Outreach at OPNA

I got to the downtown Park Blocks for the “Occupy Portland Not Afghanistan” rally and march at 11:30 Saturday morning, and stayed until the announcement, at 4:30 pm, of the last song from the stage.

I think the Oregonian was correct in its estimate [the number in the webpage version of the news report is “more than 300”; the number in the picture caption of the hard-copy edition this morning was “about 350”] of participants. More than 50 of those, perhaps less than 100, stopped by our table, took literature, learned of Jill Stein’s candidacy for President, and talked politics.

Stephen Amy arrived, fresh from a morning cleaning up the beach of the Willamette River, at the same time as three students, Jillian, Raven, and Casey, from Christopher Snyderbrown’s class at the Metropolitan Learning Center. Stephen’s home-made xeroxed brochures, paid for by himself, were the only pieces of literature we had specifically arguing the case for Stein for President: he had contrasted a quotation from Obama, bragging about the increase in oil and coal development during his years in office, with Jill’s warning that global warming requires less oil and gas exploitation.

Even during my several decades as a math teacher I was lousy at supervising assistants. Stephen gave the three young people some copies of his brochures to fold, and I followed suit with some copies of the trifolds of the Cascadia Chapter that I had had made up. But then my attention was taken up meeting people who came to our table. It was their idea to go out and work the crowd — what magnificent initiative on their part! I left Stephen at the table, as soon as he told me about it, and went to find them — sure enough, they were chatting up the Green Party with other young people, some of whom I had spoken to earlier.

Our Party could not have had better representatives there than three students who took it upon themselves to spread our message as these three did.

This activity and this post are about outreach, dear reader, and I plan to tell you who all we met; this is not the place for profound reflections, not today.

Our table had two organizations operating from its 8-foot-long space; we shared the premise with the folks from KBOO, the community-sponsored radio station. The fellow who sat next to me, then, was Ross Levin, who did an on-air interview with Jill Stein when she last visited Portland. Ross introduced me to Zale, his coworker, who’s such a longtime Green that she can recall the time when our Party had a name other than Pacific Green (which exceeds my experience, I told her).

Angie Lindquist of Vancouver came by, and recounted her effort to begin a chapter in Clark County of the Washington State Green Party; I invited her to the Bipartisan Cafe meetings, to see whether we could round up volunteers to restart that effort.

Kathy Bushman, of the Progressive Party, visited us, as did Jordana Sardo, of the Freedom Socialist Party. Kathy used to be a Green, but left the Party after the Portland area group was split by a coup d’etat two years ago. Stephen, after she left our table, lamented the loss of such a personable, energetic political activist. Jordana will share the podium with me at the “Teach-in” segment of the two-day long OPNA event at Portland Community College this afternoon.

Cameron Whitten, the Progressive Party candidate for Treasurer of Oregon, and a visitor to our Bipartisan Cafe meeting, said hello.

Stephen introduced me to Ani Haines of KBOO when she dropped by to say hello; she served as the Host of the OPNA rally. Ani said she would not be able to join our Bipartisan Cafe meetings because the Occupy Portland Spokes-council meets that night.

Barry Joe Stull, who introduced himself as “always in trouble,” spoke with me of his troubles with the Portland Police, and of his case that was argued before the Oregon Court of Appeals in particular. His “rap,” as it were, was too dense with references for me to follow, particularly with loud competing background noises from the sound stage. But just at that moment Jo Ann Hardesty, the former State Representative, police accountability activist, and scheduled guest speaker for the Cascadia Chapter of the Pacific Green Party, came by to our table, with, as he introduced himself to me, “the other Hardesty” [I heard but did not retain his name; I wish I had; he’s a nice guy, and we’ve met before]. For these three an account of Barry Joe’s run-ins with named guardians either of public order or of our burgeoning proto-fascist state, depending upon your point of view, was amusing and a pleasure to share.

Chris Lugo, Pacific Green Party nominee for 5th District US Congress, joined Steve and me. I asked him his take on the current effort to remove me from all Party offices, and he advised me to calm down, that this will blow over. I thanked him for his cordial support, and for coming by the rally and joining our table.

At the end of the day Dan Handelman, the main organizer of the nonprofit Peace and Justice Works, stopped by to tell me of “my friend Woody [Broadnax],” the Pacific Green Party nominee for 3rd District US Congress: he took the microphone in front of the encampment on behalf of Portland’s homeless, “Right to Dream Too,” and wouldn’t give it to the ones who organized the encampment and were scheduled to address the marchers.

I said I was unable even to apologize on Woody’s behalf. Dan was philosophic, saying organized events sometimes went awry.

But at our table, the Pacific Green Party of Oregon was a positive presence, meeting and greeting scores of voters who shared our progressive hope of bettering our world.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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