"INTERVIEWER" = Lois Melina
"PARTICIPANT" = Josh Maurice
INTERVIEWER: Let’s see. Get that close to you. Um, so I have your name and I’m not going to put that on the recording, um, how old were you on November 17th?
November 17th, OK. INTERVIEWER: Or you can just tell me your birthday. PARTICIPANT: March 5th, 79.
INTERVIEWER: Um, so tell me what, um, tell me about your involvement with Occupy Portland. What got you involved, what kinds of actions you’ve participated in and particularly I’m interested in the encampment.
PARTICIPANT: Uh huh, uh huh. Um, I first heard about the ah, the plans for there to be an Occupy Portland at the Red and Black Café one night where I, I had been, um, trying to get to a talk that was being given there about anarchist organizing strategies. Um, so I got there after the talk and the Q and A were finished but somebody who I had talked to a few times before at that place, I remember at, at that time told me about Occupy Portland, you know, being planned for October 6th and modeled sort of after Occupy Wall Street. And, ah, I went on to the gathering on October 6th and, ah, a couple
friends, I participated in that. Um, that gathering by the waterfront and then going from there to Pioneer Square and then I sort of, ah, lost the crowd, lost track of them after that until the next day when I, ah, had found out where they set up the camp previous night. I went down and walked through
briefly and then, so that was October 7th and set up a tent there that night and, um, I was around quite a lot the first few days and then after that I was around at least every, every night, every time at night time, every day at night time
almost, until about November 8th. My dad was visiting from Ohio and, ah, he a little five year old girl and I, she lives here in
Portland and I take care of her and I’ve been doing that during the day time during most of those days of the camp, right? While her mom was at her job I was at their apartment with Nix(?), she turned five November
but we were, three of us were staying in a Motel 6 for a few nights starting about November 8th and maybe a couple days after that, after we had, couple days into his visit that the news of the Mayor ordering the dispersal came so let’s see, since then I’ve been doing a lot of meetings at the office at St Francis and other places.
INTERVIEWER: Were you there on eviction night?
PARTICIPANT: Yeah, yeah, I, ah, packed up my tent at 11, 11:30, stood around on the sidelines, ah, watching until maybe 12:30, 1, 1:30 or so. I
took the last bus then, back to, ah, where I was crashing
and then I went back on Sunday morning and, ah, saw the few people who were still in, ah, Chapman Square and, ah,
INTERVIEWER: Were you involved in any of the other actions? The
November 17th bank, shut down the bank?
PARTICIPANT: Um, not too much, just sort of in the, in the, I remember on, on eviction day, on November 13th someone was kind of distraught about all that
and was thinking, saying it out “We need to just go and like occupy these corporations” and I said “Well, we’re doing that November 17th, right?” and I had one of these flyers for occupy the banks, ah, I took notes at the GA the night before that on November 16th, the night of November 16th I was hand, writing them out by hand and I was at the Red and Black again on November 17th while a lot of that was going on, going down downtown I was typing up those notes and posting them and then I went downtown and, ah, saw some of the last parts of the police, kind of, activity and, yeah, so I was there at nights.
INTERVIEWER: You said you, um, take care of a little girl for someone, is that a regular job? Or was that?
PARTICIPANT: Yeah, no we’ve been together since she was born. INTERVIEWER: Oh.
PARTICIPANT: Pretty much every, yeah, we were all living together until she was about four and-a-half and then started living separately, um, they had an apartment downtown in the Pearl District, right across the street from
Jamison Square during the Occupy, during the Occupation
and, ah, I’d been going, going there in the morning, you know, pretty early every morning to get there before her mom left for her job but it was less of a commute when I was camping downtown, you know, it was less, rather than camping out in the van where I was sleeping on southeast side so it had a kind of, that, ah, material benefits for me just, just by its location.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah, so, um, how do you describe yourself in terms of your work or career, even if you’re not employed that way?
PARTICIPANT: Um. Um, um, did you, did you, did you look over any of the, ah, blog posts I wrote about, about graphical internet
INTERVIEWER: Huh uh.
