I’ve been in Oregon for the past week, talking to groups of people around the state. On Saturday, I headed to Occupy Portland, one of the largest and best organized of the Occupy events happening across the nation, to witness this wonderful expression of the need for a more just society. There are 700 people camped out peacefully in Portland, after many thousands turned out for an initial march.
The Occupy Portland folk are protesting corporate greed, the concept of corporate citizenship (foisted upon us courtesy of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision) and the lack of accountability of the government to the people. At the same time, they are promoting local, sustainable, diverse economies; the right to privacy and Internet freedoms; free education; clean air and water; meaningful work and fair taxes.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about how “incoherent” the Occupy events are, but that seems to me like a pretty coherent program for a people-focused democracy, in place of a congress beholden to corporate interests.
Here’s a photo essay of my visit.
Oregonians are so organized. They are sharing everything: food, first aid, tea and massage, doing yoga, art supplies to make posters, cooking, clean up, peacekeeping, information for visitors… There is a “sacred place” - a place of quiet for meditation to get away from the crowds. Homeless and unemployed are “regulars”. Daily sessions in non-violent conflict resolution.
Recent challenges: extreme groups or fringe groups trying to move in and dominate the discourse.