Waking at approximately 6:35 A.M I quickly rose from bed, dressed, had a quick breakfast, gathered my belongings and then rushed out the door with sleeping bag in hand. Though normally mornings in my house would be more casual today I couldn’t afford to be so sloth like. Today was the first day of the Maine Youth Occupy Gathering. Because of this I could not risk being late in meeting my contact; agreeing to meet at a local convenient store around 7:30AM as our rendezvous I needed to haul ass and quickly.
Though, as it turns out, I would be nearly ten minutes late, I miscalculated walking time, it was alright; my ride didn’t care, which was fortunate since last time I tried to meet a contact for a ride she never showed (and I wasn’t even late than!). As I approached the store, however, I clearly saw my contact waiting front and center before the store.
As I approached further I could see that he was truthful in his email exchanges and was who he said he was. Young, car ready, and rather cute, we introduced ourselves prior to hauling our crap in the backdoor. After this we were off (though not before stopping at another couple small stores to check for oil. After we did that, we were off!)!
The drive was nearly ninety minutes. With the event being held near Bangor, and neither of us being familiar with the town, we knew that we were probably to spend a while searching for the place once actually arriving in town. Combining this with the long initial drive and we had ourselves a recipe for monotonous talk.
Fortunately, such wasn’t the case here. With both of us being so close to the same age the drive was standard questions (political activity, how much one has done in movements, family life and personal interests, etc) mixed with the typical teenage humor. Not only did the actual drive turn out well but the directions led us to the location a whole sixteen minutes early. Count ourselves lucky this happened despite originally getting lost.
The location, a building referred to as only the Solidarity Center was a spacious location. Built in gravel wheel chair ramp, well-made wooden steps, and an interior meeting area large enough to comfortable seat everyone, this locale would serve our small group well.
My contact and I went inside, helping an organizer carry in some cooking equipment, and settled in. While he snuggled with his girlfriend I ventured off and familiarized myself with the building (I.E where the bathrooms were). Post pissing, I gingerly waited for more people to arrive.
While in the middle of ice breaker games more people did arrive, with some trickling in some time afterwards, our numbers were fated to be small this weekend. All in all there were perhaps a little over two dozen people in and out on the first day with less permanent numbers the following. Though the organizers were expecting a larger turn out such amounts did not surprise me as the event was quickly advertised with not much youth inclusion.
From arriving I would force myself through the various workshops on the agonizing consensus process, be mildly intrigued when it came to the labor union’s local presentation (reformist but sign of progressive thought here and there), and only be engaged in when came for a Queer activist to give her brief history of the Occupy movement as well as her own personal involvement in the New York City Occupation.
Her mentioning her partner several times actually brings me back to the awesome fact of the heavy Queer presence there. Aside from myself there were anywhere from 3-4 other Queer advocates. From a affirming heterosexual, to a lesbian, and a Genderqueer man, I was in good company. Among these people I chatted often and enjoyed hearing their experience on organizing and life. Eventually I would gain several of these persons contact information.
Throughout lunch and breaks during the weekend I was happy to see the progressive politics of the people I worked with. Though many of them still had ideas that prevented them from being classified as revolutionaries (reformist dreams, uncertainty about what came after capitalism, and so forth) I do not exaggerate when I say the great majority of those present were anti-capitalist. This fact was even further reinforced when I met some contact from my own local occupy who had grown in their anti-capitalist stance since my last visit with them; people who were once “on the fence” about the Imperialist system now only condemned it but called it for what it was: imperialism.
Of the radicals there most were, as previous mentioned, anti-capitalist. There was a single Democratic Socialist, the usual assortment of Eco-Anarchists (who made up the majority of the radicals by far), as well as a young women who aside from some minor comments, I was positive was a revolutionary communist. Though I never gained significant political talk time with any of these people, I did manage brief conversations with each one; most interestingly I discovered a person there not only had read, but upheld, Karl Marx.
Though sometimes these individuals’ conversations would take a major nose dive into a result which I can only call “Facepalm” Overall the level of rhetoric had progressed. While at Occupy there were more libertarians than I could stomach, here there were none to be found. It made me think that if the political climate continued in this fashion than eventually they would be a moderately solid revolutionary base.
Eventually the first day came to an end and sleeping was called for. A sleeping bag and floor was all I needed. Rolling up an extra shirt I had brought with me as a pillow I fell asleep after only being mildly uncomfortable.
Waking up the next day I dressed, rolled up my sleeping bag, had a breakfast bar, and reviewed my workshop. Though this caused me to miss the first part of the second day’s beginning workshop I couldn’t bring myself to care. Reviewing never took too long and I eventually caught the middle of the man’s presentation.
Eventually it came time for my time in the sun. Yet, there were some shadows on this day. What had been my only complaint during the entire weekend was that when it came time for my workshop the organizers had lumped it in with another workshop. This meant that now people could choose which workshop they wanted to participate in. This annoyed me some as previously all the workshops were attended by all the people. Since my competition had been the “Know Your Rights” workshop only three people came to attendance.
I am a pragmatic person, however. Of the attendees there was only a few which I actually wanted to be in attendance which weren’t already. I also realize that knowing one’s rights when being active is a popular event as the possibility exists that those young people may already know how to bring their peers to occupy.
Ultimately, however, I did not mind the low attendance as I knew that even giving a presentation in front of a small audience was still giving me vital practice for the net event. I made some mistakes, created new strategies for presenting, and knew that what I had learned from giving such a lecture would serve me even better in the future.
After this I wound about the complex waiting for lunch to be over and for the final workshops to start. While at this point I was eager to go home, my workshop was done hence my reason for being here was bull and void, I still managed to sit still during the last workshop concerning corporate practices which led to the Occupy movement.
Finally the day ended. My ride and I hopped back in his car and headed back to our home town. The drive back down was more pleasant than the one up as we talked about how we had enjoyed the gathering and what we liked most. Immensely pleased about our train of thought we formally exchanged contact information and agreed that if either of us were planning anything in the future we should give each other a call; the beginning of any great social movement, after all, starts with the most humble origins.