Wed Market Highlights Week 1

Hi all.My one volunteer effort in this election cycle is to person the table at the Wed Market from 12-1 each week.
I have modest goals but a big vision.  How do we turn a red state blue?  Or more accurately, how do we grow local progressives? This has been on my mind since 2004.

Here is a brief summary I posted on FB on the UCDC’s Facebook page.

During my hour and a quarter at Wed Market:

Roughly 10-12 visitors. No one said unregistered. All said they know about photo ID.

One Mifflinburg supporter asked me “Do you believe in the NEw World Order?” “The Bildenburg Group?” “Have you seen Jesse Ventura’s video about the six FEMA camps?”

When I didn’t jump on her conspiracy theory bandwagon she said “You’ll probably laugh at me.” I told her I would not. I pointed out that FEMA probably makes camps to help people for disasters.

I tried to say that the powerful are rigging the system, but they don’t need to meet in secret club and smoke cigars to do it.

Then a couple tried to do a drive-by insult fest. “Are you better off now than four years ago?” “We have to get rid of BHO!”

I crossed the ten feet and tried to engage them in discussion. “What is BHO?”(I thought it was a government agency).

The pair, mostly the man continued on about how their small business is being crushed, how we should be ashamed for supporting Obama, how we should be doubly ashamed since we were next to the prayer tent (not sure what that meant and I apologized to the nice prayer folks after), how ACA will cost $2,200 per person, how the economy is in the tank. They left with a final “Baby killers!” insult.

I tried to engage the man saying “Let’s talk about policy, about issues.”

Barbara said “You will never convince people like that.” I know. But my point is how did it look to the watchers? TO the people around there? I have no idea if it will work, but if we can use the Wed Market to find ways to talk progressive values in local speak, we will do more to make America a freer place than we may know.

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American Idol or American Ideal?

Jordi Comas took the people’s mic last Friday night and led Occupy Lewisburg in an unlikely exercise he called “American Ideal.”  Offering five creative options for collective action, he then challenged the occupiers to propose their own ideas and compete in an activist “beauty contest.”

Groups of occupiers put their heads together and came up with some darlings.

“This is just a beauty contest,” Comas continued to emphasize, seemingly to no avail.  After two rounds of advocacy and voting, here is what our local occupiers came up with.

Joanne F. Henry spoke eloquently on behalf of an intergeneration collective of artists/performers who would periodically create a mobile Occupation by the Arts in response to community concerns.  Occupying an old school bus, the performers would travel to a specific local site in need of an Occupy event and create an artistic performance/installation to draw attention to the need.  By filming the artistic endeavor, the Art Bus would use various media platforms to generate awareness of the particular community issue.

“Artistic expression cuts though our thinking in a way that reading words on a page does not.  It lets us take in ideas we may otherwise brush away,” Joanne said.  “This community has such a wealth of performers. I would like to see our creations cross lines of gender, race and class to include everyone in the community and slip into many different media platforms.”

Stacy Richards shared her experience with an ongoing project in New Berlin to create energy independence at the community level.  The Community-Wide Energy Independence Project has focused for the past two years on reducing energy use through conserving energy.  The project is also exploring further energy reductions through renewable energy options such as solar PV, solar thermal and bio fuels. Financial models are being explored, including individual and community-owned renewable projects in which community members would be shareholders.

“The community is well on its way to reducing its energy consumption by 20% within three years through energy conservation in homes, churches and businesses.  They are poised to create a real alternative to fossil fuels,” Richards said. “I think we can really do this.”

Don Stechschulte offered his vision of community-based health care.

“The two most important question that determine your odds of recovering from illness, be it cancer, diabetes, HIV, are not medical.  Are you economically secure?  Do you like your job?  These are not questions that doctors are trained to ask,” Stechschulte explained.

A community health initiative would explore ways of providing economic security and meaningful employment as a means of improving community wellbeing on all levels.

“We need to take responsibility for peoples’ health and wellbeing in this community beyond the hospital and the doctor’s office and put it back in peoples lives,” Stechschulte concluded.

Kate Parker spoke on behalf of the idea of creating a Community Kitchen.

“We have it in our power, probably within this room, to feed our entire community if we want to.  Yes, it requires work to create a meal, but if you take the time and if you do it with love, you cannot only feed people’s bellies, but you can feed their hearts and souls and help them feel cared for.”

