Saturday, December 31, 2011

Letter to the Eugene City Council...

(Context: This was taken from a letter I posted on my mayors facebook page, I was acting independently from Occupy Eugene, but compassionately for humanity.)

Ultimately for the function of a society to be healthy with it's democracy their must be a healthy dialogue between all the diverse elements of a society in order fully utilize the 'wisdom of the commons.'

So this debate is good. But for debate to truly happen both sides need to LISTEN. The disenfranchised of this country feel oppressed. And to a degree this perception is accurate. For example, when THE HOMELESS SIGNED UP TO SPEAK AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING BUT DIDN'T GET TO SPEAK FOR TIME LIMIT REASONS. The official reasoning was that the city council was obeying standard procedures. Meanwhile The Occupy Eugene people wanted to express themselves. Neither 'side' is wrong, but there is a difference in interest.

The physical public occupation, in part, is an desperate attempt to get heard. For years many people in this 'democratic' society have felt marginalized and silenced, whether they are houseless and unable to find employment or they are a inspired activist wishing to save the world.

I remember, one night talking with a mixed group of activist and houseless Occupy Eugene members. We were sharing songs and stories. Crouched around a little fire, we were having fun. Sure, a drunk would come in every once in a while, at it's worst it would cause a fight, usually minor. Usually, the situation was tolerated and the drunk would be integrated as best as possible into the discussion. In the darkness of the cold wet winter we suffered together, committed to this cause of justice and our experiment with horizontal democracy. AND THAT FIRE WAS SO IMPORTANT. IT kept us warm, kept us circled together, it gave us light. This simple little fire, safe as a camp fire, was our most important resource.

And then 4 cops came with big flashlights, guns protruding from their hips. They asked us to put the fire out, again. Now the cops were not mean, but they were not friendly either. In fact, my experiences as an Occupy Eugene peace keeper made me sad in how hard it was to break through and be able to communicate with the cops on site as a person. Now, to the cops credit, they get approached by a lot of people who talk a lot of gibberish. Plus they are put in a position, as the face of authority, that is uncomfortable in a protest situation.

So in this situation, the cops came and put out our fire. And we were shocked. It literally froze us. And the cops knew they were inflicting pain, And I don't think they liked doing it. One cop even acknowledged how cold it was. Another cop was noticeably afraid.

And as the nights got colder, we saw more and more cops. The cops, employed to serve and protect. Were making sure that the site was safe (We Wondered that if the city must spend money we don't want on us, why don't they spend it on social workers and programs for the poor). And the nights passed and we got colder, instead of a fire, we got big fluerescent lights that beamed down on us all night. These lights were loud, and I remember one night, seeing a young couple, in their twenties and recently unemployed, a woman crying because the lights were blaring over them all night causing migraines into the lap of her powerless partner. And as people got less and less sleep, and as they suffered from coldness, they got more unstable. These conditions, sadly, do not lead to safety to say the least. Sadly, the calls of the peacekeepers could not be heard over the roar of the generators that powered the lights.

I mention these experiences, to inform the city council members, how important that safe little fire was. Now Imagine how emotional some Occupiers might be about losing not only their fire, but their home. 3 days before Christmas, nonetheless. For a second I ask you to imagine how you would feel if this happened to you. If you had to go back to hiding behind the bushes of public property, property you technically have an interest in as an American citizen, afraid you might be messed with by the police for having to pee.

Polling was a former police officer. He blocked the vote for the fire. He insulted the camp in the same public forum that the houseless and inspired activist were NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK AT. The city council took away the Occupation home. So the occupiers went to Polling's home (and Polling is just the face elected by our city to represent a certain perception.)((I also would like to specify that I was not at Polling's home on either location, although I am not ashamed to be affiliated in a loose way with that action.))

I sympathize with the city council. I understand the importance of rules. I know that they are very important in the running of a city, just as they are of a movement. I also acknowledge, that I do not understand completely where the city council is coming from in their actions.

