Thursday, 27 October 2011

Why not go where people are?

Most Vancouverites will never visit the Art Gallery site, and even fewer will participate.  People are busy.  Culture clashes can be an irrational barrier to working together.  Given what's happened in some cities, there's reason for people to fear arrest if they attend.*  Those people who do protest cannot speak in the name of the 99% when the vast majority of Vancouverites have not made their voices heard.

Most Vancouverites will never go downtown to stand out in the cold, but does that mean they can't get involved?

Why not go where people are?  We should ask ourselves what a general assembly-style meeting would look like in a retirement home, or a church basement, or a neighborhood community center.  Three assemblies a day is absurd for most people, but many people can spare one or two hours once or twice a month.  That's enough time to stay informed, to be heard and to plan action.  Do not underestimate the political power of Grandmothers who have the time to socialize, write letters and vote.

Would an occupy-inspired meeting in a community center really have anything to do with what's happening at the Art Gallery or would it just be appropriating the name?  It's a question of what our core principles really are.  Can we get around culture clashes by transposing those principles into a new key?

If there were little assemblies all over town, how would we hold the movement together without abandoning direct democracy?  I think co-attendance might be enough, but this is a big worry that I'd want to consider carefully.

I seem to be using the words we and our.  I'm not sure exactly when I joined.  Huh.

* I should not need to thank public officials for respecting the charter right of peaceful assembly, but given the violence seen in other cities I would like to give credit to our Mayor and to the Vancouver Police Department for doing their jobs competently.  Mayor Robinson would like to see the Art Gallery site dismantled, but he has not resorted to force or fraud.  Kudos to him for renouncing threats and ultimatums.  Credit for minimally decent behaviour should also go to the VPD.  In the wake of the Canucks hockey riot one might have expected them to be on edge, but as far as I've seen they seem to be keeping cool heads.  Thanks for your professionalism.

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