Sunday, October 9, 2011

Revolutionary Libary

On Saturday, October 8, 2011, I was sitting on a bench beside three gutter punks. One wore pomo muttonchops and a satanic ├╝bermullet. He hacked at an acoustic guitar, spitting out Minor Threat–era songs. I was writing in my journal these words—"in the Spirit of the October Occupations"—when three people stopped in front of me.

"Mic check!"

"Mic check!"

"If you are interested"

"If you are interested"

"in volunteering in the library,"

"in volunteering in the library,"

"please gather"

"please gather"

"in the library"

"in the library"

"in a few minutes."

"in a few minutes."

At West Virginia University I worked in the Wise Library and the Law Library. I'd not yet had the opportunity to take part in a revolutionary library. Such a chance was not likely to come again.

After Leah showed the new volunteers about the space and gave us a rundown of what the library had done so far, we sat in a circle to discuss our ideas for a library in the Occupy Portland camp. We agreed that a library has the responsibility to archive and disseminate information. As all who stepped foot into Chapman Square could sense they were entering a vortex of transformation, we felt that the library had a responsibility to make sense of that tipping point. We agreed that a library should help to clarify and further this revolutionary moment. We would compile information, host classes, have an art space, create a chronicle of the occupation, . . .

About a half hour after the conversation, two men showed up and asked if we would like a yurt. They had built it earlier that afternoon in their backyard and thought the library could use a dry spot in which to offer classes. Minutes later, six of us were standing around what appeared to be a stack of wooden posts. Soon we unbound the posts accordion-like until they cut off a circle fourteen feet in diameter and seven feet off the ground. We raised the roof like a blue-tarp umbrella and settled it on the posts. Instant yurt.

In the space of a few hours, I'd gone from occupying a park bench wondering what it means to raise one's consciousness to sitting beneath a yurt with fellow peaceful radicals plotting a democratic and caring pathway out of the cul-de-sac of a barren capitalist culture.

In the distance I heard chanting: "This is what democracy looks like."

No comments:

Post a Comment