But I do understand that it can be shocking to have a dialogue with someone who speaks differently, who sees things differently. When the way the other presents themselves can even appear disrespectful to you. Or maybe it's simply uncomfortable, maybe we rather look the other way when we see such pain and discomfort.

And as is tradition, when oppressed people feel silenced they become louder. Some say history repeats itself. I don't think so, I think it rhymes. And if we look at the times, we can hear the echoes of the civil rights movements and the anti-nuclear movement. It especially reminds me of the Serbian Optur movement. Actions like what has happened to Polling, are not new to world history. And if we study history, we can see that these actions do not go away until the people are heard.

Now I encourage you and hope you feel empowered to have a little better understanding of the protesters situation. Please listen to us, work with us. Truly work with us as peers, trust that we have good ideas. Many of us, just like most people in any group of society, intend to do the most good with the littlest harm. So please work with us as peers, and the more we are respected the more inspired we are to be respectful. Hopefully We can come together to not only work for the 99 percent, but rather the whole belly button club of humanity. And if that can happen, just imagine how effective democracy could be. It could be so effective, that their wouldn't need to be protest and all of it's ramifications.

Peace, Love, Joy, Wisdom...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Eugene Is in Solidarity with Occupy L.A. (And all the Other Occupations)

Hello Good Brothers and Good Sisters,

As I settled into my chair after I long day at work I got a text from a comrade in Occupy L.A.

Enough relaxing. The text alerted me that Occupy L.A. is facing pressure to close from the 'authorities'.

So I got on the world wide web and read a little about what was going on
(here's a few pretty non-biased and good links for background info:

It turned out that another Occupation is facing pressure to disband and stop, a pressure we at Occupy Eugene feel as our December 15th deadline circles over our head like a vulture. So in LA, After a long night of protesters and police standing chest-out in an all night face-off; a night in which Occupy Los Angeles responded to their eviction with a party. I am very glad to read that the police have not pursued violence in their attempt to remove our brothers and sisters. Likewise, I'm very glad that our Occupy brothers and sisters have also chosen the path of non-violence (By the way, our Police officers are our 99 percenter brothers and sisters as well, let us not forget).

I would like to contribute to this national dialogue. I do not speak for Occupy Eugene as I leader. Rather, I humbly speak as a member of Occupy Eugene. And as a member of Occupy Eugene I STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH OCCUPY LOS ANGELES AND ALL THE OCCUPATION'S ACROSS THIS GLOBE. AND MY HEART IS WARMED KNOWING THAT SO MANY OF OUR OCCUPY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ALSO STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH EVERY OCCUPATION MOVEMENT ACROSS THE GLOBE.

For those of you that do not participate or understand the Occupy Movement. Allow me to simply state: WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY. Occupy is a state of mind, an idea whose time has come. To all the cynics out there, please understand: WE ARE OCCUPYING FOR YOU.


Let us not forget that it is our first Amendment right to peaceably assembly. Therefore, we occupy public spaces to keep our protest visible, it is our way of making sure that we don't forget about the problems of our system. It is our way to find solutions to the problems of the system. By occupying public places across the globe our ideas have permeated the public consciousness. That is why we are in the news everyday, more and more dialogue is being focused on unreasonable and unnecessary Economic Inequality.

The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa has stated "It is time for Occupy LA to move from focusing their efforts to hold a particular patch of park land to spreading the message of economic justice and restoration of balance to American society."

To which I reply: We are focusing on Economic Justice. By Occupying Wall Street, parks, Malls, foreclosed houses and Banks, we are bringing attention to those who have grossly distorted our system and profited of our pain and profited of the over-consumption of natural resources. May the Mayor of Los Angeles, and those who think like-minded everywhere realize that to truly restore balance to American society we need to address Economic Inequality on both the top and the bottom of the Economic Ladder.

