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Seeking Change, No Spange

Downtown Portland is full of people wanting the attention of passers-by. There are musicians and other artists working for tips. There are homeless or poor or mentally ill or addicted who spange (spare + change). There are religious evangelicals. In addition to these, there are numerous young people with earnest social messages.

This last category is my focus here. They are collecting signatures (often for minimum pay), holding attention-grabbing signs, or handing out leaflets. Without endorsing any of their messages in particular, I do want to acknowledge their hard work, because I respect everyone’s efforts to speak out and effect change in the community.

I saw this young man a couple weeks ago next to Pioneer Courthouse Square:

I regret to say that I have not paid much attention to this issue until now. NDAA is the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2012. Its most controversial provision is the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, according to Wikipedia. This legislation, if upheld by the Court, may be a huge blow to civil liberties according to Counterpunch, Forbes Magazine, the Guardian, and many others. I am grateful to this individual standing outside on a chilly February 3rd and bringing the issue to my attention. He was unable to speak, because he symbolically covered his mouth with an ominous sign:

It says: “2012 to become 1984”. So, I don’t know his name, or I would put it here.

And then yesterday I saw this gentleman:

Again, the weather was cold. But he cheerfully attempted to engage passers-by, asking them to sign a petition for the decriminalization of marijuana use:

He introduced himself to me as Trevor Giuliani, and said that he is actually a musician. Indeed, I found that he has some recordings that can be heard at his MySpace page. I also found some information about his work in a 2009 Willamette Week column.

So this is my shout out to two young people, as well as to hope and perseverance. Thank you both.

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