Sunday, January 8, 2017

How to have more fun on January 20: An UNauguration guide

Okay, I'm gonna go out on a limb here. With all the excitement about the protests coming up on Unauguration Day, I'm going to say right now that I think they will mostly be meaningless. Protests, by and large, have become meaningless and ineffective in an age where information travels at the speed of light and can be easily manipulated and obscured.

You want to make a difference on January 20? Here are some ideas: 

1. Don't watch.
I mean don't watch ANY of it -- the ceremony, the buildup or the post-event analysis. It's all fake, rigged and meant for show.
Turn off the damned television and don't give this guy -- or his advertisers -- one moment of viewer market-share.

2. Go outside.
Arrange to meet with your neighbors and friends in real time, whether it's at someone's house or at a community event (hey Jewish friends: Shabbat services are still happening in synagogues everywhere. Just sayin'.)
Go for a walk. Bring the dogs to the off-leash park. Toss a frisbee around. Go birdwatching. Spend the day with your kids (yes, I'm saying pull them out of school that day, or else they may be compelled/pressured to watch the unholy event on a TV screen at school).

3. GENERAL STRIKE. DO NO GO TO WORK OR SCHOOL THAT DAY. Especially if your work helps the wheel of commerce turn (retailers and wholesalers, that's especially true for you). Obviously, if your work is public safety or public service (police, fire, medical, clergy), then feel free to listen to your conscience here and do what you think makes sense.
But all non-essential workers, and teachers and their students, should consider NOT WORKING on Friday the 20th, AND Saturday the 21st. And, if you're feeling especially ballsy, Thursday the 19th as well. May as well make it a long weekend.
By not working, you slow down the wheel of commerce and tell our unfairly-elected officials that there are other ways to inhabit this country that do not depend upon their lousy money-riddled structures.

4. Ideally, #3 ought to be combined with a GENERAL BOYCOTT. DO NOT GO SHOPPING. FOR ANYTHING. Seriously. If you're homeless, you're not doing much shopping anyway because you';re broke and don't have a house to fill with stuff. And if yu DO have a warm-dry place to live then you probably have enough stuff and food and everything else to stay home from every single store you can think of. 

5. Alternative activities:
--meet with some friends at a home with a kitchen. Start cooking early in the day (just bring what you have and figure out how to cook it all up, it needn't be rocket science. Keep it simple. IF you feel ambitious then go ahead and share recipes, but don't stress about it.) Talk, sing, discuss and joke while you cook; all the best gatherings happen in the kitchen. Make sure the kids have something to do, even if it's just chopping vegetables or setting a big table (or floor, with pillows and a picnic blanket).
--make extra food and share it with your neighbors and with folks you don't yet know, housed or homeless or in-between.
--pack a picnic lunch and go for a bike ride or neighborhood walk (weather permitting). Avoid stores, Avoid streets with lots of stores. You ideally don't even want to window shop.
--turn off your electronica for the day. Really, you can do this. If you need to leave your phone on for emergencies or to coordinate a meetup, fine; but when you all get together, shut down the smartphone and hang out together.
--Musical? Theatrical? Literate? Have a performing arts jam session where anyone can contribute something beautiful, funky, or cool to share. If you choose to record it, resolve that you won't sell the recording for profit, but share it FREELY on social media. Be choosy about where you share it; rather than on an ad-dependent site, put it on your own web site or ad-free blog instead, and invite people to get in touch to brainstorm future free arts events.
--Hold a Skill-share Fair and teach each other how to do cool things that don't depend on a lot of shopping. Sewing/mending; quilt-making; knitting; cooking; bicycle repair; re-wiring simple outlets or lamps; building a simple home generator; how to make a musical instrument from ordinary household objects, or how to play a music instrument. (All of this should be free, obviously.)
--Discuss ways to build community that do not depend upon commerce. Make sure you discuss livelihood, spirituality, healthcare, education and whatever else seems like a component of community. Remember that community is, at its heart, about PEOPLE, and that will guide your thinking.

The results:
--by the end of the GENERAL STRIKE/BOYCOTT, you should have compiled a list of folks (names, contact info and list of skills) that you can call on for future communal events, people whom you can check on when the weather gets cold and heating might go out (or who could use a spare fan during the heat-wave), with whom you can close local streets to create celebrations when the weather warms, who can fix things and teach skills to each other for free or for barter.
We cannot completely disentangle from capitalism, and there may be times when we may not want to; but we can certainly reduce its importance in our lives by remembering that PEOPLE come before capital.

Please share this with everyone you know. And start planning your own Unauguration Day where you live.  If you're in Portland, Oregon and want to create an alternative to protest, contact me and let me know. I wanna get in on the fun if I can.

Yes, the country and the world will change on January 20. But we are still the people we are, and we can still do good things together.  That truth is where my hope lies.

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