Moving The Movement: One People Flashmob at Occupy SF & Oakland
“You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.”
The Occupy movement is far more than a series of police clashes with tent cities. It is a movement for justice – economically ,socially and environmentally. It is a cry for meaning, dignity and shared power. It is a vibrant critique of a broken system and a calling for true participation in transparent democracy. It’s not going away any time soon. As police resort to violence, the movement is moving.
You can’t evict an idea that has been embodied.
On Saturday November 19, over 100 people danced at both Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland in the One People Flashmob, produced by Magalie Bonneau-Marcil, founder of DancingWithoutBorders.org and choreographed by members of Destiny Arts and DancingFreedom.com Founder, Samantha Sweetwater. Movers from 8-80, of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, converged from around the Bay Area to dance a high-energy message of connection, resilience, reconciliation, solidarity and creative response.
In San Francisco, a huge crowd gathered to witness the action, staged in the space between the Occupy SF encampment and the bustling Saturday Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. In Oakland, the dance kicked off a march to reinstate the Occupation that was raided on November 14th, moving it from Frank Ogawa Plaza to 19th and Telegraph.
The dance illustrated a cry of pain against oppression, control and degradation, and invoked a powerful bridge of reconciliation between the 1% and the 99% – a bridge that can only span the chasm of class divide through the recognition of shared humanity. The dance began with a freeze, drawing the attention of passersby and showing how stuck and hopeless people have been feeling. It culminated in a dramatic moment where two actors, representing the 99% and the 1%, shake hands, reluctantly then heart-fully hug, then rejoin the circle of dancers. In Oakland, the whole crowd got involved in the action, yelling, “take his hand”, and “DO IT.” As the two actors came together, many people, both dancers and onlookers, had tears in their eyes.
Why a flashmob?
On the surface, dancing in the streets might appear as a frivolous, impractical, simplistic and childish. What is the practical value of using our time, energy and attention in this way?
It’s more than it might seem. As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Dance deconstructs limiting social and mental norms and gives participants and spectators alike a fresh way to see and experience the world. It brings people together in a non-verbal, celebratory and universal way. It helps people to discover round solutions to square problems that cannot be solved with square thinking. We’ve got a lot of square problems, and we need some new approaches – now.
The One People Flashmob made activists out of dancers, some of whom might not otherwise be involved in the Occupy movement. Others, long-time activists, gratefully stepped into the concerted action with a sense of renewed purpose and focus. The dancers brought unified action, hip music and a flair for celebration to the streets, illustrating how our human dignity needs beauty in order to be felt and that meaningful participation can only be sustainable if supported through person-to-person connection, creativity and levity.
Flashmob producer, Bonneau-Marcil reached out to her allies at CODEPINK Women for Peace (www.codepink.org) and the National Organization for Women’s San Francisco Chapter for support. For her it was important to have women-led organizations cosponsor, to show the principle of the feminine energy which is largely absent from corporate and political discourse, and even within the Occupy Movement. The flashmob was in alignment with CODEPINK’s core mission to use creative tactics to illustrate the much-needed shift from corporate greed and war profiteering to sufficient funding for education, healthcare, green jobs, renewable energy and other life-affirming resources.
Bonneau-Marcil and Sweetwater intend to continue producing dance pieces to contribute to the Occupy Movement and have already received requests to do One People in other cities on future dates. This flashmob falls into the context of Occupy, in which activists have been using creative new tactics that bridge social media and flashy street action to create the perfect synergy for engaging the next generation in social change.
Occupy Dance Principles
We danced to reveal the beauty, power, wisdom and unity of this movement, to lighten the energy, and to bridge connections. Our dance is a mentorship, a medicine, empowering the deep, indefatiguable human capacity for creative response. Our dancing is not THE answer, but it is a key strategy to reveal, maintain and amplify the vitality, dignity and resiliency of this global movement. You can’t evict an idea that has been embodied.
The movement is moving.
- We occupy a deeply felt sense of meaning in our actions
- We occupy for creative solutions
- We occupy for whole systems transition
- We occupy for human dignity
- We occupy to remember joy
- We occupy to bring connection
- We occupy to experience our sufficiency
- We occupy to build new CULTURE
- We occupy CREATIVITE RESPONSE
- WE occupy unity & diversity
- We occupy our bodies, relationships & communities as the locus of power
~ S.S. 11/22/11
• Special thank you to Rae Abileah, national organizer for CODEPINK, for significant editorial contribution to this article. Thank you’s to Magalie Bonnea-Marcil, Dancing Without Borders, Destiny Arts, N.O.W., Mass Transit, Ecstatic Dance, Ben Flanigan & Film Crew, Conscious Dancer , Karina Louise and Richard Power!