Open letter to fellow supporters of Occupy Portland: Occupy Portland 2.0

[Note: Please feel free to copy, alter or distribute.]

Hello fellow Occupiers,

First of all, for the sake of the movement and its progress I strongly support all those willing to form a contingent of any size to stay in the camp and face arrest come Sunday morning. Although many in the public will be relieved the parks have been cleared (however temporarily) and others view it as a blow or setback for OP, if those remaining are peaceful as well as steadfast in the face of all police action, any outcome will be an overall benefit, increasing our overall visibility and presence in the media and public consciousness.

What happens at 3 or 4am Sunday morning after the police have left, whether to reoccupy the park or not, is something which I think no individual person or even OP itself can control. That being said, I think the scheduled clearing of the camp is the perfect opportunity for the adoption of new tactics in the spirit of the idea of “Occupy 2.0.” Below are some realities I feel the movements faces, and some options for what could come next.

Given that, as an Occupy movement we must occupy something, as well as:

a) With talk of occupying multiple parks simultaneously, there’s some idea floating around that our resources are unlimited. We need to be realistic, but still reach for greatness. Our ideas hold infinite power, but our personnel/popular support and logistical capacity is not currently sufficient for action like that. Moreover, spreading ourselves thin (in any way) presents the police with an obvious advantage when it comes to closing down individual parks and arresting smaller numbers of campers. We are strongest when we are united, at our most diverse and out in force of numbers.

b) A portion of the public’s negative reactions to our occupation(s) have stemmed from perception (correct or not) that OP caused significant damage to the parks, presented a public safety risk and cost taxpayers money (in the form of police presence and park cleanup/repair). Conversely, these concerns provide a major strategic resource: we will grow in public support if we use principles of sustainability and occupy without doing damage or putting undue stress on already strained City resources (or even to save the City money, so as to focus on funding other essential services); many already with avowed sympathy with our cause would be swayed to our side. There is reason to believe this represents a large segment of the general population.

c) It is getting colder. As the temperature continues to drop, the chances of someone in a long-term camp freezing to death increases, and the reality of long-term logistics for such a camp become infinitely more complex.

d) As occupiers, community members and human beings, we (in our strength of numbers) have not just an obligation but a fantastic opportunity to fill a serious need obviously vacated by national, state and local gov’t. — that of feeding, sheltering and/or otherwise assisting and lending our aid (material, emotional, political and otherwise) to the housing-insecure and those cast aside.

e) At this time OP’s weakness is not in self-policing, nor in muddled messaging, but in outreach. This movement is not just a movement, or an occupation, but is the seed of national discussion. If we self-represent as the 99%, it behooves us to resemble the 99% more than in name. We’ve done a good job of this, peaceful egalitarianism (talk about your basic human values) being at the root of our movement, but need to recapture the diversity present in the first marches. As much of the occupation’s power as possible must be invested in arms of promotion (there doesn’t have to be a limit to how many or what form they take). Sunday’s amazingness was a testament to the hard work so many occupiers have done, forsaking jobs, school, families, friends and the comforts of home to do so. Let’s continue that trend.

I feel that:

1) We need to redouble our focus on non-violence, and add to that objective improvement of the public good and employment of fully sustainable practices. In other words, we need to do what corporations are not doing: take care of the environment, take care of people, improve or at least cast no footprint where we’ve been, clean up after ourselves and contribute demonstrably, altruistically and wholly to the public good. This could include everything from cutting out all food packaging in the kitchen to forming a permanent cleanup squad before/after events to discouraging people from putting out cigarette butts on the ground. Perhaps efforts in this vein would even reduce or eliminate police presence at our gatherings. [Edit: realism.] (b, d)

2) Rather than occupy a specific park through the winter, organize rotating daily marches and overnight sit-ins at various parks in the Metro region. These overnight or short-term sit-ins operate on a changing basis so as to reduce physical and environmental impact on the site (and to, by peacefully assembling in changing locations, reduce chance of police action). For the marches, we come out en masse to create visibility, rally, talk to folks, draw them out, march in their neighborhoods and set up temporary camp in a different park/area each day, hold evening GAs and have all-night civic issue debates, cuddle-ins, political philosophy readings, quiet dance parties, etc. As daily action we organize free events for the benefit of all citizens including bank action marches, picketing bad corporate citizens, putting on concerts like the one at Pioneer Square, community-wide potlucks and swaps, public food tours and gardening info sessions, skill seminars, Reclaim The Streets actions, film screenings, local credit union/local biz events, trash pick-ups, vacant housing reclamation, repainting homes, fundraisers for those in danger of being foreclosed on, etc. These are all basic elements of community, humanism and civic duty which a Civil Society should provide but which ours presently does not. (a, b)

