Occupy 2012!

by Janice Leber

Occupy 2012: We can and we must!

We need to occupy 2012. This is our year, people.

It’s a political year and we are a political movement. Let’s make ourselves known. We need to track all major candidates and show up at all campaign events. We need to be ready with important and relevant mic-checks, brilliant street theater and creative bike swarms.

We should be a presence at as many public events as possible, a joyful and fervent reminder of our never-ending hope for justice and, well, hope.

We have so much going for us. We have momentum, passion, intelligence and creativity. We can mark the seeds of our movement back to last year’s Arab Spring and Wisconsin’s Cheddar Rebellion, and Occupy Portland has certainly done our share to help those seeds grow. People all over the world check our Twitter feeds and Livestream coverage to find out what’s going on here and elsewhere in the global occupation.

Please, no declarations

The pundits who don’t understand Occupy – there are a few – keep asking: What are these people demonstrating for, exactly? Are they for feeding the hungry, helping the poor, healing the planet, influencing the election, what what what?

Of course, the answer is yes. We want to do all of that.

That’s why I think it’s important that we resist the call to come up with a big, unifying statement. It’s more than a cliché to say that our diversity is our strength; defining ourselves could result in alienating some supporters. There’s one thing we certainly all agree on, which is non-violence, and that should be our one and only guiding principle. Further elaboration of our cause is not helpful or necessary. We know ourselves. We want to do it all.

We are doing it all. Supporters of the Occupy movement are already donating and volunteering at clinics and food banks. Much of the work will be done as it is already being done – in a small and quiet way, but we rise mightily when the need is there. Since Occupy Portland came to town, we can be sure that when a call goes out for a major demonstration, we will most certainly show up by the scores.

It’s LOVE, I tell ya

The Occupy movement is about love – for people, for animals, for the planet, for justice, for the 99%. Is that a good enough mission statement? Sure works for me.

I have long felt that the word “family” is loosely thrown around too often in our society. The people at work or down at the coffee shop aren’t “family” no matter how many TV sitcoms want us to think they are. But honest and truly, an Occupy action feels like a family reunion. You go there with your sign and look into people’s faces. You see in their eyes the hope and the fear and passion that burns in your own heart. After one or two occupations you begin to recognize some faces, and you miss certain people on those rare occasions when they don’t show up.

But it’s not just Facebook

Taking a cue from Egypt, many Occupy actions are organized over Facebook. It is a wonderful tool for this purpose, but Facebook is also, let’s face it, a devilish business. Facebook can be detrimental to time management and self-esteem at the very least. Many people stay far, far away from it. To them I say: Well done. Carry on. Remain strong.

Fellow Occupiers, we need to figure out how to put out the bat-signal outside Facebook. We need to combine all forms of social media and use as many alternative means of communication as possible to put word out about the next family reunion.

So in the end, what is the Occupy movement? We’re non-violent, all about love, and we want to do it all AND mic-check anybody trolling for our votes. It’s a challenge, no doubt, but nobody ever said saving the world was going to be easy. It’s time to get creative about our challenges. It’s time to think big.

You can email Janice Leber here.

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