Saturday, October 15, 2011

The OWS Camp

This morning I showed up in Bandar Sunway for the Faith Toastmasters meeting. It was nice to see newbies coming forward to deliver their speeches. From the speeches that I listened to, I got the impression that they were left much to their own devices. This is not healthy if members wish to grow. Speechmaking is not just about doing speeches, one after another, according to the manuals. It is about fluency, volubility and eloquence. Sure there are always the evaluators who provide feedback but they provide only a personal perspective that may not necessarily be honest, frank or candid. I am, therefore, suggesting that the club appoint mentors so that their members can be guided, trained and drilled.

I thought today’s meeting was somewhat muted – it was as if the Toastmaster-of-the-Day had clinically anesthetized the proceedings. The spirited fires of enlivened enthusiasm seemed to have largely shied away. Maybe whoever takes on that role - especially the newbies - should be advised that they make or break a meeting! The club should also look at getting more accomplished Toastmasters to be General Evaluators because members can learn from them too. Oh yes, I had a simple 2-minute role - that of an Invocation presenter. For this meeting, my score is a 5 out of a 10.

The OWS demonstration in Manhattan is not as disorganized as it is made out to be. The protestors are well-provisioned – they have food supplies, a medical team, computer technicians, a newspaper and even a solar panel for renewable energy. And they are certainly digging in for a long haul.

According to one report, about 600 people camp more or less permanently at Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, boosted by hundreds more during the day. And just like anywhere else in the Financial District, it buzzes with activity by 09:00 AM.

The canteen whips up breakfast with donated food. The cleaning brigade empties trashcans and sweeps up the ground to keep the cramped space clean. IT experts are up on the Internet to post news about the day’s events and reports about planned marches.

There are about a dozen working groups formed since the start on September 17, 2011 attending to every aspect of life in what now resembles an urban village. There are committees looking after funding, security, sanitation, even legal affairs. There are weather bulletins and rules are prominently highlighted, like keeping quiet at night and minding the flowerbeds. A library of donated books is lined neatly along one of the park’s walls. It’s a village, but a high-tech one: OWS puts out several hours of live webcam footage a day, watched by thousands of people intrigued to see the peaceful but surprisingly resolute demonstration in action.

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