OEN draft – November-December
Last May, OE began staffing a fundraising table at the Free Speech Plaza during Saturday Market. Spearheaded by Cary Thompson of the Financial and Fundraising committees, the Occupy fundraisers offered T-shirts, badges, scarves, and newsletters. A can placed on the table encouraged people to make donations. By September, things had slowed down and so fundraising at the plaza was put on hold.
Now fundraising is looking ahead to Eugene’s Holiday Market, which opens in mid-November and runs weekends through December 24. At this time we don’t know which weekends Occupy will be able to get a table, but look for us when you visit the market.
Fundraising is putting out a call to artists and craftsmen to donate items to the Holiday Market table (consignment arrangements can be negotiated). Also, they are seeking folks willing to head up the Holiday Market project, staff the table, or who have ideas for fundraising that they are personally willing to work on.
If you fall into any of these groups, please call Cary Thompson at 541-686-5562.
There would be rain but the die had been cast, the posters posted, and we were already celebrating at the Park Blocks. Canopy after canopy popped up on that Monday morning until it looked like Junior Saturday Market. Big John, Diesel, and crew got there early and were already set up, peeling and chopping. The immense banner reading “No Jobs on a Dead Planet” was hoisted into the trees–no small feat. People from every era of Occupy Eugene began the schmoozing.
As Jana Thrift's masterpiece video of OE's first year started, somebody put detergent in the fountain, creating a sea of white foam. We were like school kids on a snow day, throwing the foam in the air and giving each other white headdresses.
Across town in the Whiteaker Neighborhood, Plaedo and a group of OE activists mixed up cement they would use to patch sidewalk potholes in service of the community and in conjunction with the budding group Eugene Philanthropy Network. Meanwhile downtown, Scotty and Jen prepped the rest of us for a bankster march based on Scotty's "Breaking up the Banks" lyrics. Some activists donned color facemasks of bank CEOs; I never ever thought I'd see Scott Fife in a business suit! The group had a raucous rehearsal and then left in an endless stream.
The march targeted Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America locations downtown. The large group carried posters denouncing banking fraud. Each bank received a theatrical performance on its doorstep: the denouncing and jailing of their CEOs. Occupy mic-checked the reasons for their arrest, shouting accusations in front of all the banks. Then their CEOs were chased by our policemen who “pepper-sprayed” them with silly string before locking them up behind cardboard jail bars Finally, everyone broke out in expressive song, singing and kazooing the titled “Breaking up the Banks” to the melody of “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. It was both raucous and organized, joyful and serious: we celebrated our union in defying the unjust powers that be.
After the march, rain came in shifts and when we started setting up the music PA, the 'stage' went from a wide open area to one small section of the scalloped shelter shared with pot washers and street kids and their gear. But we are all family and it worked out fine. Scotty improvised on his keyboard and then local musician Walker T. Ryan belted out classic folk/blues. There was plenty of spaghetti, rolls and salad for all. It was a montage of colorful sights and smells, laughter and music: a perfect follow-up to an exciting year that started with a spirited march in much the same weather.
2. Calendar and static content – See document “OEN draft – Static content” and “OEN draft – Calendar”
In September, We the People-Eugene held a two-day Democracy School, a seminar taught by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF: www.CELDF.org ).
CELDF is a nonprofit group that works with local communities to challenge corporate power and abuses by helping pass city and county ordinances that assert the rights of people and communities over claims of corporate power and privilege.
The session deconstructed the way corporations have created the situation we find ourselves in today, covering material from the 1681 charter issued to William Penn for the colony of Pennsylvania from the King of England to a blow-by-blow description of how the 14th Amendment to the Constitution – which supposedly granted blacks due process and equal protection – came to be applied to "corporate persons" and not American blacks. It took another 94 years before the U.S. government began to effectively protect the rights of former slaves – with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the desegregation of southern schools. It took women 120 years to get the vote. The message of CELDF: our struggle against corporate power could take generations so it's time we got started. And the place to start is right here in our hometown.
In a nutshell, CELDF tells us our minds have been colonized by a corporate mindset which, over the last 225 years, has squeezed the rights of the people into a "box of allowable remedies" limited here by the Commerce Clause and there by Dillon's rule (which claims superiority of federal over state power, state over local authority).
Democracy School traces a historic trajectory of the struggle between peoples' rights and the power of the elite. The American Revolution was a high point soon compromised by the Constitution, which marked a low. People fought back, and the Civil War and the 14th Amendment marked another high, soon compromised by corporate control of the courts, which, except for the respite of the New Deal, has led to the buildup of the corporate state.
