Tag Archive: occupy


Me: The birds look like apostrophes

Him: What are the words if the birds are apostrophes?

Several of us gathered today to say goodbye to a friend who passed away. We met at City Hall, where most of us originally entered one another’s lives. And we walked together to the tree on the other side of the river on which little medallions were pinned to mark the deaths of  others who, like our friend Chris, were houseless but not without friends in life or in death.

Several people told stories of their friendship with Chris. Universally, we agreed he was a gentle man. A quiet man. A man who forced us to slow down and think. And rethink. And as I listened, I realized I was not only mourning the loss of Chris, but also the loss of that time. That time when we all gathered several times a week to slow down, sit down…and talk. And listen. And plan together. And just to gather with a group of people from disparate backgrounds and experiences – a group of people who, under normal circumstances, might never get a chance to meet – and become aware of each other as fellow humans…and struggle together. And learn from each other. And totally fuck up in the presence of each other. And forgive each other. And try again.

I didn’t tell any stories today. Today, I listened. The truth is, I didn’t have a lot of stories to tell about Chris. I cared about him. I tried to look out for him the best I could. I respected his growth and his journey. I remember him.  I will miss him. But it’s not enough to miss someone like Chris. It’s not enough to mourn and be sad and go on living and forgetting all that I have learned through my friendship with Chris, and through all of the other unlikely companions I’ve been blessed to come to know over the past few years. There were so many lessons learned. So many I forgot. It’s time to remember them now. It’s time to come out of hibernation and be present in the world again, and open to listening and sharing and relating.

The things I have learned as an occupier are lessons I have needed to learn my whole life. And I’m not merely talking about social and economic justice. I’m talking about taking the time to really see people. To see AND hear them. Taking the time to be present in public spaces and share with people. I don’t think I’m done learning those lessons yet. I don’t think I’ve learned them well enough, and I think they are too easily forgotten. I still have a too-frequent tendency to hide myself away. To hurry from one thing to the next without stopping and giving time to appreciate the unexpected. I still frequently neglect the things that are most important while freely frittering time on things that have no soul-nutritional value.

This is how I know that Occupy is not dead. Because we haven’t learned these lessons yet. We are too easily distracted and divided. And until we can learn to come together and be present, we will continue to Occupy where we should be Living.

Rest in Peace, dear Chris. I hardly knew you, but I certainly loved you. In honor of your memory, I plan to spend at least an hour every Sunday occupying the steps of City Hall with my sketchbook and journal. People watching, and hopefully conversing. Maybe I’ll bring a sign…maybe I’ll go incognito. It’s not 3 General Assemblies a day, every day…but it’s something. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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Today started with _And the Ass Saw the Angel_

Breakfase

Breakfast

And ended with an Overpass Light Brigade.

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Tomorrow, we take back #ourpower

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I hope to see you there.

 

Rug

Rug

My room/office is very slowly still coming together. The clutter! The clutter! I’m still sorting through the clutter. But this feels good on my feet, and my new chair feels good on my back, and hand-me-down furniture is really the best thing ever.

rumbled paradise

rumbled paradise

And there’s something about a freshly-made-then-rumpled bed. I was staring at it longingly all day. From my desk. About three feet away.

flowers

flowers

and absent-minded flower doodles.

I’m having to deal with issues surrounding the person I’m forever having to deal with issues surrounding. It’s annoying and frustrating. (I wanted to qualify that with a “but” statement, but…But what?)

But…nothing.

And then there’s…that.

Lots going on this week. But tonight, it’s dancing in my room, writing, reading…the usual.

***

This made me happy today:

The Warriors never set foot in the Bronx

This might come as a surprise, seeing as how the movie revolves around a New York City gang trying to make their way from the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park to Brooklyn’s Coney Island, but filming only took place in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. However, authenticity aside, The Warriors captured nighttime New York in a way that very few movies had previously, using some insanely brilliant and memorable locations.

Let’s see how many we can find.

http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=6629

CBS ALMOST gets it right:

In a special report on face recognition, 60 Minutes warns us that we have nowhere to hide — that our anonymous space is approaching non-existence. Framing the problem through a simplistic (and inaccurate) division between corporate and government deployments of the technology, CBS warns us that big business plans to exploit our faces for economic gain, whether we like it or not, while government plans to use the technology to keep us safe.

