Aquapy Lake Merritt
I spent a lot of Monday on the couch, sleeping, replenishing and decompressing from the weekend. After the long day of Occupy on Saturday I was beat. I'm not complaining, and it felt like a productive kind of tired. But, there was a lingering uneasiness, a bit of police brutality hangover, a minor trauma from witnessing war on a movement I have come to care for so much.
As this kind of thing is new to me, I'm not always sure how to heal, how to transcend the oppressive feeling all that oppression is trying to achieve. Right after responding to three really critical comments on my blog, which took some patience and energy to respond calmly to, I checked my email. There was an email from a local woman named Sue, who wrote to tell me that the Aquapy Boat was back on Lake Merritt.
I knew right away that was what I had been needing. To see a small protest, something lighter then Saturday, yet keeping the message alive. I grabbed my camera, and drove the short distance to the lake.
There are some things, some moments, where Occupy Oakland makes these kind and gentle gestures. Small things you won't see on the news, at least until the police come, and then the scene is no longer peaceful. But this was a peaceful scene, on our lovely Lake Merritt, a cheery boat with a serious message, one that is so pertinent to Saturday's attempted actions to occupy a vacant building.
The back of the boat read “3.5 million homeless. 185 million vacant homes in America today... why won't you let us in?”
A few Occupiers watched the boat from the sidewalk around the lake. People walked by and stared, I saw a variety of expressions from puzzled to smiling. I didn't see anyone get angry.
A friend of mine went with a row boat to get closer pictures of the boat and say hello to those on it. The row boat was shuttling people to and from the Aquapy boat. The drop down to the small metallic vessel looked a bit too far for me, I still can't use my stomach muscles much due to last year's surgeries. I kind of wish I had, I could have spoken with them about the action they were taking. But I think it's a pretty obvious message, and I love the way it's been presented.
I'm learning that movements are made up of many things, many actions and gestures of different sizes, styles and perspectives. They all work together, they all compliment and strengthen. Each one is important, each one has an impact, no matter how large or how small. The leaderlessness of the Occupy movement encourages this. The more I experience Occupy, the more I come to understand the value of the lack of leaders, and of how many things like this happen because of that.
As much as protest can have it's dark moments, I've found it can have joyful moments, peaceful moments, uplifting moments. Those moments remind that all is not dark, that this is a movement of great hope.
An Occupy America Bird
I sat quietly on the cement shoreline of the lake, watching the water gently move, the joggers jog, the walkers walk. Clouds in the sky moving in their ever changing artfulness and beauty, the sun coming and going behind buildings that waved in their reflections in the lake, while ducks and seagulls swam through and about.
I love birds. They are graceful, beautiful, peaceful. They operate on a different plane, another dimension. They think in ways we can't imagine. They can function seperatly or together in an intuitive unity that is beyond anything I know.
I watch them in awe. I watch water with awe. This earth that holds us, it is sacred and fragile. We are sacred and fragile too. We need to watch each other with that same awe. We need to appreicate all the species that are us, all our diversity, all our different ideas.
What if we all flew, swam and walked in respectful harmony? Flying and rafting through these aching skies, these troubled waters, walking carefully on our breaking earth. Occupiers, citizens, politicians, people. Seperatly and together, united by one thing, a mutual desire to make things better. The world has been getting worse for much too long. We can change things starting now. It can start with a boat on a lake. It can grow into a world of beauty.
It can fly like a bird. A beautiful Occupy America bird. Don't clip it's wings, and it will rise above and it will soar. Beautifully soar, soaring high and proud.
I returned home, a bit repaired, restored and ready to carry on.
A Boat On Land
Of course, the inevitable sad ending to our story. Wednesday evening the Oakland Police came to take the boat away. I went down to the lake around 10PM, and found the boat disappointingly land-bound, with a singular police car watching over it. But for a couple of days, it floated happily on the water. For a couple of peaceful days, in this broken city I call home.
all content by me, all photos taken at lake merritt here in oakland. i don't believe in copyright. i do believe in awesome peaceful gestures of truth and hope.