Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4 days and 3 nights at Occupy DC

    I am currently living with my parents and nephew in the suburb of Washington DC, in a town named Manassas,VA. It's really a silly name! Man-Ass-As! There's a local joke that goes: If you keep driving past Manassas you'll eventually get to a town called Dumfries. In between the two towns is a town called DumbAssas!
      Usually the only people who have heard of Manassas are civil war buffs, who know about the battle at Bull Run in the civil war. Most people have never heard of Manassas. I just tell them it's where Lorena Bobbitt chopped her husband John Wayne Bobbitt's penis off. Almost everyone seems to know that story!
      Today I am going to leave this suburban town, buy some new camping gear  and go camp in DC with the Occupy Movement. Why? The reasons are many. I mean I think any random person I encounter will tell me there is something majorly awry with the world today. Let me name some specifics: WAR against foreign countries, WAR on drugs, WAR on food,  the unsustainable petroleum based system we rely on, the environment, the economy, government corruption, poverty, quality of life, inflation, lack of human unity and the list goes on.
      I know that every generation has cried "the sky is falling", but not every generation has the "Occupy" movement to try and resolve the issues. There will always be problems in the world, and hopefully there will always be people trying to resolve them.
     Maybe pitching a tent in the Capitol of the USA is not going to resolve the issues? I just think it makes a lot of sense right now. I want to be part of a movement that is learning how to unify and at least attempt to sort out this MESS. Furthermore, unemployment is higher than it's ever been in my lifetime leaving many homeless. War veterans are coming home from overseas with issues preventing them from reentering society. Maybe I will be able to lend support to the homeless and the veterans who have found refuge in the occupy camps?
      I admit part of the reason I'm doing this is because it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to pitch a tent in Washington DC! I could tell the grand kids about it someday;-)  Also, I'm in between jobs right now. I have time to camp out and I'm doing it for all those who would like to, but don't have the time.

     I have already attended 2 marches. I have witnessed the Occupy DC general assembly at least 4 times. I was at "Occupy Freedom Plaza" on October 6th, the day it started.  I have some idea of what to is going on at the Occupy movement, but what will it be like living among this group? I plan on 4 days and 3 nights for now.

     11/16/11 part 2

      I have been debating whether or not to join this movement since it's inception in DC. I believe what a lot of these people at the Occupy movement believe: basically there is a problem and something needs to be done about it.
      I feel like I have been privately doing my part to resolve the problems by riding my bike instead of driving whenever possible,  recycling, abstaining from meat when possible, voting for politicians I think will do the right thing, abstaining from gossip, being kind, turning off the lights when I leave the room, avoid shopping at Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds and other huge chains, buying local, saying prayers, meditating and a myriad of other things. I believe in the saying "be the change you want to see". Protesting to me has been kinda unnecessary and frivolous.  Just a bunch of people getting together and barking but not necessarily biting.  I heard a wise man named Don Shrader say "Protesting for peace is like praying for good health while eating junk food". But "occupying" a space is something I've never seen before and it feels right to me.
      I've heard that this movement was first inspired by the Arab Spring that took place this year. Then I've heard that Adbusters ran with the idea and somehow promoted it here in the North American part of the world. Any which way,  I applaud the notion that someone, somewhere had the idea. It's a simple concept: we don't like the way things are, let's start a new world right here in the middle of the city. This time everyone will have a say in how the world will be. Ready, set, GO!
       I have worked hard this summer, at a seasonal/ summer job, saving most of my money. In the winter I planned to head west to New Mexico and California and live off the money I saved all summer. I have wanted to spend time in Slab City,CA for the winter. Slab City is where the guy from "Into the Wild" spent some time. It's in the desert and has a huge painted mountain dedicated to Jesus. People from all over camp there for the winter for free. The weather is warm all winter.  However, this movement has inspired me enough to buy some new camping gear and head down to DC and "occupy"; at least for a few days. The money I spent on the camping gear was probably money I would have used to live on while writing new songs in the Southwest. It's worth veering off my course a bit for this cause. It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't want to look back and think "we really could have done something with that".