But all is not equal, the narrative says: according to the bureau, the FBI is bound by strict regulation and needs lots more data to be effective. Unfortunately, CBS repeats the government’s claims as journalistic fact — no matter that they are false.

http://www.privacysos.org/node/1065

This is amazing:

Foreclose on Banks Not People

Foreclose on Banks Not People

 

For more information:

Five years after Wall Street crashed the economy, not one banker has been prosecuted for the reckless and fraudulent practices that cost millions of Americans their jobs, threw our cities and schools into crisis, and left families and communities ravaged by a foreclosure crisis and epidemic of underwater mortgages.

Record profits are back at the bailed-out banks. Meanwhile:

  • Homeowners and communities have lost billions to Wall Street’s foreclosure crisis;
  • Millions more families face foreclosure in the coming months;
  • Communities of color have been impacted the most.

http://occupywallst.org/article/people_are_too_big_to_fail/

100 Days of Hunger:

Over the last three days Anonymous ‘Operation Guantanamo’ hashtags #OpGITMO and #GTMO have skyrocketed in popularity on Twitter, drawing attention to the 100th day of the inmates’ hunger strike, as their protest becomes a question of life and death.

http://rt.com/news/anonymous-twitter-guantanamo-strike-505/

Are you starting to see all of the connections yet?

Canada’s tar sands are the third biggest oil reserve in the world, but separating the oil from the rock is energy intensive and causes three to four times more carbon emissions per barrel than conventional oil. Hansen argues that it would be “game over” for the climate if tar sands were fully exploited, given that existing conventional oil and gas is certain to be burned.

“To leave our children with a manageable situation, we need to leave the unconventional fuel in the ground,” he said. Canada’s ministers were “acting as salesmen for those people who will gain from the profits of that industry,” he said. “But I don’t think they are looking after the rights and wellbeing of the population as a whole.

“The thing we are facing overall is that the fossil fuel industry has so much money that they are buying off governments,” Hansen said. “Our democracies are seriously handicapped by the money that is driving decisions in Washington and other capitals.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/19/tar-sands-exploitation-climate-scientist

This is beautiful:

UPDATE: Midland Avenue Neighborhood Relief will be helping and reaching out to our neighbors in Oklahoma.We have seen charities and so called relief agencies fall short when it comes to keeping compassion and humanity when people are in need of help after a disaster.We will be forwarding resources and funds to the people of Oklahoma whether it be delivering it through mutual aid networks with ourselves on the ground or diverting funds to proper efforts there.We stand with Oklahoma. We know ourselves firsthand what it is like to be left to our own means.Help us stand with them. https://www.wepay.com/donations/midland-beach-relief

In case you didn’t hear:

A massive, mile-wide tornado touched down in Moore, Oklahoma Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 people, including 20 children. A reporter from local news station KFOR supposedly called it “the biggest, most destructive tornado in the history of the world,” and estimated it was two to three times the magnitude of the massive tornados that hit Oklahoma in 1999.

http://gawker.com/the-biggest-most-destructive-tornado-in-history-just-508956719?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&utm_source=gawker_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

And, on that note…

 

Mornings on the porch

Mornings on the porch

Working from home has been a lot like funemployment, only with slightly less time to waste. I need to make a few adjustments in priority, and maybe rein in some of my slack-time, but I’m amazed at how little “pressed for time” I’m feeling. It’s nice. I mean, I’m attributing it to the fact that I’m now working from home, but it could also be my general attitude about my job. Or maybe it was having 2 months off to really contemplate things. I feel like I know what’s important, and I’m getting that. I’m managing to spend time with friends and family pretty regularly. I’m still managing to do some amount of creative work every day. I’m reading. I’m getting a fair amount of exercise (though I’d prefer to get more)…little adjustments to make here & there, but overall, I can’t complain.

On the fridge

On the fridge

I do still need to get into some sort of time budget, as well as a budget budget. But there’s time for that. There’s time for that. There’s easing into time for that.

And all things, really.

all things, really

all things, really

*******

After a year-long journey fighting her wrongful foreclosure, Rose McGee has won a settlement with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae to stay in her home.

“We are working on final details for a settlement resolution, and I will be staying in my home,” said Rose.

70 community members gathered to support Rose in a prayer vigil circling the Government Center water fountain Tuesday afternoon before she went into settlement court, where she finally reached a deal with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae.

http://www.occupyhomesmn.org/rose_victory

Free Minds, Free People is a national conference convened by the Education for Liberation Network that brings together teachers, high school and college students, researchers, parents and community-based activists/educators from across the country to build a movement to develop and promote education as a tool for liberation. Read more about our mission and goals.

