- 1 Contents
- 2 Who We Are
- 3 Why We Occupy (public space)
- 4 The Way We Occupy
- 5 Common Criticisms
- 6 How You Can You Help
- 7 Meeting times and locations
Who We Are¶
From the beginning, Occupy Eugene (“OE”) has attracted a large and diverse collection of people with a wide range of political opinions. Initial meetings exceeded 100 people and grew steadily until the initial 2,000 person march and occupation at the Park Blocks on October 15th. Over the course of three subsequent moves (Alton Baker, Millrace and finally Washington/Jefferson Park) the number of committees grew from an initial five or six to 20. Each committee meets at least once a week and many meet twice or more. Attendance ranges from five to 15 or more, and email lists are always abuzz with discussions and planning. OE’s general email list has over 1,000 subscribers at this time.
As with other Occupy Wall Street (“OWS”) movements, social networking has been an important tool for both integrating and informing OE supporters and participants. OE’s facebook group has over 3000 members and discussions have been ceaseless—even into the wee hours of the night—since the movement started. Twitter, texting, flash mobs, and a collectively managed calendar are each used to inform OE supporters and participants about meetings and actions.
History of Occupy Eugene¶
Occupy Eugene held its first General Assembly meeting on September 29th, 12 days after Occupy Wall Street began in New York City. After our fourth GA, held on October 12, we began occupying the Park Blocks downtown on October 15th. The October 15th march held prior to setting down roots in the Park Blocks drew 2,000 people, one of the largest marches in Eugene’s history. Since then, we have occupied Alton Baker Park, the UO campus, Millrace Park and Washington Jefferson Park (between 6th and 7th Avenues and Washington and Jefferson Streets), where our site is currently located. What began as the idea of a handful of community members has grown into an active occupation that holds dozens of organizing meetings and events every single week, and feeds between 800 and 1,000 free meals per day, prepared from donated food and with volunteer labor.
The City of Eugene continues to partner with Occupy Eugene to provide a safe community to the hundreds of the unhoused who have been forced onto the streets due to the economic injustices of our times and who have now found a safe community at the Washington/Jefferson Park Village. The citizens of Eugene have donated to Occupy Eugene: tents, sleeping bags, clothing, temporary building materials, kitchen equipment and sufficient food for the Occupation to cook and serve over a thousand meals a day to the hungry. The Occupy volunteers provide thousands of hours of volunteer work each month. We ask that the City of Eugene continue to make the encampment space available and also provide electricity and water to the site in order to assist the citizens and the volunteers create a more humane existence for the unhoused that we serve. This will help the Occupation continue to meet the needs of our local unhoused population while pushing forth with their agenda to address the national problems that force people onto the streets and the many other problems of social and economic injustice. Occupy Eugene hopes that its protest will continue to be supported until we the people—the City of Eugene and Occupy Eugene—are able to find a better solution for our fellow citizens who have no homes but those they now make at the OE site.
Why We Occupy (public space)¶
The heart of the occupation movement begins with reclaiming public space through non-violent, civilly disobedient protest. Without fixating on the need to list precise demands, OE (and other occupy movements) have recognized the crucial importance of maintaining a public presence, and providing a public forum to facilitate debate and conversation about the crises that we face in this country and how they have affected our communities and families. The problems, which range from the corporate domination of politics to increasing economic inequality and economic failure, are deep-seated: exactly why OE (or any occupation group) should be required to offer a “solution” to these gargantuan problems is unclear. Indeed, one of the fundamental reasons we choose to occupy is to force much deeper public engagement and discussion of these problems so that we can come up with sustainable solutions.
At the brink of yet another financial crisis, the occupation movement could not have come at a better time.
- Claim public space to express free speech
- To hold an ongoing conversation
- The occupation is the message
- Developing a model for a more humane society
- Develop trust
The Way We Occupy¶
In Eugene, the occupation has taken on a unique character for obvious reasons. Oregon’s unemployment rate has hovered at close to 10 percent for the last three years, while the real unemployment rate—i.e., counting those that have dropped out of the labor force in frustration or those cannot find enough work—averaged an appalling 17.9 percent through the third quarter of 2011. In July 2010, the foreclosure rate had increased by 20 percent making Oregon one of the worst states for home foreclosures (no. 3).