The financial collapse of 2008 opened a window of opportunity to limit the reach of the banksters but was answered by the January 2010 Citizens United decision from the Supreme Court, which granted corporations unprecedented political power and breathed new life into a disgraced financial sector, now more powerful than before the crash.
We can't look to the judiciary, the congress or even – yet – to our state legislature for help. By asserting the right to pass local laws that defy "higher authority," communities can revive the arguments of our founders and seek to provoke a crisis of jurisdiction between local and national governments which revives Jefferson's determination to create the world we want, rather than the world that corporations tell us we must accept.
Please vote "yes" on Measure 20-198 on the Eugene ballot, which calls on Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment reversing the Citizens United decision. It's a first step down a road in the direction CELDF has mapped for us.
Many people joined Occupy because we were angry that the financial system is stacked against us. Most of the lawmakers are rich and indebted to special interests, so most of the laws – especially the tax laws – are skewed to benefit special interests. The military-industrial complex made sure it had some part of the defense industry in nearly every congressman’s district so Congress would never vote to lower defense spending. It’s a rigged game. Now something is happening that has the potential to change the entire game for better or worse.
Politicians are panicking about the so-called fiscal cliff, when many terrible things are scheduled to take place at the end of the year. Bush-era tax policies will expire, payroll tax-cuts will end, and sequestration will begin. Sequestration is the result of the Budget Control Act, passed in August 2011. According to the plan, Congress formed a “Super Committee” that was supposed to come up with a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package by Nov. 23, 2011. As an incentive, the unpleasant sequestration cuts would go into effect unless Congress reached an agreement. Democrats wanted to have a combination of spending cuts and new revenue; Republicans wanted to make the entire $1.2 trillion from spending cuts, mostly to domestic programs. Because the two sides were not able to compromise, $1.2 trillion in budget cuts spread over ten years will automatically go into effect starting the first of next year. The cuts will be split evenly with $60 billion in domestic spending and $60 billion in military spending each year for ten years. The cuts are across the board, which means that legislators don’t have any discretion about how the cuts are made: they are intended to hit all affected programs equally.
The return to Clinton-era tax policies would constitute a tax increase for most people but would affect the rich and the corporations most. Similarly, the effects of the sequestration would affect the military the most. This has the military-industrial complex panicking and claiming it will cost millions of jobs. However, sequester cuts are only 10% of the military budget and can easily be made up by cutting waste and fraud. If some jobs are lost, we should realize that the same money applied differently would provide far more jobs and give us more concrete things like schools, roads, and bridges, rather than bombs, death, and destruction.
The costs of the war are exempt from the military cuts, meaning they won’t affect the security of our troops. Nor would they affect the most important spending programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Benefits, unemployment and many other programs.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that if the sequestration and the expiration of the Bush Tax cuts were to both go into effect, the economy would contract at a rate of 1.3% for the first half of 2013 and throw the economy into a recession. On the other hand, the economy would expand at 2.3% in the second half of the year, and the combination of budget cuts and additional revenue would reduce the federal budget deficit by $607 billion for the year. The fiscal cliff will result in some short-term pain, but in the long run would just about solve the deficit problem while the additional revenue could be used to grow the economy.
We shouldn’t look at the fiscal cliff as a disaster; we should look at it as an opportunity to fix our broken tax structure and produce a fair budget, an opportunity to reverse the bias towards the rich. The need for tax reform and a decent budget all provide incentives for Congress to do what is right for all of the people. We should embrace the fiscal cliff because it is the only mechanism that might lead to reducing waste in the military and lead to true tax reform, which would reduce the nation’s inequality. A fair bill would help the 99%.
Finally, the President and the Democrats have some leverage. The fiscal cliff is existing law and only an act of Congress can change it. If Congress doesn’t make a fair tax plan and budget, the Democrats can filibuster and the President can veto unfair bills. All that is required is that the Republicans give up their foolish promise to Grover Norquist never to raise taxes, and instead concentrate on their oath of office and do what is best for the nation.
cartoon exxon credit: Gadflye
Occupy Medical has been the focus of my weekends for eight months now. The Sunday clinic is only four hours long in theory. Patients show up before the tent is set up. They wait on park benches or volunteer to hoist the tent poles as we scramble to set up. When we first got the tent, it was the tail end of winter. We fumbled with the directions, spread the canopy over ice cold poles, and tied the posts to concrete bricks to keep the wind from blowing it away.