The Occupy Movement has been attacked because our physical locations are filled with homeless people. Let us not forget, these are our brothers and sisters in the human family. These are good people, with bad habits. Yes they are prone to drug use and violence. These are people who have fallen through the cracks of our current broken system. These are the warriors of our tribe. Whether they understand it or not, their presence has the potential of improving the situations of our brothers and sisters who are one injury or illness away from being homeless themselves and/or our brothers and sisters who lost their 401K and worry about old age. They are the casualties of the outsourcing of labor and the erosion of our public school system. They are veterans, burned fuel of the military industrial complex. Their presence is bringing awareness to Economic inequality. Their existence speaks to the injustices of our current society. They can heal, they have potential, and talent to give. They are our brothers and sisters, they are US.

As it says on the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest to me. I lift my lamp beside thy golden door."

And if given the chance, we will work with the downtrodden and addicted, with our tents and buckets of water. We will work with this humble reality to realize a more just, compassionate, and sustainable system.


Peace, Love, Joy, Wisdom...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Message to Occupiers Everywhere- We will Endure

This was a speech I delivered to a stormy GA at Occupy Eugene recently. Most of my life I am a fool, but on occasion I am able to stir up some words of inspiration. This is one of those occasions, in which the movement moved me in a way that allowed God (or spirit, or nature, inspiration, whatever) to deliver some good words out of my mouth.

I got a call at work saying morale was extremely low. Fights had even broke out. On my way from work to the occupation some tears fell down my cheek and words started to come to my brain. At each red light I wrote down what I felt needed to be said.

At the site, We start each General Assembly with a Morale bit. I called everyone to come close and form a circle with their hand in the middle, and I began to read these words that were given to me.

(Mic Check)

We are individuals
Forming a family
married to a movement
The honeymoon is over
Morale has been low
That's okay
This is natural
we are being tested
because our challenge is great
greater yet, is the change
we are trying to make
Let us not forget
these problems have been around for a long time
It will take a long time to fix these problems
of economic and social injustice
of mistrust and disfunction
May we remember
that through strength and courage
faith and endurance
trust and love
their will be no challenge
we cannot overcome
may we remember
why we came
and that this movement
is bigger than you or I
It is bigger than occupy Eugene
It is a global movement
to change the world
and I'm not ready to quit
I believe we can change the world
I believe in you
Because if we can dream of a better world
and if we can believe in a better world
then we can achieve a better world

Never in my life had I felt so much energy flowing through me. There was a hard to describe current being built up in our hands as we read these words. Never in my life have I been so proud to be a part of something. Something so great, so admirable. I am so honored to contribute to a cause with a group of so many talented, focused, beautiful human beings. And through each of us doing our part, contributing our own flavor of genius, we will succeed.

Peace, Love, Joy, Wisdom...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Eugene-Watching Democracy in Action

Hello Comrades,

Like many of you, as of late, I have been pre-occupied with revolution, protest, and rebellion. The movement that began on Wall Street (or should we say it began in The Arab Spring?, or even with the World Social Forum?, Latin America?, Seattle WTO protest?) Whatever, wherever, this movement began, at this point it's hard to deny that something exciting is happening globally. People from diverse backgrounds are uniting through a shared feeling that something isn't right. The people are tired of feeling powerless and are beginning to exert their influence.

Currently, there have been 972 Occupy (insert city name) protest in the United States over the past few weeks. I have been participating in the Occupy Eugene movement. And I must say, it is quite a beautiful thing to watch a large group of people learn to debate and come to a consensus with each other. Part of the fun is the challenge of learning to think collectively while respecting the diversity that exist within the group. And also to avoid falling into a group think mentality. In this process we have to have patience and extreme focus, for example at a recent Occupy Eugene general assembly it took our group almost an hour to come to a consensus decision that we would make decisions using a consensus model. That means that for a decision to be made, we have decided that we need at least 90 percent of the room on board. And how do we conduct this debate? Through a moderately elaborate system of hand gestures. (It becomes even more fun if you dance while doing the gestures.)

