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Occupy Maine and the need to decentralize

There was a flaw in the #OWS encampment that is a rarely noticed flaw in our system: it was a large, centralized structure. 5500 books were sitting there easy to be raided, as well as lots of people and lots of other infrastructure. They were easy pickings because they were so tightly centralized. Most of the raided encampments were large and centralized, but Centralization Central, NYC, was the most so. It had to go and was easy to do. And didn't it cause a shock! No leaders? Yes there were - it was Liberty Park in NYC, #OWS itself. The head was chopped off, so authorities think. They think they won. They didn't. The rest of us, the most of us, are still here.

Decentralization of the Occupy movement is as important as the decentralization of any other piece of our infrastructure. If the #OWS crowd popped up in small groups around NYC, they would be easier to raid individually, but not much worth it. If one goes down, there are sites still available to regroup and relocate. Many sites in distant areas would take more raid work than one large, tightly enclosed area. If nothing else, the combined circumferences of many small sites would be much larger than the areas enclosed, so they would take more personnel to enclose fewer people at any one time. Good communications could combine dispersed occupiers for various marches and individual protest demonstrations. Seriously, we need to be in little, flexible, creative bunches everywhere, not in one giant lump.

Here in the back woods of Maine we have 4 sites, as far as I know. There is a small site in Portland [just passed safety inspection, I think], tiny ones in Augusta and in Bangor [rumors of attempted raid as I write], and who-knows-what "Up the County" in the charming potato country of Aroostook County, I think in Presque Isle near the little wee college. As an aside, I love their logo: "99% - Occupy Ar%st%k". Poor ole sophisticated Portland can't even come up with a logo, and The County had theirs from the beginning. Anyway, we are some kind of strange mixture of centralized & decentralized here. The police seem to be working with us, probably because they are our neighbors. Same with fire departments and medical personnel. The State of Maine is a small town of well mixed communities. We have to work hard to get along with each other as it is. Neighbors hold us accountable.

Portland, Augusta, and Bangor have grouped for several demonstrations. I'm not sure about far-away Aroostook, but I assume they are exchanging resources with some Canadian neighbors as they always do. If you look on a map of the US, Aroostook is what looks like the tip of the thumb that sticks up into Eastern Canada. It contains a unique international community somewhat isolated from both countries, one state, and two provinces. They used to say of elections, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." I think, today, as Aroostook goes, so goes the world, but only if there are zillions of little creative Aroostooks popping up everywhere. Centralization Central, NYC, is not where necessary changes will be made.

Marshall MacLuhan commented in _Understanding Media_ that, if you could ask a fish what was the dominant feature of its environment, it would not say water. It doesn't notice water because it doesn't know anything else. Water is everywhere. I would say that centralization is to Americans as the water is to fish: what we can't see because there isn't anything else. Decentralization is, just, well, it isn't.

Editorial Notes: Ann Peluso is a musician living in Maine and a long-time contributor to Energy Bulletin. Originally published with Occupy - Nov 21 headlines. Ann has since given permission to re-publish as a standalone article. -BA

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