October 9th, 2011

buzzed, B&W

I may be turning into a curmudgeon . . .

I was volunteering yesterday afternoon at the Reno Bike Project, and unbeknownst to me Occupy Reno was having their second General Assembly a few doors down at the Underground. There was a bit of overflow, with people wandering in and checking out the RBP's wares and what they offered. While it was great to see people excited, and getting actively involved in their communities, I keep thinking the whole Occupy movement is a bit silly. I love that it's energized folks, that they use a Collective Thinking process that tries to empower all by using things such as the General Assembly and consensus based decision making, and using civil disobedience and peaceful protests to demonstrate that they're upset. On the other hand, I keep thinking that Occupy in general lacks focus, that it's not clear what they're worked up about, and they have no idea how they want to affect change - I feel like they're griping, without offering a solution. Krugman points out the same fault, though he's a bit less critical than I am.

On the other hand, the movement is definitely in it's infancy - perhaps they will coalesce, and local chapters will form messages, and push for local change. If that happens, I'll be very excited, but at this point, it's just a people saying things suck, and that we should fix them.

There's a part of me that feels like I should be sitting around saying "Get off my lawn", as this attitude makes me feel like a cynical curmudgeon.

I asked my friend Keith about this the other night, and he mentioned some commentator who said the Occupy movement would be ineffective at affecting real change until it turned to violence - either law enforcement using violence on protesters, or a citizen uprising. I don't agree 100% with this idea, but if violence ever enters the picture, the message will probably be accelerated very quickly - probably too quickly for anyone to really control the spin it goes into . . .

Speaking of the bike project, they've got a second volunteer orientation coming up for anyone interested. From the email that went out: "we have decided to conduct another Volunteer Orientation one week from today, Saturday October 15th, at 10am. We will be giving people a general overview of what we do here, going over the volunteer handbook, and talking about how volunteers can help."