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Occupy Wal-Mart Becomes a Reality!

Wow am I excited!

Six years ago I wrote a weird little short story called “Emails From An Occupied Wal-Mart” (available in the readings section). It imagined a stronger movement eventually occupying what I imagined was the Renton Wal-Mart.

Now, this Friday, folks from all over the state really are going to take on the Renton Wal-Mart! Hooray for social movements!

Thanks to Lambert for letting me know about this. Too bad I’ll be out of town and won’t get to see this action directly!

I typed this up this morning and I’m going to try to hand out a couple hundred copies at today’s march in Downtown Seattle…mostly as an experiment in helping marchers think strategically.

By Being Here, You Are Building a Movement.
Now, Where Do You Want to Help Steer This Thing?

Some questions to think about:

What does winning look like to you? The Occupy Together movement isn’t perfect, but it’s doing at least one thing well: it’s creating a space to imagine something different, some kind of change. So, what do you want? What’s your ideal? Would you be happy with straightforward reforms and regulation? Or would you like to imagine even bigger, deeper changes?

What skills can you share, what do you want to learn? As a part of this movement, you are more than just a body in a march. You’ve got hundreds of skills and interests that can make the movement stronger. What are you good at? What do you like to do and make? What would it take for you to bring some of those skills here? Whether making music and art or helping to create spreadsheets of meeting schedules, how can you creatively use your abilities to grow this movement? And what do you want to learn from others?

How do you want to use and build your power? Chances are that Wall St. is barely listening, and maybe even laughing at us. Politicians are probably thinking about how they can use us. So it’s up to us to build our own power to win the changes we want. So, what kind of power do you want to build? Are you participating in the general assemblies? Have you joined a working group? How are you sharing your voice about the direction of this movement?

Who are your people, and how can they participate? Movements grow in the simplest of ways: first there’s a few, then a few more, then even more…eventually there’s millions. If this movement keeps growing, then the chances of winning something shoot up. So, who are your close people? What is their relationship to this movement? Who are one or two people who you could bring with you next time? What are their barriers to participation, and what will it take to help them clear those barriers?

What will you do when the occupation ends? Let’s face it. This occupation thing will end eventually, whether from bad weather, or harsh attacks, or conflict and burn out. But the occupations are just a tactic, they aren’t the movement! The movement can continue even after we all go back where we came from. So, what will you do when the occupation ends? Who will you stay in touch with? How will you use the new power and skills that you’re building? How can this spirit of change extend into your neighborhood, workplace, or school? How do we bring this movement out of downtown and more directly into our lives?

There are plenty of people around who want to fill your mouth with their own answers to these questions, but that’s not how democratic movements get made.
If it’s going to win, this movement needs your ideas and action

5 years of writing here…

It’s July of 2010. I started this blog in July of 2005, when I took my first trip to Guatemala. Wow, it’s been so long already.

I just want to briefly celebrate this 5th anniversary of this page. The space that this page has given to me to process and grow has been invaluable. I was reading back over stuff yesterday from all over the last five years, and even though my entries have been inconsistent, I do think they capture a good chunk of where I’ve been at. That feels really good.

And a special thank you to my long lost friend and backdoor site administrator, Dave. I appreciate your support on this so much. Please, also, it’s been long enough, you can send me an invoice for what this page is costing you!

Much love to all who read and all who love me.

I don’t care what any super-radical folks, anarchist folks, socialist folks say. Obama’s win is a huuuuuge deal for the left. It is fantastic news for all progressive social justice movements. I’ve followed this very closely for the last two years and I know just as well as any nay-sayers that Obama is no radical. He’s definitely center-left, super-pragmatic, and he doesn’t seem to hesitate much when it comes to choosing conservative positions over progressive ones. That’s all true, and it doesn’t matter much. What matters is that he won the presidency, and HOW he won the presidency. It is a HUGE vindication for grassroots organizing and politics, and it will create an infrastructure that will be potentially transformative in 10, 15, 20 years.

In Seattle, thousands of people poured into the streets, all spontaneously and from multiple different locations all over the city. This happened all over the country. I would bet that a lot of those people don’t go out and protest much. That is significant.

I remember when I was in high school in Anchorage, trying to teach myself about politics and activism, I used to walk to the nearest bookstores and look through their current affairs and political science sections. I remember, especially at Barnes and Noble, how hard it was for me to find writers like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, etc. The sections were so small! Now, ten years later, I walk into those sections and not only are Zinn and Chomsky all over the place, but there is Naomi Klein on mainstream news, bell hooks and Freire in the education sections…so much out there. Our country is shifting, and the left is growing, getting smarter, and getting more sustainable. This Obama win is a sign of that.

Now there is a chance that everyone will be mesmerized into a stupor and just let Obama do whatever sell-out things he wants, but I don’t think that will happen. I think people know what they have to do, they know they have to keep watching and keep active…and luckily I think Obama knows this as well. Because although he doesn’t want to be a radical left president, Obama does want to be a “great” president, an FDR type president, and so he knows he needs grassroots pressure on him, something to keep him honest and accountable to some extent.

