I must admit, I really don’t understand the impetus behind the “Occupy” movement spreading across our nation. And, I obviously had no idea how passionate people are about it before I tweeted/ facebooked my conversation with my daughter about it:

Angie Millgate
AngieMillgate Angie Millgate 
Passing Occupy SLC in Pioneer Park, Kait said, “those people are still there??! EW! Imagine how they smell!” 18 Oct Favorite Reply Delete

I found her flippant, 14-year-old-typical remark to be absolutely hilarious. My followers? Not so much. The fallout from this posting is still rolling in and, while I’m still getting questions and a slight, short battle erupted on my FB page, I’m still not impressed with the whole “Occupy” thing.

One of my followers sent me an email:

Just noticed a tweet you made re “Occupy SLC in Pioneer park” and your daughter commenting upon how they must smell?

I hope she understands how corporate greed is destroying the planet and of how those people are working so hard to influence change. I’m sure she was just joking though but wanted to make sure of that?

I imagine you are like me in that you don’t like to hear people you admire being ridiculed. Not that they were in this case of course

And my response:

Thank you for your response. I do not feel as though you criticized my daughter. This topic, apparently, is a heated topic here in Utah. I had no idea, until I tweeted that, what was going to come at me. The whole “Occupy” movement makes no sense to me, so she’s as aware of it as I can teach her to be. See… while I COMPLETELY admire and respect and support the views of those who are “Occupying”, I do not agree with the way they are going about it. As I see it, having a bunch of people sleeping in tents around the nation for weeks on end as “protest” to the greed on Wall Street is not, in my opinion, the most effective way to go about invoking change. In a way, I view their tactics as futile and believe there is a better approach to changing this nation’s policies – although I am the first to admit, I have no idea what that could be. I believe it was Ghandi who once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” They are not really BEING the change they want to see. They are camping out in the parks. I am willing to admit that maybe I do not understand ALL that they are doing and maybe I don’t have the whole story about their approach. It is also really possible that I am missing the bigger picture and that I really have no idea WHAT their point is, but as I see it, I’m not sure how camping in tents in public parks is “proving their point” (whatever it is) OR how it is going to get policies to change. Those who make the policies are most likely not at all moved by hordes of “hippies” – as they are being judged to be – sleeping out in tents and looking generally “lazy” – as they are also being judged to be. As I see it, their approach is ineffective. In the end, what positive change are they being???

I think that pretty much sums up how I think/feel about the “Occupy” practices, thus far.

Occupy SLC vs Homeless SLC

image shot by Chris Derrick for Salt Lake Tribune

Now, as I see it, those who are “active Occupiers” are the middle class who are enraged by the ultra-rich who have everything. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune said as much… (go here to find the article that is linked to the awesome picture I’ve used for this post…) I imagine that in every state where there is an “Occupy” home base, there is also a homeless population. I was told yesterday that, in New York, they have “big money” that people have donated to the cause and it’s banked in some independently-owned small bank in NY and that, in NY, they’ve also accumulated a warehouse full of donated food for the “Occupiers.” From what I gather, that food and money is only in support of the “Occupiers.”

Now, as this photo so aptly captures, here in Utah, we’ve had a homeless population “issue” for a hell of a lot longer than this “Occupy” movement has been around. I am going to boldly assume that most, if not all, of those “Occupiers” in Salt Lake were the very people who turned their noses up at “the homeless” and were some of the people whose favorite stance was, “Get a job, ya bum!” I can assume this because the “middle class” has historically been offended by the “lower class” AND the “upper class” because the “middle class” is the group of people doing all the work and paying the cost for everyone. Perhaps, having their living quarters neck-to-neck with the very population upon which they can look down has changed their point of views. One can hope for that, but really… what good are they doing/being, by having a prolonged camping trip in a public, downtown park???!

Here in this great “free” nation of America, we are supposed to all be equal. But, that has never really been the case. And, all that aside, if all this money and food that is going to support the “Occupiers” were actually put to productive use, maybe we could see a change. I guess – and I’m willing to hold space for this to happen – that, due to this nation-wide camp out, there could be eventual change in the policies and practices of our nation’s financial powers and that the homeless population “problem” could also be solved at the same time. Yes. Maybe it could all happen like a beautiful Hollywood movie with a grand, sweeping, orchestral musical finale and glorious sunset to boot, but I just can’t see how putting money and food behind these “Occupying” people is getting anything productive done.