The 2013 conference will take place in Chicago, July 11-14. In the aftermath of a strike that brought teachers and community together to successfully challenge corporate education reform, we are excited to offer people who care about education justice the opportunity to connect, learn, and plan for action in this important city.

http://www.fmfp.org

https://www.facebook.com/events/138976599582671/

 

Blueberry Scones w/Lemon Glaze: http://www.katiescucina.com/2013/05/blueberry-scones-with-lemon-glaze/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FeVgcK+(Katie’s+Cucina)

University of California, Berkeley police arrested four people Monday morning and a plow turned under crops planted in protest at a makeshift farm encampment set up on university property.

Activists had occupied a tract of farmland — located near the corner of Marin and San Pablo avenues, part of a property they referred to as the Gill Tract — owned by the university on Friday, protesting plans to build senior housing and a grocery store on the site.

http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/four-arrested-crops-removed-from-occupy-the-farm-site/

They reap the profits (and the ridiculous tax breaks) while we pay the cost. Funny how that works:

“Exxon Mobil Corp. is challenging $1.7 million in penalties proposed by federal safety regulators who faulted the oil company over a 63,000-gallon crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River, according to documents released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.In the first formal response to the alleged violations, Exxon attorneys said the company’s workers responded appropriately to warnings that the 12-inch Silvertip pipeline was endangered by erosion along the Yellowstone near the town of Laurel.” http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/05/14/exxon-challenges-1-7m-yellowstone-spill-penalty/

(File under: Why we need government, or some sort of citizen body, to determine and oversee equitable access to resources)

“Google has tried to put the best face on this by portraying the qualification process as a sort of community kumbaya, “allowing the citizens of City to determine where and when the Project will be deployed.” (The words come from Google’s contract with Kansas City, Mo.)But that’s nonsense. Had the city tried to make that determination through its elected representatives, say by requiring service to underprivileged neighborhoods, Google’s response would have been, “Adios.” The company’s goal was to spend money where it was likeliest to attain a critical mass of customers. The inevitable outcome was an economic one: redlining.Google insists it wants to close the digital divide. But private companies have to make money, and reinvesting in the public interest is always going to be a secondary concern.”http://news.zurichna.com/article/0c4a7a574b7821f4464332bda02e01dd/will-poor-people-get-google-fiber

“Chase, the lawsuit claims, effectively used California’s judicial system like a “mill” to obtain default judgments and garnish borrowers’ wages. The bank filed thousands of lawsuits every month from January 2008 until April 2011, the state claims. On one day alone, Chase lodged 469 such suits.

Chase also sought default judgments against borrowers who were military members on active duty, the suit claims.

“At nearly every stage of the collection process, defendants cut corners in the name of speed, cost savings and their own convenience, providing only the thinnest veneer of legitimacy to their lawsuits,” the complaint says.”

http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2013/05/from-bogus-lawsuits-to-threats-via.html

***

“It seems that we have been reduced almost to a state of absolute economics, in which people and all other creatures and things may be considered purely a economic in “units,” or integers of production, and in which a human being may be dealt with, as John Ruskin put it, “merely as a covetous machine.” And the voices bitterest to hear are those saying that all of this destructive work of mindless genius, money, and power is regrettable but cannot be helped.” -Wendell Berry

***

Habit-Forming

I figure the best time to “start blogging again” ™ is April Fool’s Day. That way, if I don’t ACTUALLY “start blogging again” I can play it off like it was some big April Fool’s joke.

In actuality (or maybe not, depending on whether this is an April Fool’s Joke) I would really like to start blogging again (for realsies – no quotesies) and it seems like the first of the month is a good time to start. Or the first day of my actual unemployment (after the severance pay is gone). Or the first day I’ve vowed to actually Do Something(s) Useful on a daily basis, therefore keeping a blog to document the Something(s) Useful I have done on a daily basis…

You get the picture.

I figure I’ll start easy, like old times, by just talking about what I did on a given day. A day in the life of an unemployed single mother. Maybe I’ll throw some pictures in for good measure. And, perhaps this act of reporting out will motivate me to continue to find interesting things to do on a regular basis and keep my ass out of depression mode and in inspiration mode.

So, today. What did I do today?

First there was Cole, who returned from his weekend with his father early in the morning. We read a bit of Penpal, which is getting quite suspenseful (I swear the author is becoming a better writer as the book progresses.)

I’ve been trying to spend as much time out on my front porch as possible now that I am free from the encumbrance of a morning rush. Today, I made myself a bagel and a cup of yesterday’s coffee and sat out reading Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich while I ate. After which, I went out for a walk, listening to music and writing poetry in my head.

