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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Outside Thoughts - by Adam Brook

     “OK, here we go. I waited until the very last minute ( my editor knows that I went past the deadline.... Thanks you Sweet Lips) to turn this column in. I was really twisted up about what I was going to write about. Over the last few weeks I have received multiple phone calls asking me if I had any influence over this person and that person....Being 6ft 4in and 270lbs and a former bouncer, I can influence just about anyone I know, but I don’t think that is what these people meant. The funny thing is that I agree with many of these people on the subject of activists being out of control. I can’t tell you how many time over my 20+ year career as an activist I have heard of people misrepresenting themselves and who they may or may not represent. There are also the people with grand ideas who don’t want to listen to those of us who have done this before and they just want to keep trying to reinvent the wheel......

     Which brings me to these phone calls I’ve been getting....Sure I could call Ben Horner, Matt Able, Chuck Ream, Tim Beck they will all take my call. That’s because I believe we have mutual respect for each other. Now for me to call anyone who does what these people do and tell them that people are calling ME to have me call them.....WTF? If you don’t like what someone or some group is doing YOU call them. If they wanted my opinion they would call me and ask, and some have. I am not sure where this idea comes from that I, Adam L. Brook have ANY influence... My opinion is only mine, OK, MMMR asks me to share it with you good folks but, people have their own agenda, groups have their own agenda (hopefully that of their members) even this publication has its own agenda.....If you don’t like what any of us have to say, TELL US! My number is at the bottom. If we don’t listen, tell us again. If we become a problem in the community, pull us aside and let us know.....Eventually the community has to rise up and push people who are doing damage to the movement out. 

     Now the names I have mentioned above were used as examples because people know who they are.... I have received as many calls over the years about these guys as I have anyone else...... I would never try to tell them or anyone what to do, or how to be an activist..... However I have never understood why we as a movement have so few paid lobbyists. The lobbyist is who makes things happen in Lansing. If you have two or three lobbyists knocking on doors you will get noticed. If you have 10 knocking on politicians doors you get stuff done. It’s a game, we all know it. Do you think the NRA, Right to Life or big business only has one lobbyist? They have squads. This takes money. That’s the name of the game....I just heard the other day that my friend the congressman is in need of funds....So a fundraiser is being planned....That is what you need to do to get influence, you don’t have to like it, but that’s how its done.....I hope that one day we can have a dozen lobbyist talking food, fuel, fiber and medicine up in Lansing. All it takes is fund raising and a little understanding of the process. 

     I know that the lobbyists we (the movement) have now in Lansing are getting things done. The proof is in the re-education of both Senators and Representatives that have allowed some of the favorable bills to move through the process. We now hear that minds are being changed. While it takes time to change minds, politicians will listen to a paid lobbyist...You don’t have to like it but that’s the system....

     I have been thinking about an event that happened to me 20 years ago. I was selected Freedom Fighter of the Year in 1994 by the High Times Freedom Fighters. The High Times Freedom Fighters was a marijuana legalization group started in 1987. They injected life into the legalization movement, forged
a new generation of activists, and created a number of events around the country.  They would dress up in Revolutionary War garb and show up at pot rallies and lend our support. It makes a huge impact when 50-150 people dressed in costume march into an event. We would gather at local campgrounds a few days before a rally. Set up an encampment and welcome all. 

     Rodger Belknap, 1991 Freedom Fighter of the Year, had a huge teepee he would bring. We could sleep 100 people in it with a big fire burning inside.....We would pass the hat and had a 24hr kitchen. We had our own security force. Steve Hager, who was into the Rainbow Family brought the concept of Shanti Sena. The Rainbow Family of Living Light and The Rainbow Gatherings were introduced to the Shanti Sena concept by Portland, Oregon, peace activist Glen Swift who helped organize the Vortex One festival over Labor Day weekend in 1970 at McIver Park outside Clackamas, Oregon. That free, community-based festival attracted about 50,000 people and was one of several places where the Rainbow Family first came together - before the first Rainbow Gathering in 1972. Swift described Shanti Sena as a way that attendees could self-police in a manner that was consistent with non-violent practices. He also helped set up a Shanti Sena tipi at the Vortex festival where the Shanti Sena people could meet or be contacted for help. Because of the successful use of these non-violent techniques, the Shanti Sena teachings and processes were adopted permanently into the Rainbow Family’s Gatherings. 

     This concept flipped my lid. I had been a bouncer and learned a very different way to control people at large gatherings....I was changed by this concept of  Shanti Sena......We never had any security issues at Freedom Fighter camp....We did have the FOP show up at our campground one year but they stayed to themselves..... while doing recon on us I am sure...... The Freedom Fighters were a pretty tight group. If someone was in need we helped. If felt like family. I really enjoyed our gatherings......

     In 1994 at our annual meeting in Dominick’s after HASH BASH, my name was nominated for Freedom Fighter of the Year. I was shocked by this as I was in a room with names much bigger that mine...There was a voice vote. Yo, was the word used. There were a few of us nominated and it was voted down to 2 of us. I didn’t think I had a chance as my fellow nominee was a better, well known activist. I was shocked when the Yos were louder for me.....I had never been recognized by my pears. Yeah, I was given some leadership award by my Synagog as a teenager. That came from the institution, not my pears.  It came with a piece of paper and a engraved silver goblet....That was cool and I drink out of it regularly. I think it was intended as a kiddish cup (wine cup used in blessings). But being FFOTY got me a free trip to Amsterdam and the Cannabis Cup.....THAT was cool. I have spent 20 years earning that award. I always felt I was given that award way to early in my activism. I always felt that I had to live up to being FFOTY. 

     I think it is important to recognize activists for the hard work they do...The question is who decides? All I know I have a special memory of hearing my name being nominated and 15 minutes later knowing that 200+ people sitting in a room all decided that I was the man of the moment....I will be forever grateful.... 

I wish you all a happy Independence Day.

Remember Life is Short Smoke Hard!

     Call your State Senator and let them know you support 4271, and they should vote for it when it comes out of committee.....(see what a few bucks can do?)

Next month: The list of books I read in prison.....  
and my recommendations.


Adam Brook


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