INTERVIEWER: No, I didn’t know that you had a blog posted about those. PARTICIPANT:
Um, yeah, yeah, for a few years I’ve been
writing, writing posts ah, my twitter account has links to it, twitter.com/joshmaurice
PARTICIPANT: It’s right at the top of that page, a little, you know, bio, has links to the two blogs. Um so but there’s a, I guess if you want to talk about the connection to Occupy, possibly with that. I’ve been writing about online direct democracy as a way of transcending the political situation, I don’t know, a, ah, model for a new ah system, etc.
INTERVIEWER: How long have you been doing that?
PARTICIPANT: Maybe three years or so I’ve been talking about, been writing things about that but
INTERVIEWER: OK. Um, and are you a student?
PARTICIPANT: Mm, not more in a university kind of thing, no, I ah, I did undergraduate and graduate, ah, degrees at Baylor University in Waco.
INTERVIEWER: What’s your, um, graduate degree in?
PARTICIPANT: In MBA information systems management, management. INTERVIEWER: OK. Um, so tell me about your experience in the camp, what,
what did you do, how, what was your day like, what did you notice, what did it mean to you?
PARTICIPANT: Wow, well
ah so much happened, you know, I had been, ah, anticipating, um, some kind of ah rapid transition to a new way of living and so there was a lot of new experiences, new experiences there but I had, um, seems on, ah, par with the, with the way in which I had been expecting the pace of change to accelerate. Um, yeah, I wrote a bit about that too, not a whole lot about my, about sort of a, ah, I didn’t write, I had a lot of experiences that I never wrote anything about but I wrote a little bit about on my blogs. After the first day and the first few days of camp.
INTERVIEWER: Did you say that you, you experienced that change as, as rapid and that was what you expected?
PARTICIPANT: I, ah, I, for the preceding months, years, I’d been expecting, I have been mostly thinking about it going down online in a way, you know, much more cyber, on a much more cyber level than it seems to have with Occupy but, um, yeah, the increasing connectivity, hyper-connectivity among people, um
INTERVIEWER: What was that like?
Oh you probably, it’s probably been described as sort of a culture clash and, you know, I have a lot of people, just so many different people gathering together.
INTERVIEWER: But what was your experience?
PARTICIPANT: Oh, I had a lot of um, um, have you heard anything about Dave, ah, Campbell(?) who ah, somebody over (inaudible), somebody who was writing on the ground in chalk “Dave Campbell for Mayor” and there’s a bust of his head in one of the, ah, maybe a pub or a pub district by Yamhill. I remember him in the tent next to mine and one day we were, during the encampment but a couple blocks away, half a block away, we were walking, talking and he was telling me about the guy who’d, ah, made that bust of his head in the middle of the, of camp, out there by the art tent. Um, let’s see,
INTERVIEWER: So how did, you mentioned the hyper-connectivity among people, how did you, um, experience that?
PARTICIPANT: For one thing, ah, you could hear, from my tent I could hear five, six other dramas going on all around me, you know, or whatever was going on in those tents around me was very, porous boundaries there so boundaries of distance and, ah, walls dissolved there for a while.
INTERVIEWER: Hm. And what was the impact of that beyond the, kind of the superficial of it, of being able to hear anything, what?
PARTICIPANT: Uh huh. I mean, you know, a lot of people probably grew a lot more connected to others and relationships were formed, people grew and, ah, learned a lot.
INTERVIEWER: Was that true for you?
I’ve probably, for sure met, actually, you know, met and learned the name of and so on of a lot more people probably since the end of the camp, well the camp was only five weeks and then since then
it’s been five more months so, but I was only there at night time for a lot of time except for the first few days I did get to be there a lot more, so, marathon thing happened and half the camp was vacated and then re- occupied after the marathon. I put a blog, I put a post on a website around that, when that stuff was happening. Um, someone, someone, someone in an article was quoted as wondering if there was too much cooperation of the cops going on for accommodating the marathon, I made a comment about ah, um, it seemed like a lot of good work’s gone into accommodating this marathon which has been going on in Portland for 40 years and um, it’s sort of good test and demonstration of the robustness of the movement to be able to accommodate that and cooperate and, uh, and, uh, I said it could, I said that people temporarily relocating to the South Park blocks or someplace might be good reconnaissance for possible future expansions to
that block. I didn’t see a percentage in ah getting surly with the police. I
also, I blogged a little about a conversation I had with a guy who was counter-demonstrating for after, well, about three, four days in to the camp where the road was blocked off, Main Street, in between the two blocks and he was out there going “Open the street, open the street” and, ah, a bunch of people out there barricading the street were yelling back at him and the guy, Remy and I talked to him out there for an hour, maybe, another lady came up who was doing research for, for, for an academic paper, Capstone paper, she was talking with us too and another guy who was kind of skeptical but very interested in kind of deep discussion of the issue, the implications came up and I thought (inaudible)
INTERVIEWER: So what was that conversation like in terms of, was it a different kind of engagement for you?