- Socially responsible political action (protests, marches, etc.)
- Putting people before profits
- Not focusing on divisive issues so we can find solidarity and learn
- Radical inclusion (different forms of communication and connection; harnessing the unprecedented technological mechanism)
- The different modes of occupation (not just camping)
- Serve as a center for coalitions
“Get a job!”¶
Sometimes it is perplexing when members of the 99% exhibit hostility to their neighbors’ exercise of First Amendment rights regarding issues such as fair wages, gainful employment, corporate plunder and mass evictions to name a few. Perhaps it is lack of insight or knowledge, or perhaps it is based on insecurity or fear, but every once in a while we hear someone yell “Get a job.” The truth of the matter is that many people involved in OE have jobs—doctors, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers, waitresses have all committed to giving their volunteer time to OE. We also have many students—from primary school through PhD programs that are learning and sharing within our movement. In addition to those folks, our population, like that of the society at large, also consists of people who are under-employed or unemployed, searching for work, have given up searching out of frustration, or are disabled and unable to work. The gross reduction in social services, medical or psychiatric care, and the extreme increase in the costs of those services, have forced many people to the point of incapacitation and inability to provide for themselves, despite desire or lengthy past work history. Everyone across the economic and employment spectrum is reflected in OE’s membership. Instead of yelling “get a job,” we hope to explain why people have been unable to obtain employment in this recession/depression era, and what we the people can do to change these conditions. OE strives to call attention to the root problems of the unemployment crisis in this country and our community, and by doing so, endeavors to elevate the living conditions of us all.
“Occupy Eugene is just a homeless camp.”¶
The citizens of Eugene have donated to Occupy Eugene: tents, sleeping bags, clothing, temporary building materials, kitchen equipment and sufficient food for the Occupation to cook and serve over a thousand meals a day to the hungry. OE volunteers provide thousands of hours of volunteer work each month. OE has made a conscious choice to meet the needs of our local unhoused population while pushing forth with an agenda that address the roots of such problems—and the many other problems of social and economic injustice. We ask that the occupation site be supported at the very least until we the people, the City of Eugene and Occupy Eugene are able to find a better solution for our fellow citizens who have no homes but those they now make at the Occupy Eugene site.
How You Can You Help¶
Join the Conversation!¶
- Use the forums, Facebook, website, twitter
- Invite friends and family
- Talk to strangers about the occupation; talk to strangers at the occupation!
We desperately need volunteers and more occupiers! Come to the site and talk to us. Or email committees (under “Info/Committees” on our website). Committees are where most of the behind the scenes and planning work is done. Go to the volunteer booth or the information booth and find out about the committees. We will try to plug you into a committee that matches your skills and interests.
Volunteers who can speak about Occupy Eugene with the public and with the media. Volunteers to occupy the space. Donations, including funds, food and warm clothing. (Please see website under “Needs", “Volunteer” or “Donations.” (Donations can also be mailed to: Occupy Eugene, PO Box 744 Eugene, OR 97440; or visit any Oregon Community Credit Union (make out to “Occupy Eugene”).
Meeting times and locations¶
- Monday – Coordination Meeting 7pm (Off-Site, check the OE calendar for the location)
- Tuesday – General Assembly 7pm On-Site (this not a decision-bearing meeting for Occupy Eugene)
- Wednesday – Village Meeting 7pm On-Site (this not a decision-bearing meeting for Occupy Eugene and is primarily for site related issues)
- Thursday – Coordination Meeting 7pm On-Site
- Friday – General Assembly 7pm On-Site
- Saturday – Open Assembly (formerly known as ‘Grand Assembly’) 4pm at 1274 W. 7th Ave. (7th & Polk), Eugene, OR (old AAA Appliance Building).
- Sunday – Village Meeting 7pm On-Site (camp related issues only)