I’m really willing to admit that I don’t know a whole heckuva lot about this and that, perhaps, I know just enough to get people riled up and find myself in the middle of a shit storm. Yeah. I know. Bring it on. Enlighten me. Educate me. Help me see this “Occupy” movement as something other than the idiotic, futile, wasteful, greedy plan that I currently see it to be. The thing is, with what I do know and with I see and with what I feel and with what information I have received from other realms, this ain’t cutting it, people. And, yes, I do not have the slightest clue on a better way to “solve” our nation’s problems. All I do know is, there has got to be a more effective way.

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0 Responses to Occupy SLC

  1. Hi Angie

    I didn’t notice an email but take your point
    I was merely highlighting a contradiction nothing else. No challenge in there at all. She may well be a great friend of yours. But, her post had an element of passive-aggressive communication which to the trained eye is very detectable. No big deal really and perhaps I should have just let it pass me by? Trouble is, I have this thing about contradictions and stuff. If you or Celes knew me in person it would be something I would challenge too. But not in a way that would cause offence as it appears to have done here. We are all experts and none of us like to have our foundations rocked – even just a bit.
    Cyberspace can reflect all that is wrong in life and all that is good too. A bit like real life in that people are free (mostly) to offer opinions.
    Show public support for Cele by all means. I’m sure she will warm to you for that. A private email from you may have been appropriate too?
    Me? Well, I think in the grand scheme of things it’s time to take my leave.
    Life is to short for brief misunderstandings to cloud relationships and in doing so dilute all the good that comes from them.
    I wish you and Celes well for the future. We are involved in a similar struggle albeit from different angles at times.

    Take care

    Ste

  2. Thanks for your reply Angie :)
    If you’d like to check it out and learn more, there’s an events calendar here: http://occupyslc.org/event

    It doesn’t look like there is full schedule of the Free School classes on here, but the info tent at the park will usually have a list.

  3. Cele says:

    Hey Angie, your blog and subsequent responses are thought provokings and informative. May I add one or two small points. In the sixties we stood up and shouted, while sadly some violence erupted the once silent (roll over and play dead) majority stood up and spoke out against so many inequities and wrongs. To quote Stephen Stills, Jesus Christ was the first non violent revolutionary. Change happened. And Americans rolled over and played dead.

    As noted above all is not equal, all is noted fair, and the homeless class is growing, the middle class is disappearing and the worker class is expected to be senseless drones. Ghandi would have approved of the majority of the “Occupy” protest going on.

    You don’t need to be violent, you don’t need to be disrespectful, but you do need to be seen, heard, and understood.

    I applaud the civil obedience of the “Occupy” organizers and protesters – Americans (especially the working middle and lower [I hate saying lower] class).

    In reading what your “friend” wrote I was bothered by her tone to you. Jennifer’s was much more intelligent, helpful, and respectful. More intone with whole “Occupy” movement.

    Thank you my friend for the platform.

    • Cele,
      Thank you for your response. I appreciate your additional viewpoints on this much-heated topic. I also really appreciated Jennifer’s information. She is usually a source of brilliance so I’m greatly appreciative that she showed up here to share.

    • Hi Cele

      You stated…

      “In reading what your “friend” wrote I was bothered by her tone to you.”

      It may be “in tone with the Occupy movement” to refrain from passive-aggressive comments too? Far better to approach directly the person whose “tone” “bothered” you?

      Just a thought

      Stephen

      • Stephen,

        I debated whether to “approve” this comment or not, mostly because I don’t like the challenge you presented within it and given the fact that my good, personal friend Cele was writing in response to exactly what I wrote in this post. First, my post does not reveal the author of the post Cele was bothered by, she did not have a way to address this “friend” directly. Secondly, I know that, had Cele known who the author was, she would have addressed that person directly.

        I made a promise to myself that this space would be a safe space for ALL who enter herein and although I am bothered by your challenging tone, I will leave it because it seems innocuous enough. I do suggest, however, that you practice what you preach. This comment to Cele is a very public challenge for her to approach the commenter directly. You know it was Cele who commented about my “friend” because she is commenting with a public profile that is linked to an email address, therefore YOU could have approached her directly with your advice.

        And, for the record, I realize that I could have done the same here – approach you directly. My goal in posting this publicly is so that we can all know that I prefer “challenges” to be on a person-to-person basis, rather than done publicly here on my blog.

        Thanks,
        Angie

  4. Angie,
    Looks like I kicked up a storm hee hee

    Jennifer,
    I so loved your response to Angie, so knowledgeable and informative.
    Keep up the good work!