Yeah, well it was a very new situation that you have a street that’s been occupied by people wanting to radically change the
socio-economic system and here’s somebody out there in that context kind of alone, you know, he’s one person against all these others yet he’s representing for the larger system that’s in place. Uh, the lady who was doing some academic research who was there, she, ah, asked him “Is there anything that you would like to change about the system?” he said “No, not really, I think it’s actually pretty good” he was going “Well maybe the death penalty” and
INTERVIEWER: Did you feel that that was a good use of your time, having that conversation?
INTERVIEWER: Say more about that.
PARTICIPANT: Well there was this, um, you know, distance, misunderstanding, apparently, between this person and, and so, yeah, I think, when I walked up these people were yelling at each other then he mostly just had a fairly calm conversation then for an hour after. In talking for a few minutes and then somebody at the barricade yelled something at him, I think, and then he went back into the street and yelled at them for another little while but then came back, came right back and talked to us for another 45 – 50 minutes.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think the outcome of that conversation was for him or for the rest of you?
PARTICIPANT: Well I don’t know, it seemed interesting enough to bring up just now and it seemed interesting enough to blog about it so maybe different people who read the blog got different things from it whereas, I intuited that may have it would have some significance for different people without necessarily knowing the significance but
INTERVIEWER: Did you learn anything new? PARTICIPANT: Sure, all this stuff, in what?
INTERVIEWER: From that conversation, did you come away with any kind of new?
PARTICIPANT: I got to know this guy Remy, kind of, a lot, he was there and he was doing probably most of the talking for that hour but he was very involved in the camp and I’ve, you know, I’ve been around him a lot subsequently, um, yeah, I learned, I learned about, I was listening, also to this guy and his narrative about, you know, his politics. He lives with his uncle or something, or he’s living
INTERVIEWER: Was there anything that particularly surprised you about your experience in the camp? That you didn’t expect?
PARTICIPANT: Well I didn’t know very much about what to expect, you know, at all. I was not, until the, ah, until October 7th I was not expecting tents, really, right? I remember talking to somebody about it in the Powell’s(?) Coffee Shop, the Powell, a few days before and, ah, he said he’d been trying to watch the videos of the meetings, I guess the GA’s, the videos on the Occupy Portland website but he hadn’t been able to get the videos to load and he was a little suspicious about whether somebody is blocking this videos from going through but I said I had gotten some of it to play and, ah, I’d seen a guy saying “Nothing that will be, would be
considered a structure will be allowed but bring a lot of tarps and duct tape”. But just that, just the fact that a whole lot of people were going to converge
and possibly build some kind of, you know, rudimentary shelters with tarps and duct tape was interesting enough for me to be into it, participate and then it turned out they’re able to get tents
and well, were you at the Occupy Portland occupation at all?
INTERVIEWER: I was at the October 6 march, kind of like you, I got to Pioneer Square and stayed there for a little while and then I didn’t continue on to the camp. Um, and I was at the Jamie Diamond demonstration/protest when he came to town and I was at the march over the steel bridge on November
17th but, um, I went downtown afterwards but it didn’t seem like anything was happening at the banks and, you know, I guess what happened was people went back to the waterfront and reorganized and then, but, but I went home and I didn’t hear about what was happening until later that night so I was totally surprised by that. And I didn’t, I dropped some things off at the camp, we dropped some food off and things but I didn’t stay at the camp or spend much time there.
PARTICIPANT: I got a few audio recordings of November 17th.
INTERVIEWER: Hmm. So it sounds like you’ve been thinking about systems change for a long time.
