Occupy SF, Occupy Oakland

Everett Hoagland and I went down to the Interfaith Clergy Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street San Francisco today. We walked to various banks where two dancers, labeled “Equality” and “Justice,” set up a golden calf, representing the idolatry of money, and ritually covered the idol with a cloth:

A poem started bubbling up for Everett, so he dropped out of the march to do some writing. I kept walking. There were something on the order of 150 to 200 clergy and other faith leaders marching; I counted ten Unitarian Universalist ministers, and half a dozen of our seminarians. TV news coverage of today’s event: Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae of the Unitarian Unviersalist church in San Francisco is quoted in the text portion of Channel 5’s (CBS) coverage. Link to ABC’s live coverage. Radio coverage on KQED (story begins 0:37).

In the afternoon, Everett and I went over to Occupy Oakland, and spent an hour or two there, talking to some people, and just trying to lend our support. I was impressed that the occupiers have a children’s program during the day, a library, classes and committee meetings, and they have started a garden:

The city of Oakland keeps threatening to arrest all the occupiers — nevertheless, with accommodations for children, and a garden, they are planning for the long term. More on the Oakland occupation: From KALW today, “A Day in the Life of Occupy Oakland” (audio with transcript).

Interfaith clergy action with Occupy SF

Just heard through the Unitarian Universalist ministers grapevine (thanks, Craig!) that an interfaith clergy group will be supporting Occupy SF. Presumably other clergy groups will be providing similar support to other Occupy groups in other cities. Here are the details for the San Francisco event:

Clergy & Religious Leaders of all Faiths:

Monday, October 24, from 10:30-1:30
Meet at Justin Herman Plaza (near to Embarcadero BART stop), Stuart & Market St., in San Francisco.

Be part of an important interfaith clergy gathering and action to offer solidarity and faith-based support to the Occupy Wall Street movement and to show our commitment to working for long-term economic justice for all people.

Clergy & Religious leaders are asked to wear identifying clerical clothing (i.e. the religious garb, vestments, etc. of your faith and role). We will begin with prayer and ritual to rededicate ourselves to justice and prepare ourselves spiritually. Then we walk to the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank (101 Market St.) to join in solidarity with “Occupy Wall Street — San Francisco” where we will offer our blessings and commitments of support as part of that witness for justice. We will then have an opportunity to go in smaller groups to key sites throughout the financial district for prayer.

Please share with your colleagues!

Info contact: interfaithclergy@gmail.com
Twitter: IntrfaithClergy
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=167677486653763

Occupy SF

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.


I had to drive up to San Francisco early this afternoon. When I left Palo Alto, it was sunny and warm. Heading north on highway 101, when I got to San Mateo I started seeing low clouds to the north. By the time I got to San Francisco, the sky was gray, and some people were driving with their headlights on.

In San Francisco, it was cloudy, damp, and down to 60 degrees, a good ten degrees cooler than it had been in Palo Alto, with a bracing northwest wind. You could sense the huge old mass of water in the Pacific Ocean just a few miles away.

At 4:30 I drove back to San Mateo along Interstate 280, around the Pacific Ocean side of San Bruno Mountain, and then up into the hills of the Coastal Range. Fingers of fog were creeping over the mountains, winding down through the tree-covered hills around Crystal Springs, but the sun evaporated them before they got very far.

When I arrived home in San Mateo, it was sunny and warm. But almost as soon as the sun set, the fog drifted over the Coastal Range, and became low clouds that now cover the sky above us. The temperature is down to 60 degrees, and outside it feels like it did in San Francisco this afternoon: cloudy, damp, and cool.

The joys of a San Francisco summer

Summer is upon us in the Bay area, and it is time to reflect again on Mark Twain’s description of Bay area summers:

Along in the summer, when you have suffered about four months of lustrous, pitiless sunshine, you are ready to go down on your knees and plead for rain — hail — snow — thunder and lightning — anything to break the monotony — you will take an earthquake, if you cannot do any better. And the chances are that you’ll get it, too.

Two San Francisco scenes

I took BART into the city, and happened to arrive at the Powell BART station just as the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day parade was passing by. People in the Bay area make a big deal about how the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of only three in the country to allow GLBTQ people to march. But the big deal for me was that many of the spectators topped off their bright green outfits with orange-and-black Giants baseball caps. Where I come from, you do not wear orange on St. Patty’s Day.

Overheard in a restaurant: …he wasn’t the best man, but he was going to stand right next to the best man. Well, it turns out he couldn’t hold his liquor. He barfed all over himself five minutes before the wedding started. All down his front. [The best man] took him into the bathroom and cleaned him up, and he looked fine except he had little bits of toilet paper all over him. He smelled pretty funky. But he made it through the ceremony OK.

Lunar New Year

We were in San Francisco this evening, and headed into Chinatown for dinner. We had forgotten that the Lunar New Year celebrations are still going on.

Walking down Grant Street, we ran into some dragons who guarded by men wearing bright yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the name of a local kung fu studio, and who were surrounded by tourists with cameras and cellphones. Someone set off lots of firecrackers; the smoke filled the street.

There’s a Chinese diner we like on Washington Street, and we went there to get some congee. But even there we unwittingly came across new year activities. Several tables at the diner were taken up with contestants for the Miss Chinatown pageant.

Thanks to Carol for this photo.