Last March, it snowed. It took two hours to assemble the beast. Our fingers were raw and frozen. We stuck our hands in our armpits and stomped our feet. We tucked hand warmers into our pockets. While it was nice to have shelter from the elements, we knew by the end of the day it all had to go back in the box again. We were limited in what we could do for our patients. We had donated supplies, but since we were in a virtual parking lot with a tarp over our heads, we couldn’t do thorough exams or lab tests.
By summer, we had our routine down. We set up four stations from intake to treatment. We had HIPAA forms, a system to ensure confidential patient records, and a steady stream of patients fully embracing the holistic health system. Our success was due to the talent and professionalism of our volunteers.
The community got used to seeing us every Sunday at the park. Our patients ranged from homeless families to working class moms to retired veterans. Some sought our help because they had no insurance or they couldn’t afford their co-pay. Others had insurance that didn’t cover their pre-existing conditions. Some just came to enjoy the gathering of volunteers, old friends, and a nice day at the park. Who could blame them? This had become a place to engage in fascinating conversations, to get a warm meal from our allies, Food not Bombs, or a free haircut. It became a place to sit in the sun and laugh at horrible puns.
Winter was coming. We needed a warm, dry place to see our patients. This winter was going to be rough and taking that tent up and down over the next few months sounded terrible. We decided we needed a bus. We started working on the grant. Our application to the Oregon Community Foundation was successful and they offered us a sizable grant. Soon afterwards, our genius pharmacist Jerry Zook drove a slightly used Blue Bird school bus/bloodmobile down from Portland.
The doctors, the nurses, the vast collection of volunteers, and especially our patients are happy with our shiny new mobile clinic. I am no longer afraid of winter.
You can read more about the Occupy Medical clinics at http://occupymedics.wordpress.com/.
On a recent sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon my partner and I set out for a walk. We are seniors and need exercise. When we arrived at the Park Blocks, where we are used to finding the Farmer’s Market, we instead found three Occupy tents. The first two were housing medical and dental clinics. The third was the Gorilla Hair Salon, where the talented Ben Hunt was cutting hair.
I ventured into the dental clinic. I was overdue for a cleaning. I have been reluctant to visit a dentist because most of them insist on a full mouth X-ray too often and an “inspection” which means a one-minute peek at my teeth and a $40 charge. Lina, the Occupy dental technician, sat me down in a lawn chair, clipped a bib on my chest and scraped away at my pesky tartar. She explained that Occupy is working on having “real” dental facilities in the near future. Personally, I thought the makeshift operation was charming and efficient.
My next stop was the Gorilla Salon. Before long, I had a new look from Ben, who has a flare for styling. Who wants to sit in a stuffy old salon when right there, in the coolness of the pool, the job can be done just as well? Quite a few passers-by “oohed” and “aahed” at my improved appearance. Later, when I passed by the donations jar, nobody asked me to contribute.
Why, when there are dozens of dental clinics for people seeking low- or no-cost care, and all kinds of “programs” purporting to deliver care to people with no insurance, do so many local residents swear that they simply can’t get dental care until their teeth are falling out. The problem is limited access to primary care (preventive cleanings) or secondary care (such as fillings). But ironically you may eventually arrange for a bad tooth to be extracted, which is clearly a sign of failure of care, and a condition that will get you to the emergency room for pain and infection.
So if you don’t have dental insurance, you only get “help” when it’s too late to save your teeth! This end-treatment, emergency-only approach is insulting to the whole dental profession that knows how to do so much better.
It’s time to turn this around. Occupy your teeth!
Out of the Occupy Eugene Medical Clinic, where many patients arrive with tooth pain each week, a new aim of providing dental care has emerged. Three extraction clinics have been planned, funded by St. Vincent de Paul and Medical Teams International. The first took place in June, the second in September. But the primary goal is not to continue to allow teeth to reach the point of failure. The goal is to prevent tooth disasters in the first place.
The first step to Occupying your teeth is to take matters into your own hands. Yes, brush your teeth and floss between them! Prevention starts with the same basics you learned as a kid. It’s the same basic science: bacteria grow back every 12 hours and pour acid onto your tooth enamel, eating it away. If you don’t want that to happen, don’t ever go out without your toothbrush. Dry-brush your teeth any time food goes into your mouth, then wash the brush out as soon as you can. Floss when you get a chance. Whatever you can do is a step on the road to Occupying Your Teeth.
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are provided free at the OE Medical Clinic. Meanwhile, some of us are gathering in a Dental Task Force to scratch our heads together and ponder about why adults struggle to get the dental care they need. If you’d like to join us, please contact Lina at email@example.com. We would like to hear your experience trying to obtain dental care at any level. Most of all, we want to come up with solutions.
