We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street. 04/19/13 #3

Now, i’ve been thinking about my previous posts and all the claims of what I did. I organized this, I did this, blahblahblah,..but when I really think about it, I was always part of organizing, amongst organizing and never alone organizing. I might just be trying to say that “I” can be deceptive and hope that it in no way omits anyone elses involvement in organizing and participating in the various events I may reference. I suppose that memory may be like that, placing you in the center of the event as though it revolved around you… anyway.. my first day in NYC, my first meeting in NYC, “New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts.”

I’m trying to recall the walk. The path that I took to get to the union hall, and what we talked about. I can piece a little together. Maybe I can’t, at least I can say, that I’d heard of New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts(NYABC). They recently organized an encampment against Bloomberg’s, you guessed it, budget cuts. They’d camped outside of city hall for weeks, been pushed around by the police, drums, and music, and finally a final push to stop the budget cut meeting from happening–arrests. New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts had also been part of a large coalition….(do I look up dates) which had marched on wall street earlier in 2011. From my understanding 10’s of thousands of people circled the area, but no one was able to get to wall street. That’s what I knew about NYABC, or what I have come to know.

I sat in meeting with rows of chairs, and folks started filing in. The folks who came in circled the chairs, I remember that, because it made me smile. It made me feel a bit more comfortable to be in a room that projected mutual respect, played at the idea of it. Uneasy at the meeting I didn’t plan on saying much. I was new to New York I couldn’t imagine adding to a conversation when I knew nothing about the context, or history, around various issues. I sat silent and listened to report backs and ideas being flung about a group of thirty or so people.

“What about this call from Adbusters?” someone said that. If I try to recall the text from the call now, A flood, Wall Street, tents, sept 17th, 20 thousand people will. I didn’t think much of it, but the room burst with conflict. Things like, “whose going to plan this, whose going to do this, whose going to do that, and the answers were: no one, no one, no one.” Eventually someone announced they’d contact Adbusters and let them know that they need to have organizers on the ground, that they shouldn’t just put out calls and expect people to do the work for them.

What came out of this conversation was a committee to plan an action around the August 2nd, debt default. And somewhere during this first meeting I had said 2 things. The first, I don’t call, but remember when I said it, the whole room grew quiet and nodded. I remember feeling like the whole room just noticed I existed. I also felt like I hit a right note. You know, like when something reverberates after mentioned. It felt good to be noticed, and good to feel like I’d added something to the conversation.

I also volunteered to be part of this planning committee. A committee to talk about what could be done around the August 2nd debt default, a meeting was planned for Friday, 7/22 to plan for August 2nd.

Arriving in NYC dead to politics, here I was, organizing. I wonder if I could place blame for the next year and a half of my life on this one meeting. Maybe it was coming from the Midwest and seeing 35 people gathered together and working together to accomplish something. Every meeting in North Dakota had been 5 people, or so, and now, well maybe it was scale. Regardless, I was excited. My roommates and I started watching M15 documentaries.

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We Once had a Dream Called Occupy Wall Street. 04/02/13

We once had a dream called Occupy Wall Street. I don’t know if it was a dream, but it had the qualities. You know, that New York feel of importance as the sun broke over the buildings and spread it’s warmth across a small concrete park.This blog will be about this event, as it happened to me, as I experienced it. It’s going to be quick and dirty, a lightening recollection timed to the beat of meeting minutes which I attended. It’s going to be critical. I want to critique it, because it wasn’t what I wanted, or expected, but in the end many of the problems came from just that. Everyone wanted something, something built in their own vision, but our visions are just scattered fragments laced with our societies garage. Our perceptions of the poor, of money, of relationships.Love and battle. When the hundreds of people gathered there on the first day, and when that number climbed to the thousands we each brought our own stories, and we each brought our own garbage.

Occupy Wall Street wasn’t the Utopian dream that I hear many refer to it as…maybe to some it awoke that thread, that thread that the world we come from can be better, that somehow we can overcome the sickness, the death and starvation, the many many forms of suffering and oppression that surrounded us. The built-in controls in our everyday life. The points of power colluding to shift reality.

I believed in Occupy Wall Street, because I was there. I’ve told this story countless times now, and I figured it’s time I write it down.

