Ian Carmany’s photograph captures the consumerist energy-suck of the nightmare that this day has become. Having nothing to do with either giving thanks or celebrating any culture’s holy days, the annual frenzy of shopping has become a day to celebrate corporatism. Big lot sellers hype their dawn sales and people pitch tents and camp out–without any police harassment at all–for a chance to go deeper into debt for big-screen TVs made in China, the latest electronic gadgetry assembled in Malaysia, and clothes made in third-world countries like Lesotho, Vietnam, and the Philippines, sometimes with child labor.
Occupy movements worldwide are not, as the corporate media have it, a Grinch to steal Christmas. In many locations around the globe, Occupiers urge people to support small businesses and sustainable practices, and to buy local and give back to the community.
Occupy is a movement of many voices. So naturally our responses to unbridled greed and consumerism vary. In New York, it’s Buy Nothing Day. Occupy Omaha is having a Swap, not Shop Day. In Bellingham and in nearby Vancouver, Washington, there are Walmart boycott demonstrations.
Occupy Together offers an alternative to consumerist gift-giving: a red and green downloadable card that reads, “This year my gift to you is our call for social economic justice. In return I’m requesting love and memories rather than store-bought gifts. Embrace community, not consumption.”
In Portland, the only official event is the Spokes Council at Director Park at 7 p.m. However all day Occupiers can choose from a variety of actions, demonstrations, and get-togethers sponsored by groups in sympathy with Occupy Portland, many of which center on Pioneer Square. There is carol-singing, mall-marching, and candle-lighting. There are boycotts, protests, and arts events. There’s a “world cafe” at the UU Church, with coffee, tea, food and entertainment for a donation. Something, as the corporations say, for every taste. See the Wiki for details.
A little music for contemplation: Sweet Honey in the Rock, “Are My Hands Clean?” It’s a song based on an article by Institute for Policy Studies fellow John Cavanagh, “The Journey of the Blouse: A Global Assembly.”
By K. Kendall