A few days ago, I was riding my bike down 11th Avenue, past the corner of Willamette by the LTD station, when I saw a man on the corner holding a sign that said, "Punk ass bitches.” Must be a good story there, I thought.
It turned out to be quite a sad story. Jim had been camping down by the river at Delta Ponds for a while. Camping is illegal anywhere in the city, but there are a few spots where one is less likely to be bothered, and Delta Ponds is one of those places. But on Tuesday afternoon, while he was away for a while, the Parks Department cleaned up his campsite, which contained everything he owned, and disposed of it.
Not only is such an action unethical and inhumane, it is now unconstitutional. Thanks to a landmark ruling by the Ninth Circuit last month concerning a similar situation in Los Angeles, the government does not have the right to dispose of personal possessions because it constitutes illegal seizure without due process under the Fourth and 14th Amendments.
Unfortunately, violating the constitutional rights of the homeless is de rigueur as far as the City of Eugene is concerned. I was saddened, but not the least bit surprised, to hear this recent development in our so-called "Human Rights City." It has been a longstanding policy of both the Eugene Police Department as well as Parks and Open Space to dispose of possessions found on public property, although I foolishly assumed that in light of the Ninth Circuit ruling, the city would have changed its policy.
I called up the Parks Department and spoke with them, and they had no knowledge whatsoever of the recent court ruling and didn't seem concerned about the fact that their actions were unconstitutional. Ignorance is no excuse when someone's rights are violated. Nice way to kick a man when he's already down.
And so, I wrote a letter, an "intense verbal spanking," as my friend Sabra put it. Sometimes government needs to be spanked. Sometimes they also need to be sued, and I hope that Jim explores that option. I can't help him sue, but I can gladly spank.
The above is the first half of a blog post written by Alley Valkerie on October 6. To read Alley’s letter to the Mayor and City Councilors and to follow this story, go to her blog at: http://alleyvalkyrie.blogspot.com/
Organizers for Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE) announced the formation of a new non-profit for the purpose of establishing a community village that will provide opportunities to those who currently are without housing. OVE will enable the homeless to work with other community members to transition away from the streets into a lifestyle that is more sustainable and self-fulfilling.
In a recently released statement, the OVE board said, “We are eager to work with the Eugene City Council to establish a new, cost-effective model for alternative housing based on best practices of a number of other communities. The dramatic rise in homelessness coupled with severe cuts in social services has created a crisis in our community that we must address with new, creative solutions.”
Opportunity Village Eugene is asking the City Council to create a three- to six-month pilot program for a self-governing village for approximately 30 adults and accompanying children, with oversight by OVE. Using concepts of micro-housing, the village needs only about one acre of land. First priority would be given to local families currently on waiting lists for other shelter programs. All participants in OVE will be required to agree to a drug-, alcohol-, and violence-free policy. Residents will participate in building their own structures using recycled materials whenever possible and following a “Village Building Guide” that will ensure safety, affordability, energy efficiency and community identity.
The new OVE Board included the following community members: President: Dan Bryant, Treasurer: Cary Thompson, Secretary:Michael Carrigan, Robert Bolman, Lorne Bostwick, Andrew Heben, and Jean Stacey,.
More information on OVE and its proposal to the City of Eugene can be found at www.opportunityvillageeugene.org.
On October 8, Mayor Kitty Piercy broke a Council tie and voted against Brown,Taylor, Ortiz, and Zelenka to extend the Downtown Public Safety Zone (DPSZ) for another year, despite overwhelming evidence that had been presented to her that 64% of exclusions were given to the homeless who comprise 2% of the population. Absent any evidence substantiating that the DPSZ improves downtown safety, the Mayor took the position of trying to reconcile human rights with business interests and voted to continue it. On the positive side, the DPSZ has been modified, so that minor infractions will no longer result in either tickets or exclusion.
Mayor Piercy has the skills to bring antagonists to the table and find common ground. This is a great mayoral attribute for finding consensus, something everyone can buy into when it comes to business decisions such as “Em-X or No Em-X.” However, when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights and safety of our most vulnerable citizens, a solution that has “something in it for everyone” is inappropriate. The sacrificing of one group’s basic rights and safety in order to pacify a small but vociferous minority within the business community is not an adequate solution.
