Sustaining the Sustainers
Today marks the beginning of the third week of the occupation of Freedom Plaza here in DC by people associated with October 2011. I 've spent the past six days and nights on the plaza with them and it's been a great pleasure to participate in this historical moment. The sister occupation (Occupy DC) a few blocks away is also going strong. As I facilitated October 2011's general assembly last night I was struck by the sweetness of the process being used to make decisions: the openness and transperancy, the way every voice is encouraged and heard, the consensus process itself, and the wisdom reflected in the results. Even the inevitable frustration can be reframed and understood as a message reminding us to be patient and come back to prioritizing relationships and our restorative practices.
The restorative practices and teachings I've offered have struck a resonant chord with those who've participated. I've called the teach-ins "sustaining our activism" but it's clear to everyone who participates that the work is deeper than even that. I sat with 16 in NYC, 12 at the Occupy DC encampment and after my first group of about 20 in Freedom Plaza it was suggested it be an ongoing group. So yesterday I did it again for 6 people and I'll run one more today if I can find even one person willing to listen. I also started up a meditation group and I can't express how good it felt to get back to my practice and hold that space in the midst of the swirl of activity and emotion on the plaza.
Clearly, there is a place for restorative practices within the Occupy movement. When they take the time to reflect on it, people understand that the foundation of the movement is our very own selves, that we're in a marathon and not a sprint, that we don't know how it will turn out, and that it's the process that's important. And still, it's so easy to get caught up in the "doing" and undermine our relationships and deepest intentions in the process. When that happens the movement itself is undermined. "Stay human" is a slogan and reminder that can't be over emphasized.
The support and encouragement continues to roll in in the form of donations and messages that we're having an impact. And I now know many of the occupiers. They, and the message they carry, won't go away.