Occupy D.C. – Take 3 – “Does the revolution need a copyeditor?”

You could see the learning as it was happening. For the first time I was getting to see all the processes I had studied about in social theory books in practice.

So, I’ve had little success following the local Occupy group. And today I’m gonna give it another go.

I went down on the very first day actually. I stood in the cold and drizzle under a tree wearing summer clothes, everything season-appropriate still packed away in boxes after my return from my trip to Spain in September. There were only about 20 people, and it was far from clear what it might become. I tried to talk to folks, but there was something awkward about it. Maybe I had had some starry eyed-vision that I’d go down there and it would be all smiles and open arms and instant discussion of radical politics. I don’t know. But what I did know is that I had a cold and it was raining, and although I can deal with discomfort and I can walk across the north of Spain with blisters, I hate being cold. (I admit it, I’m weak, blame it on being raised in Northern California). I thought, OK, I’ll be back.

Impromptu Library at McPherson Square

Take two was a couple weeks later, the day of widespread protests. Upon returning to McPherson I was pleasantly surprisied at the number of tents, the budding library, the bustling kitchen area. Aha, I thought, here’s something I can get into. I stayed for the General Assembly and learned the hard way that these things drag on, but was inspired to see and feel the atmosphere of inclusion.  And even by the end of the GA that night (which was largely made up of new attendees) you could see the process naturally streamlining itself as people figured out what was and was not worth bringing up, what to save for Committee meetings, etc…You could see the learning as it was happening. For the first time I was getting to see all the processes I had studied about in social theory books in practice (I wrote my undergrad thesis on anarchist theory after being exposed to it in Spain and being annoyed that it wasn’t ever mentioned in classes on political theory and organization).

I naturally thought my place would be to help out the media folks, in whatever way I could.  Some people question whether this would somehow violate journalistic ethics, and that’s a whole other blog post, but I saw the proposed Occupied Washington Times, not as a propaganda tool, but as simply another independent media outlet, dealing with issues that I, as a journalist, am interested in and as a potential forum in which to write and to be read. For me a propaganda tool would necessitate someone deciding what would and would not be covered and how. Here, anyone was welcome to participate as long as it was relevant to the broad subjects that Occupy protesters were concerned with. It was quintessential democratic media making, warts, (confusion, uncertainty about AP style) and all.

I said I wanted to help write about joining credit unions, since I was looking to do so myself and would have been blogging about it anyways. I was all excited. I was thinking about what video projects I could do, trying to figure out where I could get a little camera, how great it would be to have something to keep me writing and editing while I was looking for a job. I was going to be the videographer for the revolution! Ha! I left that meeting humming.

Then the work world showed up. I got a much larger than expected freelance gig sent my way that took over my life for almost 2 weeks. Then I got laid up with a nasty cold. Of course.

So now, I got my voice back, I can breathe through my nose again and have time to go back to McPherson Square.  After the initial meeting and submission of my part of an article (which ended up a little strange after the editing process, link here) I had completely fallen out of the loop. Partly because the “loop” consisted of a billion email threads that I never had time to go through at first, and just felt overwhelmed by when I went back to them later. So I figure a physical visit is the only way to get back into it. I think they have a mass copy editing session for the second edition tomorrow. I have a vague feeling that they could use a little help streamlining and standardizing their editing process, so we’ll see if I can be of any assistance. And if not, I can at least make sure that i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.


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