A number of occupiers spoke up in favor of this idea, connecting the idea of the kitchen to the creation of community meeting space, space for kids and parents, community education and outreach and space for the performing arts.

“It is an opportunity to spend time working together, which is something we also need to do, and when you care for people, when you offer them something with no expectations, they remember that and it creates a community bond,” Parker added.

The Community Kitchen ended up winning the title of the “American Ideal.”

“We have decided nothing,” Comas insisted.  “This is just a beauty contest, just an opportunity to generate ideas.”  And it was clear that, indeed, those present had begun to see possibilities of combining these ideas into the first sketch of a plan of action.

“We need to put a human face on the Occupy movement,” Margaret Moyer insisted, “and sharing a meal is an ideal way for people to see the real people behind this effort, and perhaps to begin to question the information they are getting on the news.”

“If you don’t like what you see on the news,” offered Steve Mitchell, drawing on the wisdom of earlier protests, “Go out and make your own news.”

It seems the seeds planted on Friday night at Occupy Cherry Alley may have already begun to take root.  If you would like to be part of the Occupy Lewisburg efforts to support the American Ideal, go to OccupyLewisburgPA on Facebook or contact me at kristjan@bucknell.edu.

Occupy Cherry Alley Interview with Mark Lawrence and Robin Jarrell

This interview highlights the importance of worker participation in corporate decision-making and the connection between Occupy Wall St. core principles and Christian values.  Robin Jarrell is rector at the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

http://www.wkok.com/1070_WKOK/OTM.htm

 

Occupy Wall St.: Interview with David Kristjanson-Gural

Here is a link to a recent interview on WKOK with Mark Lawrence.

After you click on it, you will see a screen that says “no preview available.”  Never fear.  There should be a link in the upper left that says “download.”  You can download the file and listen to it on a computer, transfer it to an iPod or other mp3 player, burn in it on a disc and voila!  a good Chanukah or Xmas present.  Ask if you have problems.

https://docs.google.com/a/bucknell.edu/leaf?id=0B2lA_mBM6QWtZGMxNjg0OGYtNDEzYi00OGMzLWE2NDEtMTMxNTA2M2U0MzZi&hl=en_US

An Open Letter to Supporters of Occupy Lewisburg

Let me start by saying I get how difficult things are, and how busy we have all become.  I get how overwhelming it can be to just keep up.

Part of what we are fighting, what we’ve all agreed is the problem, is the way that we are being disabled by the 1%.  After all, if these folks had not conspired to rig the financial system in their favor, we would all have approximately 50% more income to use to help us meet our needs, and at least 20% more time.  That’s one extra workday a week, and, for many families, one extra income.

So our efforts to restore sanity and justice to a system gone mad are hobbled by the insanity and injustice of the system we are up against.  I get that.

I want you to know, too, I appreciate the efforts you are already making.  I know we are all, daily engaged in unseen and unrewarded efforts to help those near and dear to us, and, for some, just to meet our own needs.

Several of us have managed to go beyond our immediate friends and family and it is important to acknowledge the work these folks are doing.

  • Sam Pearson is working tirelessly on a number of fronts, the Local Action Network and the Sierra Club, among other things addressing the environmental threat from natural gas fracking,.
  • Charles Sackrey is working with OUE on opposing the proposed tire burning plant upwind of Lewisburg.
  • Jove Graham and Steva Stowell-Hardcastle and John Peeler and others are working to prevent the worst-case electoral scenario.
  • Barb Sundin, Charles Facka and Lexie Orr are working on electoral reform so we can vote with ballots not dollars.
  • Kathy Kristjanson-Gural is working to shore up community ties to help families in our community.
  • Cindy Peltier is working with CARE on racism.
  • Judy Peeler and others supporting the work of the Heiter Center to provide support for working families and their kids.
  • Pat Rock and others are working on a Clean Water Initiative.
  • Joe Manzi is promoting non-violence through the CNL;
  • Joe and Jackie Detelj, Johnny and Leah Tewks, Jen and Harvey Partica are helping to restore sanity to our food system.

Each of these people are working with many others, and many other organizations and individuals deserve mention.  Most are doing this work on top of paid jobs that also serve the community.

So, yes, I am going to ask us all to do more, but please know that I get how much we are already doing, privately and publicly.  And I get that what I am asking is completely unreasonable.

