UPDATE: Rabblerousers drag Google down from astral plane

|
(61)
A screen grab of the video of the protest.

At one point protesting tech buses was new and shiny, but now it barely registers a shrug from San Franciscans. The newest eviction protest took a different turn.

On Saturday, protesters jumped up on stage to interrupt Googlers meditating at the annual Wisdom 2.0 conference. The Google corporateers sat on the stage, ready to share their secret to mindfulness “the Google way.” No one said “meditate on all the money you’re making,” but maybe it was implied. 

Meng Tan, who was identified on the Wisdom 2.0 website as “Google employee #107” (oh, inner circle!), is a corporate trainer who wrote the bestselling book Search Inside Yourself. He looked totally serene on stage, legs crossed. Next to him sat Bill Duane, a senior manager in charge of well-being, among other things. Hundreds were in the audience, watching. Duane began by trying to introduce Tan.

“I’ll start by introducing… not this person,” Duane said as the protesters unexpectedly strolled across the stage, carrying the now familiar banner championing an Eviction Free San Francisco, and the audience applauded.

“Wisdom means stop displacement, wisdom means stop surveillance, what do we want? Stop the evictions!” chanted Erin McElroy through a bullhorn, one of the lead organizers of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. She was at the forefront of the Google bus protests, as well as the TechCrunch protest, the Crappies.

The protesters were ushered off the stage, and security engaged in a tug of war with the protesters for their banner. 

The protest group, Heart of the City, noted in their press release that video from the protest was not available on the conference’s website (though the protesters had their own camera on hand). 

Was it intentional on Wisdom 2.0’s part to censor the protest?

“The only reason it's not up is our AV guys cut the feed as soon as the protesters walked on stage,” Rita O’Connell, communications coordinator for Wisdom 2.0 told us. She said that other feeds were captured, and that it would be posted “as soon as humanly possible.”

“We are going to put it out,” she said. “We’re not intentionally trying to keep it from anyone’s view.”

We reached out to Google spokepeople, but our emails weren't returned before press time. 

Many reading this no doubt will wonder about the point of interrupting a Google presentation  on meditation and spiritual well being to talk about evictions in San Francisco. What, if anything, do they have to do with one another?

The spiritual advocacy group The Bhuddist Peace Fellowship put it eloquently in its post “Why Google Protesters Were Right to Disrupt Wisdom 2.0”:

All the talk about kindness, happiness, and well being (with twin values of creativity, productivity, and profitability) focused on the users and innovators of technology. There was never any mention of the people who manufacture the gadgets that techies then outfit with meditation bell apps. What about the mindfulness, happiness, and well being of the people mining coltan in the DRC, or the people assembling iPhones at the infamous Foxconn sweatshops?

I mean, if we exclude them from the picture, then yes, we can calmly check in with our bodies. 

Things look very mindful and peaceful. Very reasonable, polite, and progressive.

But such deep exclusion invites deep delusion. Something important is missing. Entire groups of relevant people are cut out of the conversation altogether.

The fact is that waves of gentrification have pushed thousands of low-income, disproportionately (black and brown) residents out of San Francisco, and now the city is courting wealthy tech companies (like the ones at Wisdom 2.0) to move in.

Are we just going to ignore the people who are being displaced? Act like we don’t know about this history?

Are we going to pretend that there’s nothing we can do about it?

Hopefully, our friends with the banners won’t let us.”

After the protesters were ushered off the stage, the Google Senior Manager, Duane, then asked the audience to center themselves and consider their point of view. 

“Check in with your body and see what happens, and what it’s like to be around heartfelt people with ideas that may be different than what we’re thinking. Take a second and see what it’s like,” he instructed the audience. 

Meditating on other’s ills isn’t much, yet, but it’s a start. 

Update 2/19: The Wisdom 2.0 folks reached out to us to provide a correction, saying that the employee who engaged in a tug of war with the protesters for their banner was part of the Mariott A/V crew, and not security personnel. They also included this post on their blog:

We very much understand the concern about rent prices and evictions in San Francisco — we’re sure many Wisdom 2.0 conference attendees share the sentiment. There are many issues facing our culture that we try to address at Wisdom 2.0, and we freely admit that we do not always successfully cover every important topic that is worthy of public discussion. We do invite feedback about the topics we cover, and we also provide many opportunities for conference participants to engage in conversations with each other about topics that matter to them.  

