Occupy Revelstoke held their first ever face-to-face organizational meeting at Sangha Bean last week and the Times Review sat in for a majority of it.
The seven activists who attended the Nov. 2 meeting ranged in age from young twenty-somethings new to the lifestyle, to young-at-heart but seasoned activists like long-time Revelstoke resident Andy Parkin.
The meeting lacked the unique consensus-based hand gesturing characteristic of many of the bigger urban Occupy movement gathering across North America and around the world. Instead, it resembled in every way a group of like-minded people holding their inaugural meeting and trying to figure out where to go from there.
They focused on trying to decide together what Occupy Revelstoke should be in the context of a small, snowy mountain town with winter just around the bend. Should they tent out – maybe even part-time or in shifts? Should they host awareness evenings to boost numbers – such as a consciousness-raising video screening and gathering? How would they communicate their message to the community? What issues would they focus on?
They discussed issues such as the degradation of the environment and the depletion of natural resources, the pervasive influence of the corporate agenda, the corrosive effect of international finance and the impact of unattainable housing costs.
Like most charter meetings, especially Occupy ones, they disagreed. One attendee focused on the need for an existential journey to discover personal realities from whence activist motivations would spring. He often clashed with other vocal attendees, who focused on more pragmatic, immediate-term goals such as logistical challenges, consensus-building, establishing areas of focus and taking first steps.
I left the meeting because I had to head to the Revelstoke city council all-candidates’ forum. I followed up with original Occupy Revelstoke Facebook page administrator Jessica Inskip on the phone a few days later. She told me she personally was now putting the movement on the back burner.
The Stoke List is a Revelstoke classified list known for second-hand ski gear, cars and their parts, used furniture, short-term housing rentals, web trolls, axe-grinding defamatory personal attacks and now – apparently – stalker death threats.
Inskip admitted she was taken aback by the vitriol garnered by her and others’ posts on the classifieds website. Countering the many pro-Occupy posts were even more decrying the activists as smelly, unemployed, toque-wearing hippies. They wanted them run out of town. Inskip said one person went as far as emailing her a death threat. What did it say? “Get out of our town you stupid hippies. If I find out who you are, I’ll slash your throat,” Inskip said. It was one of several hate emails. “They vary in degrees from being extremely violent to just being … irritated.”
For Inskip, the threats and negativity was part of the reason she’s stepping back from the movement. She was the only female present at the inaugural meeting, saying the males tended to take over the dialogue. “This isn’t my vision,” she said. “The way it’s going right now isn’t my vision.” She also juggles a 60-hour-a-week work schedule and is planning alternate forms of activism closer to her personal goals, such as community outreach.
Inskip said the group left the meeting somewhat divided. One steadfast protester headed straight to Grizzly Plaza to start the occupation. Taking pity on the man in the tent in sub-zero weather, staff from one of the Chinese restaurants in the plaza brought over some hot food to warm him up. By the next morning, he was gone.
Inskip said organizers had researched permits and the legality of occupying a public space like Grizzly Plaza, but hadn’t yet decided what to do. She anticipated some kind of public event on Saturday, Nov. 12.