I’m telling you, this all matters, and radicals like my friends and comrades write it off at their peril. The US is changing, and the left needs to change with it, or else we will watch as masses of people shuffle right past us towards other ideas of justice and peace…leaving us old, crotchety, and irrelevant.

I’m so excited for the next 6 months or so. I think it’s a tremendous time to be a lefty, even though Obama himself isn’t thinking that way.

Love you all,

Jeremy

Was out of town, but now I’m back…and should be writing more (about anarchism especially) soon. In the meantime, how about that Obama? Wow! All cynicism about mainstream politics considered, this matters. Radicals should take this with a grain of salt, but we also should be paying careful attention…because this matters.

In other news, the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela just had it’s first primaries for all local and regional elections, with massive participation from party members. It’s the first time that the grassroots of a Venezuelan party could choose who would stand in elections. And the high turnout suggests that they have a shot at maintaining a revolutionary majority in government come the elections in November.

Wow, in that last entry I just wrote this morning (in just 45 minutes, wow!), I sure have a bunch of rambly long sentences. I’ll try to remedy that in my next post…and maybe I’ll even go back and edit the last one.

As I’ve said, I’m focusing on just getting stuff out, in whatever form I can spew it at this point.

Gotta start again somewhere…

I don’t have lists of accomplishments or big news. I’d maybe like to talk about Paraguay’s new lefty ex-bishop president or Obama or my fascinating job, but that’s not the plan for tonight.

Tonight I just want to say hi to this little blog, and to say that I need this blog right now. I need this space to get some of the stuff that’s been building up for me, and especially to reestablish communication with the world at large…because right now I actually feel way, way too isolated.

This is just hi, and see you soon. Hopefully real soon, but I can’t make any promises.

Now, I don’t know you, or your intentions, but I would like to ask you to please at least let me know who you are. If you are a student or a community member, I’d appreciate the transparency. If you are a staff member, I think you have a basic responsibility to let me know.
So, please, who are you? How’d you find my blog? Any chance you want to share why you’re pointing my boss to my blog, and not telling me, or telling her who you are? Don’t worry, I won’t retaliate or anything. I am worried, but mostly curious.
I deliberately do not mention where I work or the names of my colleagues specifically because I want to be able to talk openly with my close people about my life and work, without being disrespectful of others. Now, I’ve had friends tell me that with my recent posts about work that I’ve crossed a line and I should censor myself. So be it, that’s what I’ve done. Now I know why that was a good idea.
Hope to find out who you are, and if you have a problem with me, I hope we can at least talk about it more openly,

Jeremy

So I Guess I’m Getting Old…

Got home at 4am this morning, from a protest in Tacoma against a shipment of military stryker vehicles at the Tacoma port…there were many riot cops, tear gas, rubber bullets, all that stuff.  I have a story to tell, and many comments on how old I felt watching the younger folks and how silly I thought some of their militant impatience was.  I want to delve more into this, but for now I’m tired.  See you later.

It is time to start writing again.

It has been more than nine months since the last time I wrote anything here, and a lot has happened since then.

There has been a lot that I have wanted to talk about. New experiences. New ideas and interests. Major changes in the world, and in my life.

So now I’m back…to let you know…I can really shake’em down…….oops, sorry, Dirty Dancing slipped in there. Sorry about that.

So now I’m back, and I’m hoping to start writing more regularly now.

Here, very generally, is what I’ve been interested in lately.

-Latin American Social Movements: I’ve been reading daily updates (in English and in Spanish, yay!) about happenings in Venezuela, Mexico (especially events in Oaxaca, and the Zapatista Other Campaign), Bolivia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, and Nicaragua. So much to learn and think about regarding all of this, and I’m sure I’ll write about it.

-Public School Reform and Radical Youth Empowerment: Been working at the same high school where I’ve worked for the past three years, and throughout that time there have been drastic reforms taking place. I’ve been watching and participating in this process and I think there are some very, very interesting things happening that I want to explore here in this blog. And even more, I want to talk about the constant emotional tumult of working with so many wonderful young people struggling with so many completely unspeakable things.

-Evangelical Christians: Evangelicals just fascinate me, especially when I watch them from a social movement perspective. And, after having gone to Guatemala and having Evangelicals very close to me in my life, I’ve shifted from just studying the Christian Right as my enemies to studying progressive/radical Christians and how we can be in solidarity. I’m reading some books right now about this stuff that I’m sure I’ll want to talk about.

-Whiteness and Manhood: Identity politics are endlessly fascinating to me, and as I think about myself and how I’ve grown within this society, and how that affects my relationships with other people, I’ve been more and more compelled to explore questions of identity — especially questions regarding whiteness and manhood — in writing.

-Sustainable Living: Global warming and the depletion of natural resources has me freaked out, and as I’m generally trying to get more organized and focused in my life, the ideas and techniques of sustainable living (composting, gardening, recycling water, sustainable building, sustainable energy, living with animals) are energizing me more and more.