It’s a bit hard to wrap our minds around what is happening to us.  I think about Virginia Zimmerman’s comparison to the Elizabethan era explorers who first gazed out across the unbelievable expanse of the Grand Canyon.  They saw evidence of the true dimension of time, the incomprehensible scope of our past, and they simply had no conceptual framework to understand it.  They literally couldn’t see what was before them.  That was a moment like the one we are in now.

It makes perfect sense to be thrown off balance.  Our hearts are telling us something is true that our minds simply can’t comprehend.  Our minds are encountering truths that our hearts are just not willing to take in.  I get that too.

Here is the rub.  Our inaction is the only guarantee of our defeat.

This week, in Durban, South Africa, the representatives of the global poor are dashing themselves on the rocks of those who represent us, the nations of privilege, desperately hoping to get our representatives to see reason.  I listened to Apisai Ielemia, Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, whose nation will be entirely underwater in my lifetime, asking, in vain, only that we set and enforce a limit on what we are entitled to spew out into the air, the ocean of air on which we all depend.

The planet is warming and the polar ice caps are melting faster than even the most pessimistic scientists predicted.  That’s not just bad news for Tuvalu.  It means the storms we’ve seen this fall, storms that our neighbors in Bloomsburg are still recovering from, will become commonplace.  It means that we can no longer depend upon the weather patterns we require to grow our food.  We’ve seen the effects already on the bee populations, these unpaid, unsung heroes of the food system without which we would be hamstrung in our efforts to feed ourselves.

How many of us are already feeling the effects of this emergency?  How many have more friends sick or dead from cancers and other chronic ailments than they believed possible?  How many have seen their households striven by divorce or their children founder on the way to independence?  How many have already lost their jobs, our homes to this scandalous betrayal by our corporate elite?

So there is the problem.  We are all too busy, and feel too powerless, to undertake the collective actions we need to change our deadly course, but unless we change course, we will only become more embattled.

The only answer I can see is this:  We have to act together.   And we have to do it now.

We have to act on two fronts.  One is to interrupt business as usual in order to change the course we are on. This means challenging the priorities of the institutions we are part of and the institutions on which we depend. The longer we wait, the more serious the disruption to the planet and its people.  The other is to continue to maintain and extend a safety net for each other, to mitigate the harsh effects of this increasingly heartless system on our community.

So I know it seems that coming together on a monthly basis to hold signs and listen to each other seems futile.  But despair is the very glue that holds this immoral system together.  And the only thing that dissolves that glue is our unrelenting determination to show up – to show up against the odds, against the dictates of our unmanageable schedules, against the ongoing demands of our children, our jobs and our marriages.

And, I know it is counter-intuitive, we need to celebrate.  Yes, celebrate.  Because unless we find some joy in this most perilous moment that we inhabit, we will surely be pulled under by the tides of resignation.   We need to call on the better angels of our most resilient selves to laugh at the absurdity of the army arrayed before us, to weaken their hold on us through our ability to sing, to speak poetry, to enact on stage our refusal to be swallowed up.

We need to activate our most creative, most resilient selves in order to be able to imagine what we can do in the face of this deepening crisis.  We need to draw encouragement from what we see in each other, our faces that reflect back to us the knowledge that we can do this impossible thing.

That is the reason I am asking you to continue to lend your support to the Occupy Lewisburg gatherings.  That’s why I am asking you to come to Cherry Alley on Friday night.  Just show up once a month, on top of everything else you are doing, to lend your encouragement and support to others and, in turn, to gather strength of purpose and resolve to continue to insist that we can learn to live with each other with respect, in solidarity, and in mutual recognition of the enormity of what we are facing.

If you can’t make dinner, come after dinner.  Read the attached articles and think about what you would like us to all to take up. If you can’t come Friday, join us at the Post Office from noon to one on Saturday, bring your homemade sign, and share your abiding presence.

If you can’t make either, I get that, but please, somehow seek to make visible your continuing support for our courageous collective effort, the effort to create a world that makes sense for us, for the people of Tuvalu and for all those who come next.

In solidarity,

David Kristjanson-Gural

Occupy Cherry Alley!

For Immediate Release: Occupy Lewisburg Downsized

Early this morning official sources within the Mayor’s office confirmed that Occupy Lewisburg had been downsized. “We just can’t put this many protesters to good use,” Mayor Judy explained, “I mean, how much civil unrest can we handle with just a part-time staff? Really.”

