I live in Portland Oregon. I had been out of state for school for a few years and I returned this year. I love this city, especialy the intelligence and kindness of the local activists. The activist community in our city is currently preparing for Dubya's visit in a week. While Portland is a very creative, progressive, and radical community, I have NOT been inspired by the local radicals' ability to network, develop common vision, outreach, and support the general public in their resistance. This has meant that the media has been able to take avantage of weaknesses and make much of the general public reluctant to participate in direct action. I am also worried that "acitivst-only" protests and general police repression have left too many of us burnt out, tierd, and ineffective.
Last March I followed with amazement at the quality of vision and practice that the Bay Area activist community showed when the war first broke out. The use of a cross-spectrum spokescouncil, the clarity of the media
outreach, the collective focus, etc. I was especially impressed by how the activist community created information and infrustructure that helped support and empower average San Fransiscans to shut down their own city.
The film "We Interrupt This Empire" recently showed in a small theatre in Portland. I was unable to attend but several of my friends were there: one who had been involved in the March Protests in SF. We had hoped that the
film would present to the local radicals a vision of activism that is well thought out, decentralized, meaningful to the public, empowering to people, graphically intelligent, builds future coalitions, & creates a public sentiment that activists are food for democracy and society.
My friends tell me that all of the questions after the screening were technical and focused on the How-To's of Direct Action techniques: there was very little interest in the PROCESS of organizing.
The organization around Bush's visit next week are crazy, unfocused and I think that we will see a lot of well-meaning activists tear-gassed and arrested by cops, very little of the averge portlanders will be there, so they will beleive
the stories they see on the news, and everyone who is depressed, frustrated, angry about the actions of the Administration will just feel more so.
My challenge for our community is that we work hard to: 1. Create an inspired, revivifying mood at the upcoming protest through: media outreach, community organizing, and networking between activists. and 2. build up a working community
spokescouncil in our city so there are good communication structures in place for futures events and the reestablishment of democracy in our community.
I realize that these are HUGE challenges, but I think that they may be the most important challenges of our community.
The methods we use to network will have an enormous effect on the way that Portland will look like in the future.
If we begin with confusion and all activity conducted by a activist-class, then that is what a future Cascadia will look like in twenty years.
If we begin with huge, centralized organization, then we will find ourselves in a totalitarian Cascadia.
But if we can establish the practice of a bottom-up community Spokescouncil, then I will have hope for the future of our City and Bioregion.
Thank you for your time.
In peace and solidarity,