Now I don't know what will come out of this wave of protest that has spread across our country (and the globe). I could tell you my hopes: I hope that this protest leads to a transfer of power, that it breaks up the global oligarchy to allow for more people and ideas to play a role in creating a more ethical and sustainable society. I would like to believe that this is the case, and that maybe it even is the enactment of ancient Mayan prophesies. I would like to think this is the case, but I don't know.

ONe thing I can tell you though, is after experiencing the Occupy Movement. I know that a lot of people are learning how to be more empowered, and how to collaborate and become more democratic in their ways of being.

And that, if nothing else, is a reason to cheer the movement on.

In Solidarity,

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I was supposed to go to work today...

But, I had a strange feeling. A little voice was calling me to abandon my responsibilities as a bill paying consumer so that I could explore my day and interact with my community. Outside it was sunny and I heard a little voice below the humdrum purr of car engines outside. Below the tv newscaster's drone and beyond the cell phone ringing, I heard a voice. Saying come and play. Live your revolution.

Maybe it was the echo's resounding from the WALL STREET PROTEST that are going on. As Revolution ripples across the globe, I feel like doing more than observing the great struggle from the comfort of my laptop, sweatpants and house.

So I talked with my partner. We talked about revolution, exciting and intensifying each others beliefs with each affirmation. Our talk bloomed into a short little manifesto. (Read Below)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Why are there people standing on the corner begging for change when they could be on Wall Street Demanding Change. There are protests happening on Wall Street In New York City RIGHT NOW! They are protesting the greed that has lead to social inequality and the profiteering that is corrupting societies all over the globe. From the young informed revolutionaries in the Middle East to the Farming Families reclaiming their rights in Latin American countries, to the workers who have been claiming control of factories and their lives abroad and in our very own country; protests are spreading across the globe like wildfire. This is history happening. The people are demanding a transfer of power. They are saying NO MORE! No more will we let our schools go to ruin as the military spends billions on weapons of destruction. No More will we send our sons and daughters to do the killing for people who seek to proffit from pain. No more will we allow our brothers and sisters to be incarcerated because it pays to fill a jail. No More will we allow the planet and our environment to be exploited and destroyed for a quick $. NO MORE! WE are tired of working harder and getting paid less. Now is not the time to come to the government with our hands out, Now is the time to put the tools in our hands to build a better society. Our current economical and environmental crises is an opportunity to sustainably and morally redesign the world we live in. It is time to let our voices be heard, do not be afraid to say "REVOLUTION". Stand up for something or your downfall will be for nothing. WE ARE THE PEOPLE! It is time to wake up and realize we are the overwhelming majority. We have the power and the right to shut down corrupt systems, and more importantly, we have the power to create more fair, compassionate, and productive systems.

So we printed this little inspired manifesto out on pieces of paper and went down town. We tacked it to benches and placed it in front of the Wall Street Journal at newstands. We talked to the homeless and disenfranchised traveling street kids and handed them the manifesto to pass on. As we did this work, it was very empowering and healing in that we had to embrace and overcome our own fear to approach strangers and engage with them in political, revolutionary dialogues. Also, we did not inspire any outrageous or glorious moments of protest. Much work needs to be down to make this revolution omnipresent. However, it was a step in the right direction.

Thank your for reading this blog comrades. May the revolution grow from your heart and flourish all over this great globe we call home.

Peace, Love, Joy, Wisdom,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Poetry Is Dangerous

Chances are, you won't see any poetry in today's newspaper. Nor yesterdays, or even tomorrow's newspaper. You won't see poetry in the magazines that clutter your attention in grocery store lines. And poetry hardly ever, makes the New York Times Best Sellers list. Why?

Maybe it is because Poetry is difficult. Poetic language is packed with meaning and images. Poetry demands attention, it says, “look at me, remember the first time you got naked in front of the one you loved.” Or it asks us “to see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”

All that imagining, thinking and feeling is hard work. It burns calories. We are a busy people, a tired nation of peoples juggling work and family responsibilities. Therefore, poetry is difficult. I'm a poet and I shudder at the thought of sitting down and reading a whole book of poetry from cover to cover. Reading poem after poem is exhausting. The mind eventually wanders, disengages, and poetry is really boring, to the distracted mind.

