The Occupation of small town America

For those of you who didn’t attend the Tournament of Roses Parade earlier this week in Pasadena, there was one good float. It took the form of a giant octopus. No footage of it was broadcast, as far as I know, as it wasn’t an officially-sanctioned, corporate-sponsored entry. If you want, though, you can find footage of the giant, green cephalopod bouncing around happily to swing music here… Well, for whatever reason, I took a liking to the Occupy Octopus, and I began reading up on his appearance at the parade, and the way in which he was greeted by onlookers. Here are just a few of the comments that reporters heard directed at the folks animating his 25-foot long, recycled plastic bag legs.

“You people are no more than communist revolutionaries who destroy our country.”

“Get a job!”

“You guys had your 15 minutes.”

The last comment is the one that really got my attention. I think it’s something that a lot of folks are probably thinking. As the Occupy movement hasn’t been getting a lot of press these days, I think there’s a sense among the general population that it’s withered away and died. I think a lot of people feel as though the movement’s fifteen minutes are up. I don’t think that’s the case, though. I think that, like our friend the octopus, it’s just changing shape, and recreating itself. At least that’s what I’m seeing on the ground in Ypsi, where people will be meeting tomorrow to discuss how best to apply our talents in service of the shared goals brought to light by the Occupy movement. And I suspect that the same thing is happening everywhere. People, many of whom are becoming engaged for the first time in their lives, are looking at their communities, and trying to find ways to make them stronger, more nurturing, and more resilient. So, while the first 15 minutes may be up, I don’t think that’s the end of the movement. I don’t think three months of positive job growth, a season of holiday parties, and a few thousand canisters of pepper spray, are enough to wipe away the reality of the situation, which is that the American dream is fading away before our eyes, as our middle class is being systematically dismantled. No, this isn’t done by a long shot. How could it be when our public libraries are closing all around us, our kids are being forced into classrooms of 60, and more and more of us are being forced into bankruptcy by astronomical health care costs and student debt?

The next meeting of Occupy Ypsi, for those of you who would like to join the conversation, will take place tomorrow at 3:00 PM, at the new Community Records facility, above St. Luke’s Episcopal Church [120 North Huron, Ypsilanti]. From what I understand, there will be music-related activities for kids, while the rest of us brainstorm, build consensus, set goals, etc. It should be a good time.

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  1. Edward
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I always liked the song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, but I don’t think I ever appreciated how prescient Gil Scott-Heron was. Living through this brings a whole new appreciation.

  2. Eel
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully this won’t make it less likely for Community Records to get state of Michigan grants in the future.

    Will someone post an update for those of us who can’t attend today?

  3. Meta
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Dear friends,

    Our first general assembly was fabulous; and yet there remains much to do. Please join us for our second GA, and bring with you whomever you can.

    Saturday, January 14
    3:00 p.m.
    at Community Records
    120 N. Huron, Ypsi
    (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, upstairs)

    For parents, there will be a Community Records teacher on hand, to lead the children in music-making and merriment.

    With regards from,
    Occupy Ypsilanti

  4. Posted March 2, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    We meet tomorrow, March 3, from 3–5 p.m. at the Senior Center. You’re all encouraged to stop by.

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