July 19th, 2011 my plane landed at Laguardia Airport. I’d just left Grand Forks, North Dakota. I told myself for good, and as the plane decended I saw the Statue of Liberty flash by, I thought that my new life would be good. When I disembarked I waited for my luggage to spin out and this man walked up to me, he was jerk on the plane, he stopped next to me and said, “You know what I mean, I can see it in you. We got to stick together.” I grunted, out of fear or confusion, i can’t remember, and grabbed my bag and walked out to try to figure out how to get to Harlem to meet a friend.

I was wearing my favorite pearl button shirt and a skateboarding backpack I bought for traveling when I was eighteen years old. I was now 30. Attached to that backpack by carabiner was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suitcase. It was filled with books. Books on organizing, books of poetry, and my favorite novels. I’d come to New York to be a spoken word poet. I figured a city this big had to have a community to support me doing what I wanted. I guess I still had that forever dream of sharing my views through poetry to an audience who was there to hear it. Back home I’d done spoken word at open mics where crowds of drunks proceeded to drink. Maybe here there was a place that people went to hear poets. That was my goal. I never achieved it.

I bought a metro pass at the airport and jumped on a bus to Harlem. My friend was waiting on the corner for me. We hugged and he said, “Hey, there’s this meeting tonight with some folks i’ve been organizing with, want to come.” I said “Yes.”

 

Audio recording: https://soundcloud.com/uneditedcamera-1/we-once-had-a-dream-called

(This blog will be updated weekly as a sort of serial novella. It also have an audio recording link to each addition. If you enjoy what you’re hearing please, support my media collective work at bit.ly/uneditedmedia)

First post-One week before departure to the RNC in Tampa Bay.

Well,

 

I’m currently planning on heading to Tampa Bay, Florida to cover the Republican National Convention, and then travel to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, and the then end up in New York for the one year Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. I didn’t plan to start writing until Friday when I finally left town, but I’m prepping already. I figured I should explain the prep I’m doing to maybe add more clarity to my coverage plan.

Firstly, I plan on daily updates to this blog about where I’m at in my coverage of the conventions. I also plan on  daily streaming updates of my experiences, and also streaming the marches and events I attend. Check out. Ustream.tv/uneditedcamera for video updates.

 

These updates will be a daily morning update, where I explain my coverage of the day, and also answer any questions that are submitted via uneditedcamera@gmail.com, or are on this blog, or twitter: @uneditedcamera  I want to try to make this an interactive journalism experience. Where I am on the ground, but actively  providing methods for viewers to get their input used as I cover the conventions.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know exactly what that means. My first move will be to create a collaborative writing pad and tweet out and ask for folks to add links to any article they find talking about the RNC(it’s first) Hopefully we can read through them and create… a collaborative annotated bibliography?

For prep, I’m planning to meet with various communication professors and English professors to sort of nerd out on language and narrative. I really want to talk about what it means to provide this sort of coverage of an event, and think about it theoretically for a bit before really diving into it.

I’m expecting a challenge. I expect to create a massive about of content as I move through the conventions. I plan on exploring and learning as much as possible. I also expect exhaustion, and a touch of stress. It’s going to be a lot of work, but work I’m excited to do.

 

There’s also another element of worry. When I think of conventions in Florida I think of this film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2QfHaFitMs Which covers the FTAA protests where the Miami police brutally attacked protesters. I’m planning to cover this as a journalist, but a video camera, and a press badge has never stopped them from arresting me before. I also believe that as journalist, or street journalist, indy journalist, or whatever, my job is to stay and show what’s really happening.

So, we’ll see how it goes. Right now just planning to pack light: One backpack of clothes(plan on a lot of handwashing) One camel back (totally dumpstered and in perfect condition) A messenger bag with my stream gear: Ipod touch,hotspot, battery, chords, a laptop.(laptop will stay back in bus) I’ll also be wearing a gopro on my head.

I’ll probably pack my messenger bag with notebooks and wear it across my chest. I do this in case the police decide to fire projectiles. I’ll also be, at least for now, packing a bandanna and some apple cider vinegar. Right now, I don’t think I have a lot of protective gear and assume if anyone donates to my wepay come in (https://www.wepay.com/donations/uneditedcamera-cover-s-the-rnc-dnc-and-s17), I’ll use the donations to get some more protective gear.

Well tomorrow, look forward to the collaborative writing tools try. I’m gonna go celebrate my birthday old school.

 

All love,

Uneditedcamera