18 Oct

I’m just back from a (very timely and much needed) three day meditation retreat and at the earliest opportunity today went down to get the update on what has taken place at the Occupation since I’ve been gone. In a sense I was never gone as the Occupation was on my mind and heart all this time. And it even made its way into the dharma talk by one of the teachers during the retreat!

Since the last post this is what has happened (as best as I can put together):

A small group of demonstrators broke away from Occupy San Diego to form their own sub-group, apparently because of differences over how to relate to the police (some prefer adopting a more aggressive tone). They camped out at Balboa Park. One of them was jumped by either a homeless person or a gang member. Fortunately, that person’s injuries were minor. Very upsetting and jarring nonetheless.

The police said on Thursday that there could not be any tents on the plaza as there was going to be a children’s dance performance. They demanded the removal of all tents by 11:59pm Thursday. A significant group of demonstrators refused to take down their tents, barricaded themselves around the tents, and at 7am Friday (yes, it was a long night– I stayed up the whole night!) they removed them. One person was arrested, several were maced. I still don’t understand why people were maced, the police – as best as I could see- had been pussy cats all along.

Another breakaway group formed to start an encampment near the Midway Aircraft Carrier at Tuna Park. And a march was scheduled to run through all the sites. And as a sign of the fractiousness in Occupy San Diego,  someone changed the passwords to the website and locked everyone out; the website was down. Also, the food and other supplies were taken and not divided equitably with other breakaway groups. In the midst of all this fractiousness, people spontaneously stepped forward, acting as liaisons between the other groups.

As of today, people are still camping out at the Civic Center Plaza. No tents are allowed (one tent in a symbolic gesture has been allowed!). Nor are any food stations allowed (only a single table). In spite of what I think is significant police infiltration (I’ve identified at least two such infiltrators), there are significant efforts being made to streamline and make more efficient group process. There is a back-up location for the storage of food and supplies at the World Beat Center at Balboa Park.

By Thursday-Friday, I found a “groove” for myself offering guerilla facilitation. I have found that just hearing people out, drawing out and articulating dissident voices, putting a motion to disallow one person who I suspected of being a police infiltrator (I notice myself expending significant emotional energy worrying about their presence) from facilitating (again!) makes a difference.

It has been very helpful to view the whole Occupation here  through the Open Space lens. Indeed, what I’ve seen is that when there isn’t anything meaningful happening in GA (which at least until Thursday has been the case), spontaneous circles emerge. I join those circles, listen, and take part. It’s amazing and delightful to see how the presence of just some of the critical elements of the Interactive Organization (or Conscious Open Space Organization, now known as the Genuine Contact Organization)- explicit welcoming of all leadership, manifold use of the circle, presence of passion- make for such resilience in face of tremendous adversity.

Tonight, I facilitated in a formal sense for the first time at the GA Process Committee (I was invited to do so; as a matter of personal policy I’m not volunteering myself to facilitate). It stretched me a bit to practice this traditional facilitation as opposed to something holistic like Whole Person Process Facilitation. That said, those who’d been on the Process Committee for a while were very grateful as the way we worked really seemed to flow a lot more than before. I presented on Open Space Technology to two people afterwards and there was interest in considering a proposal on this.

At Birgitt‘s encouragement, I will sometime soon begin offering some facilitation training. I’d like to offer formal training in WPPF, however, I still need to think about how to do that. I think it takes three full days of proper training to get it. For now, I’d like to offer very quick training in Dynamic Facilitation and Open Space Technology.

Also, I’m thinking about how it might be possible to organize community conversations on addressing economic injustice and wonder how to go about doing this in a way in which the conversation might have some weight (be supported officially by the GA). What holds me back is seeing just how unwieldy our own collective decision-making process is…

I heard today- and haven’t had a chance to confirm- that at least one person from Occupy Wall Street visited us to see if we were indeed with the OWS “program,” otherwise OWS would break its relationship with us…and a motion had been passed in General Assembly confirming our support for OWS.

Starting tomorrow evening, I’ll be camping out there again– this time without a tent, seeing as tents are no longer allowed…


One Response to “drama!”

  1. worldsix October 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Insightful read! Thanks. See you at GA.

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