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[personal profile] polychromatic22
The last few days at the ATL General Assembly have been weird.

I was there Friday night when it was voted to go ahead with the occupation. There was some stuff with Congressman John Lewis that was... well, it's made people flip their shit. One way or the other. Some people are angry at the idea of him speaking there at all. Others are angry at the idea of him being turned away.

The Occupation is going ahead at Woodruff Park. On Saturday, they voted to rename it Troy Davis Park. I wasn't there for that, so I can't speak for how the voting went.

We have a HQ that was given to us at 60 Walton Street (2nd floor). This is a good place to drop off donations or meet if you can't show up in a more public way.

Today I went down there, but had to leave before the full GA started (at 6 PM).

The vibe is... all over the place. Some people want to work with the system. Some want to reform the system. Some want to destroy the system. Some others simply want to abandon the system all together.

I'll be real honest here, this last one puzzles me the most. Like, I seriously don't even get why they are there. You want to get off the grid and sustain yourself? Go for it. Having actually learned my history, I can tell you from the communes of the 60's: this doesn't work tremendously for the women. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of responsibilities, the women are left holding the bag while the men drum around a circle talking about how pure and free they are. The women are the ones who rejoin society when their kids turn out to have diabetes. Or need penicillin. Or just want a way to clean their menstrual pads that isn't backbreaking.
And as for abandoning the currency system all together in favor of barter? I think I'll skip that, too, thanks. Barter systems work mostly as a one to one "this is what I have" for "this is what you have" system, with the occasional merchant or trader keeping a stockpile of the miscellanous items. It doesn't work so well for actually advancing medicine or technology. It doesn't do so well for a variety of foodstuffs. Let's not even talk about droughts or famines, as not using a barter system is pretty much why we can mostly get through them.

Honestly though, all those arguments as for why I disagree with that is just icing on the cake of who gives a shit. If they want to live free and pure, go for it, sparky. Force me to do it? Hells to the no. And really, there's nothing stopping you.

So, I don't have a lot of patience for the 19 year olds talking about living free and pure and abandoning the system. It's actually pissed me off a bit. They have near zero life experience of the breadth of knowledge to understand where the stuff breaks down in their scenario. The communes were abandoned for a reason, and I've talked to some of the people who desperately tried to make them work.

So, I don't even know what to say to them. I'm going to have to sit down with them, but I don't even know how to approach them respectfully. I'll have to think on that.

I probably won't be able to go back until next weekend. We'll see. Russell is down with me going at night, it's just that I'm wearing myself to bits.

I'm also working on a side video project for this all that may or may not be interesting. I'll bring it up here if it pans out to anything. It really depends on the partner I teamed up with, as he has the footage.

I'm leaving this public so my mom can wander into it. She lived through the 60's, and knows how hard some of the commune movement was on women.

interesting...

Date: 2011-10-10 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] not-hothead-yet.livejournal.com
I can experience what you are talking about in a weird virtual way as I've been moving through similar mental dissonance with social media because of younger people who "let their freak flag fly" and don't understand that the reason they are still alive is through the generosity of others who are doing all the dirty work behind the scenes. Don't want to own a car? Fantastic but please don't start calling me up when you want to travel outside the perimeter and don't feel like paying for the bus/train/rental. etc

I know several people who really don't get that progress has happened because people wanted it to happen,not because it "the man" forced it on us all. I like my washing machine kthx. I like refrigeration too. And toothpaste. lotion's high on my list and i'm not giving it up.

ah ramble ramble... I plan to be going down there before the weekend. I might be bringing LaFemme or LadyLabyrinth. I'll bring some donations too. But I don't think I can give up our camping gear just yet...we'll see what I got in the garage.

ah ramble ramble

gawd I love you

ha totally forgot to say

Date: 2011-10-10 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] not-hothead-yet.livejournal.com
If my parents weren't down in Florida for the memorial/funeral I'd definitely be telling them all about this and trying to drag them down too. They'd probably be into it.

Re: interesting...

Date: 2011-10-10 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polychrome-baby.livejournal.com
The essential thing is, there comes a point in life when you have to be responsible. A lot of these kids have never reached that point. It's somewhat easier for women to reach that point, often, because we're more likely to have kids that we feel responsible for (which isn't to say that men aren't responsible for their children, just that women are more likely to be).

I love the fuck out of you, too, babe. You give me strength.

Date: 2011-10-10 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cathrynapple.livejournal.com
I have been looking forward to each new post you make about this. (BTW, if you ever come across a good looking guy named Josh Riley, he's been donating supplies to Occupy Atlanta and is slowly becoming more active there. He's a high school friend of mine.) I agree wholeheartedly with your points here.

I'm very concerned that a small group of protestors are getting the most publicity - usually a younger crowd who enjoy protesting in general and don't necessarily take the cause seriously. I am 100% behind the movement and I don't understand the people who keep saying, "But what are they protesting FOR? They can't even tell us!" Firstly, there is a clear statement from the Adbusters group on the wikipedia page - a committee appointed to greatly reduce the amount of corporate influence in Washington is a pretty definite demand if you ask me. Closing tax loopholes for the wealthy is also a well defined demand.

I am glad to see so many chapters of the movement popping up. We had over a thousand people at Occupy Indianapolis on Saturday, and almost as many on Sunday.

Date: 2011-10-10 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polychrome-baby.livejournal.com
Awww thanks! *hugs*

Seriously, it's breaking my back working this hard. I'm having a hard time finding a good balance because, frankly, there's not enough gray hairs in the ATL GA (and what I mean by gray hairs is, people who have gone out into the world and have experience beyond campus life). There's a bit too much representation of the protest hungry crowd. So, voices like mine are desperately needed. Voices different than mine that are also experienced in life are desperately needed.

