Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Portland

Yesterday, I attended the Occupy Portland march with approximately 10,000 others.  We completely filled Pioneer Courthouse square and spilled onto the adjacent streets.  Due to work, I was only able to participate for an hour.

I returned to the occupation around 8pm in the evening to join in solidarity with this movement to change the system.  The vibe was incredible and everyone was friendly and hopeful.  The demands are for systemic change.

Around 10pm a woman came by and asked if anyone wanted to teach a class.  I volunteered to teach a class on economics starting at 10:15pm.  At the appointed time, we formed a circle on the lawn and about 20 people joined me for an economics discussion.  The group eventually grew to well over 50 people.

Without resources, I discussed some of the following:
  • The SYSTEM
  • Circulation of money
  • The FED and the creation of money
  • A giving economy
  • Happiness index and other metrics
  • Labor, capital, and managerial classes
  • The scale of the system
  • Alternatives, Alternatives, Alternative as a few different ideas.
  • The Paradigm of the current system
It was a rich and rewarding experience to share my business and economics expertise.  I ended up staying until 1am when I walked home and slept in my warm bed.

Rather than go directly to work, I returned this morning at 7:30am and ended up working as a spokesperson/information sharer as well as doing call in reports for KBOO community radio.  I also did a number of TV and radio interviews as well.

When I arrived, the General Assembly (GA) was taking place and there were approximately 500+ people in attendance.  I counted more than 60 tents though many had already been packed away.  The police had given us until 9am to clear the park as the Portland Marathon had rented out the space for their weekend event.

Behind the scenes were furious negotiations with the police, Portland Marathon, the Mayor's office, and representatives of Occupy Portland.  OP moved from two parks and consolidated into one and I believe Portland Marathon made the decision to share the park with us rather than have us removed.  That decision allowed the peaceful demonstration to stay in place so we could relax and move forward rather than worrying about the logistics of moving.

Around 9:40am, I again led an economics discussion and gathered probably 50+ people for the discussion.

At 11am I had to return to work.  I will back tonight.

We have an opportunity to change the system but we need more people to get involved.  Democracy is not a spectator sport.  The current system wants all of you to just go back to work so the 1% can get even richer while we destroy the planet through an unjust economic system.

Will you join me in changing it?

If so, you have to get out into the streets.  There is something vastly different about speaking face to face in human size groups that cannot be replicated through mass media.  Unless you have attended an event, you have no idea what is going on.  It would be like trying to taste a meal by listening to the food.
I know the Arab uprising occured and I saw it on TV but the only way to know what was really going on was to be a part of it.  This is our Arab uprising.  We need a new system and we need it now.  We need ALL people of goodwill out to help us create it.

The current economic system in the US produces:
  • 20% + unemployment/underemployment
  • 1 in 4 children in poverty
  • Multiple wars for resources and control
  • A security state 2nd to none
  • The largest prison population on the planet
  • Ecological destruction
  • 50 million without health insurance
  • Wealth disparity that rivals third world nations.
We can and must do better.  I hope you'll join me TODAY in helping nurture this unbelievable moment.

If not now, when?  If not you, who?


Kai Jones said...

I'm not joining a protest that doesn't have a goal. What are the goals of this protest? What is your endgame, what is your win state? What event will justify ending the protest?

Brian C. Setzler said...

I wouldn't call it a protest.

It feels more like humans coming together to create a new system. The current system is broken and is not meeting the real needs of people while simultaneously destroying the biosphere.

Here are a few goals for a new system:

1. An opportunity for a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life for everyone on the planet.

2. Human consumption in balance with the Earth's capacity.

3. Strong, caring communities

4. Rule based free market systems

5. Equitable and socially efficient allocation of resources

6. Democratic system one-person, one-vote citizen sovereignty.

Brian C. Setzler said...

Here are some great photos from yesterday:

Sara Moore said...

Thanks for sharing this, Brian. I think one of the most telling statistics is our country's high school graduation rate, showing an increasing gap between different groups (by location, ethnicity, economic level). Only about 50% of many groups of students are finishing high school in this country. What kind of lives do they look forward to? Yes, more and more people are losing hope and this movement is a way to bring it back. Just like the birth of democracy in Greece, it takes actual people talking face-to-face every so often to balance power.

Mike said...

Compliments, Brian.
Now that the occupation has ended, what do you suggest we do to get involved?
Keep up the good work; at TriLibrium, and in the streets!

Jack Palancio said...

Great work, Brian, very inspiring! It's terrific to see OP grow so quickly. OW needs all the help it can get from the rest of the world.

Brian C. Setzler said...

Thanks for all your support and kind words.

@ Mike - The occupation has not ended and we'll see where it all goes. I don't believe it can be put back into the bottle.