3) Reach out to all not currently involved. Tap into the underground wellspring of public support we certifiably (and as of Sunday, demonstrably) enjoy. More street team, media and outreach committee focus. This could include door-to-door, community discussions, co-organizational events, etc. Give bike advocates, fiscal conservatives, public health advocates, families, downtown office workers and those living out past 82nd or over the West Hills more reason and opportunity to march and act with us, and work with existing groups of citizens with common cause. As we (along with other strategies) do more events for the public benefit, spread march routes all over the city and manifest the ideal of benefiting the public good, others will attract. (At this point, if OP or OWS achieves critical mass, it won’t matter what or where we occupy. We will have all the people with us. Who will arrest us if the police are with us?) Perhaps a rather important element to outreach is to allow more people (in fact, hundreds upon hundreds just here in town, if not more), who sympathize and want to help but are somehow unable, to participate via internet. (a, c, e)

4) Contribute demonstrably and constantly to improving the plight of those on the street, addicted to drugs and emotionally troubled. To start with, we need to take care of our many housing-insecure (or volitionally nomadic), and otherwise vulnerable friends, continue to work closely with them and to help fill the need gap (in keeping with idea 1). If this means setting up clean, well-organized R2D2 spinoffs in vacant lots around the city and large public food gardens, so be it. As part of outreach, and part of events, we can march with them, visit shelters, squats and encampments to break bread with those staying there, deliver donated goods/gear or medical supplies to rehab clinics, crowdsource people’s bail, etc. (d)

5) Maintain some office space (on top of all other occupations decided on). We need a warm and dry place for computers and equipment to function, to organize large-scale events (like in 1-3), and for GAs when it is too unpleasant out. If we add an online participatory model to the GA, we can run broader-based GAs within a given space (to accommodate all those who choose to be physically present). (c, e)

6) At winter’s end, we can begin talking about re-occupying something longterm, when we have the logistical experience and widespread popular support under our belts (or at least improving). (c)

Remember the key is to build a widespread, peaceful and sustainable movement!

Of course, the great thing about this popular consensus model and movement is that if there are good reasons for us to stop doing something we’re trying out, or to start doing something differently, that option is always open to us. (And additionally, we can continue doing all the many things that have and continue to work!) So I hope that this and any other suggestions generated or decided on in the coming weeks regarding the future of this movement will carry with them the caveat that we can always reconsider. But we have such a huge opportunity to take this to Occupy Portland 2.0 that I could not resist sharing my ideas.

If this movement is an organism, it was conceived October 6 and born on Sunday. Now, let’s help it learn to walk and talk!

Thanks for your time!

Joe Clinkenbeard

[Note: This is a living document. Changes will be made (see below).
Edit Nov 10: Yeah. I definitely had two #4s and two letter ‘d’s in those lists. Whoops. Results of being rushed ‘to press.’ Fixed. Also I’ve gone through and cleaned up a bit here and there.
Edit Nov 14: Edited for timeliness, as clearing has already occurred.]

About allisunknown

26 year-old student, tutor, and writer. Write for Also nascent pedestrian advocate. Twitter handles:
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11 Responses to Open letter to fellow supporters of Occupy Portland: Occupy Portland 2.0

  1. Rob says:

    “As we do more events for the public benefit”

    This is the real problem. I can’t think of anything Occupy Portland has done that benefits the public in any way. Occupy has shifted from a movement that fights inequality to a movement that fights camping ordinances. I realize that Occupy considers camping to be a form of protest, but regular people don’t see it that way, and why should we? Camping in downtown parks has no effect on the divide between the top 1% and the remaining 99%. It doesn’t even call attention to it. Instead, it calls attention to crime rates that increase around the Occupy movement.

    I support the cause 100%. But I don’t support their methods. The movement, at least in Portland, desperately needs leadership and a new direction. It would be better off it it started from scratch. Camping in parks? No. Meaningful protests that actually target the 1% and the national leaders who enable the 1%? Yes.

