Previous note

I guess I should have prefaced that last piece. So, Just so anyone who reads this knows, I'm taking part in the Occupy Together/99% movement. Specifically Occupy New Orleans. And I've decided to journal it.

My Reflections on a Revolution, Part 1

Reflections on a Revolution:

So, day 1 of the occupation is done. Midway through day 2. Looking back, collecting thoughts, pondering ideas. Been an interesting time.

My story: I missed the beginning of the march and protest. Had stuff going on, and the march was less central for me anyway. Important, certainly, but for me the main purpose the marches serve is getting attention, and giving people something to do that feels meaningful. For me, the real power is in the General Assembly.

General assembly is kind of amazing. It's also slow, frustrating, challenging, and really hard for some folk to adjust to. But, wow. Yeah, there's a lot of wonderful to it too. Consensus is powerful. Building consensus is of so much value. I don't think all the folks talking about demands and focused messages and charismatic leaders and shadowy controls by this or that organization have any idea what it's like. I'd here urge any who read this to go to at least 1 General Assembly, just to see what it is, how it works, and realize both the power it holds, and the challenges it creates.

A huge amount of the system is dedicated to assuring that no one person can exert undue influence on the group. This may not always be completely successful, but I feel it works pretty well.

I somehow ended up becoming a facilitator. I just started talking on stuff, and my voice got heard, and -bang-. One of the beautiful aspects is the possibility of anyone who wants to taking a 'leadership' role. Of course... this also has issues. A lot of discussion goes into every single decision, no matter how minor. In order for everyone to be heard though, this is important.

So, our first meeting took 3-4 hours. Lots of standing on my part. I was playing the role of 'stack', so it was my job to keep track of who wanted to speak on a topic. We didn't get through much. Mostly we talked process. We have a speaker in who came from New York, who's been helping us out with process. He discussed how the structure that's been working in NYC functioned. And then we had a long debate on each individual aspect of that process, as to whether we'd utilizing the method. And... it was trying.

The idea of the 'People's Microphone' was a sticking point for many. The idea is that whoever is speaking break up what they say into short clips, and everyone around them repeat their words, to amplify. It's actually -really- awesome. It was utilized in NYC as a neccesity, since amplification was not allowed, but actually apparently become an incredibly valuable tool all it's own.

The advantages are multiple. First, it forces you to actually pay attention. All too often, we as a people are very bad listeners. We are often not fully listening but rather just waiting for our chance to speak. The People's Mic forces you to pay attention, so you can repeat and fosters real listening. It also de-personalizes messages a lot. Too often, messages start to be identified with -that- person, rather than standing on their own. The echoing of the group speaking with one voice takes the focus off the speaker. And finally, it forces one to refine their message, to make it short and to the point instead of rambling on.

But there are some detractors. It feels weird. It takes a -lot- of getting used to and forces one to change their speaking style with some people are -not- ok with. It feels hokey, and we've had people say "We're not in kindergarten anymore, so I think we don't need this".

We never did reach consensus on using the people's microphone, which I think should be an agenda item for discussion.

And that's another trying aspect. What gets on the agenda. How long it gets talked on. It's so difficult. It really does end up putting more power than seems wise in the hands of the facilitators, which is why it is -vital- that the facilitators rotate, and that anyone who wants a chance be allowed to take a turn. Of course, if someone is going to use that opportunity to be disruptive, there needs to be a method for getting rid of them...

Process, process, process. A lot of this talk is going to be on process, since that's my main focus right now. Hope everyone's good with that.

So we had a second meeting, this morning. An occupier's meeting. New facilitator, very different style. She'd been to a workshop somewhere on how to do it. I felt she was a bit too controlling, a bit too focused on her own ideas of what the agenda should be. Process. ^_^ But it went well. We talked about needs, about some general issues. Mostly we brought up concerns to send to working groups. It went well.

So, the final point of interest is that i suddenly became a police liason-ish person. Not an official role, nor am I certain if I'm comfortable with it, but there ya go. They saw me being a talking head and asked if I was organizing, and I said no, that we were leaderless, and i didn't know who was best for them to talk to, and I didn't feel like I should single anyone out, point to them as the leader, so I just spoke to them for myself. But now I think the police are going to start thinking of me as a point of contact. Which is interesting.

They were super friendly and supportive, though some of the more committed activists in the group warned that that was just what they did, playing good cop, and they'd act super supportive regardless of what our concerns were, even if we were, like the KKK. Makes sense, good to try to keep a friendly face up as much as possible, helps with keeping the peace.

Another meeting soon, so I'm off for now. Write more later.


------------------------------------------------------------------


Later now, filling in about the rest of the day. Been interesting. Had aims to have a second GA at 1, but with few people and no real agenda, we decided instead to focus on the breakout groups to talk about different actions.

So, there's this thing, we have 'action work-groups' that are supposed to be the manner for us to get things going. The GA gives them input, and they agree to go take care of things. But... The organizational situation on these things is very messy at current. A lack of single points of contact, a lack of structures, a lack of specific times when people are going to meet... It's a little hectic.

