Here’s yet another abstraction for the Occupy movement. I’ve heard Occu-puses; suggesting there are so many arms that the movement has no direction but also suggesting that there are so many damned things to be upset about that it takes numerous arms to tackle the mess. I rather like the second explanation myself but allow me to get back to Occupussies. It has nothing to do with cats or kittens or other things that remain unmentioned. It has to do with being afraid.
I went to the Chicago Green Festival this past week-end. I’m still upset that it was scheduled the same week-end as the restaurant show. In general it was a nice event; loads of information, food and contacts for all things green. However, this year Occupy had a table. So of course I strolled over to the table to examine the buttons and literature; chip in some change, etc. I got into a conversation with one of the Occupiers manning the booth. I don’t think I endeared myself to the gentleman within the first few minutes of our chat. That maybe because I started off by suggesting that Occupy stop begging. His hair seemed to stand on end. His eyes looked like saucers. Before he went into cardiac arrest I explained.
I said. Occupy is basically about social justice, right? He said, basically yep. I said. Aren’t there thousands of Occupiers out of work with the concomitant problems of lost homes, wrecked lives? We both agreed to that. So I said. Some of the people who are out of work are talented in so many different fields. Why doesn’t Occupy create companies with all the talent that is available? Seriously, they don’t all have to be CEO’s or COO’s. What about an Occu-PIE bakery? Occu Pied Piper Day Care and Nanny Service. I mean really the list could go on and on. Occupy is involved in sustainable practices. Get into the green economy. Don’t be afraid to really buck the system. Create companies that don’t have corporate greed as the foundation. Study models like Mondragon and support laws that encourage social enterprise.
The soliloquy became a dialogue. We discussed the ideas of forming workers’ cooperatives. He suggested that even the anarchists within the Occupy movement would climb on board for company creation maybe even in lieu of revolution. I certainly thought that was a great idea. I left the booth with a rainbow Occupy button pinned boldly to my natural cotton shirt and a smile. I also left determined to do some more research on Occupy and green.
Here’s something interesting that I found. It’s a portion of the document titled The 99 Percent Declaration. Among the statements condemning the influence of corporations over Congress, the tax code and military intervention is the following (abridged) statement on the "Protection of the Planet":
"Human greed, exponentially magnified by corporations, is destroying the only habitable planet known to humanity. The evidence of climate change due to human activity can no longer be denied by rational people. New comprehensive laws and regulations must be immediately enacted to give the Environmental Protection Agency, and other environmental protection regulators, expanded powers and resources to shut down corporations, businesses or any entities that intentionally or recklessly damage the environment, and to criminally prosecute individuals who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate implementation of new and existing programs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to reusable or carbon neutral sources of energy and higher greenhouse gas emission standards so that something will be left for our children and grandchildren. The rights to clean air, water, and conservation of the planet for future generations shall no longer be infringed by greed-driven corporations and selfish individuals."
AMEN!!!! This is not a declaration of fear. It’s one of courage. Keep Occupying and start some companies for Pete’s sake. Take a page from Wangari Maathai (1940-2011). She was an environmental and political activist in Kenya. After studying biology in the United States, she returned to Kenya to begin a career that combined environmental and social concerns. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Africa and helped to plant over 30 million trees, providing jobs to the unemployed while also preventing soil erosion and securing firewood. She was appointed Assistant Minister in the Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources, and in 2004 Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while continuing to fight for the rights of women, the politically oppressed and the natural environment.