We've been checking in on him every few days. Here's the latest:
1. Add Randy Leonard and Eileen Brady to the list of politicians and would-be politicians, respectively, who have shown up to chat with Whitten. Brady's visit was more productive than Leonard's, Whitten says.
Leonard didn't say much at all. But Brady, who ran and lost the city's most expensive mayoral campaign ever, said she supported one of Whitten's goals: Stopping Dan Saltzman's office from fining the lot that's home to the Old Town homeless rest area Right 2 Dream Too. They're kinda/sorta buds, Whitten and Brady, or at least they were when Brady's campaign thought embracing Whitten, who also ran for mayor, was good for wooing progressives.
Whitten's cause also has support from the Urban League, he says. And, so far, Amanda Fritz has been a staunch ally of his fight on behalf of Right 2 Dream Too. Very quietly, city hall is discussing solutions to the Right 2 Dream Too issue.
"I'm pretty sure, on the inside, there's a lot of emails about me being out here," he told me. "Which is good. The dialogue is happening."
Not all of it is to his liking.
2. Whitten wants more love from Occupy Portland. Whitten wrote a long post to Occupy's Facebook page yesterday lamenting that while "many occupiers haven't stopped by yet, others refuse to help with small assistance that I ask for, such as handing out a few flyers.... If you really believe in the power of broad social Movement, please help me by making it look like more people give a damn that a person is starving themselves in order to highlight this injustice against the poor and homeless."
Not that he isn't attracting interesting visitors. The Associated Press came for an interview. And he said a "mystical," vibey Portland woman who wrote play about a similar hunger strike a couple of years ago came to see him. He chalked it up to "cosmic confluence" that "now she's doing a film" about that play, right when he was doing his very real hunger strike. And he has company. Another hunger striker, Jason Scheer, has been with Whitten for nearly two weeks.
3. The strike is taking a physical toll. Duh. Whitten's looked more and more tired over the past weeks. He's found helpers who keep him plied with water and all sorts of fruit juice, and he keeps jugs of the stuff in a crate next to his chair, but he's still losing weight. He wakes up some mornings feeling nauseous. And after two weeks of not missing food, "I dream about it every night." He's weighing himself weekly, with the next update due later this week.
Worse, the liquid diet is playing hell with his digestive tract. Whitten confessed (and explicitly said it was okay to print) that he'd had a back-end accident when relaxing himself while peeing a few days ago. It was embarrassing, but "I got taken care of pretty quickly."
Whitten insists he's not moving any time soon, especially since he's been hearing rumblings from city hall about acting on at least one of his goals.
"I'm out here as long as it takes," he says, "and people are starting to realize that."
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