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 no longer works. Replace with  This site may also be reached via either or

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

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A brief open letter to the community

English: Magnolia × soulangeana Fran├žais : Mag...
English: Magnolia × soulangeana Fran├žais : Magnolia × soulangeana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
May 14, 2013

Dear members and friends of Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia,

Last summer, we have had discussions over re-envisioning and re-structuring this group, formerly known as the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains.  We are a group born and emerged out of the heydays of the Occupy Movement and continues our alliance with Occupy Portland and potentially all remaining Occupy-based groups in the Pacific Northwest.

The reality is, however, this group has ceased to function as an active community organization, and I note that even announcements I post in our internal communications Facebook group appear to be rarely read by anyone any more.

Just as Occupy has evolved and continues to evolve into various shapes, I feel that last summer's re-envisioning plan is no longer relevant or suited to the current situation.  From what I see is that of all surviving former Occupy Portland groups, only those that are growing and still active have one thing in common: a building of an alternative community -- a new way of being a community, something I was strongly drawn to when I spent over a month at the original Occupy Portland encampment.  Certainly, there are those who view this trend as a repeat of the mistakes the Baby Boomers made back in the 1970s.  Back then many people who were politically active and militant became withdrawn, "dropped out" and created counter-cultural movement and communes, while both neo-conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and the Religious Right movement gained in the absence of the organized social justice movement.  I, too, am concerned by this.  Will we as a movement become more effective, or become yet another forgotten chapter in history?

Having said this, however, we simply cannot be effective or even exist without a vibrant community.  People do come and go, and that is natural.  The last thing we should be doing is to be attached to the glorious legacy of the past and fooling ourselves that we are still the same as the "good old days."

As it is pretty clear at this moment that I am the only remaining active member of ISC, I am taking the prerogative -- like the very day I put out a call to organize this group during the first week of Occupation -- to release all the inactive members from our roster and re-initiate this group from the scratch.  This means if you have been inactive and would like to maintain membership you would have to re-join after the new roster is created; otherwise by default you will be removed from membership.

I have two plans for this group:

(1) A much heavier emphasis on community-building rather than "just" activism or "just" chaplaincy.  In fact, the group's role as providers of spiritual support probably would diminish although we aim for creating a visible presence within the movement and beyond.

(2) A rebranding -- "Interfaith Solidarity" sounded too abstract, too sterile, and too political.  "Interfaith Guild of Chaplains" sounded too exclusive and limiting.  The word "interfaith" especially for those who are not members of Abrahamic faith traditions often evokes negative feelings (as most "interfaith" organizations only include mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish denominations) and also too "institutional" and even "elitist."  Although "Interfaith Solidarity" was chosen last summer as a self-explanatory moniker, it did not quite work.  I am looking for something that is more welcoming, fosters a sense of belonging and community, and at the same time clearly communicates the group's history and visions.

I would love to continue and maintain honest dialogues on this topic, both from those who were part of this group and those who weren't.


Sarah Morrigan
ISC general manager
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An interfaith mandala-icon

The Celestial Compass (2013) by Sarah-Andrea Morrigan

This object is dedicated as the centerpiece of the communal altar we maintain at the new Occupy Portland headquarters (the Fremont Room).

The art was inspired by many symbolic elements common in a wide variety of spiritual and faith traditions around the world, and depicts the cosmos and its various levels of manifestations.  As a salute to the Occupy movement's history, there are two tabernacles/tents, one red (symbolizing the south) and one north (symbolizing the north).  The west and east are symbolized by a willow and an oak respectively.

Friday, April 19, 2013

4/26: A community dialogue on violence

This week has been challenging for America.

We are dedicating the scheduled first Fremont Room meet-and-greet on Friday, April 26  Saturday, April 20 to conversations on how we as a community, especially as people of spirituality and faith, counter the culture of violence and life-denial so pervasive in American society, from mass shooting incidents to indiscriminate IED bombing to knee-jerk reactions by politicians and public officials that inevitably follow such events.

America is morally bankrupt -- but not in a way self-styled conservatives and value-voters think it is.  It is morally bankrupt because the national psyche glorifies violence at all levels, from "getting tough on petty criminals" to our preemptive "war on terror," while our elected officials divert more taxpayer dollars to military and prisons while denying children food and healthcare.  Both America's foreign policy and domestic ethos are strongly attached to violence and death, even as some of our politicians continue to make abortions a hot-button issue to win more votes.