The 300 strong supporters of Occupy Wall St. have not taken the downsizing sitting down. “Fine,” said organizer David Kristjanson-Gural, “Just fine. Be that way.” The organizing committee has proposed a new action that will involve, well, sitting down.

“Occupy Cherry Alley!” the rallying cry of the new, smaller, leaner occupying force, intends to take over the local café on December 9th, beginning at 6 pm.

“We will not be silenced,” Kim Daubman emphasized, “Except during the actual part where we eat.”

“The whole town was just getting to be too… roomy,” Robin Jarrell added.

“No progressive movement can sustain itself long, in the absence of art, humor and song,” rhymed David Kristjanson-Gural. “We hope people will come, express their views and support the movement, but not be too windy.”

To submit proposals for the open mic segment of the evening, contact kristjan@bucknell.edu

Tickets are $14 available in advance at, where else, Cherry Alley.

Oh, yes, Earl Pickens will perform. You don’t want to miss that.

Actual Useful Information:

Friday, December 9th, 6-10pm

Dinner: Indian (Chicken or Vegetarian) $14

Tea, Coffee and Dessert a la Carte, BYOB

Tickets available at Cherry Alley beginning Wednesday, Nov.30th. Seating is limited.

Open Mic:

During Dinner – Tell us what you envision for Occupy Lewisburg community

After Dinner – Skits, stories, songs, theatre, humor, express your views creatively.

Please let us know what you intend to contribute by emailing (kristjan@bucknell.edu) by Dec. 7th.

Earl Pickens will close out the evening with a fine solo performance.

Occupy Wall St.: Getting to know you

Occupy Wall St. befuddles the corporate media but that’s only because the message is so simple, so reasonable, and so unwelcome to corporate interests.  We want our democracy back; we want economic justice.  By occupying public space in approximately 350 cities and towns across the country, Occupy Wall St. is creating a dialogue about what has happened to our economy and democracy, how we can act to restore integrity to our democratic institutions and how we can restore fairness to our economic lives.

 

The occupations are making it possible for this debate to occur but they are doing more.  The occupiers themselves are also demonstrating, by their internal organization, what real democracy looks like.  The occupiers are taking their responsibilities as citizens seriously.  They are informing themselves, discussing issues, formulating tactics and engaging in non-violent civil disobedience in an effort, as Mahatma Gandhi recommended, to “be the change they want to see in the world.”

 

If we believe their two key messages – that our democracy is not working and that we need to restore economic justice – then we have a civic responsibility to take heed of the example of these, our fellow citizens.  We have a responsibility to inform ourselves of the arguments and evidence concerning our economic and political institutions, to decide what we believe to be true, and to then take what actions we deem to be appropriate.

 

We cannot rely on corporate media sources to uncover the message and meaning of Occupy Wall St.  To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the corporate media is not the solution to the problem; the corporate media is the problem.  By all means, examine what these folks are saying about this movement, but then check this version of the facts with other sources, sources not beholden to shareholders or corporate money.

 

Here is a short list of a few sources that will provide you with a powerful antidote to what the corporate media has been selling, sources that will help you to determine, for yourself what is true, and what is to be done.

 

For an overview of the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that began in 2008, see the documentary Inside Job, produced and directed by Charles Ferguson.  You can purchase this film inexpensively on-line and it is well worth the small investment, or you can borrow the film from Netflix or a local library.

 

http://www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/

 

For ideas concerning how ordinary citizens can act to restore control of government regulation and insist that elected representative represent the will of the people:

 

1. Learn about how Iceland is responding to the crisis by using referenda to wrest control of the economic lives from the corporate financial elites.

 

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/15-3

 

2. Learn about how Maine has passed electoral reform to support public financing of elections.

 

http://www.newrules.org/governance/rules/campaign-finance-reform/campaign-finance-reform-maine

 

For news and editorial coverage that is supportive of the aims of the Occupy Wall St. movement :

 

http://www.commondreams.org

http://www.truth-out.org/

http://www.democracynow.org/

 

For economic facts, figures, humor and analysis:

 

http://anticap.wordpress.com/

 

For local information on Occupy Wall St. actions.

 

http://www.facebook.com/groups/132952800139539/

 

http://spillingink.net

 

If you support the value of democratic participation, inform yourself by confronting information in both corporate and non-corporate forms of media.  You find some surprising information and points of view.  And you will come to hold your beliefs with the secure foundation of having grappled with others who think differently.