Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Four years later

Hello world,

I am taking this opportunity to briefly update this site. Needless to say, we are no longer an active organization, and this site is kept solely as a heritage site. I have lost contact with most of the original IGC members, most of whom no longer reside in Portland area. I am also contemplating a relocation out of Portland after 18-plus years, due to increasing cost. I have invested close to four years of my life in political activism but I no longer have any interest in that. I have lost my spirituality and faith as activism became my idol. I am slowly rebuilding my life after many years of unhealthy involvement in the activist scene even as increasingly I became painfully aware of myself no longer in good conscience support much of the ideologies. I benefited both emotionally and materially however from being in a community of some sort and gaining social capital that I never had before. But beyond that, I gained nothing and lost a lot. So I decided to move on with life. I am still trying to remember and recover the groove that I once had. It's hard. Occupy was a bit like a cult in that sense. It was hard for me to leave it behind, and after that, I could not simply go back to "normal" life.

"Occupy Portland" ceased to exist on December 11, 2013. The last General Assembly was convened for the sole purpose of voting itself out of existence. Friends of Occupy Portland, Inc., a non-profit corporation, subsequently assumed its role as the successor legal entity for "Occupy Portland" until May 19, 2015. At that point the corporation was in debt and could not legally continue its existence. The articles of incorporation required that any funds must first go to service any and all outstanding debts. Because of the debt it was unable to pay the state the annual fee to renew corporation, or to file the required annual report as a charitable organization.  I served as a member of the board for the said failed corporation since September 2013, and despite my best efforts, it simply could not financially survive.

By accident of history, I became one among the last of the Occupiers, who maintained a continuous involvement in the movement except for a 3-week break in the spring of 2012. I saw and experienced first hand the rise and fall of this movement, now a colorful footnote of Portland's history. I decided to keep this website as a primary source testimony to that history, as well as a commemoration of one of the most significant periods of my life.

I am a living history of this movement, and I am still planning on writing and publishing a memoir.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lightspark Commons/Interfaith Guild of Chaplains archive ebook! Download a piece of history.

Occupy Portland, October 21, 2011
Occupy Portland, October 21, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now you can get a piece of history: the full archive of this blog from the very first day!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

De-activated, but not disbanded


This is Sarah A. Morrigan, the founder and organizer of Lightspark Commons (formerly known as the Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia, originally the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains).  Since we have not been posting anything here for a long time, I thought it is appropriate to state briefly what's happening with this group.

Lightspark Commons is currently deactivated.  This means there is no ongoing activities or plans for the near future.  Though we had tried to adapt this group to the realities of the post-Occupy era, simply there is no pressing need for this group to remain active at this time.  However, this goes with a caveat that we may at some future day decide to reactivate this group to provide the types of services we provided to the community, if the context of the time necessitates it.

In the mean time I have been posting occasionally on our Facebook page and will continue to do so to keep people informed.

Personally, I have been busy on several fronts and I am not much able to devote my time on Lightspark Commons.  So I foresee that in case of reactivation some other people might step in to assist in leadership.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

a look at our history through site statistics

Total pageviews since the first post to date: 9,804

Monthly pageviews:

November 2011: 2,347
December 2011: 1,480
October 2011: 975
April 2013: 577
May 2012: 488
February 2012: 372
January 2012: 305

All-time top articles:

Our invitation to #OccupyThanksgivingPDX (Nov. 17, 2011): 563 pageviews
Announcing #OccupyChristmasPDX (Dec. 19, 2011): 530 pageviews
End the anti-homeless hate, prejudice (Nov. 11, 2011): 191 pageviews
May Day events information (April 26, 2012): 162 pageviews
Feb. 2: Celebrate light and healing (Jan. 22, 2012): 120 pageviews

Visitors (pageviews) by country:

USA: 7005
Russia (!): 494
China, People's Republic of (!): 373
Germany: 329
Israel: 120
Ireland, Republic of: 112
Ukraine (!): 82
United Kingdom: 81
France: 69
Romania: 50
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The present state of Occupy Portland and how you as a person of faith can make a big difference

English: Occupy Portland, November 2, 2011
English: Occupy Portland, November 2, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Sarah Morrigan
LC founder/organizer/general manager

Time flies and it's already two years since the beginning of Occupy Portland as well as that of then-Interfaith Guild of Chaplains.  Many people who were at the encampment have moved out of town, moved on with their own lives, and honestly, many people left disillusioned by the inefficient, dysfunctional and aimless "movement."

During the past two years, Occupy Portland underwent a succession of organic changes.  The once-vocal extreme radical-left factions had left, after realizing that they would never get what they wanted.  The homeless rights activism continued with the city hall vigil for over 600 days (making it the longest continuing physical occupation in the world), but now with their own internal problems they are largely joining efforts with the more structured Right2Survive and their fight for Right2Dream Too.

With two of the most visible and vocal manifestations of Occupy Portland gone, the movement and everyday work appears forgotten.  But they are there.  The most functional and longest-running working groups are still continuing with their work, but they are the least visible and are under-appreciated (for example, Occupy Solutions and the Elder Caucus).  Friends of Occupy Portland recently (and finally) got their corporate paperwork problems straightened out, and with a smaller budget it still operates the office space as a resource to the community.

These are natural processes that occur to most mass movements I know in history.  Soundclip-worthy public visibility brings attention of TV stations, but it is the behind-the-stage hard work and persistence by a small number of committed citizens that make the real difference.