     So my mom and my nephew, being the awesome family members that they are, were nice enough to drive me to the camping store and shop with me. I was aware of the irony of buying supplies to "occupy" a space where the corporations that make these products are being scrutinized. However, I feel this reluctance almost anytime I buy anything. I want to recommend that the reader buy your camp stuff at REI or somewhere similar. REI is a little more expensive, but at least REI has a membership where people get money back at the end of the year. Also, everything they sell comes with a lifetime guarantee that is validated with the phone number on your membership account. I went to a huge sporting goods store and saved $80 on my tent and backpack, but the purchase felt kinda scuzzy. I went to REI and bought a sleeping bag and I felt so much better. I felt like my money was going to a better place? If I had it to do over, I'd take the $80 and buy the higher quality gear at REI.
     We were at a strip mall in Fairfax, VA. It's one of those hipper strip malls that's set up more like a pedestrian mall. Instead of all the store fronts facing out and surrounding a parking lot of cars, these faux pedestrian malls all line one street on both sides with their store fronts facing each other. There is parallel parking for a few cars along this street, which is why I call it a faux pedestrian mall. A bona fide pedestrian mall has nowhere for cars to drive. Anyone not fortunate enough to get a parallel parking space has to park in a lot behind a row of stores.
     Anyway, shopping usually freaks me out and today was no exception. My own thoughts were the first obstacle for me to overcome as I headed for the Occupy DC camp in McPherson square. I had to keep reminding myself to not back out of the purchases and keep going. I had to remember that I was doing the right thing. I guess anytime I partake in all this glitzy commerce I start wondering things like "how long can the planet support this kind of behavior?", "how many more faux pedestrian malls are we gonna build?",  "How much did this new tent impact the Earth?", . Sometimes it's a battle inside my head when I go shopping!
     In the back of my mom's SUV, I packed all my gear into my new internal frame backpack. I used to do quite a bit of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, so all this is not really new to me. I've been living out of my van on musical tours for the last 8 years and I dont have much use for a tent and a backpack anymore.
     My new backpack is an internal frame backpack. In all my previous backpacking experience I have used an external frame backpack. There are bars going all the way around the outside of tan eternal frmae backpack and a hiker will strap their sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and tent to the outside of the pack. There is a big section for storing food, clothes, toothbrush, books and whatever else. With these internal frame backpacks there is only two strips if metal running up the back. The hiker is supposed to pack just about everything inside the pack's one big pocket! I'm not sure what happened to all the external frame backpacks. Who decided that internal frame packs are the way to go and why? The only advantage I can see with this internal frame backpack is for travel on trains, planes, buses etc..The internal frame backpack is much more narrow and may not cost an oversize baggage fee?
       After a lot of packing and repacking my new internal frame backpack was ready to go (I miss my external frame backpack). My mom and nephew dropped me off at the metro station and I rode to McPherson square. Most people on the train were getting off of their office jobs and commuting home. I felt a little awkward taking up all the space I did with my backpack and guitar. In some places I've seen people carrying all kinds of things on public transit, like all their groceries, a new tv set, skateboards, and in Boston I've seen people bring their dogs on the train. But in DC the metro train has always been way more of a business person train than a "I don't own a car and I haul on my stuff on public transit" kind of train. No nonsense. I felt like an oddball on the train for sure. But at least I had my internal frame backpack and maybe people thought I was just headed to the airport.
     Rain fell as I exited the underground metro. Tall buliding and honking taxi cabs. Urban scene. McPherson Square is where Occupy DC is currently, and it is only a block away from the metro stop. I wanted to try out my new backpack some so I "hiked" to the white house which is only about 3 blocks from "Occupy DC". There was a bunch of tourists taking pictures. I asked a group of kids to take mine for me. I could have done it myself with my new iPhone app that takes a picture for you 15 seconds after you set up your camera on a tripod, but a police officer informed me "no tripods on the sidewalk". I wondered if he knew I was headed to the Occupy DC camp? If so, did he care? How do the cops view this movement?
       I hiked the 3 blocks back to McPherson Square. My new backpack worked fine for this haul. I circled the perimeter of the camp a few times looking for a spot to pitch my tent. I found one not too close to the street. Dinner was being served, the sun was going down and the rain was still slowly falling. I saw no one around my potential spot. Just a bunch of tents. It was hard to tell if anyone was in the tents so I  yelled "excuse me, is anyone in these tents". No answer. If I were feeling more assertive I probably would've yelled it a few more times louder, but I was not in the mood. I went to the information booth (yes there's an info booth at Occupy DC) and told them what I was doing and they approved.