I’m doing a sort of experimental project with voice recognition software. What I’ll do is walk around dictating lines of poetry that pop into my head, and not looking at how it’s translated  into text until much later, after I’ve forgotten what I actually said. Sometimes it’s much better than I ever could have imagined. Sometimes it’s a nonsensical jumble of words. At this point, I’m so averse to writing actual poetry that I would want to claim credit for that I’m happy to take whatever I can get. Perhaps I’ll share some one day. Today, all I got was:

“I am a irrepressible you are implacable but replaceable”

I walked for about an hour or so – enough to sweat and get a little pink – and then I made my way down to the pop-up tent city protest that was taking place just east of downtown. I hung out there for a bit, holding a sign and scheming with the Occupy Austin co-conspirators about stuff.

I’ve been avoiding a lot of social contact over the past few weeks. Avoiding talking things over with friends and acquaintances. I have some ideas for projects that I’m pretty excited about, and because I haven’t shared them, arm-wavingly, with other people, I have been slowly losing steam about getting them started and losing interest. This blog was actually something I schemed to help reverse that trend, although some of my ideas aren’t appropriate for discussion here because they’re private and I don’t want to share them until they are more fully developed. I’m glad I took time out today to talk to people who were able to offer feedback and enthusiasm for some of the plans I am hoping to hatch over the next few months, especially since some of them have plans of their own that I think would be compatible with mine. 🙂

ImageAt any rate, the pop-up tent city action was small, loosely organized, but so wonderful. I honestly can’t express enough about how thankful I am for the work that Occupy Austin and all of its loosely associated factions are doing. Yes, it’s chaotic and frequently disorganized. Yes, there are times when I feel like we don’t have focus. Yes, there’s all manner of other critical things one can say about the group and the individual actions, but the thing that still floors me is that we are a group of people who never ever would have met each other in any other context – some homeless, some housed, some jobless, some employed, with varying degrees of wealth and different cultures – working together to try to make a better world.Image

Sometimes that means standing on a street corner in front of a couple of pitched tents that say “The Shelters are Full” with signs proclaiming “400 beds, 10,000 homeless people” and “open up the buildings.” Sometimes that means organizing a show with a band from Oakland. And sometimes these individual actions seem meaningless, and maybe sometimes they are to some, but they mean a fuck of a lot to me. I’m proud of all of the people who take time out of their lives to organize actions, and so glad I now have the opportunity to support those actions more.

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I was out for a couple of hours before I started to get a little sunburned, and figured I should head home to fix dinner for the kiddos. Cooking is one of those other luxuries that I now have time for since I am unemployed. I used to spend Sunday cooking meals for the week, which worked out pretty well, but always made my weekend feel really short. Now I can just cook meals any old time. We’ve been trying to save money on groceries by shopping from a strict pantry list, with only minor deviations, so my challenge is always to find something that utilizes ingredients from that list. It’s been a fun challenge. Today, after winding down for a little while with Wendell Berry’s essay “The Body and the Earth” from _The Art of the Commonplace_,  I made Chickpea Salad with cous cous and steamed broccoli. It was pretty good, though it would have been better if I had made it in the morning and allowed all of the ingredients to have a party together in the fridge and become more marinatedy. Still, it was a nice healthy-ish meal, the kids didn’t complain, and it was super easy to make.

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After we ate, I ran out to Occupy Austin General Assembly at the Texas State Capitol. It’s been a very occupy-ish day today. There were only about 6 or 7 people there total, but we somehow managed to draw 4-5 DPS officers to us, which was annoying.

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Plans are being made to have a Mayday picnic with teach-ins and other activities, and I’m really excited that I have time to help organize. If you are reading this and you have a skill that you want to share, feel free to let me know. I’m going to be in charge of the teach-ins and skill shares. Aside from potlucks, that’s really my favorite thing to do.

General Assembly was short and informal. We talked about teach-in topics and technology and various things. I made an announcement someone asked me to make about an upcoming event, and the Occupy Austin End Homelessness representative announced their weekly meetings, and then it was over. The DPS agents who were standing around the whole time came down to make sure we didn’t have any contraband (i.e. CHALK – or something equally nefarious like water pistols!) and we all went our separate ways.

So, now here I am. Sunburned but full of excitement and plans. Bursting at the seams, it seems. Ready to close the book on today and get ready for tomorrow’s adventures.

P.S. I almost forgot I am going to end each day’s blog with a list of links that I’ve run across throughout the day and squirreled away at various places around the internet. A link dump, is what the kids used to call it, but that would just make everyone around here guffaw, so I won’t call it that:

Declaration of the Eviction-Free Zone

Ongoing Tech Problems Can Make You Feel Pranked

Announcing SXSWUni