We’re a small but hearty and dedicated group of exactly two Occupiers in Mancos, in the southwestern corner of Colorado, about seven miles from Mesa Verde National Park as the crow flies.
Don’t be surprised that you’ve never heard of us; not even the silly woman who runs the local weekly newspaper has ever stopped to take a photo or asked why the hell we’re standin’ on that corner in front of Coldwell Banker every Saturday afternoon holdin’ our admittedly unprofessional “I am the 99%” and “Occupy Wall Street” signs.
We stand, seriously, at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Main Street, the joke equivalent of ‘at the corner of Walk, and Don’t Walk’. They happen to be the only two paved streets in this town of about 800 souls at an altitude just under 7,000 ft., between the La Plata Mountains and the southwestern desert.
The Mancos Times reporter/editor just smiles serenely as she cruises by in her car, obviously in a hurry to interview the newest artist opening the next ill-fated gallery for her chamber-of-commerce-like rag whose mission seems to be cheerleading the most recent efforts for Cowtown Mancos to miraculously transform itself into Sedona Artista Mancos. A funny little place this is now; the past decade has brought lots of new folks to this little valley, and a couple new factions stick out to me.
The ‘Where the West Still Lives’ folks are pretty much ‘all hat, no cattle’, as they say around here, mostly faux western rabid Republicans who fled Texas and California for whatever it is this valley offers; I don’t know, maybe cheaper land, cleaner air and water, the core group of Sagebrush Rebellion/anti-government folks who abound? They tend to love their guns, hate their gays, disregard their government, but love all things stagecoach, bullwhip, and gunslinger.
Another group of latte libruls came and coalesced around an agenda to have the town be restored to its Opera House glory days; they are determined to change Mancos into a place cool enough to wear Edwardian dress and feather boas and whatnot to events and parties, another brand of ‘class distinction’ frippery that I can live without.
It’s all created some serious schisms over time within town politics. You won’t be surprised that I tended to ballast the no-frills, live-and-let live, lower taxes way we used to live before the Milagroization began in earnest. As in Milagro, by and by, many of the old agricultural and cattle families have had to skedaddle; I hate that. Lots of them were our only friends when we moved here in ’73, and even though we were ‘the hippies down the road’ for a couple decades, we found accord and quite a lot of love with lots of them, and eventual acceptance by them, even while we were busy being kick-ass activists for many things they didn’t exactly embrace.
The valley was settled by Mormons, and close on their heels came a lot of Austrian folks leaving the copper mines in Montana, and Kansans fleeing the Dust Bowl; the two groups didn’t mix well back then, to say the least. The valley had its shares of Mormons v. ‘The Others’ Wars, and lots of old enmities remain today.
There must be about thirty different churches in the valley, some of them comprised of a few families who’ve peeled off another church over some arcane point of Biblical doctrine or other.
There’s a strong second-generation Mexican demographic, and when we first got here, lots of racist garbage and bullying made life at school hard for any of the Hispanic kids, speaking of which:
Mancos is obviously a Spanish word, but here it’s pronounced, rather hideously: Mank-us, accent on the first syllable. Legend has it that the two friars, Dominguez and Escalante, traveled through here on their expedition in 1775 or so, and one of them broke a leg…or maybe two… It may be made up out of whole cloth, but regardless, my little town is named (in Spanish): lame in both legs! I always wonder if the Fancy Folks here have a clue about that! Tra la!
Forgive the digression, but I wanted to give you a bit of a feel for Mancos, and some of the people who would be driving by our small weekly demonstrations, and calculate what their reactions might be like.
As for us, we’ve been pretty high profile in the valley over the years. I’ll spare you the lists of our activities; suffice it to say we were pretty much Movers and Shakers of the Leftist Kind, but also in the schools, boards and organizations that require people to keep the valley running well. In recent years, I haven’t been able to get out into the world much, so there are plenty of new folks for whom we are mutual strangers, but as we Occupy, even I recognize loads of them as they hit the intersection.
You can see the funky western flavor they’ve created, and the line of shops and galleries that have sprung up catering especially to summer tourists. There’s even a Western hat maker, who forms the felt with vintage forms and tools, a stagecoach builder, and a man who makes furniture from peeled second-growth pine.
As I haven’t any pictures of the two of us Occupying, I thought it might be fun…to see what we see instead, thus…the substitute art I’m providing. This is a renovated bank full of yuppie offices of all sorts.
A My.FDL blogging friend had recently seen a comment I’d made at kgblogz.com after coming home from our most recent Saturday stint in town; he suggested I might want to write up Occupy Mancos to encourage others since it might be a little bit inspirational to others, and show the importance of visibility, letting even the citizens in tiny towns know that this democracy and justice movement is alive and well, and ain’t going away. This is pretty much what I’d written:
“We have such bloody fun; it’s just the two of us, but after so many weeks we’re sorta a fixture on Saturday afternoons. More and more folks are waking up to WTH we’re doing there, and we get honks and waves and thumbs up and yells…maybe 80% positives, and we just howl at the few who pointedly ignore us, or make a show of shaking their heads (rather with gusto) as they drive by; you know by their faces…what they’re thinking…
We are so incredibly aware of the absurdity of it. The first time I protested, I’d been alone on one of the important solidarity dates a few months back. The stares and utter incomprehension made me feel like I was wearing one of those wackjobs wearing a sandwich signs saying:
REPENT! THE END IS NEAR
or something. Thinking of it made me laugh even harder than I had been earlier. It doesn’t seem quite as goofy with two of us, thank the gawds. Lots of these folks we know, and it makes it even both more fun and more ridiculous.
Last week a Lexus SUV came by, and the guy driving rolled down his window and yelled, “We’re the 1%!”, LOL! We twinkled our hands and pealed with laughter; he did, too. It was great, and echoed the week before, when an old Mexican man in a rusted beater rolled down the window…yelled with a huge grin, “I’m the one percent!” It was so freaking funny!
Do laugh with me about this part, okay? Standing that long (okay; it’s only an hour usually) sorta requires that I use crutches, and by now I’ve gotten over feeling like an idiot. If I go take a quick break for a rest and a puff or two of tobacco at the car, no one honks and high-fives; I tease Mr.wendydavis that it’s either because the pity factor is lacking; or else the Beauty Factor, lol! I spiff up a bit, wear purdy clothes and eye makeup or even some lipstick if I’m feelin’ extra racey, and even curl the ends of my hair sometimes.” A few weeks ago, after returning from Occupying, I’d been laughing about wishing my crutches were that sexy metallic blue I used to have; WTF kind of vanity could that be, about, eh? “If they were only cooler looking, it would be less embarrassing!” Arrrggh! ;o)
Anyway, I wanted you to share some of the fun we have, and encourage others of you to make small efforts as you can. I think it helps; the support we get is growing and growing; pretty cool. And hell, who knows? I might take the time one day to make a small cardboard tent to ‘pitch’ on the sidewalk, if this scary-but-lovely weather holds long enough to Keep Occupyin’ Mancos.
And in answer to my friend at the other site where I blog, yeppers; the two of us really dominate at our General Assemblies; Mr.wendydavis has finally figured out that I’m always right, so we reach consensus sooner now.
Love, strength and courage to you all, and: Occupy Everywhere!
(I always blast this to give me courage while we’re getting ready to go to town, though it’s not so much about fearing being arrested, as that I find driving in the car kinda daunting any more.) ;o)