     I set up my tent with my raincoat on. I had never set up this particular tent before. I was hoping it would not make me look like a fool in front of all the occupiers. I pictured myself struggling with tent poles and ripping a big hole in my new tent and pitching the whole mess in the street. Isn't it funny that it's called "pitching" a tent? Probably from a time when some guy got frustrated with his tent setup and "pitched" it in a river! Haha!
     I had no problem at all with my new tent and I hardly saw anyone around as I "pitched" it. Just the occasional business person walking home from work. Both tents on each side of me are from REI. One is the exact model I was going to buy! It looks a lot more rugged than mine, mostly because of the floor being more waterproof and thick rubber looking. My tent looks like it may leak water into the floor if there's a heavy build up of rain outside.
      I had my tent up and my space situated in very little time. Just as I was done I heard a voice yell "mic check" and a crowd repeat "mic check" and the original voice yelled "mic check" and the crowd repeated "mic check"
yelling voice: we are going
yelling crowd: we are going
yelling voice: to have
yelling crowd: to have
yelling voice: General Assembly in 5 minutes.
yelling crowd: General Assembly in 5 minutes.
      Great! I was just in time for the general assembly! I have attended about four of these before. General assembly (GA) is where all the ideas are presented to the group. If you have ideas for the "occupation", then this is where you voice it.
      At first, I was skeptical of the call and response method of public address that I call "mic check". It seems like some form of mass hypnosis, with the crowd repeating back what the leader says. But now I think it's a great way to amplify a speaker without electricity. What if you don't agree with what the speaker is saying? Then don't repeat it. "Mic Checks" have grown on me and now I find them fun and humorous.
     People congregated in the middle of the park for the GA. There is a statue of general McPherson on his horse that seems to stand about 20 feet high. With the rain coming down a man informed everyone, in mic check fashion, that GA was to be moved indoors to a nearby location. Some people had issue with this as they said they had to stay at camp. One woman, who I had seen the night before in a march with two children, said she had to keep an eye on her children while they slept. A heated debate ensued. Half of the crowd wanted to have General Assembly (GA) outside in the rain, half wanted it indoors. The discussion went on for about 10 minutes with a lot of different people offering solutions. It is fascinating to see people making decisions in this consensus process. And it can be chaotic. It was to be a particularly important GA because the first draft of the declaration was to be read for the first time tonight. Finally, everyone consented to have the GA outside in the rain.
     There was about 50-100 people in attendance at this GA. The rain would drizzle down for awhile, but no one would leave. People really wanted to hear this declaration that would eventually be disseminated to the world. The declaration would explain why Occupy DC is here and why Occupy DC is upset.
     I attended the Occupy DC GA about a month ago when this declaration was first being assembled. The Declaration committee spoke about the challenges it faced. There was a container that everyone put their suggestions into that would compose the document. Over 200 suggestions were reported to have been put into the container. I have to admit that the Declaration committee did not seem up to the daunting task at that time. However, they did it and I'm so proud of them.
     The Declaration was read in "mic check" fashion. The mother of the two children in the march read it. She is a very outspoken member of this movement. I think a lot of people disagree with her bringing her children on the marches, but she will not relent. She feels strongly about bringing her children. And she has a loud voice, but people still insisted on reading the Declaration in "mic check" fashion.
       I do not want to dilute the declaration here by paraphrasing or giving a synopsis. I will just say that Truth wafted from it and it is something I can stand behind.
      My life has been a struggle for meaning in these past few years and this movement may just be the answer I've been searching for?!

    My first night sleeping at Occupy DC. I resigned to my tent before the GA officially ended last night. The rain was coming down pretty steady and it was getting cold. I could hear that most people stayed up until much later. I commend these hearty souls.
     As I lay in my new sleeping bag, before going to sleep last night, I could hear a raucous group in a tent nearby. They were having a good ol' time. Their conversation was not of the most intellectual caliber, but they were enjoying themselves. Then I heard a voice of a man yelling "You piece of shit. You ain't gonna treat women like that. Get out of my country."