I've also been taking it fairly seriously to keep the networking hooked up, so I've been working ferociously at research and linking. Not as much at livejournal networking. It's... a weird choice, and one I probably need to remedy, as a lot of people here could use it. LJ is more my emotional outlet. You know? I haven't had time for emotional outlets, so LJ has been mostly ignored by me. It really sucks.

There are so many people there, so I have no idea if I'll even notice if I run across him, but I'll keep an eye out.

Thank you for listening, it really matters.

Date: 2011-10-10 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thatgirljj.livejournal.com
So here's the thing. I have a master's degree in public health. Which means that I'm educated enough to think through one of the major problems that dogged a lot of the most optimistic communes in the 60's, sanitary waste disposal. And I'm generally ingenious enough to work with engineers and other people to create systems for managing that kind of thing, as well as policies to say, keep the whole commune fed when everyone falls to the same virus in the middle of the winter.

And I'm 98% certain that:
A) No one wants to barter precious food & shelter for those skills.
B) Were they willing, I would get stuck caring for children and cleaning up after people instead of doing the work I was bartered in to do.

Which is the problem with going completely off the grid. It helps if, before you throw out the money, you invest about $2000 or so in buying books and other information and system parts from people who know how to do these things... it can go a long way.

Date: 2011-10-10 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polychrome-baby.livejournal.com
You do know your history. That is precisely the straw on the camel's back issue that led to the vast majority of them being abandoned - sanitary waste disposal.

Date: 2011-10-10 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thatgirljj.livejournal.com
Yeah, well, that's the funny thing about public health. We are geeks about these things and we have big money student loans to prove that we spent a bunch of time studying them. But it's actually PRACTICAL shit to know.

Date: 2011-10-10 01:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tenery.livejournal.com
Mom can walk in even when the blog is locked, hon.

On communes -- I had my children young (1st at 20, last at 27) and in the mid-60s. We were busy keeping up with the Joneses in those days. Owning my first house at 19. By the time the Summer of Love occurred, we were vested in suburbia and materialism and getting the gas bill paid every month. We gave up the telephone and there was no cable tv or much reception out in our valley. Often the town drunk would hit the telephone pole and take out the electricty for the entire village and our freezer. Those of us living out there in the days when our husbands took the only car off to work everyday had to have survival skills like walking to the store and carrying home the groceries and having a good relationship with the local Dr. for kid emergencies.

You hit the nail on the head when you figured out that the women did the grunt work on the communes. I was a member of a buying co-op where the leader did the buying and transporting of goods from the Berkeley Co-op back to Dublin. At the Co-op you could buy gi-normous containers of staples like flour, yeast, sugar, cocoa, 20 lbs bricks of cheese, half a cow, bushels of onions/potatoes, etc. It was a pain in the ass, but having food choices available when you are home with two babies is really helpful. I have these storage and stowing skills now, including canning vegetables and fruits, if necessary. Anyone who knows me has seen my glass jar collection, I just can't get over the habit of saving them. You have to give up a lot of space and time to accomplish simple tasks, as well as an initial outlay of cash. Going without electricity and gas in the rain, outdoors with babies is nothing to sneeze at. I don't recommend it.

On a clear message -- I don't much care what today's message/demand is. What I care about is people feeling strongly enough about something to get up off their butt and go out and meet and talk about it. One of the tactics in a power control process is to disconnect as many other people or groups as you can to increase the power influence of YOUR group. When people say -- don't vote it just encourages them, or don't vote, your vote doesn't matter, I cringe. When you go to these meetings and you pipe up with a clarifying point or use your voice to keep the agenda on track, you are performing a vital function of keeping order and controlling chaos.

On a sense of satisfaction -- if you have ever sung in a chorus, you know the "soul filling up" feeling of doing something beautiful together. Being in a group that is sharing decision-making, acting cohesively and with purpose is heady stuff. It feels damn good. People are physiologically built to get a lot out of doing things in herds. The downside is the 'feel good' emotions can take over the brain and lead you down a path that is not where you really want to go. Just ask the folks at Jonestown or a member of Charlie Manson's crowd. Those were communes that took a bad twist. Lesson learned -- keep that critical analyst chatting to you in the back of your mind as a safety net, keeping you sane.

Date: 2011-10-10 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polychrome-baby.livejournal.com
Mom can walk in even when the blog is locked, hon.

That's creepy mom. Don't be creepy. Mostly we ignore the fact that you stalk us online. It's impolite.

Yeah, I know you weren't directly connected to the communes, but you did live through the time of them, and you did watch the Flower Children grow into Earth Mothers. Which mostly meant having to do twenty times the work, because you were making it from scratch, or doing it without power. The idea that this somehow had more value as a life style is a weird one for people who haven't studied what the practicalities of it are.

I know the women did the work, because I've spoken to lots and lots of people who did communes. What almost always happened is babies. Then one of two things happened. Either, people continued on as if things were the same, and horrible things happened with the kids (food poisoning, medical emergencies of all sorts, stuff like that). OR, the women became very responsible and did the hard, hard work of having to be responsible for themselves, their babies and near everyone else.

Clear message/demand - this doesn't bother me, either. The clear thing is that right now, how things are is not okay. My side project is working on that, actually.

Sense of satisfaction - I don't worry too much about getting caught up in the group politics of fitting in. I mean, I keep it in mind, because I'm human, and it's a human neural twitch, you know? It's just... my critical analyst pretty much is always standing there. As you said.

Love you.

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Janel

July 2012

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