We stopped by City Lights Bookstore, the leftist poetry bookstore, this evening so I could buy a copy of Margaret Atwood’s new book of poems. On the way back, we stopped by Occupy SF to see how they’re doing.
I estimated that there were only three or four dozen people there at 10:30, certainly fewer people than were there a week ago. But the mood seemed good and upbeat.
Carol took some photographs (I put four of them on Flickr), and while she was doing so I talked to these two occupiers. I asked the man on the left if they lost people after the police raid earlier this week, when the police came in and confiscated all the occupiers’ belongings (sleeping bags, food, etc.) in the middle of the night. He said that he thought that was so, but that actually he had arrived after the police raid. The man on the right said that he had driven six hours to get there, coming down from far northern California. Both men were in good spirits, and seemed committed to a long stay.
I was pleased that it wasn’t the usual hippie scene. yes, the occupiers looked a little bedraggled, but that is to be expected if you’ve been spending a few nights on the street. Yes, there was drumming, but it was actually really good drumming, quite a bit more skilled than I’d expected. And the occupiers were friendly, willing to talk, and they made eye contact regularly with passers-by.
It’s Fleet Week in San Francisco, and we saw a lot of sailors and marines out in dress uniforms. While we were there, four sailors walked through the occupiers. They sped up a little and their body language said that they were a little wary, but the occupiers were relaxed: they lived up to their stated commitment that most people, including servicemen and servicewomen, are part of the 99% that they aim to represent.
I don’t feel any calling or leading to join the occupiers myself. While direct action might be important, there is still room for poets and writers and preachers and teachers to effect change through touching hearts and minds. The goal is the same: to challenge the consumer culture that threatens to send more people into poverty, and lower the standard of living for most of us, while increasing the wealth of a tiny minority.