Reading one poem at a time, however; can be like 'holding a shotgun to the head'. Yes poetry is dangerous to daily routines and scheduled thought patterns. Poetry poses questions that cannot be answered by the status quo's of our minds. The structure of society can be ruptured by such thoughts.

Maybe this is why we keep our poets poor. We keep our poets behind counters making sandwiches and selling pamphlets on the street so that they may speak for the nobodies. Which is to say the everybodies. The lot of us whose stories aren't pictured in celebrity gossip magazines or depicted on reality television. The culture industry does not want poetry. It's not profitable to an economy fueled by fear. Poetry asks us to love. “Even after all these years, the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” See what happens with a love like that: It lights up the whole sky.”

Poets ask us to look at that sky. These poets are often, “expelled from the academies for crazy and publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull.” But the people do look up at the sky, they tell their friends and families about these visions.

Poetry preserves the history of the people. Not the history we read from books in high school. Not the history of wars, political hero's and corporate miracles. But rather a history of what it's like to be alive. There is a difference between chronicling the cold casualties of war and
“I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer'd not,
the living remain'd and suffer'd, the mothers suffer'd
the wife and child and musing comrade suffer'd...”

The difference is passion, life lived, by people who breathe, bread, and bleed.

By facing the dark depths of death and despair poetry can help us remember what it's like to be alive. Langston Hughes once wrote,
'The rent was due.
The lights were out.
I said, “tell me, mama
What's it all about?”
“We're waiting on Roosevelt Son.
Roosevelt. Roosevelt...

Sound Familiar?
What if we replaced Roosevelt with Obama?

By describing the particulars, the unique artifacts of culture, the spoons, bruises, spider webs, first kisses, paychecks, underwear, and sheet stains of a people, poetry becomes universal.

Poetry asks us to face our fears and embrace our dreams. We forget that Martin Luthar King Jr's “I have a dream speech” was a poem. Yes, reading a poem can be difficult. It's also difficult to live with the one you love, or make a meaningful and positive change to society. Difficult challenges create deeply satisfying rewards. It is ironic that every city has a Martin Luthar King Jr Blvd. And most of these blvds are ghettos. Yet, poetry realizes this irony and asks forgiveness for it's limitations. Poetry will not save the world. But poetry just might inspire you to save yourself.

As it was said in the movie Dead Poets Society, “We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But Poetry beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trembling - A Poem

You tried to talk to me
but I wasn't listening to you
I was feeling like an alien
instant messaging, texting, multi-tasking
surfing google earth
searching seeing craters carved in the face of our creator
by nuclear bombs,
I was thinking
civilization's playing russian roulette
so it's a brave new world
This is the Age of:
digital dollars and radioactive rainbows
stem cells and cell phone's
bionic limbs and genetically modified potatoes
Think, thousands of years spent rubbing sticks to stones to create fire
Now I sit in my warm home with a microwave one button away from my desire
Where the cost of convenience is
oil spilled in an Ocean named after Atlantis
a city destroyed when it's people couldn't handle their technological advances
This is the age of the absurd
where 1000's of dead birds, cried from the sky
in the world wide whirl wind newspapers die, printing in their headlines the disasters
are happening faster and faster
So everyday another town gets tornado torn flood drought tsunami or earthquake
And I stop and think,
Those people, those animals, that suffering is real,
while I'm here struggling to pay my bills
It's the run of the mil, the rat race
it's a treadmill, I'm running in place
so after a hard day
I want to escape, space out, through chinese food and hulu
I'm pirating Wi-fi though, so its an hour to download a 30 minute episode
after my salty greasy fried rice, I split the cookie but its unfortunate
our decedents, will be living on styrofoam mountains
its like I'm dreaming of a stable tomorrow
but waking up in the same quick sand bed I woke up in yesterday
Then I looked over and I saw your face
and I felt grace,
So I want to hear what you have to say,
but first I need to pray,
This is the age of love
when the world is trembling, it's time for remembering
We are blessed
Before we speak
may we take a deep breath
we know we're both stressed
beneath our smiles, our teeth are clenched
May beauty be born when we hug
so that we may touch god
may Love be our refugee camp
where we gently stamp our carbon footprint
as we dance to the rhythms of nature
May we know hate is just love in pain,
May we help this world to heal
but this world is not ours to save
maybe the climate will change Greenland into a tropical paradise
May we embrace our life
so we can die
with a sparkle in our eye
as we witness the light
may we know
this globe is our home
Humanity is our family
Love is our religion
may we keep livin'
listen learnin' wishin' workin'
as the earth keeps turnin'
now, what was it you wanted to say?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mantra of Determination

