Different paths in pursuits of happiness….
Local blogger Tom White writes about his excursion downtown to visit Occupy Richmond. He notes that he is “shocked” by what he found there.
There were tents, hand painted signs, almost child-like art work in poster paint reminiscent of the 60′s. Love. Peace.
I was politely greeted by several as I snapped pictures and looked around. I came upon a medical tent and was greeted by a young African-American man named Chris. I asked him a few questions and then asked his permission to record him as he gave me the grand tour. I really hadn’t expected to find a clean camp, let alone a medical tent – one of two!
There are supply rents with clothes, food and gloves. The port-a-pottys were at the far end of the park, away from the food area and they had hot food available all the time. 24 hours.
Chris told me about their “PA” system as a few people walked by shouting “Mic Check!” Chris explained that they use this system to make announcements around the camp. One makes the announcement and the others repeat the message around the encampment. An efficient system to say the least.
He also explained the Democratic Government they had established. To pass “legislation” requires 90% approval.
I spoke with a young woman who was in the Legal Tent. I didn’t ask her name or “qualifications” but she did tell me that the group applied for a permit 9 days ago and had heard nothing.
By biggest problem with this movement has been their disregard for the law. But it seems that they are at least making an effort to comply with the law and the City of Richmond is actually dragging their feet. I have no reason to believe this woman was not being truthful, which means that the City and local media has been less than candid about the Occupy Richmond group’s efforts to do things the right way.
Shame on Mayor Jones. While I criticized Jones earlier today in a post for not evicting the scofflaws who refuse to abide by the law and obtain the proper permits, it seems that thecriticism of Jones was deserved, but not because he failed to remove this group who is unlawfully assembled, but because his administration has failed to either approve or disapprove the permit.
My camp guide Chris, speaking for himself (and not the group) said he believed that the Richmond TEA Party should be refunded their money. The Public Park is free.
As of yet, the group has only seemed to come up with one message. That is that they do not like the way things are going right now. Perhaps when and if they arrive at a 90% consensus on what it is that they want, there will be less confusion and misunderstanding of what they are doing.
I believe that the mainstream media has managed to ferret out the worst of the Occupy participants and what we have seen is not representative of the majority of the group. I believe Chris and the woman I spoke with were more a part of the core of the group.
For the ones I spoke with today, what they have found is a group of humans who feel pushed out of the society we live in today. The sense of community they are seeking no longer exists. It has been replaced by an everyone for themselves mentality. I think the reason that they have no real demands is that they have yet to realize that they are looking for a time I remember as a boy. When the entire neighborhood knew one another. Where you could never get away with anything because everyone knew your name and your parent’s phone number.
I believe that while those on the outside see a group of Communists or Socialists – I know I did – what they really are is Community-ists. Theyjust don’t know it. Sure there are aspects of communes and I was having 60′s flashbacks during my visit. And I suppose that any good movement needs a villain. For the Hippies it was the Vietnam War and the Establishment. For the Occupiers, it seems to be banks. I am not sure how that actually fits the puzzle, but it seems to work as the catalyst that binds the Occupy Movement together.
For those looking for a sense of belonging who feel they are unable to find it in the mainstream community, they really seem to find a genuine sense of family and love here. Occupy Richmond may simply be an exceptional branch of the movement with others, like Wall Street, being the ugly side of the movement, who knows? New York is sure to attract a far more unsavory element than Richmond. Perhaps that is the difference.
But I now think that this is, at the very least, an interesting experiment. It is not the TEA Party. The two are totally different.
The TEA Party is a community looking for a specific list of items to be addressed. The Occupy Movements are a group searching for a sense of community. So far, at least. The two groups have little in common, but they also have little in opposition, either. They are not opposites in any way. Just two groups on the same path in pursuit of happiness.
WHAT THE —?????
I hardly know where to start. So the Tea Party is on a path in pursuit of HAPPINESS? Who knew! That’s…deep.
OK, first, public parks are not ‘free’ to claim as your own for an indefinite period of time. That’s absurd. The Tea Parties understand this, and so that is why they apply for permits, pay appropriate fees, etc. I can say from experience that had the City made the tea party jump through one hoop too many, or made the insurance requirements too difficult, that at a point, another venue would have been chosen. On one hand, one group applied free market theory and the other applies squatter’s rights.
I don’t get all this emo where OWS is concerned. A bunch of outcasts looking for a sense of community? Perhaps whoever is supplying hot food would be able to provide a field somewhere for the commune. They can have all their peace, love and family on private property. Have at it.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a child of the 60′s…… although I did grow up in a suburb where neighbors looked out for each other. I recall being in 5th grade, and standing on my neighbor’s sprinkler head, pretending to be a water fountain. The homeowner charged out of the house, brought me into his kitchen and made me call my mother. Then I got a spanking. So much for having neighbors.
Sorry, I’m just not buying this Occupy Wall Street thing as anything other than Van Jones Autumn in America. It was promised, it was planned, and I don’t care whether some of the people are the finest specimens of the human race ever to pitch a tent at Kanawha. Whether they’re nice, whether they’re clean, whether they smell of licorice or lavender is irrelevant. As long as they are in a public space, taking up room in that space, claiming it as their own – others cannot use it. What’s next, little picket fences marking their community – perhaps a post office drop? A garden? Oh, but it’s public.
Letting our emotions rule, in this case, wishing we were back in the 50s when times seemed simpler, is partly how we got to where we are in America today. Wanting to make everything ‘good’ for everyone, assuming the government has the ability to do that, is the problem. Blaming the City for “foot dragging” on a permit – even if it is the case – is pointing the finger in the wrong direction.
Loved the post though, Virginia Right! That’s what blogging is all about – giving us a sense of community online, so we don’t have to go pitch tents downtown.