“Participant reporter”

Another topic that came up at Sunday’s Commie J-School, mostly as people introduced themselves, was that of the roles and labels we choose for ourselves. “Advocacy journalist,” “citizen journalist” and “citizen reporter” are some of those used. A major network reporter once derisively called us “iPhone journalists,” a term I find quite apt and endearing.

For the first time ever, the tools to report facts, opinions and analysis using print, video, photography and graphic art, both recorded and live, are in the hands of virtually anyone with a modest income. This is revolutionary and is an integral part of both the open, transparent character of Occupy and a harbinger of the emerging hyper-networked democratic society. The means prefigure the ends.

Read more, this one is shorter than the previous, really

Commie J-School in Oakland

Last Sunday, I was one of 11 people who attended what got nicknamed “Commie J-School” in Mosswood Park in Oakland. Initiated by two of Occupy Oakland’s most active reporters, journalist and cartoonist Susie Cagle and journalist and journalism teacher Justin Beck ( @susie_c and @pixplz respectively on Twitter), it was billed on the Facebook page as

A workshop on journalism law, ethics, best practices, tips & tricks. We’ll cover livestreaming, tweeting, blogging, photographing, interviewing, investigating, and the tools needed/best used for all.

That, of course, sounds like a couple years’ worth of journalism school curriculum, not a two-hour workshop. Nevertheless, quite a bit of ground did get covered as it applies to amateur, citizen and freelance journalists covering topics like, but not limited to, Occupy Oakland.

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Timber wars ephemera wanted

As I described in my previous post, Scott Brown, co-owner of Eureka Books in Old Town Eureka, is looking to preserve artifacts and ephemera from the forest protest movement.

If you have action flyers, meeting announcements, photographs, diaries, meeting minutes, banners, stickers or whatever, he’d like to talk to you about it. These are the kinds of objects that we rarely think to keep at the time, but which provide texture and depth and personal touches to written histories. I brought my old Portaledge, the one I used in the first tree-sit in 1985 up there a few weeks ago (see post below). As I go through more boxes, I’ll be saving the flyers and things I know I still have stashed away. The timing is perfect for me, since I’m trying to lighten the material load in my life.

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The postcard and the portaledge

Life moves so fast sometimes that keeping perspective beyond the needs of decision-making in the immediate present becomes difficult or requires more energy than I have available. I find it a useful exercise from time to time to stop and reflect on the current moment from an imagined future. What will I think of this moment, looking back on it from that future then? What will be important? Will it even matter at all?

Let me tell a story about a postcard that changed my life. In 1984 I was in Boulder for a land surveying job that never materialized. I met another rock climber and we did a climbing tour around the Southwest in October, traveling in his VW bus named “E.m.m.a.” While I’ve long since forgotten the origin of the acronym, “Emma” was also named in honor of anarchist Emma Goldman. The sides were covered with anarchist and anti-militarist political graffiti, getting frequent and mostly-positive comments from passers-by. We were probably just a bit too out-there for rednecks to even know what to say.
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Occupy (almost) Everywhere.

Everyone not living in a cave has heard about Occupy Wall Street and most are probably aware of Occupy Oakland. If you live in Seattle, L.A., Chicago, Denver and other big U.S. cities, you’ve probably at least heard passing mention of Occupy encampments or actions in your town. But, until now, who knew about Occupy Vacaville (California) or Occupy Bemidji (Minnesota) or the hundreds of other Occupy locations around North America and the world?

If you’re looking for the nearest Occupy center, now it’s easy to find out with this user-generated Occupy map.

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Gone BANANAS!* over free speech? Support an independent filmmaker who took on a giant and won.

While I was at Sundance Film Festival in January, I had the pleasure of watching the U.S. premier of BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*, which I then blogged about.

The crew is now raising money via the crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter in order to fund their U.S. release of the film. Check out their official site and their trailer and if you’re inspired, make a pledge on their Kickstarter page.

This is an important (and fun!) film that needs to be seen, especially by U.S. audiences. Dole’s attempted censorship of the film BANANAS!* took place here in the U.S. with the full participation of the mainstream media. In director Gerten’s home country of Sweden, in contrast, Dole’s outrageous behavior attracted major press attention.

We’ve got serious problems in this country when giant corporations decide what we can watch and read about. Here’s an easy way to support feisty independent filmmakers doing something to expose it.

The internet will be my “Downfall”

First I got a Facebook page, then a blog, then a Twitter account. Then I started setting up blogs for organizations I’m part of. Then I started another blog of my own and two more Twitter accounts and a Google+ page and a Yelp profile and an online dating profile. I’ve got some other profiles on sites where I can’t remember the username or password. But, doesn’t everyone have all that and more these days?

But you’re just not a real person online until you’re named in an internet meme.

Apparently, I’ve arrived.
Click here to see what I mean by that

Regarding the question of violence or nonviolence in Occupy. A short statement.

I haven’t had time in the last week to read any of the screeds and counter-screeds revolving around the question of violence or nonviolence with regard to the Occupy movement. Being involved in Occupy Oakland, where this has been a front-and-center issue since at least late October, it is something I’ve spent a lot to time on. There is only so much you can say on Twitter, but I simply haven’t had the time to devote to catching up this week and writing a detailed response. Even if I do, it will not be so much about debunking most of the “violentist” claims and hollow arguments, but more on looking at the big picture, which I sum up something like this:

Society evolves and has been evolving, however fitfully, toward equality and democracy and liberty. This is because people who want equality, democracy and liberty have worked really, really hard for hundreds of years and have been more successful at organizing and changing people’s attitudes than those who want to maintain prejudice, inequality and control. It didn’t magically “happen” that, for example, women got the vote and segregation ended.

Those who want a more egalitarian society don’t spend their time and energy pointing to hundreds of years of patriarchy, quoting dead guys and saying that gender equality is impossible. They don’t point to hundreds—or thousands—of years of racism, quote dead people whose work they’ve never really studied and then claim that racism is necessary, inevitable and that an egalitarian society could never work.

What would it say about someone if they talked like that? Who would want to be around someone with such a cold, hard heart and constrained imagination who claims to want a better world but says it cannot work?

In the same vein, what should we now think about the people who spend their time and energy pointing to history and quoting dead people and making justifications for the need for social change through violence?

People who want a more free, nonviolent society put their energy and imagination into working toward that in new and effective ways. They don’t put it into explaining all the reasons it can’t work.

A better world is possible, but not if you have your feet and mind so deeply stuck in the mire of the old empire that you can’t imagine anything better.