The DPSZ encourages police to chase people who dress or act “differently” out of the downtown core, thus violating their rights. It gives the downtown area an elitist status, not only providing a policeman for every 2.5 square blocks but then forcing purportedly “dangerous criminals” out of the downtown core and into neighborhoods which have virtually no police presence at all. It creates a separate and expensive exclusion court system, the sole purpose of which is to bypass due process, thus violating constitutional rights. The truth of the DPSZ is well-documented in the partial police reports the department has finally delivered.
The DPSZ is a microcosm of the problems of greed and corruption in our country in which business interests are put before the rights and well-being of its citizens.
We need to tell our mayor that we are not interested in small improvements to the disgraceful quagmire created by the DPSZ; we want her to lead us out of it. Ask her to call for a re-vote and to vote differently.
Go to cldc.org to make your donation to Civil Liberties Defense Center to support a constitutional suit against the DPSZ if it remains, and so that they can continue to sue the City for its many other human rights violations. As history has proven, when elected officials can’t fix things, the courts can.
While the coal industry wants us to believe that coal exports are inevitable, Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics argues that “a beautiful community and renewable energy future is our destiny, and obsolete coal is the doom and desperation of Big Dirty Coal.” Lisa called for a march and informational rally on October 8 to let the members of the City Council know that there is a strong opposition to coal exports. Representatives of various environmental organizations, including Sierra Club, Power Past Coal coalition, and a number of Occupiers responded to the call..
We gathered at the Eugene City Council meeting in support of the Zelenka opposition to having coal trains pass through Eugene. Although the City Council postponed its vote after an informational work session, on Monday, October 23, the City Council passed the Zelenka resolution by a 5-3 vote. The previous week, the Board of Lane County Commissioners postponed their vote on a resolution in support of a coal export terminal in Coos Bay.
So what was a burning issue, now is smoldering. The non-binding resolution cannot by itself stop the coal trains. The problem of shipping and burning coal is still with us. As more communities shut down coal plants in the US, coal companies are looking to Asian markets to maintain profits. What is wrong with coal companies shipping 150 million tons of coal through the Pacific Northwest to Asian markets? Why are environmentalists and many local residents opposed to coal export trains rumbling through our communities?
Two interrelated areas are of concern: environmental degradation and endangerment of human health.
Burning coal pollutes the atmosphere. Several recent studies have shown that powerful spring trade winds can carry Asian pollution into the atmosphere above North America. Some of the imported pollution descends to the surface, where it affects ground-level concentrations of ozone, mercury, sulfur compounds, and soot. Ground-level ozone can cause severe respiratory problems, including asthma, in susceptible individuals.
A 2008 study found that Asian emissions of mercury reach as far as Mount Bachelor. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Snowpack runoff ends up in our rivers and lakes where the mercury contaminates the fish we eat. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury. Between 300,000 and 600,000 children are born in the U.S. each year with dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies, putting them at heightened risk for developmental disabilities, mental retardation, seizures, and disturbances of gait and speech. Children, the poor, the elderly, and anyone with an impaired immune system are among the most vulnerable. The argument that jobs will be created to help economically depressed areas is promoted by big coal companies currently profiting from strip mining public lands along the powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, such as Peabody, Arch Coal, Australian-based Ambre Energy and Kinder Morgan. What will trickle down to local communities is still in question.
At the local level, the plans to export coal to Asia would bring four coal trains (each approximately 1.5 miles long) through Lane County every day. Residents will suffer harm from increased diesel emissions, a known carcinogen. There are correlations between these pollutants and cardiovascular and respiratory disease, reproductive health problems, and malignancy. In addition, the coal produced in the West is friable and sloughs off coal dust as it travels along the proposed 1500 plus mile route.
In addition to being a serious health threat, coal dust damages tracks and can lead to derailments. Twelved derailments of coal trains occurred this summer, with four fatalities. Over 150 water crossings exist between Eugene and Coos Bay. The inevitability of a coal train derailment is a serious issue. The Siuslaw River, an important salmon fishery, would be devastated by a train derailment as hundreds of tons of coal would be dumped into the river and its tributaries.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad studies estimate up to 500 pounds of coal can be lost in the form of coal dust from each rail car en route. Coal dust and diesel exhaust from coal trains and cargo ships can cause serious long-term health problems like lung and heart disease and cancer. Coal dust would pollute our clean waters, air, and land.
On September 13, a group of approximately 25 activists showed their support for Occupier Brave Beatrice at the new Federal Courthouse where she was being arraigned for her arrest last July 11. Some Occupy Eugene activists remained outside the courthouse holding signs proclaiming our First Amendment Rights while others went into the courtroom to provide a supportive presence. Lawyer Lauren Reagan represented Beatrice. Although the federal judge did not appear, Beatrice’s case was scheduled for November 8.
