As potlucks often miraculously provide, the spread included all courses from appetizers to dessert. In much the same way, our discussions revealed an astonishing variety of activism and depth of networking.
The nature and evolution of Occupy has been much on my mind lately. A visiting professor had given a talk about his research into Occupy, speaking of it in the past tense. I sat in the audience with several other local Occupiers trying to square this with my personal experience of Occupy here in my town. I thought I would present this local gathering as a way of answering whether Occupy was still a force for change or if it had vanished with the encampments.
After the dozen of us had finished eating, we went around the table to speak about what we were involved in. Many of these groups and projects were begun from individual Occupiers who stepped up in leadership roles.
May Day Solidarity Fair—Our third year, this fair brings over fifty groups together for networking and public education.
350.org—Recently, an Occupier organized a Climate Change Summit which was cosponsored by 29 groups and attended by over 250 people. Networking continues for all the groups attending.
Street Dawgs & Cats Care Fair—Our third year, these biannual free clinics for pets of the homeless offers vet care, pet food and pet supplies.
Occupy Reading Group—Our third year, people meet twice monthly to discuss readings in a room in the OSU Philosophy department.
Veterans for Peace—Many ongoing activities, the most recent an effort to provide alternatives to military service to high school students by networking with school counselors.
KXL Pipeline Resistance—Very active group which fights fossil fuel hegemony on many fronts, now bringing suit against the state with others for wrongful permitting of Megaloads related to the KXL pipeline.
Eyes Opening: Ideas for a Compassionate Society-- "Eyesopening is a vehicle for sharing stories, visions, and tools that will excite us and stimulate more compassionate interactions in our communities and our world. You can help create a community of visionaries by writing or recording articles and interviews, commenting, or just being a regular visitor." (currently seeking writers and submissions of work of all kinds on a variety of topics such as slow violence.)
Faces of Occupy Corvallis Project--In its third year also, this project puts together video interviews of people involved in Occupy on the ground.
Bayer Bee Care Tour direct action—Recent direct action to protest Bayer at OSU, including outreach to other Occupys along the rest of the tour.
Community Rights Campaign--Two-year-old effort through the courts to place a local food ordinance on the ballot which enshrines real people's Constitutional rights over corporations to protect our local agricultural and environmental systems.
Oregon Right to Know initiative campaign for GMO labeling—Failure of state legislation in this session, Oregonians are moving forward with an initiative to place a GMO labeling bill on the ballot in November.
IWW—Our own local chapter of the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) in their ongoing work on unionization for all.
OSU Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign This campaign is moving forward by gathering endorsements (and petition signatures!) to demand that the OSU Foundation revise its portfolio to divest in the fossil fuel industry.
The consensus was that these issues are all one and required support from all of us. The updates on activism included a full menu of tools for change: state legislation, local and state initiative campaigns, petitions, letters to the editor, lawsuits, court orders, collaborative public events, and direct action. Networking partners included local high school counselors, state and national legislators, interstate Occupys, national movement leaders, Presidential candidates, and a dizzying array of local, national and international non-profits and groups working for change. We shared resources about media coverage, local networking, and upcoming educational opportunities.
Several of us had attended the 32nd annual international PIELC and reported back our interactions with groups and people including conversations with Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party Presidential candidate.
To me, Occupy has neither succeeded nor failed but is continuing. My local Occupy has evolved from street protests to embrace a full panoply of civic engagement and civil disobedience. I imagine that people in communities all across the nation are persisting in our fight for democracy and social justice.
Occupy moves forward.