The Portland Occupation was shut down this weekend, with the mayor citing safety concerns. Although political considerations beyond those concerns clearly influenced the mayor's decision, we did experience difficulties that might be ameliorated in the future, in Portland and elsewhere, by following some of these recommendations.
1) Before setting up tents, draw lines on the ground to establish walking paths throughout the encampment. This can help mollify fire departments (the fire marshall wanted paths 36 inches wide) and improve intra-camp mobility.
2) Choose a sufficiently large space to accommodate all occupants who might show up. Take into account the size of the area's homeless population in calculating this. Consider setting up multiple occupations if no single space seems big enough.
3) Have tents available for the tentless -- at least large tents in which several people can sleep, but preferably small tents for individuals to allow for privacy.
4) Showers! Maybe composting toilets.
5) Sousveillance: Webcams throughout the camp with more webcams available for people to place inside tents. Establish an expectation that privacy will not necessarily be available outside tents, but will be available inside tents.
6) Active and intense (but not pushy) outreach toward all newcomers to the camp, to help find ways in which they will enjoy participating.
7) Start meetings for committees/working groups before the occupation, even those dealing with internal camp issues.
8) Chuck the whole "99%" thing. Identifying the movement or oneself with any particular group inevitably sets up an antagonistic dynamic. Instead, formulate slogans and arguments around the concepts of horizontal organization, non-competitiveness (gift economies), direct democracy, volunteering, and freedom.
9) Consider chucking the tactics of marching, chanting, and sign-waving after a space has been occupied. These tactics seem most appropriate when the entire society is built on irrational premises and no physical space is available for working within rational parameters. Under such circumstances, the best options available may involve disrupting the workings of the irrational system, and loudly calling attention to your grievances. After a space has been occupied, energies seem more profitably directed toward the camp -- toward the sociological prototype that we hope will be copied by the rest of society.
10) Encourage as much of the general population of the surrounding area as possible to attend and participate in the general assembly (GA) meetings, spokescouncils, and/or unfacilitated open forums. I am not clear about the necessity of having a "decision-making" body after an occupation has been established. The main decisions that our GAs made during the occupation seemed to involve putting statements on the Occupy Portland website with the comment that "This is an official statement of the General Assembly." Rather than focusing on gaining approval for proposals, our energies might be more profitably directed toward improving the processes by which the meetings are conducted. Let's examine the online system that Occupy Wall Street has launched for conducting their GAs, and investigate ways of conducting inter-Occupation meetings online. For meetings in meatspace, having a large screen in front and a public-address system seem very helpful.
11) Have WiFi covering the camp, and distribute portable Internet-connected devices to everyone.
12) Maximize cooperation with police, government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, etc.
13) Launch an online Social Register to which anyone can add their names, photos, and contact info.
14) Gardens, greenhouses, fish farms, etc.
15) Alternative energy devices.