people from my community could ever make a link to this crowd. I was welcomed to walk around, curiously browsing, checking out the scene, the art and the people.
I made my way to the musical corner, people were jammin! Drums, horns, dancing and chanting – joy – it was lovely, and it was energizing. I allowed myself to be present and bear witness. I started to sense the high level of intentionality among the occupiers; the conscious efforts to be kind to one another, the formulation of better ways of being-with. I was happy.
3. Blown Away
The General Assembly was like nothing I have ever seen through my years of group process and facilitation. The people’s microphone, an anarchist tradition and a response to loudspeakers being outlawed, is nothing short of inspiring. It is also a direct affront to the cult of efficiency. (See Cornel West working with it). The commitment to radical democracy became palpable. Here are the opening words of the GA, spoken slowly and sequentially so that they could be repeated by the crowd, not once but twice (due to size):
– My name is xxx and I’m a facilitator
– A facilitator is not a leader
– Anyone can be a facilitator
– We have trainings every day at 5PM
Amazing! Specially for someone who makes a living facilitating! Then they went on to introduce a “progressive stack,” whereby traditionally marginalized voices are privileged in the facilitation process. Deep.
There a lot of fair questions about the occupation movement. I’ve been disappointed by the naysaying in the professionalized nonprofit sector, but I do honor the questions. Something powerful is emergent, it is a learning process, we don’t know what the outcome will be, but have become more aware that something else is possible.