      There is many aspects to the camp. One is the intellectuals. These include: the anarchists; black panthers; the people who don't live at the camp, but attend the GA's. One is the emotional inhabitants that have personal stories as to why they are here and have never had much to do with disobedient, somewhat anarchist ways. One is the homeless population who have been living on the streets before this occupation began and have found meaning,purpose, a place in society and refuge in the occupation. One is the vagrant side who has been on the streets before this movement and don't necessarily share the ideals of the occupation, but use it as a shield from staying out of trouble. This faction can be a real drag. They get drunk and start yelling nonsense at the GA's sometimes. And there are many more aspects which I have forgotten to mention here.
      My sleep was interrupted many times by someone screaming things like "AHHHHHHGHHH, get away" and "you piece of shit" and "don't touch me" . I heard a medic explain to someone outside my tent "he's having night terrors. This happens to people with PTSD. Their brain doesn't understand the transition from wake to REM and they can freak out like that. Just let us know if he leaves his tent."
      It is now almost 10 am. I'm still in my tent trying to muster up the will to face the cold outside my sleeping bag. It is raining again today and I'm reluctant to leave my tent. I don't mind the idle time right now as I enjoy the time to think,write and relax.

11/17/11 Part 2

     The rain and cold makes it tough for me to mingle with other occupiers. I think I'm ultra sensitive to cold weather. Some of the occupiers barely notice, while I'm bundled up in almost all my layers of clothing.
He protests by himself like this everyday
     After finally getting up the courage to exit my sleeping bag and tent, I went and had some lunch at a diner a few blocks away from McPherson Square. I wear my big backpack everywhere I go. I will not leave my laptop computer and a few other things in my tent as I'm not certain how secure they would be against theft. When I enter the diner with my backpack I suspect everyone knows I'm camping at Occupy DC. I'm not sure how people feel about the occupation so I just keep to myself.
     I set up my computer and cell phone as I eat my food. I plug my computer into the wall to recharge it. I check all my Internet correspondence. The diner starts to fill up a lot more with 9-5ers eating lunch. All the tables fill up. I feel so out of place. All the 9-5ers in their suits and dress clothes. Me with my outdoors man attire. My computer finishes charging. I use the bathroom and leave.
     I know that if I eat with the occupiers during their mealtimes I'll be able to mingle with them better. However, I'm not willing to eat while sitting in this cold and rain.
This lady has a whole spread! This is her patio!
     When I return to McPherson square there is a teachers' union speaking in the park. There is also a nurses' union and a religious union there. They explain their plight and the present conditions in the world that need to be resolved. They express how they support Occupy DC.
    An Occupy DC resident gets up and speaks. He informs us that this is a peaceful protest that will be marching to Key Bridge. Under no circumstances will the marchers block the bridge. We are also marching with a DC union of workers who are capable of repairing the Key Bridge to a higher rating than its current "D". The union is currently unemployed. Taxes are going to other things like War instead of schools and public infrastructures like bridges.
      We march about 15 blocks. It is a peaceful march that ends on the Key Bridge during rush hour traffic.The police escort us. There was a guy with a walkie talkie on the bridge who turned out to be an undercover police agent. He is dressed in regular clothes and looks like the rest of the marchers. He talks on the walkie talkie to the police boats in the water below the bridge, looming in the Potomac river.  We don't walk on the road on the bridge. We walk on the sidewalks. No one even attempts to block the traffic. Yay for peaceful marches!!!

11/17/11 part 3

Key Bridge march.
      Tonight's GA was inspirational. Everyone celebrated the fact that today's march went peacefully. One person said a cop came up to her and asked to have her sign as a soveneir because was he so impressed with how peaceful things went. I sometimes wonder if the cops are grateful for all the overtime pay these marches may be providing them?
     The GA's seem to bring out all the people who are not living at the camp. These people are usually very active people who have jobs eleswhere. I like talking to them a lot as I still feel like an outsider at the camp. I try to mingle with "occupiers", but there's not much spark in the conversations except "well, we gotta keep this thing going". I'm not suggesting that the people living at the camp are uninteresting. On the contrary, they are facsinating! When we march these are the people who seem to boost the morale the most by running around the crowd and conducting the various chants "We are the 99%", "The People United Will Never Be Divided", "We are unstoppable, another world is possible"etc.. The campers sit in the cold and have fun talking with each other. The campers were the Ones who noticed that the about 20 police officers were arming themselves with gas masks at the Key Bridge march. One occupier noticed this and went and asked the police chief about it. The police chief said "they should not be doing that" and ordered on his radio for the police to take the masks off themselves. The police officers followed orders and the march went peacefully.
     A man at the GA tonight expressed interest in starting a music cmmittee. People tell him there should be one. That there used to be a vibrant drum circle until someone had his drum stolen. The man is a big African American man and answers "I want to meet the person who's gonna steal my drum! I live here at the park and work uptown during the day. We need some music around here".
     I talk to the man after the GA about my interest in a music committee as well. I tell him I'm a musician and we hit it off really well. We talk for awhile about our thoughts on music at the occupy movement. I tell him that I have been playing music on the streets  for a long time and I use a battery powered amp when I need to. I tell him that I'm concerend about performing in the cold.
     The cold seems to be my biggest obstacle of living at the park indefinitely. I am having a hard time even getting out of bed in the morning. I don't enjoy playing music in the cold and that is why I move to warmer climates this time of year or just play indoors.


    It's so hard to get out of the sleeping bag when it's so cold. It was like 30 something degrees this morning! What motivation does a person have to get out of their sleeping bag when it's this cold? I have a morning ritual to stay as clean as possibble, even when camping. The ritual includes wiping my nether regions with a baby wipe, putting on deodorant, changing my shirt and changing my underwear. All these things require a person to take off their clothes in the cold! Burrr! At least when I'm van camping I have a little propane heater to take the chill off so I can perform my morning ritual. The occupiers discourage the use of propane heaters as it could make the whole camp go up in flames in no time.
    On top of this my sleep was disrupted many times throughout the night by the same guy as last night. I think he likes to scream and yell at his tent mates until he's too tired to continue. All the screaming is a natural sedative for him and eventually puts him to sleep. I have empathy for him as I know he has psychological issues. Maybe he should be a singer for a heavy rock band?
     At one point the "deesculation committee" comes and asks the screaming man to please keep it down. This seems to work for a little while, then the man starts spouting "Do you know who I am? Do you know who you're fucking with? I'm from LA. I used to run a crisis intervention center. We learned out west that you never ask 'Why?'. Why? WHy? Why? Don't ask me that". Then, just as it's silent and I think he's gone to sleep, I hear him softly yell "mic check". A few nearby campers half heartedly repeat "mic check" in a quiet whisper. It has to be the weakest, yet most hilarious, mic check I've experienced yet! However, the man must not have anymore to say because all is quiet after that. Haha!
    I finally get up the nerve to get out of my sleeping bag, do my morning ritual, and leave my tent to head to the porta-potty. At least there's a porta-potty now. When I first started visiting this camp they had to go to a nearby business. I have heard that Starbucks is very generous about the occupiers using their bathrooms. I am really shy about using a business's bathroom without buying something, so I use the porta potties. They are not always a pretty site, as they never are, but it beats having to go buy something at Starbucks everytime you wanna go to the bathroom. I think there should be a law that there should be public bathrooms every so many feet in public, urban areas.
     I walked around the camp a bit in the 9am sunshine. No rain today! A few of the campers are hanging out in the morning chill, laughing and playing. God bless them! I am too cold to do anything, so I walk to a corner cafe...not Starbucks. 
Occupy DC
    In the cafe I sit down and type this journal entry. The cafe is surrounded by tall buildings and  bustling cars and traffic. Out the window I see all this and I surrounding the tent city that is Occupy DC. A guy is sitting next to me. We say nothing except "good morning" to each other at first. Again, I feel like everyone in the place is watching me because they know I'm with the Occupation Camp across the street. So, I avoid talking to those around me because I don't want to rock the boat. No politics or religion in mixed company. Then, the guy next to me asks "Do you know what the wi-fi" connection is called here? The one I'm on is really slow". I tell him the name then say "Yeah, I'm just in here having some hot tea and recharging my computer. I'm with the camp across the street" I say as I point over to the mass of tents across the street.
    "Oh yeah" he replies. "I travel a lot and I always seem to end up near these Occupies. I was at the one in New York and Boston now DC. It's interesting, but is there direction?"