    I suspect that Occupy Portland will ignore any of the polls showing how much local support they’re losing among the 99%. And that is a tragedy because it means Occupy is becoming the new 1% – a self-imposed group of leaders who ignore the opinions of those they claim to speak for.

    • allisunknown says:

      Hi Rob. Thanks for your response. To a large degree I agree with you. Clearly, besides the protests themselves (which may or may not have played a part in banks rescinding fees and credit unions gaining way more customers), the movement has not done any thing explicitly for “the public good”–although feeding and housing from hundreds to thousands every day is an accomplishment in charity itself. This is why I am advocating the approach above, to, as the Civil Rights movement did, hold free breakfasts for the poor, for example, and to undertake any number of diverse projects around Portland to add amenities and levers of civic power, improve livability and quality of life and create sustainable community resources.

      I am glad to hear you support the cause (and hope you will continue to do so!). This movement is still less than two months old, so there are bound to be hiccups. For my own sake, I am trying to remain patient and get involved as often as I can in order to help guide the movement in a direction I feel would be most effective.

      Thanks again!

  2. Chris Meldrum says:

    Thank you! So exciting to see some constructive and creative ideas beyond the current emotional conflict. Very much appreciate your efforts.

    • allisunknown says:

      Thanks Chris! If you like any of these ideas, or think up any related to them, please feel free to develop them in committee or present them to the GA!

  3. ruth swensen says:

    U R 2 good to be true. I am from the “People’s Park” era ( Berkeley 68) and end the war in Viet Nam..both running together. It got bloody..Think there is a film
    “:Berekley is the 60’s”.

    We thought we won…….the machine rolls on.
    love ya

  4. My view of OP closely resembles what Rob said…however, if OP looked like what you are saying, I would fully approve. While I have not participated in anything OP because I don’t approve of how they’ve been doing it so far, I am going to try to spread this around so that more OP people can get on board. Also, I don’t know what the organizational structure is like, but I really hope your ideas are able to be made known to whoever has the power to organize this type of thing, because it sounds like real change. My current concern is the ongoing occupation of areas that the rest of us use, like Pioneer Courthouse Square. If you guys move around, I don’t see it as too problematic.

  5. Kram Namloc says:

    I too am 100% with the movement and feel that we are growing and maturing. Agree with you, especially on “Remember the key is to build a widespread, peaceful and sustainable movement!”.

    If at all possible, we need to cultivate/find some smart media savy people who can think on their feet to be speakers when we are on MSM. The guy who went on Jim Lehrer – PBS NewsHour with Sam Adams was superb. Each opportunity to state our real aim must be totally maximized as sending the wrong message will create opposition. I feel we are at a crucial stage where we can win over or activate many people.

    Joe, thank you very much for your well thought-out post.

  6. danblaker says:

    This is a great post. Ultimately, the Occupy movement will need to find (and accept) real leadership to continue the momentum it has built. All of the ideas mentioned above (and mine below) require sustained focus, which is a lot harder than a day-long direct action or camping in the rain for a few weeks. Sustained focus and community outreach require leadership and management, both of which are considered antithetical to the Occupy movement by many (not all) of its participants.

    Some more ideas:
    * Put together a “move your money” hotline, to help people move their money to credit unions based on their location and eligibility. Buy a catchy phone number and a couple billboards to promote it. Encourage credit unions to offer promotions, like this one from OnPoint: . Maybe even have the credit unions FUND the hotline by donating a buck for each customer it brings in.
    * Print up some attractive pamphlets condensing Matt Tiabbi’s excellent Rolling Stone feature about Wall Street corruption (, hand them out at Thanksgiving parades, the mall, etc.
    * Host a debate for Portland Mayoral candidates or candidates for David Wu’s OR-1 seat, to focus on many of the issues important to the Occupy movement. At the very least, get them on the record and publicize their stances!

  7. Reality Chick says:

    I created a pdf of this page and posted it to the Occupy Seattle forum here:

    Sorry I did so without asking permission first. If I have committed an act of bad Karma, please let me know and I will delete the pdf at OS and will apologize in advance for my short-sighted blunder. Your letter was so inspiring to the Occupy Seattle group that I acted on impulse after several requests for a copy of the letter were noted. Thanks for a much needed “shot in the arm”.

    RealityChick – OccupySeattle

    • allisunknown says:

      Please feel free! I’ll add a disclaimer at the top specifying that this is 100% open to be copied, distributed and altered in any way.


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