Many meetings were announced where things from sanitation to action planning to improvement of community processes would be discussed.
As for my personal experiences, I made connections with more Kossacks. I finally met MinistryofTruth and HankNYNY, as well as, StrandedWind. These guys are much more media savvy than I am, so it's a pleasure to hear them banter about ways in which they will communicate the message of this movement to the world.
MoT and HankNYNY are both high energy, rapid speakers. So full of life they can't contain it. You can see the sparks flying in their eyes. MoT was wearing a civil war era cap and carrying an American Flag. Hank had suit pants, a button down shirt with the top button undone and loose tie. Stranded Wind is a little more subdued but with just as much going on inside. I got quite a kick out of watching the three of them bouncing off of one another and flying together.
The folks I've become most acquainted with are the medical team. Many of them have been here since Day 1. They have a familiarity with the population and are keeping a close eye on how people are doing. Most of my consultations, where I helped people figure out what help they might need, came from them pointing people toward me. I'll be asked to walk over to the sculpture and will be introduced to someone who they have already primed for meeting me.
While they take their jobs as medics quite seriously and are constantly reviewing protocols and organizing their supplies, they are also very playful. I don't know where it came from, but there was a "bouncy ball" in the medic area yesterday. You know, one of those big balls with a handle on top which children bounce around on. There were some very large children bouncing around on it yesterday generating a lot of laughs. And some near injuries. We were torn between whether it was a good thing that the bouncy ball was close to medical assistance. Torn with guffaws, that is.
It has been determined that since, I was the only known person guiding people to mental health services, I would not go on marches and risk arrest, thereby risking the community losing this service when it is most needed. So, I did not participate in any of the three marches that headed out yesterday. This also meant that I missed exciting moments, such as Michael Moore's appearance. I miss a lot of the action by attending to individuals. Still, I feel very connected here. I have a job and that leads to meangingful interactions and builds bonds. Anybody who wants to feel the power of this experience needs to dive in and join a working group. You get a visceral feel for the direct democracy experience by doing it. Those who come and just observe are not going to fully get it.
A meeting of the Arts and Culture working group.
At the information center there is a list of the currently operating working groups.
One thing which feels foreign to our cultural norms is the reality that there really are no heirarchical leaders. There are working groups which take on tasks and anyone can join them. The community may defer to that working group, but their decision may also be subject to consensus at the General Assembly. Moreover, there is no Head of a working group. All members are of equal stature. So, when you want to do something, say make a presentation at the General Aseembly, you don't have to ask anyone. You put your name on the stack. If you want to set up a service, you can create a working group or join one which feels appropriate and just start doing it. If people have misgivings, they'll let you know. The ethos of the community is that you will hear people out. If you were unable to resolve a difference of opinion, the matter can be taken to the General Assembly where one can make a proposal about one's idea. What you will never hear is "you have to get permission." It's up to you to figure out how well you want to be integrated into what's going on already or how independent you want to be. You choices may impact your relations within the community, but not your right to be there and continue to have a voice.
This pertinent to what I was doing, because on Monday my time was less intensely filled with private consultations to guide people towards mental health services. The marches since Saturday had gone without incident, so there were no new traumas generated and people were coming to me about more ongoing stress-related concerns. This allowed me to start thinking about how to build an ongoing service for mental health onsite, in the community. Since I would be leaving on Wednesday, I decided not to create a working group and, instead, try to get this service set up within the medical working group. If enough people come on board, they may decide to split it out later. Two mental health practitioners showed up on site on Monday. They both work locally and will be on and off site, so we started a contact list. And we established the orange arm band as the mental health identifier. By evening, we also had contact from a local group of therapists who offered the numbers of two volunteers who have made themselves available. Voila! Mental health services is now a fixture in Liberty Square!
So, at Monday evening's General Assembly, I was one of the representatives of the medical team. I introduced myself, reminded people that different people may be having different emotional experiences simultaneously and how you can acknowledge someone else's emotional state without compromising your own, I then announced that mental health services are available.
All in all, it felt like a great day. I had a wonderful dinner of roast asparagus, steamed broccole and thai noodles with tofu and vegetables with a delicious apple for dessert. Later in the evening, I actually got to relax a bit and played some cards - rummy! - with a few of my new medical team friends before heading home for sleep. Again, I was sad to leave, but knew I was barely walking and would not be functional the next day if I didn't sleep in a real bed. Wistfully, I walked home and my head hit the pillow as quickly as possible, filled with warm thoughts and a sense of hope.
Here are few more pictures I took on Monday: