Saturday, October 8, 2011

OccupySF / 68 signups for Oct 29

THE WORLD IS BUSTING LOOSE, finally, and seemingly out of a dead calm. A month ago, whodathunk?

This morning I went down to the Federal Reserve Building on Market Street in San Francisco. At 9:30 there were probably 60 people there, some familiar faces, but mostly new ones. I stayed until about noon. The entire time I was there, I heard a constant stream of beeps and toots of encouragement from passing cars, buses, streetcars. All morning, passing pedestrians stopped to inquire about what was up.

A very pleasant, open-seeming, 35 year-old named Jackson approached me. He said was a San Francisco native (he had Asian looks, and a born-in-the-USA accent), owned a small business (with, I think he said, 50 employees), and things were going well for him. He asked me what we at the site wanted.

I said I thought it was probably a good question to ask, but a bad question for us to try to answer. (This week Jon Stewart said the mainstream media has only two settings regarding the Occupy movement: “Blackout” and “Circus.”) The instant “we” (the absolutely disparate group at the site) begin to say we want This, or we want That, or this is The Reason why we’re here, I think we’re sunk. The mainstream media will just firehouse us with everything they’ve got. And they’ve got a lot. That’s what I told Jackson.

I asked him this: “Given that we live on a planet with 7 billion people, given that 3.5 billion of us live in relative wealth, and given that 3.5 billion of us live on less than $2/day, where do YOU think we should start?”

Jackson thanked me for my time and moved along.

I MET HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS from Orinda, California; two moms who’d brought their teenage daughters into town from Marin County; a man who managed a series of small retail businesses in Petaluma; a man who came in from Hayward just for a look. Always, across the street from the Federal Reserve building, there was a line of 10-30 people aiming personal cameras at the encampment.

I met a 23-year old woman originally from Illinois, and more recently from Santa Cruz. She came to town last weekend for the music festival in Golden Gate Park and when she heard about OccupySF she just stayed. Last night was her fifth night camped out on Market Street. I told I’ve been thinking of camping out, but I haven’t yet. We both noted that the core of OccupySF is young people like her, but is augmented by a constantly rotating stream of older people like me, folks who spent last night at home in a bed.

This young woman said, “We need people like you -- people who aren’t burnt out and hoarse from yelling slogans all day. People who’ve had a shower and regular food that helps them think a little more clearly. If you only stay an hour, or even just a few minutes, that’s cool. We need everyone.” I told her that the longer she and her young colleagues can hold out, the greater the chances that people like me will show up in greater numbers. She said, “We need numbers. Portland had 10,000 show up. Did you hear that? I thought San Francisco would be the place.”

By the time I left, around noon, I counted 175 people in the crowd. And just four police officers.

IF YOU ARE one of the 68 people who’ve signed up for the TAX THE RICH human banner on Oct 29, thank you. If you can share the signup site with others, please do:

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