In a cafe at Westlake Park in Seattle
I’m sitting drinking coffee in a cafe. It’s not burnt (i.e. not from Starbucks). To my right is a motley collection of activists, homeless, teenagers and police on bikes.
It’s wet. Not in the way most people expect Seattle to be wet. Seattle doesn’t usually pound you with thunder and rain. It slowly and methodically lets you know that it’s here, you’re here, and the rain is going to keep on dripping until you’re wet and dreaming of a smoggy city by the bay. It’s kind of like the Terminator of rain, only without the possibility of defeat via pipe bombs or molten metal.
People are eating soup in styrofoam cups. It steams. Winter is almost around the corner and people are busying themselves to stay warm as much as accomplish anything. The irony of using donated styrofoam cups isn’t lost on any of the activists, but with so much of what they’ve tried to build over the past few weeks having been confiscated by police they’re getting by as best they can.
Across from me a pair of laptops are setup to stream video and chat with people interested in the movement but who can’t be here. The wifi sucks here, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re using some portable access point to keep the stress of their host’s network. The video quality to viewers is actually pretty good, barring the 2 minute delay. It’s not quite like being here, but the streamers are able to answer as many questions as they have time for.
The whole reason I came down here was to drop off an oversized rainbow colored umbrella for the streamers. They roam the park from time to time, showing people the info/supply tent, other campers, meetings of interest. As the service they’re using doesn’t work on cell phones yet, they have to lug around a laptop as they do this. Understandably, doing this without an umbrella is like telling Sarah Connor to run for governor of California.
The rain starts to pour down harder. It’s starting to look the way people expect Seattle to look. People that were previously unworried about rain move a few feet to get under awnings or unfurl umbrellas. A couple share an umbrella as one of them pushes the other in a wheelchair. One homeless man gets under a makeshift tent he’s made out of a cardboard box and an umbrella. Activists discussing policy start talking with their hands more, but otherwise don’t seem worried about the elements that want to seep into their clothes.
Yet another group of activists have started planning at the table next to me. One has an incredibly gnarly staff. Most of them don’t give off the hippie vibe, but the slim college student with the staff seems like she is playing with the stereotype.
The rain has backed off a little. It’s time for more coffee.