Emerging citizen occupations around the world are micro-societies based on the fundamental principles of equality, non-violence and direct participatory democracy. They are models for the future and in many ways, the occupation itself could be the "one demand." Despite the cold and continuous rainfall, there are anywhere between 200-300 people staying overnight in St. James Park in downtown Toronto, known as Occupy Toronto. Every day, the occupation grows as thousands of people pass through the park to participate in the various activities and events.The logistics tent deals with the logistics of running and maintaining the village. There is a medical tent, staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses and alternative health practitioners, legal aid, media, library, music, arts, culture and food. Every day, the food tent serves thousands of free, donated vegetarian meals to anyone who's hungry, including many homeless people in the neighbourhood. It is supported by St. James Anglican church which is providing sanctuary, water and energy. Trained marshals and the morale crew ensure the security and happiness of every occupant. In addition, they have a growing number of committees which are open to the public focused on specific events, projects or actions.
Twice a day, hundreds attend the general assemblies which can last hours, where people discuss everything related to the occupation. They focus on logistics, committees, and proposals put forth by the people which are then voted on and adopted by the community. They use hand signals and the people's microphone to efficiently communicate with each other in large groups and rotating facilitators ensure the general assemblies are run fairly, smoothly and fruitfully.
The general flavour of politics being discussed is how to organize and increase awareness of the perverse inequality of wealth and power in society, and the corresponding decline in the quality and quantity of life on this planet. We discuss ways in which we can enrich and empower people and communities to address local issues. There are too many issues to mention here, however, some include fractional reserve banking, treatment of indigenous peoples, the oil economy, corporate media, military industrial complex, eco-genocide, state support of failing corporations and corporate support of our failing state.
Many things regarding the Occupy Movement I've heard in the media and from our leaders have been attempts to discredit, delegitimize, and denigrate the people. Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not believe the occupations in Canada are justified because our banking system is much stronger than the Americans, and our economy is recovering. Canadians should politely shut up and be thankful for what we have, not want anything more, and not want anyone else to share in what we have.
Harper spins the focus of the movement in order to delegitimize it. In reality, Canada's banking system, like most others, enables private banks to print new money out of thin air through fractional reserve banking (Google it), essentially creating money out of debt. This debt-based monetary system sustains inflation, structural inequality and the "debt crisis." Global and local austerity measures will not resolve the crisis, but rather shift the debt burden onto middle-class and working families, and their children.
Harper doesn't acknowledge fractional reserve banking, or the hundreds of other serious ethical and human rights issues caused by corporate corruption and greed globally because his policies and failed leadership are only making them worse.
Ignorance or the inaction of others does not excuse us of moral responsibility. Our individual and national economic "success" is dependent on the continued exploitation of billions of people around the world and the destruction of nature itself. Please wake up. I implore you to educate and empower yourself by pursuing alternative forms of media, and most importantly, getting together with others in your community to resolve this madness. We can do better. Occupy Orillia.
Jacob Kearey-Moreland is a local resident and student at the University of Toronto studying philosophy and sociology. His founding and co-ordinating of Orillia Community Gardens demonstrates a sustainable alternative to current monetary-market economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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