Beatrice volunteered to be arrested last July 11. Occupy Eugene’s permit to remain at the old Federal Building plaza 24/7 had expired after a 60-day protest. Occupy would not accept a permit that did not allow protesters to remain on the plaza overnight. At the time, OE activist Mary Broadhurst said, “Occupy’s constitutional rights do not cease between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. except for compelling reasons.”
Beatrice’s court date is November 8 at at 1:30 p.m. but Lauren Reagan has filed a motion to dismiss. The case, according to Reagan, has the potential to create national precedent regarding First Amendment rights to assemble and exercise free speech on federal public fora.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/f8n712if5f1wqs4/Team Beatrice.JPG By Jain Elliott
Occupy Eugene continues to occupy the yard of the foreclosed home at 1191 Lawrence St., as a statement against the foreclosure crisis plaguing the country and the big banks' continuing criminal role in the crisis.
Named "Outpost A", the Occupy presence at the location has been supported by several Occupy Eugene committees, mainly Occupy Housing and Foreclosures Action Committee (OH-FAC!) and Fed-Up.
The picket fence at the corner property was painted during a Labor Day volunteer work party, resulting in more positive news coverage of the occupation on local television news. Four days later, an open house (in the yard) during the First Friday Art Walk displayed Occupy inspired or created art, with music and refreshments.
The October 15 auction of the property was cancelled only several days before the scheduled date, for unknown reasons. (This is quite common now, as the banks are struggling to deal with the fall-out of their criminal behavior.)
The property owner, Karen Atkinson, is now challenging the foreclosure through connections she made through Occupy Eugene's OH-FAC! She continues to be supportive and appreciative of the Occupy presence in the yard.
The OE committees involved have regular contact with Karen through designated liaisons, currently Michael Gannon and Majeska Seese-Green. The owner is taking steps to make the building safe and have liability insurance in place, after which there may be a possibility of caretakers residing inside, and maybe an office for foreclosure/housing-justice organizing, on a short-term basis.Collaboration between Occupy committees and this out-of-town owner may result in a new model for "putting unhoused people into unpeopled houses." Much is undetermined at this time, but the potential is intriguing.
Photo by Greg Walker
Sharon Dederick helps paint the fence at 1191 Lawrence over Labor Day weekend.
It was great to learn you have been in contact with the Occupy Foreclosure folks. When they came to our door early this summer to speak with us about their proposal and what they were hoping to accomplish I was impressed with their sincerity, consideration and thoughtfulness in their approach and goals.
Prior to Occupy Foreclosure becoming involved in your property having the house empty has been an ongoing and very unpleasant challenge. People shooting up, hypodermics, excrement on the porch and in the yard, garbage, broken windows, verbal threats and a fear that someone would decide to start a fire to try to keep warm, with the danger that kind of situation would pose. Although police were prompt to respond, weekly (sometimes daily) calls (before Occupy’s presence) produced no lasting solution.
The condition of the property continued to deteriorate affecting the property values in the neighborhood. That along with the bad economy meant we have all taken a double negative hit on our property values.
Occupy Foreclosure’s presence has meant we are safe from harassment. The use of the property for drug activities, drinking and as a very large toilet has ceased. Although the house is in poor shape with broken and boarded up windows along with other structural and cosmetic deterioration they have attempted to keep it looking as nice as possible. We have made water available to them and they have tried to keep the beds in decent shape, painted the fence and have prevented the property from reverting back to a garbage dump.
Until such time as you return to take the property back over or it is sold we are grateful to the Occupy Foreclosure movement for the work they have done in protecting the property and keeping the neighborhood safer overall.
In Eugene, as in much of our world, the criminal justice professionals are trained in retributive justice. That means our legal professionals are less concerned with the reasons for the crime, the effect on the victim, or with changing the behavior of the offender. Retributive justice is primarily concerned with proving an individual broke a law and punishing the offender by having him or her pay a fine, do community service or be incarcerated. In the case of extremely violent crimes, the offender may pay with his or her life. Unfortunately, this approach does nothing to help the victim, heal the affected community, or rehabilitate the offender.
On October 15 Community Mediation Services (CMS) held a forum on restorative justice to offer a different model for addressing antisocial behavior.. The panel included Peter Kerns, Chief of EPD; Greg Hazarabedian, Executive Director of Public Defender Services of Lane County; Dr. Howard Zehr, Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University; Rupert Ross, author and former Assistant Crown Attorney for the Canadian government who incorporated restorative justice processes into his work as prosecutor; and Ted Lewis, Executive Director of the Barron County Restorative Justice Program in Wisconsin.