-Games: Board games, video games, puzzles: Always have interested me, and probably always will. I’m still working on a few “revolutionary board games” that I’d like to maybe design out loud on this blog.

-My Life, Of Course: I want to write about who I am, where I’m going, my relationships, love and loss, spirituality, hope and fear, money, learning…and laughing. For sure, laughing. Did you know that when I was in 5th grade I consciously shifted the way that I laugh out loud because someone made fun of me, and ever since then I have laughed differently? I have lost all connection to how I naturally used to laugh. Hmmm…talking about laughing yet digressing into a really sad story…maybe there actually won’t be too many laughs on this blog after all. I’m pretty much Debbie Downer. Though I’d prefer Dabney Downer. In honer of Dabney Coleman, who played the misogynist boss in 9 to 5. Since I was like 6, I’ve always loved that actor for some reason. Just some factoids for you.

So, anyways, I’m back, and these are the kinds of things I’ve been thinking about. Please keep reading and checking back if you want to read more.

Picture the music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Picture me walking home alone, in the dark, through narrow, poorly lit streets. It is raining, and it is my first night here and I am almost lost, just barely finding my way back to my house from the school. I come upon a street, where in front of me there are 13 or more dogs laying in the middle of the street, in my path. Suddenly, another dog walks up to the group, they all hop up, start growling and a few start barking…I am only ten feet away, and I’m hoping this mob of dogs won’t start growling at me…I’m just standing there, frozen…and then…suddenly, the whole pack (this is border collies, labs, retrievers, mutts) turns towards me and starts trotting! I start walking slowly backwards, but I feel like all is lost…if I run they can catch up…so if they’re going to attack me, they’re going to attack me…

…but no, they just trot on by, like I am invisible…and that is that…

…but it sure is a fun memory.

This is embarassing, but must be shared:

In Xela, you are not supposed to put your toilet paper in the toilet. You are supposed to ball it up and put it in the trash can. The problem is, old habits die hard…and because I’m quite concerned about damaging people’s plumbing…I’ve had my hands in numerous Guatemalan toilets this week…damned toilet paper…soaks up water so fast!

My alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer have served me well, I’ll tell you what!

Hello my friends and family, and welcome to my blog!

For a long time, I’ve felt like I have a whole bunch of ideas, questions, and weird little stories that I really want to share, but often my real-world fears, insecurity, and social awkwardness get in the way, so I decided that I needed to start a blog…to write down all of those things that pass by in my life and don’t otherwise get shared, that are in constant danger of just decaying, dissolving, atrophying inside my head and my heart. For those of you that know me pretty well, you know how much I keep in, and so I hope you enjoy seeing what I’m going to try and let out.

As for the name of this thing… 2 eyes open… it has a variety of meanings, all of them important to me:

Two eyes, because I am here, with each of you, sharing this planet, and I want to experience as much of it as possible, with both eyes open, always learning, always exploring, always asking questions…and always being attentive to those things that are so often made invisible…injustice, suffering, trauma, oppression.

Two eyes… one for viewing what is wrong in the world, what needs changing… and one for looking at what is right in the world, and what new, beautiful things can be built within it, by struggling for justice and change.

Two I’s… because one of my favorite philosophers, Martin Buber, has said that we have two ways of relating with the world, two ways of saying “I:” I-It, where we see the world and those around us as objects for our use… and I-You, where we see everything around us as fellow participants, and we truly understand and value their full being…and Buber says: without I-It we wouldn’t be able to survive…but without I-You, we are not fully human…too philosophical? Too cheezy? Well…this is the kind of stuff I keep inside…so whatever.

And two eyes… because in my favorite board game (and I play a LOT of board games), Go, in order for a group of pieces to survive, they must form a structure with two eyes (which is the logo of my website), where the pieces are mutually supporting each other in order to “breathe” and stay alive…in my view, this is a powerful metaphor for what movements for social justice should be doing… building spaces of mutual support where each of us can breathe, where we can mutually inspire each other… we can form communities of two eyes, where even if everything else around us is going wrong, we still survive… and outlive those things, those social ystems, those people… who are against us living fully.

And so, this is my blog… this is the kind of stuff it’s about…life, the struggle for justice, discovery, love, creativity, relationships, games, ideas…

And because I am starting it here, in Guatemala, where I am studying Spanish for six weeks… it will begin with a lot of stories… funny, serious, political, linguistic… this site is going to be all over the place, I guarantee… and that’s the point. Because I, in all my authenticity, am all over the place. I hope you can handle that.

Love you, each of you,

Jeremy

PS For my family members reading this, I know that much of my political thoughts/observations might alarm you or make you uncomfortable… and that’s okay… hopefully someday we can discuss it and learn from each other… and you know that I’ve always loved sharing my particular blend of leftist radicalism with you… I welcome any amount of debate/questions you want to email to me. My email is jeremy_louzao@yahoo.com. Please, please email me!!!

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi