Occupy the Gorge protesters set up camp at Jackson Park

December 7, 2011

The temperature dropped precipitously but "Occupy the Gorge" protestors were not daunted from their mission.

"We have to wrest power back from the corporations. Right now, they are in control of the dialogue. We need to reclaim our democracy," said Sam Dunlap, Occupy the Gorge supporter from Home Valley.

"This model is about disagreeing without being disagreeable."

Dunlap was joined at the Jackson Park weekend campout by a cadre of other well-bundled protestors, many of who stayed on-site through two nights of freezing temperatures to raise awareness of their message.

In contrast to Portland "Occupy" protests, the Gorge movement has been a model of respect. Organizers worked with local law enforcement members before the tents went up and Mayor Arthur Babitz was greeted warmly during his camp inspection on Saturday.

"I came by to see what was going on here. I think I need to be able to speak about this with firsthand experience if any questions come up," said Babitz as he surveyed the peaceful campers and the enticing imported snow hill bustling with children on sleds.

According to Brent Foster, one of the event coordinators, the campers hope their gathering will be an invitation to talk about the role of corporate power within a democracy.

Paloma Ayala Vela of Hood River visited the camp with a sense of wonder as she said, "I think this is an original and unique movement. It is a special moment in U.S. history - a time for people to stand up for ourselves."

Ayala's husband, Patrick Hillen, was also at the gathering. Hillen is a professor at Portland State University with a degree in conflict analysis and resolution. Hillen gladly held the "Wall Street greed" banner across the sledding track while children and adults lined up to bust through its symbolic power over the citizenry.

"I'd like to leave a better planet for my son Elliot, who is just 15," said Elise Cain of Mt. Hood, on her reasons for joining the encampment. "If you can do nothing else, occupy your armchair. Educate yourself about what is going on. Question where your news is coming from and who controls that. Start a conversation."

Mitch and Laurie Kruczek of The Dalles brought their two daughters to the Park and sat coloring posters of Thomas Jefferson signing the Constitution.

"We like the idea that this is family-friendly. This is a safe place to learn about what it's like to have a community within a community," said Laurie Kruczek. "This is a really good experience of democracy for my girls."

This Hood River-style democracy-in-action event also included a free sledding hill, evening potlucks, music, visits with Santa and a warm fire to gather around.

The park was left in pristine condition on Sunday night as campers and sledders packed it in before the mercury ultimately dropped again.

Between outright visitors and supportive car honks from passers-by, organizers hope their message successfully resounded beyond the slopes of the park and into the living room of the community.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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