INTERVIEWER: And you’re still involved with the Occupy movement so how are you feeling about this movement relative to your earlier thoughts about systems change?
Well, ah, I think it could, that, ah, internet, ah, a new kind of internet interface, a vastly differently kind of internet interface could emerge and kind of catalyze rapid changes in how we live before much else happens with the Occupy movement or it could take a little bit of time for that internet thing to happen and the Occupy phenomenon could become much more interesting, even before we get, a, um, much more interesting kind of way of relating to the internet but I can, not parallel, you know, minds of (inaudible)
INTERVIEWER: What keeps you involved? PARTICIPANT: In?
INTERVIEWER: In Occupy?
PARTICIPANT: Occupy? Oh, well I know a lot of people, you know, by them and enjoy hanging out with them. Ah, interesting, um meetings and discussions about how to, how to proceed. You know just recently this, um,
city hall mini-occupation, city hall occupancy vigil has been getting a lot of more, well, busy.
INTERVIEWER: So have you gone to the General Assemblies? Did you go to the General Assemblies when you were at the camp?
PARTICIPANT: Yeah, pretty much whenever I could, whenever I was there in the neighborhood.
INTERVIEWER: Um, so what did you think of those?
PARTICIPANT: Um, I I found them interesting enough to keep going, I
still go. I went yesterday, got there near the end of it but, um, let’s see.
INTERVIEWER: Well speaking of politics, what’s your sense of how things happen in Occupy? Can you describe for me how things, how things happen, who, how things get on the agenda? How they get determined?
PARTICIPANT: Right now there’s an agenda setting meeting on 6:30 on Mondays, sets agenda for the 7 o’clock Monday GA and I guess the 7 o’clock Thursday spokes council.
INTERVIEWER: So how do you, how does somebody get to be, do you, can anybody just go to that?
PARTICIPANT: Oh yeah. And, ah,
INTERVIEWER: Are there people that you know will be there? I mean who are committed to being there or?
INTERVIEWER: Facilitating, for example?
PARTICIPANT: Not really, anybody who I would say is there more than, well, I don’t know, some of the people might be there 95% of the time, ah, there’s, ah, there’s at least probably 6, 7, 8 regular facilitators. They often express, ah, desire for more people to get on, on that team.
INTERVIEWER: Are there, um, were there any individuals at the camp that, you know, after a time, you found yourself gravitating to or listening to more or wondering what they would think about a particular thing that was being discussed?
PARTICIPANT: Um, it could, I would imagine, that would describe, that would describe just about anybody I was familiar with or ah, but, I’m not thinking of any one person, really, in particular, who would, ah, fit that description.
INTERVIEWER: So if I were to ask you, which I guess I am, um, to describe something that happened at the camp that captures the essence of what that experience was like for you, does anything come to mind?
I’m, I’m, I’m, I don’t know, what’s, I’m more kind of, more kind of mundane everyday things are coming to mind,
the fact that people shared food and ate together and, ah, lived together and socialized without, without, ah, without there being necessarily a competition that, that, that, ah, structured a lot of the, of the, ah, experience.
INTERVIEWER: What do you mean by without a lot of competition to structure the experience?
PARTICIPANT: I mean there weren’t requirements for what to do to get food or to get a spot to, to, ah, to camp. Um,
not really a currency or a hierarchy, ah, at least as, ah, as much, to as much as an extent, seemed like a significant, significantly new progress in, ah, addressing those, in trying to.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think you were aware of that at the time, or is that, you were?
PARTICIPANT: Sure, sure. I told somebody, asked me, I don’t remember exactly when or where, during the camp somebody asked me what I thought about all of this or something I said “Well, I’ve kind of been drinking the Kool- Aid”
Yeah, yeah, people were, a lot of people were very excited about it on that kind of level, revolution, lot of talk about revolution and evolution.
INTERVIEWER: You think it was, would you put it in those categories of revolution, evolution?
PARTICIPANT: Um, I, um, I was not, I didn’t have a, a, ah, much of an expectation either way as to whether the camp would continue indefinitely or be evicted as it was, you know, so as far as I knew this was potentially something that would grow into a model that remained there until it spread outwards to more and more sectors of the world and yeah, ignite, I think,
helped, which it’s still doing, it’s just a phase of counter-current there
INTERVIEWER: You say which it’s still doing?