All things are connected, and all things are manifestations of our collective thoughts and choices we make.  Violent video games and grotesque Hollywood movies desensitize us from the evil of intentionally inflicting sufferings on others, while a collective sadism and thirst for bloody vengeance becomes our social obsession.  "Life" gets subverted and turns into tyranny, "justice" became mob rules of our legislature, bully pulpits of our politicians, and a court-sanctioned lynching of our courts.  "Love" became a euphemism for abuse, objectification and control, while "peace, order, and safety" became a call for an astronomical military expenditure abroad and destruction of liberties and human rights at home.

We need a fundamental cultural shift, now.

This is our time to reignite our passion and to resume our work that was started on that October day of 2011 in a humble downtown Portland park.

You are invited to this time of dialogue.

4-5:45 p.m., Friday, April 26, 2013
10 - 11:30 a.m., Saturday, April 20, 2013
Fremont Room (Occupy Portland Information Center)
1131 SE Oak Street Suite 12
Portland, Oregon  97214

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Friday, April 26: Fremont Room meet and greet

Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia invites you to a little meet and greet at the new home of its communal altar.  The altar is essentially a miniature of the giant sukkah Occupy Portland had at its original encampment (Lownsdale Square/Beta Camp), incorporating pieces from there and established when Occupy Portland moved into its previous home, the Che Room.

The new (the "third incarnation of the Sacred Space!") altar is slightly smaller and shares a multipurpose footprint.  A design for a more permanent one is under way, to be unveiled at a new OPDX headquarters which may open within the next two months.

Learn what is happening now with ISC, and what plans we have for spring and summer.

At this event we will also be dedicating a new "universal interfaith icon" of a sort, as the altar conspicuously lacked a focal sacred object.  Its creation is commissioned to a certain local artist whose work is also now on display at a gallery within the walking distance, so you are also invited to a tour of that show after this event is over.

When: Friday, April 26, 4-5:45 p.m. Saturday, April 20, 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: Fremont Room, 1131 SE Oak St, Portland, Oregon 97214-1344
(Use the Oak Street doors - unlocked at 3:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m.; if locked call 971-256-1006)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Moving days!

As you may know already, the Friends of Occupy Portland information office is moving this weekend from the Che Room (Room 5) to the smaller Fremont Room (Room 12).  Our community altar is slightly downsized to fit the smaller footprint.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Interfaith Solidarity: Open-ended conversations and brainstorming

There has been some resurgence of interests in Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia, while most of the original members have pretty much moved on. This is an opportunity for conversations and for those earlier ISC (IGC) members, a time for reunion.

Contact: Sarah 503-427-8269 email:

Friday, February 22, 2013, 7-9:30 p.m.
Che Room, 1131 SE Oak Street, Portland, Oregon 97214

Friday, January 18, 2013

Important announcement regarding women's spirituality and social change group

Thursday, January 18, 2013

Due to low enrollment the Women's Spirituality and Social Change group, previously scheduled to begin on Sunday, January 20, will be rescheduled to begin on Sunday, February 3.  Location may change due to the planned relocation of the Occupy Portland meeting room in the near future, however, it will be held at the Che Room (1131 SE Oak St. #5) as long as the Occupy Portland remains at that location.

To ensure a meaningful, consistent discussion in a safe environment, we request advance registration (free).  Please email if you would like to be part of this group.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, and January events

Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia wishes you a happy new year in peace and blessings.

January events:

Open forum: From culture of death to life
Friday, Jan. 11, 4-6 p.m.  > Tuesday, Jan. 15, 7-8:45 p.m.
Che Room, 1131 SE Oak Street, Portland, Oregon
An open-ended community forum on examining the “culture of death” in American collective psyche and how it relates to recent incidents of mass active shootings.

Group: Women's spirituality and social change
Three Sundays, Jan. 20, 27, and Feb. 3, 6-8 p.m.
Che Room, 1131 SE Oak Street, Portland, Oregon
An open-ended and nonsectarian discussion and study group on women’s spirituality and its contribution to social and cultural transformation. This is a three-week series (initially; may be extended by demand) on Sundays 6-8 p.m. In order to keep the group consistent and small enough for an in-depth discussion and shared experiences, pre-registration is requested by no later than Wednesday, Jan. 16. The second and third meeting build on the previous ones.

Information/Registration (free): email (replace = symbol appropriately). You will receive confirmation by email if you are officially signed up.