MIC CHECK! I find myself walking around repeating these words over and over… in my head of course… but I really want to stand up on top of the table I am sitting at in the coffee shop and scream MIC CHECK! MIC CHECK!
Last Friday, October 11th, was the first day of Occupy Minneapolis. I attended with no agenda or expectations. I just wanted to get a feel for what is happening, survey the scene and talk to people. When I arrived at the “People’s Plaza” there appeared to be about 500 or so people gathered. They were setting up food, medical, media and workshop areas, making signs and talking with one another. Soon after a “General Assembly” was called to order and we gathered close together to hear one of the organizers officially kick off the event. This was my first experience with a “Mic Check” and I was amazed. I can’t exactly explain why I thought it was so cool but what I felt was a unity of people working together in such a simple way. And it was powerful.
In a wonderful article I read this morning, Occupy Wall Street: A”Work of Art,” Eve Ensler describes the Mic Check.
Because the city has forbidden the use of microphones and sound systems, the group is using a human microphone. This system of communication is compelling and metaphoric. The group is forced to repeat the words of the speaker so the speaker is forced to talk slowly, with less words at once. The audience is asked to listen in a whole new way and to actually help transmit the message to others. Accuracy and transparency are the crucial elements. To make sure the human microphone is working properly the speaker calls out Mic Check and the crowd repeats Mic Check and by doing this it becomes clear if the voice of the speaker is being carried through the entire crowd. I think our media needs a general Mic Check.
Needless to say I found myself very curious about this collective tool. It is organic and creative. It builds upon the collective voice of a group of people. It is a paradigm shift in the way we listen and speak to each other.
Here is an example of a Mic Check that I was able to observe that day.
Ensler says, “Occupy Wall Street is a work of art, exploding onto a canvas in search of form, in search of an image, a vision.” I agree.