PARTICIPANT: Still, yeah, the processes are still evolving and people are still excited and participating, um, uh huh, uh huh.
INTERVIEWER: At any time during that encampment, in particular, um, well first let me ask, did you have any, um, personal aha’s?
PARTICIPANT: Huh, I’m, (yeah?) sure I did. (inaudible)
I mean, you know, I met a lot of interesting people, I met, I met, I met some kids in kids camp and brought the five year old, she was four then, into there and she, she would play with them so communal family, ah, huh, way of living, um. Um, my, I was, I was writing about it, algorithm is my means for, the medium that I think about most as a way of expressing what I’ve been thinking about wanting to express so, and that was all
through the camp too,
have you heard about A camp and the
INTERVIEWER: Can you give me an example?
PARTICIPANT: Well there was the most common chant that’s, that’s, that, you know, Occupy night time is infamous for is “I will f*** you”. Have you heard of that one? It’s just something you heard all night long
from A camp, the, which I didn’t realize A stood for alcohol, exactly, but yeah,
PARTICIPANT: Apparently, it got, it got, one newspaper article said it stood for anarchy (inaudible)
but that was basic, yeah, it’s like a little gang, too, that sort, that, would sometimes compete for supremacy with the Peace and Safety Team on resolving disputes that, like when the disputes involved Peace and Safety people but, yeah, yeah, when [a Peace and Safety Team person] was really mad at one point about something, camping right next to them.
didn’t have a spot that they wanted to stay in, in the larger society or preferred this kind of a spot.
INTERVIEWER: So before Occupy how would you spend your time? PARTICIPANT: Um, for a few months, or maybe a month before Occupy, ah,
Nix’s mom started, started this job at Sock Dreams so I was
every week or whatever, 5 days a week I would, ah, get there, be there pretty much all day, you know, for before she started her commute to when she got home.
Um, yeah, but the Red and Black Café, which is now right across the street from Occupy Portland, St Francis office, I would spend some time there and use their computers, they have freely available computers there.
INTERVIEWER: Hm. And what’s the, um, main thing that you work on for
PARTICIPANT: Hm. Well I attend meetings and I, I, I kind of go between the different people, places and help out wherever I can. Um, done a couple of panel, Occupy Portland panels, panel discussions and, ah, I’ve been downtown at the vigil quite a lot over the past, you know, few months.
INTERVIEWER: Um, did you ever find yourself thinking about when you were involved in the camp, in particular, thinking about, or maybe just after, any particular individuals or groups, maybe historical or non-historical, people you know personally, that just came to mind because of what you were involved in?
PARTICIPANT: Um. Yes.
Yes, yes, yes, influences?
INTERVIEWER: Just, just came to mind and found yourself thinking about them?
PARTICIPANT: Hm. Let’s see. Hm.
I think sometime right around November, December, um, I, ah, I read an article about situationists and so learned about that, situationists.
INTERVIEWER: Situationists? I don’t know about that.
PARTICIPANT: It’s around,I think the early part of the 20th Century, artistic or school, genre, into, ah, practical, ah, practical joke, maybe, kind of stuff. I don’t know. The idea of the spectacle seems associated with situationalism.
INTERVIEWER: Uh huh. And
PARTICIPANT: Mark Pesce(?) INTERVIEWER: Go ahead.
PARTICIPANT: Mark Pesce linked to an article about him, about this situationalist guy whose name I forget. Mark Pesce is somebody I’ve been following.
INTERVIEWER: P-E-C-H-Y? PARTICIPANT: P-E-S-C-E.
INTERVIEWER: Oh. As a blog or a Twitter? PARTICIPANT: Um, his Twitter name is “mpesce”. INTERVIEWER: Um, do you think Occupy is spectacle?
PARTICIPANT: Possibly, I haven’t looked at very much of that and what exactly they meant by spectacle but, ah, I look forward to the next phase
and if there’s, there’s definite possible trajectories coming into focus, I think, with the, you know, possibly with the city hall vigil, if that continues to take off, just one current physical presence.
