Walking into the Disjecta, one could not help but feeling somewhat uncomfortable in the dark cold empty warehouse located underneath the Burnside bridge. But given the dire circumstances of the planet and the "times", it was also somewhat appropriate even in the holiday season. Looking out the west windows of the building, you could see the skate park under the bridge and hear the buzz of traffic. Despite asking $15 to $18 a head , a crowd of approximately 100 people filled one side of the warehouse. A representative for Disjecta informed everyone that this would be the last event at the warehouse and that we were really not supposed to be there and were essentially "squatting" on the property.
Urban Scout (who organized the event) came out with a large bandage on his nose and joked that he had already spent the proceeds from the event on some plastic surgery. Scout then introduced Derrick who wasted no time in getting right to the questions. A "moderator" held the mike preventing the long "statement" questions and limited each question to one minute.
The audience did not disappoint and there were several excellent questions that each evoked 10 and 15 minute detailed responses from the renowned author and activist. It was the kind of give an take that required that he leave his usual script and it unveiled a side of Derrick that was not as confident as he appears in his prepared lectures.
Derrick began part of one response by posing the question "how many people here have an AK47?" To which a few people raised their hands and a couple even chimed in with where they can get one and how much they cost. Another lady mentioned that we can each make our own AK47's. Someone else then asked if Derrick "fly's" and if so why do they let him? Derrick said he does fly and even crosses the border, which promoted a humorous story about being hassled at the Canadian border because he had a small baggie of pills that were actually for his arthritis but he had forgotten what they were. He mentioned that the feds even allow Ward Churchill to fly and leave the country without a hassle. Later he followed this point up by talking about how as a "radical" writer he would actually be a huge liability to any group or organization if he actually participated in some of the resistance he preaches is necessary. He said he felt his role was to sound the alarm and move people to action and that he depends on each individual to make a judgment about what their role in the resistance is and how we each to need to support all avenues of resistance regardless of whether certain actions go beyond what we would participate in as individuals. Another question posed was short and too the point when a woman asked Derrick if he votes. If memory serves me, Derrick replied that he does vote although in addition to Nader in 96 and 2000, he has also voted for Emma Goldman. He conceded that his voting was analogous to writing his senator about the egregious nature of deforestation for profit, but that he did it anyway.
I had an opportunity to ask a question and I mentioned that during Derrick's last speaking engagement in Portland, he had some pretty thought provoking things to say about the concept of "Hope". I inquired if he saw a conflict or "divide" between hoping that my two year old granddaughter can have a wonderful beautiful life and understanding that we need to expedite the end of civilization. In his usual charming way, Derrick took about 15 minutes to get to an answer which ranged from "there is no good answer" to teaching my granddaughter how to live off the grid and preparing her for the inevitable coming crash. This prompted other questions regarding personal sacrifice and the value of one's own life as compared to the continued existence of salmon as an example. Derrick said he was once asked if we would sacrifice the lives of his closest loved ones if he could be guaranteed the survival of the Salmon. He said he would have to ask his family, but when he did they responded that he better have said yes! He said this made him very happy. He also said he would give his own life for the same cause and spoke eloquently about the sacrifice of the few for the survival of the many.
A "Hanford" nuclear activist asked what Derrick thought about the fact that over 100 people will show up to hear him speak and yet only a handful of people would show up to oppose nuclear waste that would poison the earth for hundreds of thousands of years. Derrick responded with an analogy that more people care about the Detroit Tigers than they do the real tigers themselves. This prompted a series of excellent responses from people in the audience about the barriers to organizing successfully and what prevents people from "showing up".
In my opinion, this part of the group discussion illustrated how valuable this format really was.
There were many other excellent questions and numerous profound responses including the morality of blowing up dams and taking down cell phone towers.
In the end, I was very glad I attended and am hopeful that other revolutionaries utilize the Q & A format in the future..