In trying to communicate with the protesters after they left the stage, we were met with a great deal of aggression. The protesters chose to enter the conference using fabricated badges instead of reaching out to us to request that this conversation be included in conference programming. Rather than create more anger and division, we invite open dialogue in our community, and wish to support those who will engage with honesty and respect about the matters that are important to them.

That said: as part of Wisdom 2.0’s commitment to holding productive and inclusive conversations, we are currently designing a meetup that will focus on the creation and support of constructive dialogue around pressing social concerns like this one. If you are interested in participating, please email info@wisdom2conference.com to learn more.  

Comments

If a rabble shows up at SFBG offices to disturb a meeting or some such, you'd be perfectly understanding, right?

Just like if a rabble blocked the bus that took you to work every day?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

"Rabble" is a label.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 5:49 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 6:04 pm

At this rate, she may have to get a job.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

And kick the meth habit.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

Exactly. We didn't approve of the way that they were examining spirituality and meditation so we mass interrupted their sorry butts.

Next time, check with us, Googlers, before you get together to share your spirituality.

We'll tell you what you can practice and what you can't.

And hey, some of you 'religions' out there..you're next!

Posted by Joe Progressive on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

everyone else is wrong, that it justifies any and every action you may choose to take.

Feeling that certain that you are omniscient must be ecstatic.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

Question: Do the protestors know that YouTube, where they posted their video, is a Google company?

I mean...would you intentionally point out all the deleterious effect that Google has on society and then support them with any advertising revenue that Youtube can slap on their video's page?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 6:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

The blog posts some quote that goes on about Foxconn. Do they realize they're protesting at Google, who does not contract with them--not to a large extent, anyway...like apple does.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 12:04 am

and then complain that people that came after them are ruining it" chanted Erin McElroy through a bullhorn.

Someone who shows up and tries to run the show right off is going to be David Horowitzing on you in a few years or moving onto some other bi-polar agenda.

It also cracks me up that progressives are harassing a new age American Bhuddist moment down at google.

Posted by guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

She's not ready for prime time and never will be. But she does have a lot of time on her hands.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

Amazing how this comment section shows how conservative the city has become. Take from a native who has lived here their whole life; you guys are so far from San Francisco values, it's sickening. Erin and the AEMP are people who genuinely care about the less-fortunate, which you folks seem content to ignore. You ass hats justify displacement as if it were a product of market conditions instead of acknowledging what it actually is: economic plundering.

Watch your back kids, your apps won't save you from public judgement.

Posted by Not a Guest, but a Life-Long Resident on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

What are you going to do, bleed on them? That's been the approach for the past seven years or so in which time developers and business has rampaged while residents have taken the hits. Shame them? How can you shame the shameless?

Time to articulate a citywide populist anti-corruption agenda that puts everyone outside of their comfort zones.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

"Time to articulate a citywide populist anti-corruption agenda that puts everyone outside of their comfort zones."

Yeah - why should squatting on a dingy San Francisco condo make you rich?

Take the profit out of real estate - all of the profit!

No unearned wealth from real estate appreciation!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

The "losers come first" idea was always illusory. You cannot run a modern city with lowers.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:01 am

Maybe not with "lowers," but maybe with people who care about their fellow humans and aren't classist assholes.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 11:25 am

Google was presumably trying to achieve here. But we also need folks who can pay the bills.

So we can afford some losers (presumably what you meant to say) but not too many.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 11:36 am

Well take it from a fifth generation San Franciscan, you don't get to speak to what "San Franciscan values" are. You speak for yourself and your circle of friends. Don't presume to speak for me and mine.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

Many old school San Franciscans, hardly progressives, are horrified at what is being done to their city and that makes fertile ground for expanded political coalitions. That must scare the shit out of you.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

Getting political advice from you Marcos is like getting economic policy advice from Greg or religious guidance from Fred Phelps.

And my family has lived in this city for over a hundred years, but I don't make the claim to define what "San Francisco values" are. How arrogant do you have to be to decide what those values are?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

San Francisco values?

The need to disrupt a private, peaceful quasi-religious gathering of law abiding citizens speaks to a brand new San Francisco 'value' I guess.

But it happens to be a disgusting , repugnant value.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

San Francisco values?

The need to disrupt a private, peaceful quasi-religious gathering of law abiding citizens speaks to a brand new San Francisco 'value' I guess.

