Occupy Nashville began its physical occupation of Legislative Plaza just over two months ago, and during that time I've put not a small amount of energy into my participation in the general movement, both on and off site and online. It's been a labor of love, mostly, because I believe in and support 100% the goals of Occupy Nashville as presented on their website.
But the time has come for me to change how I participate, so that's what this blog entry is about...shifting gears. For over two months, I've made numerous attempts to contribute to the movement and found myself repeatedly frustrated by how difficult it was to actually do something when I had both the willingness and ability to do it because the people I was trying to help were either unable or unwilling to facilitate access to whoever or whichever process could make it happen. I've watched, too, as numerous others have related similar experiences...people want to help, are able to help, volunteer to help...but can't get plugged in. There have been posts about this on the forum of the Occupy Nashville site and numerous conversations about it in the live stream chat too. Worst of all, good people have withdrawn their support and participation in this movement because of the bad behavior of a few and the willingness of the rest to let them highjack the movement.
I haven't written an entry here in a while because what I wanted to write was too angry, too critical for public consumption. For the past two months of Occupy Nashville, I've seen all the isms that confront our larger society in microcosm, because we are, after all, the 99%. In other words, we brought our shit with us. We united around a couple of really good issues, but we brought the rest of ourselves to the party and therein lies the rub. Sexism. Ageism. Racism. Anti-Semitism. Ableism. These things are not what the movement is about, nor are they reflective of the majority of occupiers, but they're present and, unfortunately, they're predominant in one of the primary vehicles of online liaison for those who are part of the movement but not actually occupying the plaza, the live stream and chat experience.
This blog began as "Occupy Nashville," not "Occupy Dixie." It began because I'd reserved the name weeks earlier but never done anything with it when someone from one of the working groups approached me and asked if I'd be interested in writing any entries for an Occupy Nashville blog they wanted to get going and I said sure. I then wrote something I'd been intending to write anyway and went ahead and published it here when the Occupy Nashville blog never materialized and I wanted the material to still be fresh. The sole purpose of it was always to be a place in which I could put Occupy Nashville in a good spotlight and it was to be another way of trying to be of support without occupying the plaza.
Until now, I'd never have used this vehicle to say anything critical about the movement because we have too many critics as it is, woefully uninformed (and worse) as they are. I have tried to confront a number of things within the processes available to me, but I find I can no longer in good conscience participate in a process that finds a hundred ways to say S.T.F.U. without using the words.
Occupy Nashville has a Code of Conduct, one that was hard fought for too. The battles were figuratively if not literally bloody. The crime is that it's not enforced. A few renegades are allowed to behave irresponsibly and thereby endanger the entire movement. Whether it's the intentional act of an agent provocateur or the imbecility of men behaving poorly, if Occupy Nashville folds or becomes irrelevant, it won't be Bill Haslam who yields the axe. It will be an inside job.
I will not be silenced. When I saw, back in October, a GA in which a woman was accused of being "divisive" for suggesting formation of a women's caucus, I jumped on Facebook within minutes and created a page for women who Occupy Nashville because women do not need permission from anyone to gather and speak of collective concerns. Likewise, I'll take responsibility for what needs to be done now and stop trying to work within their system at all, but become, instead, an observer who limits my participation to reporting my own opinions in word and photography on this blog.
I hope it will continue to be mostly a labor of love, because the goals of this movement are good goals. There are good, courageous, talented, tirelessly dedicated people in this movement, many of them. I hope the bad guys don't ruin it for everybody and I intend to prod or laud as I see fit. I hope it's more of the latter. But I'm not going anywhere. I'm occupying myself for the duration, on my own terms. No holds barred, because this movement is worth making an issue of.