    "Well, not yet, though I did get to hear the first draft of the Declaration the other night. But, I think it makes sense that there has been not much of a formal Declaration yet. I mean, everyone on the planet kinda knows there's something awry with the current state of the world, but we're not sure what and how to fix it. To declare anything without sitting down to hash it out first would be sort of false".
    The man agrees and he goes on talking. It turns out he's very knowledgeable on this subject; way more than me. He was in attendance for the 2008 protest of the Republican convention in New York City. That's when about 700 protesters were arrested and thrown into makeshift jail/detainment cells on the pier! His name is Eric. He's a clean cut, good looking guy. He too is a singer/songwriter and we go into all our current, favorite singer/songwriters.
      Eric says something about movements and protests that I never really formulated before. He says that any movement that's ever changed the world is lead by one of two different groups. One is the extremely wealthy and powerful, such as politicians and the corporations. The other group is those that have nothing and nothing to lose. This is a profound point to me.
    "I agree" I say. "I just happen to be in a place in my life right now where I have the time to participate in this. I know there is a lot of people out there who would like to, but they're too busy making ends meet. I like to believe I'm out here representing those people too".
    "That's how I feel" says Eric. " I would like to participate more in these kinds of things, but I have children to look out for".
    Eric tells me of a book called "Generations" about how all this stuff is cyclical. According to this book everything repeats itself every four generations. I want to read this book sometime.
    Eric eventually gets back to his task of preparing for a presentation at the Chamber of Commerce today. I get back to my facebook and other somewhat frivolous things. I leave the cafe feeling like meeting Eric was meant to be. Serendipity strikes again!
    The sun is now shining down on the camp. It is much warmer out. Two kids are at the edge of the camp playing a guitar and singing. The guitar player has a sign in his guitar case that says "I love music and therefore I have no money". I know that feeling. It's great to see/hear people out here doing this in DC. I think DC has been missing this kind of thing for a long time. The Occupy Camp has brought a bohemian vibe to DC that has been missing my whole life. I love it!!!
    I walk a little further down the perimeter of camp and come upon a man dressed in a suit and tie. He's sitting at a make shift desk , made of a fold-able table, with his laptop in front of him.
    "What are you doing?" I ask him. I'm not sure he knows I'm a fellow occupier. That's my life. I never quite fit in to any scene. No one can ever tell if I'm with them or not. Oh well.
    "I'm out here having conversations with anyone who passes by and is curious about what is going on here" says the guy in the suit and tie.
    "I think that's really important" I tell him. We get to talking about things. His name is Matt. He's been here at Occupy DC for about a month. He's originally from the South West. He says the debt ceiling debate in September of this year is what made him realize something is really off track.
    We start talking about how this camp will make it through the cold winter. Just as we start this conversation, a man walks up wearing all camouflage. He tells us he is a veteran and has just arrived from Occupy Baltimore. He tells us there is ways to survive the winter and that he has camped for two years in treacherous winter conditions.
    Just as this conversation gets pretty deep another guy walks up. He is well dressed and looks like he just walked off the cover of "GQ".
    "How's it going?" Matt asks the GQ guy.
    "Good. I'm just traveling trough town and thought I'd come check out this scene" he answers. "I have been wondering around here for a while and I still have not ascertained what you are trying to do here".
    "What do you think we're trying to do here?" asks MAtt, very sincerely, with a smile and not even a hint of arrogance.
    "I think you're trying to address some of the world's problems by occupying this square. But what problems are you trying to address?'' asks the GQ guy.
    "What problems do you think we're trying to address" asks Matt. At this point everyone realizes the humor of this situation and we all start to laugh, GQ guy included. There is so many issues in the world today that no one knows where to even start. That itself can be hilarious when you let it. I notice there is another guy who has joined the conversation. We later find out he's from Kenya. He laughs along with us too.
    The Occupy movement is like some kind of free form jazz. To the passerby it may sound like chaos. But to those who choose to get involved it makes perfect sense. Undefinable, and composed of whoever is participating at that moment. Very Zen-like.