But it happens to be a disgusting , repugnant value.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

San Franciscans who, in any event, have diverse opinions on what SF should be, as you'd expect.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:03 am

Unfortunately it sometimes seems that way

Posted by Greg on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:18 pm

Your opinions are extreme even by SF standards

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:03 am

If not, then your point is, well, pointless. This city is nothing more than wave upon wave of immigrants.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 12:09 am

Brilliant. Thank you for this eloquent and wise comment in a sea of bullshit- you possess a rare voice indeed. Plundering is exactly what's going on, accompanied by a disgusting sense of entitlement...their human values are severely distorted if not wholly absent, and there will be a price to pay for those who promote and feed into this sick and delusional mentality.

Posted by Another Life-Long Resident With a Conscience on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

I guess after counting all your money and making sure you have all the nice things you might want, you have time for some navel-gazing faux spirituality to make you feel good about yourself.
Some amazingly snarky comments above from people who have no interest in considering the lives of others, and their behavior's effect on those others. Mindfulness, my ass.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

Well said, my fellow Progressive. Many of the people at that meeting were wealthy. Why, the guy on stage was Google employee # 107 which means that he is filthy rich.

Someone like that has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to discuss his spirituality. Only we do.

You are right one with the 'navel-gazing' statement. Of course, the other right wing tea baggers on this board won't even mock the Google people for trying to express their spirituality.

Posted by Joe Progressive on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

The deliberate cluelessness of so many of the commenters here is precisely why this action needed to occur.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 3:34 am

>"The deliberate cluelessness of so many of the commenters here is precisely why this action needed to occur."

Well articulated, my friend. And to think, some people think that the protesters have no logical basis for their actions and just have too much time on their hands.

But you showed them!!!

Well said!!!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 7:25 am

So he claims they are wrong and evil when really he is just powerless and weak.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:13 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:05 am

Well it might help if they could explain why it is OK to interrupt a peaceful gathering of people looking to gain spiritual insights.

The explanation that they harassed a meeting of Google employees because of the way that Apple operates a factory in China doesn't really help.

Nor does the implication that the rights of these people have been abridged because of any wealth that they may have accumulated.

This is probably the second stupidest thing that the protesters have done, the stupidest still being the staged/fake Google employee.

I would go out on a limb and predict more rampant stupidity to come.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:58 am

evictions, and not on harassing innocent people.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 9:10 am

work and organization.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 2:23 pm
Posted by Greg on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 6:24 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 6:42 pm

The poster (perhaps you) asked for a coherent explanation. I provided one from a very relevant source, another Buddhist practitioner. Not that you care to read it and discuss it on the merits. You want to keep your head firmly buried in the sand. You claim there's no one who provided a coherent explanation, and then dismiss anyone who does as biased. Of course they're biased in your view. Anyone who would provide an explanation doesn't agree with your a-priori dismissal that the protests are meaningless, and therefore they're biased.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:18 am

are usually rationalizing their own bias.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:35 am

that covers news and has no bias. Just one. Go ahead. Try and find even one.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:52 am

not playing that game.

But in relative terms I would say that a source like the BBC is more objective and less biased than, say, Fox News or SFBG.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 9:09 am

Any source that says something you disagree with, you dismiss as biased every time. And yet you cannot come up with one single source that is completely free of bias.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 9:20 am

biased. That doesn't mean that all sources are biased - just the ones you self-servingly select.

You suffer from confirmation bias i.e. reading only left-wing sources because they feel more comfortable to you.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 9:35 am

that's completely free of bias? Yeah, thought so. You're so full of crap.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

It's not an issue of a total absence of bias so much as some sources being more biased than others.

But of course you will defend bias.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

torments American new agers because their beliefs are kooky.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:16 am

Interesting, a high percentage of people posting comments on this article either have tunnel vision, or never bothered to do a little research so that they could have some idea on what they are writing about.
Yes gentrification is occurring and this wont stop, and a small group of people blame the techies for this, wrong, lets look at some 2013 job statistics, 10,600 professional and business services, 6,800 leisure and hospitality, 6,500 professional, scientific and technical services, 3,900 trade, transportation and utilities, 3,400 construction.
Techies make up a small slice of the incoming job pie.
San Francisco is booming, it also has a 4.8 percent unemployment, one of the lowest in the country.
Many non tech corporations and businesses are establishing their HQ in San Francisco.
San Fransisco is not changing it has change in 5 years or less it will be a city with different values.

Posted by Reality check on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 1:00 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Also from this author

  • Poll says SF loves tech buses, doesn't ask Spanish speakers

  • Boom for whom?

    Why isn't San Francisco's hot economy creating a budget surplus to address its costly byproducts?

  • A fine dilemma

    Increased citations often hinder homeless youth from finding better life