INTERVIEWER: Did you find yourself having any, any, um, oh, either new ideas or affirmation of your ideas, um, about your relationship to your community or your government, um, as part of this?
PARTICIPANT: Yeah, I mean I’ve been talking about direct democracy for, for, for a while and then here’s this community springs up on two square blocks of the middle of the downtown of the city and it’s based on direct democracy, ah,
yeah, I’ve been expecting a, a evolution past, past all the hierarchy assumptions about the necessity of competition
INTERVIEWER: So what do you mean by direct democracy?
Just like when you’re asking can anybody walk up to the agenda setting meeting and put something on the agenda, yeah, there’s no, there’s no, ah, real obvious hierarchy built into the structure of the, of the, ah, process.
INTERVIEWER: That’s interesting because I have a feeling that if there were you would be the person who would notice that.
INTERVIEWER: Because you’ve been studying it for so long.
Um, yeah, and it’s, and it’s, it’s just the idea of, um, well, what were we talking about? Um.
INTERVIEWER: Direct democracy and whether there was any real, obvious hierarchy built into the structure.
PARTICIPANT: Yeah, and enough people, I think are, understand about it and want a truly, egalitarian, and can, enough people are also capable of, of recognizing that, it is not even much risk of this
INTERVIEWER: It’s not drifting into that?
PARTICIPANT: There’s not much risk of it drifting into something like that, yeah.
INTERVIEWER: OK. Does it look the way you thought it would look, direct democracy?
PARTICIPANT: How, in some ways, I mean I don’t, I didn’t, (inaudible) really thought about the idea of people sleeping, sleeping in sleeping bags in a square all around city hall, that’s part of the, that’s a part but I didn’t anticipate a camp in the middle of downtown either. Um, but there was a kind of recognition too, I think, with, with, with all the connections and happy times and good, good times that were had with people in the Occupy camp
in that sense. Ah, fulfilling a, ah, expectation and a hope.
NTERVIEWER: Um, did you do any work for Obama in 2008?
PARTICIPANT: Huh uh.
INTERVIEWER: Um, so what do you think prompted you to start looking at direct democracy back when you did? Was there any kind of event or incident or book you read or anything that catalyzed that for you?
I was, let’s see, probably in Robert AntonWilson in about year 2002 I first read a book of his called Prometheus Rising, um, hm, I was into sort of, ah, libertarianism in college, late part of high school and early part of college I was into, ah, objectivism, Ayn Rand. I went to a couple, couple summer, summer seminars of the objectivists center, libertarianism and then Robert Anton Wilson, I think, probably, ah, purposefully tried to tailor a lot of his stuff to appeal to libertarians and, ah, and so he introduced me to a lot of ideas, I think, in Prometheus Rising.
INTERVIEWER: Were you active, um, in the 2008 election with the libertarian candidate?
PARTICIPANT: Oh, oh, this was back in like, (inaudible), no, I was into libertarians maybe, you know, late 90’s, early 2000’s or so, um, and then (inaudible) Terrence McKenna, I got a lot of doses of Noam Chomsky online, audios, etc.,
yeah, Terrence McKenna, um and, well, you know, Timothy Leary.
INTERVIEWER: Uh huh. Let’s see, how we doing? So is there anything that I
didn’t ask you that you wanted to talk about or say?
We did a pretty good job, I think we had some good nuggets in there.
INTERVIEWER: What were the best nuggets?
PARTICIPANT: Let’s see,
I um, I don’t know, I, ah, I would, I would, um, I still tend to be very reserved with, with, with, with expressing, you know, in the verbal medium, um, I’m still very focused on the algorithm as the medium for the, for what I may be able to have or maybe able to contribute, um. There is the acronym that I, you’ll see if you look at the blog, or the Twitter, GGODD, the thing that I’m saying could be activated soon, could, could, could, could manifest soon. Global, Graphical, Online Direct Democracy.
INTERVIEWER: Hm. Has this experience with Occupy made you believe that, make, has it made you believe that more than you did before? More intensely?
INTERVIEWER: That it would happen sooner, any of those?
PARTICIPANT: Yeah, well I was maybe 99% sure and then I became 99 ½ % sure.
OK. Thanks a lot. PARTICIPANT: Thanks.
INTERVIEWER: I’m going to turn this off.