Restorative justice is based on a very different principle from retributive justice. The focus of restorative justice is not punishment, but healing of the rupture in relationships caused by those who do harm to members of their community. This is an aboriginal concept of justice that originates in a world-view where everything is seen in context, everything is in relationship to everything else. Consequently the focus of restorative justice is to restore harmony within the community by healing both the victim and the perpetrator of harm. It is an approach that is high in both accountability and support for both victim and perpetrator. The intent, whenever possible, is to reintegrate both the victim and the perpetrator into the community by restoring balance.
Currently, Community Mediation Services offers the opportunity for restorative justice resolution of various offenses, primarily by youth offenders. This type of mediation helps the offender to understand the impacts of his or her actions and enables them to make things right through some form of restitution. It also helps the victim to heal by being supported in sharing her or his story, understanding better the circumstances of the offense committed and having a voice in the type of restitution to be received. Victim involvement in these cases is always voluntary, supportive, and confidential.
It seems that a potentially bright side of the budget cuts in law enforcement is that law enforcement professionals, as represented in this case by Pete Kerns, are currently giving serious consideration to expanding the options for using restorative justice.
On September 7, Occupy Eugene hosted an Occupy Art and Open House event at Occupy Eugene’s Outpost A. The event featured paintings, sculpture, photography, and mixed media works inspired by and created for the Occupy movement. The event was part of the non-guided First Friday Art Walk and included about 20 artists, live music, and refreshments. Many community members as well as Occupiers made the three-block trek from Broadway to 1191 Lawrence to see the art and find out why OE is occupying the yard of a foreclosed home and what Occupy Eugene is doing currently.
7. SUGAR Workshop Sweetens Activism (NM, CM, VN) 473 words
On September 22, Barbara Daté led an all-day workshop for Occupiers to learn ways to understand ourselves and others better as well as to learn more options to work cooperatively. The workshop was designed to provide practical skills utilizing he Friendly Style Profile (FSP), a personal style inventory tool. Sustainable Relationship Resources Working Group (SUGAR) members have studied this model with Barbara since February and have found it helpful in all settings: at work, in the community, at home, and of course, within Occupy Eugene.
During the workshop, participants examined differences of personality and temperament and shared specific examples of how these types of differences interact. This exploration helped us learn practical behavioral options for drawing out the best in ourselves and others and to develop self-care, self-management and interpersonal skills that promote healthy relationships and prevent dysfunctional conflict.
Feedback from the 17 Occupy Eugene participants to the workshop was enthusiastic and included appreciation for SUGAR’S peer-training approach, tips on how to reach out to people with different styles of communication and different psychological needs, learning how to receive validation, and discovering that most people aren’t being difficult on purpose.
Perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of the workshop was learning how we vary in temperament and how easy it is to push someone’s buttons when we don’t understand their preferences and priorities. We also learned about our own knee-jerk responses and inclinations, how to manage our own excesses, and how to understand others better in both “calm” and “storm” conditions.
Neutrally re-framing and restating what we are experiencing in FSP terms can help us keep perspective and feel empowered to talk about what is bothering us in a personally responsible way and to be less entangled in a negative dynamic. It’s a good start anyway.
The beauty of this workshop is that we can apply what we learned immediately in our daily life. Jen, one of the SUGAR workshop participants and organizers, says she has observed people "catching" themselves about to say something, maybe complain about someone's behavior or maybe even deride themselves about their own behavior and recast the complaint as a neutral observation. She thinks “the impact of the workshop is particularly helpful, depersonalizing behaviors a bit and giving ourselves and each other just a little space to accept we have certain traits and not get so triggered by them. Once folks get comfortable identifying traits, they can learn better how to manage them and take care about the impacts they have on people around them.”
Ben, another SUGAR organizer, enjoys hearing people use the language of the FSP class: “On more than one occasion I've had people tell me that they are thankful that we have a common communication tool. One person told me, ‘it's like having a new toy, but all your friends have the same toy, too, so you can play together better.“
With our Occupy Eugene Media Group (OEMG), the opportunities come in volleys. For the choice television interviews, you must catch notable activists and political scholars on their way through town, even if it's in the wee hours of the morning.