As I see it, this is a fertile time for the work that began with Occupy Portland -- a work that is truly for the 99 percent.  This movement became distracted and became inefficient when the radicals took control and attention, and became overly focused on the extremely marginalized population (chronic homeless, among others) very few could understand or relate to.  The movement of the 99 percent became a movement of the 0.5 percent, and the initial supporters of Occupy no longer felt that their voices were represented by the continuing show of anarchists in black outfit and dishevelled homeless taking their anger at businesses, all businesses, never mind that small- and mid-sized businesses support a lion's share of our economy, revitalize the neighborhoods, and create jobs.  Contrast this with the first two weeks, the glorious golden days of Occupy Portland, where the camp and the movement were friendly to families with children and were supported by local small/mid-sized business owners.

Much of the problem has to do with Occupy Portland's inability (unwillingness) to connect to existing and established groups and work together.  When the Pacific Green Party came, we pissed them off.  When the Working Families Party came, we treated them as though it was an infiltrator.  When MoveOn came with its huge roster of supporters, we rejected them.  Unlike the Tea Party, we failed to connect where the power to effect changes was.  The Tea Party (unfortunately) succeeded in hijacking Congress and local/state politics, but Occupy did not.  We might have been the biggest Occupy on earth at one time, but we never got our sh*t together (there are the ones who did, like the ones in New York and Hong Kong).

In 2013, the core Occupy Portland organization (that is, the FOOP, the information team, and the outreach) has been re-envisioning itself as the connector, a nexus of information and groups.  During the August capacity-building conference, this theme of building authentic connections has come up repeatedly and was identified as the main challenge to overcome.

And this is where I feel that the Lightspark Commons, as a group of people with roots in faith-based communities, can make a huge difference.  In American history, churches and religious-based groups were fundamental units of community organizing.  The Civil Rights movement, the temperance movement, the anti-slavery movement, and just about every movement that made a lasting mark in the U.S. history, organized around churches and church membership.  If Occupy were to ever go back to the initial level of support and strength, it can only do so by re-engaging and galvanizing the middle class.  The middle class is the only part of the 99 percent that has sufficient capacity, influence, education, and financial means to get things done. The truth about our local politics is that the elected politicians only listen to business owners and business leaders.  Whether we like it or not, this is how the city, county, and state politics work here.  Other "community organizers" and "activists" are usually only seen as convenient background noises and are never taken seriously, unless their message aligns with pre-existing political agenda of an elected official (to advance his or her own political ambition, of course).  Those who are barely surviving with three jobs just to feed themselves and their kids do not have time or energy.  The faith-based perspectives also moderate the extremism that comes with the radical-left organizing.

On a more practical level, there are much that must be done and there are specific areas you can get involved.

  • Strike Debt is a faith-based project that started in New York and Occupy Portland has been a sponsor of the local chapter.
  • Occupy Portland outreach has been present at many street fairs and Sunday Parkways events this summer, and this was instrumental in creating visibility and re-engaging people.  The outreach must necessarily move indoors during winter months and church-based community events (such as "mindful holiday gifts bazaar" or Christmas fairs) can be good outreach opportunities.
  • Friend of Occupy Portland, the legal/corporate entity for the service of the Occupy Portland community, could use a few good, committed volunteers in board, administrative and non-board positions, as well as in (perhaps most importantly) helping with planning fundraisers.
So we are not dead yet -- just new opportunities.


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Nov. 5, 2013: Two year reunion mixer!

Two years ago at downtown Portland's Lownsdale Park there was a massive sukkah to celebrate the feast of Sukkot, whose theme corresponded with the message of the Occupy movement. During the five weeks following the sukkot, the structure became a community space that was sacred to many Occupiers regardless of their religious affiliations. Many came to find the calm in the noises of the close-knit community that operated 24/7.

In this context, the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains was born to meet the spiritual needs of the community and to explore and question what it is to be part of a faith-based community, not just a faith-based institution.

It has been two years.

This is a casual two-year reunion/mixer to get back in touch with one another, as well as to find out what is new with the Occupy movement 2013-14 and how you can be part of the action in various ways.

Both old-timers and new people are greatly welcome!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 6:15 (ish) pm-8:45 (ish) pm
Friends of Occupy Portland, Inc.
1131 SE Oak St #12

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

(Re-)Launching Lightspark Commons!

As it was officially announced at the May 23 Occupy Portland General Assembly, Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia is "rebooted" as Lightspark Commons.  For more about this, refer to the "Reboot/Transition" page.

In this world today we need more lightworkers, bearers and keepers of light.  Mystics and theologians have long said that the "sparks of the Divine" resides within each of us.  We hope to build a community that facilitates the sharing and aggregation of the lightsparks for the good of our communities and for the transformation and healing of the world.

We have used the color wheel in our branding symbol, as all colors are but different facets and reflections of the pure light -- and when all colors are combined it becomes a pure light.  It symbolizes both unity in diversity and diversity in unity, and is an apt metaphor for a multi-religious, multi-modal, and multi-cultural community organization.

Please note: the old website address intersol.alleycatmews.info no longer works. Replace with lightsparkcommons.alleycatmews.info.  This site may also be reached via either lightsparkcommons.tk or interfaithsolidaritycascadia.tk.

Changes to Twitter: @pdxintersol is now @lightsparkcomm.
Changes to email address: replace pdxintersol with lightsparkcommons

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