Remembering What Occupy Stands For

I was trying to think of ways that we could remember the basic tenets of the Occupy movement so that when people ask what we stand for we can more easily recall them. In this way we don’t spend time arguing over the things that are being yelled at us (lazy, socialist, get a job, bums, etc.) and keep the conversation about what is really important.

What I thought we could use to help us is our hands as we do with our hand signals together with some easy to remember mnemonic devises. My idea started with the convenient fact that we all have ten fingers. This can be the beginning reminding ourselves first that we have ten basic tenets.

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Occupy Movement: Next Step Convergence

There is a growing convergence of thinking about where the US Occupy movement should go as a next step to turning its values, concerns and commitments into changing what most Americans see as broken government under control of corporate interests.  When it comes to political and social movements, history shows us that they usually fail not because they disappear, but rather because they become marginalized, unimportant despite a core group of committed people and groups.

They lose popular appeal and support or never expand beyond a small early group of supporters.  The nation and many supporters move on.  Other movements grab the interest of the most informed, dissident-type people seeking truth, justice or change.  A good example of such a failed contemporary movement is the 911 truth effort.  The groups, websites and true believers keep on pushing their objectives a decade after the historic event.  But the goal of revealing what really happened that the official government story does not divulge is like a moldy piece of forgotten food in the refrigerator.

Movement death by inattention happens despite good resources, charismatic leaders and even great organization and communication skills.  Critical mass of public support simply never materializes, in large measure because diverse segments of the population never buy into the central arguments of the movement.  The Internet is littered with websites of activist groups that persist despite clear evidence of decay and wide disinterest.  True believers have a mission in life tied to their egos that prevent them from admitting defeat.  They do not move on.

The biggest mistake that passionate advocates for a cause make is overestimating their ability to reach critical mass and underestimating the competition of other movements with greater appeal which rob them of both attention and supporters.

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Occupy Movement: Next Step Convergence

There is a growing convergence of thinking about where the US Occupy movement should go as a next step to turning its values, concerns and commitments into changing what most Americans see as broken government under control of corporate interests.  When it comes to political and social movements, history shows us that they usually fail not because they disappear, but rather because they become marginalized, unimportant despite a core group of committed people and groups.

They lose popular appeal and support or never expand beyond a small early group of supporters.  The nation and many supporters move on.  Other movements grab the interest of the most informed, dissident-type people seeking truth, justice or change.  A good example of such a failed contemporary movement is the 911 truth effort.  The groups, websites and true believers keep on pushing their objectives a decade after the historic event.  But the goal of revealing what really happened that the official government story does not divulge is like a moldy piece of forgotten food in the refrigerator.

Movement death by inattention happens despite good resources, charismatic leaders and even great organization and communication skills.  Critical mass of public support simply never materializes, in large measure because diverse segments of the population never buy into the central arguments of the movement.  The Internet is littered with websites of activist groups that persist despite clear evidence of decay and wide disinterest.  True believers have a mission in life tied to their egos that prevent them from admitting defeat.  They do not move on.

The biggest mistake that passionate advocates for a cause make is overestimating their ability to reach critical mass and underestimating the competition of other movements with greater appeal which rob them of both attention and supporters.

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The Occupy Movement Focuses on Foreclosures

As the Occupy movement enters its third month, it is moving into a new phase. Colder weather in the north, combined with aggressive push back from city officials around the country, is requiring the movement to adopt new, innovative approaches that include, but transcend, public presence as protest.

Pundits are wondering aloud whether Occupy is through. But this young movement is just getting started. An exciting piece of evidence to that effect is a new focus on foreclosures.

Alongside its call for job creation, corporate accountability, and relief from crushing student loan debt is a growing demand that Wall Street and Washington make right the disaster that their greed and neglect respectively caused. The movement has deemed December 6th a National Day of Action to Stop and Reverse Foreclosures.

The new “OccupyOurHomes.org” website describes the stakes and the problem well:

“Everyone deserves to have a roof over their head and a place to call home. Millions of Americans have worked hard for years for the opportunity to own their home; for others, it remains a distant goal. For all of us, having a decent place to live for ourselves and our families is the most fundamental part of the American dream, a source of security and pride.

 In 2008, we discovered bankers and speculators had been gambling with our most valuable asset, our homes—betting against us and destroying trillions of dollars of our wealth. Now, because of the foreclosure crisis Wall Street banks created with their lies and greed, millions of Americans have lost their homes, and one in four homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgage.”

These Americans are joining many others, particularly in communities of color, who were victimized by predatory lending and lax enforcement for decades. A new report by the Center for Responsible Lending, for example, shows that African Americans and Latinos were consistently more likely than whites to receive high-risk loans. While an unacceptable 12 percent of White Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure or are delinquent, a staggering one-quarter of Latinos and African-American borrowers are in the same position.

Fortunately, there are a range of solutions that can save homes, restore communities, and rebuild the American Dream of fair and sustainable homeownership. They range from mandatory mediation of foreclosure proceedings, to pre- and post-purchase counseling, to principal reduction and bankruptcy reform. Also important are approaches like own-to-rent programs, community land trusts, and improved fair housing enforcement. And when Congress again takes up the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it will be crucial to maintain a government role that keeps homeownership accessible and sustainable for working Americans.

The Occupy movement and its allies have been criticized, unfairly in my view, for failing to articulate solutions. As their attention turns to addressing foreclosures, it is clear what they are working for.

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The Birth of My Activism

I have always been an electric vehicle and alternative fuel enthusiast, following every change in the industry, researching its history, looking for kinks in the armor of the market for a way to get these vehicles into people’s hands. Then one day, it seemed to come true. General Motor’s announced in 1996 it was to produce an electric car to be called the EV1. This following its successful entry into the first World Solar Challenge in 1987 and the positive hoopla raised by the press for GM’s presentation of its future electric car, a prototype called the Impact, at the 1990 LA Auto Show.

 

 

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