Until recently, David "Getch" Sierralupe and Joe Tyndall have taken turns interviewing or producing the 49 "OccupyTV" (OTV) hour-long programs that are now "in the can" and rotated in the Community Television of Lane County (CTV) mix. Needless to say, Jana Thrift has been our field producer with assistance from Mike Elliott and her partner Tom[a]. We see them at almost every Occupy Eugene public event or political action. We don't see them when they go home or to the studio to edit the footage into a product that flows coherently and draws interest.
In the past year, Getch, Joe, and Jana have really gone the extra mile to spread the word about Occupy Eugene's growth and passion as well as the purpose and commitment behind successes like Occupy Medical – its sustained ability to bring free medical care to those in need at least one day a week.
Getch and Joe have spent hours making OTV programs and the Wednesday night radio show on KWVA (88.1 FM) into podcasts that are now being acknowledged by a significant international audience. In fact, OTV is the longest-running, most-widely circulated media effort in the entire movement. Recently Mike Elliott has joined the team on the radio show.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of room for growth. In recent months, Graham Lewis has been in training to assist with operating cameras, control board, and editing equipment. KLCC engineer and announcer Matt Laubach has acted as technical consultant. The usual CTV background of potted fake trees and a fake brick wall are being transformed for the new season of OTV. With the help of a green screen, topical photographs will be projected onto a backdrop behind host and guest to add visual interest and illustrate the conversation.
Just in the last month, the media group has started renting an office in the Grower’s Market building for OEMG to plan, edit, and grow. We are always looking for new people with useful talents and skills to round out our team. Our hopes are high for taking OTV to the next level with exciting, new interview guests and features. We will be meeting Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at our new office in room 206, upstairs at the Growers Market at 454 Willamette St. Come join us!
The image that comes to mind at the mention of Jen Frenzen-Knowlton is one of spherical lightning. She is determined, energetic, and energizing. Jen currently serves on two committees: the Zinn/Chomsky OE Library Committee and the Sustainable Relationship Resources Working Group (SUGAR). But her contribution to the movement goes beyond committee work. She has proven to be a voice of reason and a guiding light in many difficult situations.
Jen has been with Occupy Eugene from its inception. “My fellow Eugene social justice activist friends brought Occupy Wall Street to my attention last summer. Most of those activists I met 10 years prior organizing to stop the invasion of Iraq and have a great deal of respect for them so, when it was clear there was going to be a full demonstration here in Eugene, I was happy to get to work however I might be able to contribute,” she said at a recent interview.
So she met up with long-term activist Michael Carrigan at the second General Assembly at the University of Oregon’s EMU and they joined a committee that was working on preparing "peacekeepers" for the march of October 15, 2011. Part of the training was teaching future Occupiers how to hold a non-violent protest. Both Jen and Michael are Quakers and peaceful resistance was their common ground with Occupy.
Jen felt drawn to the social justice components of the Occupy movement. She was also drawn to people's passion for holding vigil 24 hours a day on the streets by camping and staying in each others’ company. Jen enjoys learning more and more creative ways to protest, “ways that are potent and effective because of the way they cleverly push the envelope but use nonviolent strategies to open people's hearts and minds to a new truth they hadn't considered and therefore allow room for a shift in perspective.”
In general, she strongly supports street protests and public demonstrations, saying, “People feeling they can spontaneously gather in public is a very important part of exercising our Bill of Rights. I am definitely one of those folks who feel we need to exercise all our rights or we could lose them. So, I will show up for most activism that involves exercising free speech by protesting in the street.”
Jen considers Occupy a cultural movement and a long-run effort, saying, “I'm sympathetic to folks who want to see visible evidence of system injustices being remedied right away. People are suffering unnecessarily and it is wrong.”
But she understands that many Occupy projects will take time. For example, she sees reforming our democratic system so that it isn't so easily corrupted by moneyed interests as an important idea and yet she realizes that mobilizing the support to make reforms will take time. Finding more creative ways to bring awareness to people who are uncomfortable with inconvenient truths and to get such awareness integrated into people's lives is necessary to the movement. A big smile lights up her face when she says, “Yes, that is what change takes: time, creativity and optimism.”
Maintaining a balance between activism and raising a family is no easy task. Jen has a son and a daughter. Luckily, Scotty, her partner, is also part of Occupy Eugene, so that makes balancing her life a little easier. They encourage one another and help each other out on projects. And they laugh a whole lot, which also helps. As for her kids, “They sort of thought I was nuts last year, spending so much time typing emails but it wasn't entirely out of the ordinary behavior either since activism is very much part of our Quaker community.” As very little kids, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, they had attended many peace rallies and vigils. “Come to think of it, they even had their own tent!”