Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dead White Girl Storage

Charleston, Pt. 2

My last night in Charleston was easily the best for the city, but it doesn't make up for how much South Carolina sucks.  I left Ron's in the afternoon and carted around on my loaded bike until I got in contact with Adel Fish.  I went to her house where she lives with her Belgian boyfriend and another couple.  The house was covered in art but of a more refined sense of the typical "shit I got for free" sort that adorns the houses of people my age.  There's no TV in the house and after getting sufficiently baked, we sat around and talked about tiny houses and waxed poetic.

At one point they asked me to help them tear a giant sheet of paper that came with the water heater for the tiny house they were building.  I couldn't understand the purpose but they kept saying "chicken bedding."  It didn't make sense until they explained they kept their own chickens.  They're hip vegetarian kids who eat food they grow and eggs they collect from their chickens.  They're the definition of DIY and sustainability.  They'd be expected to be the most pretentious douchebags imaginable, but they were completely unjudgemental and open, with no sign of the pompousness usually shown by hardcore sustainability proponents.  I love them all very much.


I could understand the reasons behind protest, but I don't think I ever really "got it."  Protest is a way for average people and the disenfranchised to publically air their grievances to bodies which would not normally hear them.  That's how most people perceive it, but the actual motivation and results seem to be less than altruistic.

When people protest, it often becomes for the sake of protest rather than for the issue on which the protest is based.  The same becomes true for whoever the opposition is, as they focus on the protest rather than fixing the issue.  That's the point: to get the opposition to notice, but it seems like a pretty limp dick way to do it.

Protesters take up an us-and-them mentality that results in a screaming match between the two sides, and ultimately solves nothing.  It might fix the one issue in public focus, but doesn't change the underlying problems leading to it.  The hippies were impotent.  They were more caught up in having an ideology than what it focused on.  Today we have baby-boomers involved in the hippie movement that either gave up and assimilated unto common society or became the iconic aging leftist that didn't change anything, but fight the power, man!  The hippies changed nothing except protest, but ideologues in college anarchist clubs still approach it the same way.

I think the much more powerful and influential approach is what Adel and her roomates are doing: changing how they live and informing others when they ask, not by yelling at them.  It's a grass roots approach that denies an acknowledgment of the opposition's points as irrelevant, and focuses on the personally responsibility for fixing the thing you rally against.  It's communal and less boisterous, but telling someone to do something is much less influential or lasting than explaining the actions and being a template for change.

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