I have the ability to accomplish my dreams, because if I didn't I wouldn't be dreaming them. I believe in myself even though pain and doubt may exist in my heart. I trust that I will overcome my limitations and expand the boundaries of what's personally possible. I do not know what lies around the corners and over the hills on my journey, but I do have a vision. And I will walk towards that vision, with a steady stride, and open heart, and a soft smile. This is my journey, I walk it for myself. That being said, I enjoy sharing my ideas and stories with the world.
I have the power to not accept unproductive criticism and the courage to accept criticism that helps me grow. Furthermore, I am not attached to criticism if I am doing my best. My best is beautiful in it's imperfections. This knowledge liberates me to play and enjoy traveling my hero's journey.
I believe in my ability to take each step through valleys and peaks. For what better belief is there, then the belief in oneself.

CALL TO ACTION: What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th: unforgettable memories and progressive movements

On this Sunny Sunday morning, the 10th anniversary of the "Terrorist" attacks on September 11th, 2001 May we dedicate a moment to ALL of the lives lost, on both sides of the fight, in the 10 years  since that unforgettable day. The day that burned into our collective consciousness like those towers, dropping the vials of our trust. I can still see the television replaying the incident ad infinitum in my mind's eye. I still remember that morning, I was on my way to school, a naive 10th grader who although sad over the loss of life was hopeful that this attack would change our foreign policy. (Where were you?)

And change our foreign policy, it did. Unfortunately the change from the top down was worse. We did not quite middling in other countries affairs, instead we started "the War on Terror". Our foreign policy in the middle east, if anything became more aggressive. And look at where that has gotten us. 2 un-winnable wars, thousands of lives lost, millions of dollars spent. Is the world any safer? Who has profited? 10 years we have been engaged in this war on terror. For 10 years I have had to take off my shoes at the airport (although on a minor note, I have heard that airport security is getting a little less extreme while still emphasizing safety.)

Like a shinning white dot in a blanket of blackness, like yin to the yang, it hasn't all been bad since that day. Those towers falling were like alarm clocks awaking many of us out of our unconscious consumerism. Many of us remembered our voice, many of us found our voice (myself included) in our attempt to react to that sublime and major cultural milestone of an event. We started asking questions and looking for answers. Sometimes we didn't like the answers we were given and we had to learn to create our own truths. I am inspired to think about the Youth over in the middle east, who connected by a cause and the internet have been able to start, lead, and sometimes overthrow tyrannical rulers in the middle east. Yes, Revolution is spreading like Wildfire.

So as we dedicate a moment to the lives lost on the "war on terror" let us not forget to dedicate another moment to finding a solution. And after our meditative moments, may we dedicate many moments to turning these thoughts into actions.

Peace, Love, Joy, Wisdom,

P.S. Here is a link to a Song I created on the five year anniversary of September 11th. It was written at a time in which I was a philosophy student digging deep into religion and society trying to understand such concepts as: Holy Wars, The Collective Conscious, Georg Hegel's historical dialectic, and conspiracy theories.

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