You have seen the tents, the signs, the rallies. Maybe you have no idea what it’s all about. If you are reading this you probably also read Why We Ought To Occupy and maybe even got inspired, as I did. Maybe you agree but aren’t about to freeze in a public park to show support. What can you do to help the movement grow? Here are some of my suggestions:
Occupy your brain
Many people in this city have complained of having their municipal tax dollars used to provide sanitary facilities for the protesters, yet many do not question how many of their federal tax dollars are funding Canadian military presence in other countries where we may not belong. I do not intend this as a criticism of the men and women currently involved in overseas military operations. I have friends in Afghanistan and I know they are doing what they feel is right and some of them are dying for it. I honour that.
However I question why we are allocating billions to these operations when our own people are not being taken care of. I question the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, having a $153.2 billion fund which is not being used to help pay pensions today, and will not be for at least a decade, when there are seniors living in extreme poverty due to inadequate pension support. Why is the minimum wage not a living wage? Why does income taxation begin at an income level that is insufficient to supply basic necessities? And maybe there is a good reason. I don’t know. I’m trying to find out. These are only a few of many questions we need to be asking. When you educate yourself about these issues, demand answers and accountability and refuse to quit until you find them, you Occupy.
Occupy your neighborhood
You know those land development community meetings you never go to? Go! Mayor Nenshi has proposed densification plans in several neighborhoods. Increased population density in the core means less commuter congestion, more manageable supply lines for utilities and services and better housing opportunities for the many of us who just need a roof over our heads and not 5000 square feet. However these plans have been refused in each neighborhood, possibly because those in favor didn’t participate in the discussion. Possibly because those not in favor failed to realize the benefits to themselves.
Backyard and community vegetable gardens offer the opportunity to disengage, at least partially, from a messed up economic structure. Growing our own food means a) we know where it comes from, whether GMOs, chemical pesticides and fertilizers were used and how fresh it is b) alleviation of the environmental stress of trucks carrying our supplies over great distances to reach us and c) less money out of our pockets. Every time someone tells me gardening is too much work I laugh. You don’t have time to grow your food because you are busy working to buy it!
Occupy your school
This movement has been criticized a lot because a large number of its proponents are young. Well who do people think is going to get stuck with the mess they are leaving? By the time we are old enough to be taken seriously, the problem will be way past solving. So, high schoolers, college and university students, you are the future. You can raise awareness, you can learn about the way things work and protest when you don’t like what you find out. You can help us build the future the way you want to see it. You are way more powerful than you think.
Make this movement yours. We are raising issues that affect everyone, including you, and only just beginning to sort through the massive tangle to clarify what is going on and what we can do about it. Maybe you know some of the solutions, or at least you know deeper questions we should be asking. Talk to us. You are here reading this anyway so you might as well put your 2 cents in while you’re here. Leave a comment on this post or email an article or personal story to firstname.lastname@example.org and join the conversation!
You can also donate to help the campers hold Olympic Plaza and St Patrick’s Island. They are extremely dedicated people making a courageous sacrificial gesture to keep these issues in the public mind. Its getting colder and they need help. Some people have accused them of just looking for a handout. There are plenty of handouts available if that was all this was about. Food, blankets and other supplies can be delivered directly to the site. Monetary donations can be made by Paypal Email Money Transfer to email@example.com.
Whatever way you choose to help this movement grow, we support you and we thank you.