Hopefully this is a temporary issue that will work itself out over time. But I'm actually uncertain how much time we actually have. Some stuff does need to get done with a degree of quickness. Outreach is vital, infrastructure needs to happen, we need a refined media presence or at least a structured information repository online. And all this needs to happen before people get bored of us and before the authorities decide that we haven't got the backing of the community enough and decide to get rid of us. We're vulnerable.

So... yeah. A lot of uncertainties. Meanwhile, my action group is messy. We don't seem to be able to meet or discuss anything. I think we are all strong opinionated personalities, and I think that's going to cause some conflict. Not sure. We'll see.

The turn of seasons, and emotion.

So, I've been looking back over my writing, and thinking. Right now, I have this story going on in my head that I'm doing really well, that life is pretty good, that things are improving, and that this is all a pretty recent development. It's been a pretty consistent theme in the background for the past 6 months or so, which is really a wonderful thing. And I was telling a friend recently about how this new trend is so nice. And then i looked back on my writings.

As it turns out, this trend really isn't entirely new. There's been ups and down, and bumps along the road, but there's actually been an overall positive trend in my life for about 3 years now. And it's particularly been prominent... right around this time of year. I seem to get myself distracted as the summer sets in and be a bit down on myself by the fall, most years. But it's also worth noting that each year recently I've bounced back sooner and more brightly, and kept things rolling longer, than the previous.

So now I guess the challenge will be to keep this motivational ball rolling(motivation and action are important keys to my continued happiness) as long as possible. And to be gentle with myself if I stall out, and then use the tools I've developed to get it going again.

Anyway, mostly this is for me, to read later. But it's nothing private, so I've left it open.

What creates jobs?

So, there is this idea in America. This idea is so often repeated and so rarely challenged, as to be accepted as a basic truth. It is considered axiomatic, a basic assumed fact that both parties in a debate agree on implicitly and argue from there. Yet on closer examination, the idea falls apart. The idea is this:

Corporations create jobs.

We hear it pretty often. It's used to excuse so much. The exorbitant pay of CEOs is necessary in order to get the very best CEOs, so as to create more jobs. Tax breaks, loopholes and incentives for the wealthy are needed so they can invest in corporations, so that they might create jobs. Similar benefits for corporations exist so that they might create jobs. If the corporations do poorly, they will stop making jobs, jobs will be lost, unemployment will skyrocket, and times will be tougher all around.

It's a lie. It's a classic Big Lie. Corporations do not create jobs.

Demand creates jobs.
Collapse )

Educational Vouchers, an analysis and maybe a third option

So, I've been thinking about public schooling quite a bit lately, considering the news and politics of late. But since it's been on my mind, various things I see in day to day life keep tying in with my musings on education. And one thing keeps coming up: Our schooling system has some issues.

Now, there's a pretty big debate on precisely what the issues are, and a much bigger debate on how best to solve those issues. One of the suggestions that's made the rounds has been educational vouchers. Primarily this has been brought up by Libertarian-style Republicans, and mostly divides down the party lines for politicians and pundits. But the idea strikes something of a chord in people I think. And it is for that reason I don't think it's wise too either dismiss or accept them without doing some serious thought. Collapse )

Politics are on my mind of late.

I've heard some griping about unions lately. And noticing there is a pretty deep divide amongst Americans, on how they feel about unions. Many believe that they are kind of a racket. It's interesting to see the anti-union sentiments actually holding strangely contradictory ideas, sometimes in the same person. People feel that their union dues are unfair, that those monies are extorted from workers, that it's unethical to require union membership in order for someone to be employed. Yet -at the same time-, often by the same person, it is said that unions represent unfair advantages. That collective bargaining, strikes, and locking down employment to only union members give union members a lever with which to unfair get extra benefits, above the 'market value' of their labor. Now which is it I wonder?

Over the next little while, I think I am likely to spam this space with political musings. Musing that I will likely eventually clean up and make into a serious blog. But for now, it's just musings. The following is written in response to a facebook comment, my response went a -little- over, and prompted me to bring my thoughts here. Collapse )

A response to a response. Or, Multitasking and the future.

So, this is a response to maradydd. She has been reading the writing of Walter Kirn, and posted about this:

The Autumn of the Multitaskers

Which she described as "a flawed reactionary argument, in the sense that it fails to take into account the fact that the environment we have created for ourselves will necessarily favour those who are most fit for it. Some people can actually multitask effectively and avoid failure of adaptive executive control; BoingBoing's appellation of "happy mutants" may be more accurate than they know."

Sorry for the highjack maradydd, and hope it's not out of line, but I had such a long thread of thought come out, thought I'd just pop it up on my lj, instead of in your comments, as here it might attract more discussion(existing articles pop off the buffer quickly, and there comments aren't immediately obvious). This was written in the style of a comment, so keep this in mind when reading. Here go:

Collapse )

Life is being interesting again

There is finally life in my life again. It's kinda nifty. I feel more like an actual person than I have in ages. And not just while living off the glow of a social high. Right here, alone, in my house, and for most of the past month. Here's hoping it stays.

Collapse )

To those I have abandoned while walking through my most recent trials, and even more to those who have been hurt by my dispassion, I am sorry. Hopefully I will manage better in this next life.