    In the center of camp a crowd has gathered to listen to a group that is here to present to the camp a book of thousands of stories of people all over the country that are facing hard times and support the occupy movement in spirit. All these stories say that they wish they could "occupy" with us, but that it is not practical right now for them to do so. I know I feel inspired by these stories and I think a lot of the occupiers do as well.
    Suddenly a guy yells "Mic Check". And the crowd repeats it back appropriately. "I was just in the freshly cleaned porta potty and I found these down in the toilet" says the guy as he lifts a beer can and some other trash in the air. The trash is still dripping that blue liquid that they use to dissolve the waste in the toilet. "Please do not put trash into the toilet people!".
    "Please do not put trash in the toilet" everyone repeats back. Haha!
    I enjoy the sun while I can and then take a nap in my tent.
     At about 7pm I head to a Bahai meeting. I am part of a faith of people who believe in a manifestation of God named Baha'ullah. At the meeting I mention that I'm camped at the Occupy DC camp. People seem really interested as I knew they would. After all Bahais' strive for World Peace, which I think the Occupy movement currently is too. A Bahai friend suggests that I suggest to the movement that we decide on some morals for the world to agree on. He says without some agreed upon morals we will only end up right back where we are now.  I agree with this idea. Baha'ullah says peace will only come through justice and then unity: Justice + Unity = Peace. Though I would never fling my beliefs on anyone, I feel like this movement and the world will benefit from Baha'ullah's teachings.


      Today was my last day at the camp. I encourage those who are currently at Occupy Dc to stay if that is what is in their hearts. As for me, I'm not much use when I have to live in these cold conditions.  I will head out west and support and participate in occupy camps wherever I go.
       Today was pretty much business as usual at the camp. A hodgepodge of people wandering around. Today was Saturday, so there were a lot more people visiting. People I could tell that were interested in this movement. People who want to be part of this movement somehow. I met a particularly interesting man. He was dressed in some pretty wild clothing.
      "Look up into the sky" he said "it's a baby hawk" pointing above the surrounding tall buildings.
      "That's great" I answered. "I've heard that they are starting to thrive in these urban landscapes".
      "Yes they are" said the mystical looking man. "And guess what I saw roosting outside the window of a big time CEO's office?" he aksed. "A turkey vulture. Turkey vultures never kill, they just wait for their prey to die" he said.
      "That's pretty deep" I responded. I think it is kind of what's going on these days. The cost of living has gone up while the quality of life has gone down. Mothers (or Fathers) are rarely able to stay home and raise their children. Both parents have to go to work to make ends meet. The idea of "family" is disintegrating. People are not being killed outright, but they are leading harsher and harsher existences, in a lot of ways. I have heard that this could be due to inflation caused by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Maybe we've been living an indentured life for so many generations, we don't even know what it's like or have a role model to truly live free?
     I am not into demonizing anyone, even the wealthiest person on the planet. I have issues with the whole 99%, 1% thing. I understand the good intentions behind the saying, but I feel like even that has the potential to divide us. We are all people. Each one of us has a special God given gift and are put here on the earth for a reason. We must respect each others' existence and look for the good in every person. Hopefully the alleged 1% will join the 99% and we can just become 100%.
    The wealth disparity will vanish when the wealthy of the world share their wealth out of the kindness of their own hearts and not because a government mandates them to. Because it is the right thing to do. No one ever amasses wealth in a vacuum. It takes the protection of a military and police, teachers, infrastructure, etc.. No matter how many laws are created, people will find a way around them. World peace will come when the people obey the eternal truth and justice that is inside of us all; when people simply do what is best for everyone on the planet.Until then, we have the Occupy Movement.
     I am grateful to be a part of this Occupy movement. The "hippie movement" of the late 60's seemed to have started out as a noble peace movement. Unfortunately, it seemed to have to fizzled out into a scene of drugs and debauchery. I do not want this movement to do the same. I hope to continue to contribute my part by being involved as much as I can. I know that every single person is in control of the future of this planet. We must all be active in our local, state, national and international affairs as much as we can. One president can only do so much, whether beneficial or damaging. The worst that can happen is that individuals surrender, thinking individuals do not make a difference.
     For me the Occupy camp now symbolizes a place where people can gather together and share ideas and unify for the good of the whole world.  This kind of space has been missing for a long time in modern civilization. I hope it will continue to exist in every city throughout the world!