Occupy Portland's media relations people are getting better and better as they learn on the job, some two weeks after their camp at Chapman and Lownsdale squares first took root.
Hoping to counter charges by the movement's critics (and even some otherwise would-be sympathizers) that they've been insensitive to their impact on the parks, occupiers today posted a video in which Mayor Sam Adams, in an interview, says the camp is the most responsive protest movement he's ever seen in all his years in city government. Also in the video, occupiers clearly acknowledge that the city has money problems—and that they don't expect a blank check to help pay for their presence.
Then, this afternoon, one occupier (who isn't speaking for the whole group) emailed a few media outlets to offer further insight on the camp's intentions when it comes to park cleanup and restoration. In effect: We're trying to start up a nonprofit to take donations to help with the cost.
It's clear—and heartening to see—that occupiers have learned some vital lessons about PR in the past several days and are finding ways to defuse conflicts (see here and here) to keep their focus on their main message: which is the lousy, wealthy-favoring national economy.
As Simon T. says in his missive: "Though I am writing as an individual, I think it is safe to say all of Occupy Portland appreciates the patience, understanding, and support the City of Portland has shown for the occupation. This is what democracy looks like. Together we can change the city, the country, and the world." Read more of it after the jump.
The Plaza Blocks (Chapman and Lownsdale Squares) hold an important place in Portland's history. They are some of the oldest parks in the city and they were used as places citizens could gather to discuss the important issues of their time. The occupation continues that legacy in its own unique way.
The sanitation and engineering crews have been working hard since day one cleaning and caring for the parks. In addition, our direct democracy process has passed a proposal to help address the impact of the occupation on the parks. It states:
We will establish a fund for contributing money to park restoration should the day come that we choose to leave the parks.
We will establish a list of people willing to contribute their time and labor to park restoration.
We will establish a list of useful in-kind contributions for the purposes of park restoration.
We will reach out to the community at large seeking experts who can guide us in maintaining the parks while we are here and restoring the parks when we leave.
We believe people should never have to pay to protest. We are taking these steps out of a sense of social responsibility and a love for Portland's parks.
Some of these steps will take time. The Parks Fund, for instance, will be backed by a non-profit established to care for all of Occupy Portland's finances, and that is still a work in progress.
Though I am writing as an individual, I think it is safe to say all of Occupy Portland appreciates the patience, understanding, and support the City of Portland has shown for the occupation. This is what democracy looks like. Together we can change the city, the country, and the world.