    Have to leave a link as always hee hee
    http://youtu.be/KrPDQeNo52M

    Ste

  5. I should also add that Occupy SLC is also collecting coats, hats, gloves, sleeping bags, and more for the homeless in the park.

    And one other thing I noticed when hanging out at the camp on Sunday, and my brief visit to bring food on Wednesday — not really any nasty smells from the occupiers.

    • OH! That is AWESOME! I’m grateful to hear they are doing something for the previous tenants of the park. YAY! Thank you for letting me know.

      and… LOL… I’ll let Kait know that the Occupiers aren’t all too bad smelling. Thanks for that update, too.

  6. Hi Angie,

    You are expressing a desire to learn more, so I hope my comments are helpful.

    I wouldn’t categorize the Occupy SLC people as those who would tell the homeless to “get a job bums!” — there is a lot of effort being made to get along with the homeless in the park. When I visited the camp last Sunday, there was a “free school” class going on teaching ed-escalation skills as many in the camp wanted to learn ways to get along with the homeless in the park. I attended a Free School class on alternative currency while I was which was attended by both protesters and a few homeless.

    The camp kitchen set up in the park serves anyone that comes by — homeless, protester, whomever. When I stopped by and was looking at their “wish list”, some kitchen volunteers asked if they could get me anything, cup of coffee, etc.

    There has been a lot of discussion about the location of the camp. Pioneer Park is the only location that SLC will issue a permit for. So the discussion that’s been happening has been should the Occupation stay at the permitted location, or should it move civil-disobediently? Personally, I think camping out in front of the Federal Reserve or some of the banks would be ideal to make the point, but since I’m not putting my body on the line by being a major player in the protest it’s not really up for me to say.

    I also don’t know if I’d categorize the protesters as middle class. Many may have been raised in middle class homes, but the middle class is quickly shrinking to the point of no longer existing. Unemployment is now at all time high, and young people graduating from college are graduating with much higher debt than my generation (I went to college in the early 90s, and college education costs much more, even adjusting for inflation, than it did then) and little hope for employment. So a lot of the youth involved in these protests would be lucky to be considered lower-middle class, if that.

    Thanks to the banks — and other corrupt corporate entities – we are in a really huge financial mess around the world. Back in 2008 the banks gambling crashed the economy — and then we the taxpayers had to bail them out to the tune of 700 Billion Dollars $700,000,000,000. After the bailouts, there was a lack of putting any restrictions in place to prevent it from happening again, and now the banks continue to foreclose on homes and the reverberations of their bad deeds continue to this day. Banks and corporations have bought the politicians, so it’s unlikely that they’ll get reigned in from the government.

    This protest is a first step — it build awareness of the issue, gets people ready to work on what needs to get worked on to make change. The next step, actually making the change, will be harder. But it would be impossible if people didn’t set the ground work with the protests — if people just went along in their daily lives as if nothing happened (which many can’t do, as the economic reverberations have caused more unemployment, more poverty, more homelessness.)

    It’s interesting that you would mention Gandhi — he was a pioneer of non-violent protest/civil disobedience. Gandhi organized many such protests that the modern protest movement is based upon. I’m hopeful that the Occupy protesters will continue to stay non-violent and that these types of movements will birth new Gandhis and MLKs. That won’t be an easy task, as it’s hard to control who joins your protest,but I believe at the heart of it, there are many people who have studied non-violence.

    Another hero of non-violent civil disobedience, Tim DeChristopher, recently weighed in on the Occupy movement, and he has a lot of enlightening things to say in a recent Rolling Stone interview. This would be a good place to learn more about the Occupy movement if you are interested in why they are doing what they are doing, and why this type of protest is so important: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/exclusive-interview-with-jailed-climate-activist-tim-dechristopher-20111019

    There’s also a spiritual element to the protest — I just heard about a “meditation mob” that’s organized for this Saturday as part of the Occupy events: http://www.facebook.com/groups/slcmedmob/

    • Thank you SO MUCH, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer my questions and give me more information to chew upon. I appreciate the effort you put into this response and all the background you have given me. I also appreciate that it gives me a different point of view so that I can think more intelligently about what is going on. It still doesn’t make sense to me – I can’t logically see how people sleeping in the park will lead to the end of corruption. But, I am able to accept that it is the first step to something more. Thank you, again. I really do appreciate all you’ve provided for me and anyone else who lands here.

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