I've been participating in OccupyDC for a few weeks now. I've camped, marched, attended rallies, donated food and change, and no, the woman in the wingnut video is NOT using her kids as a human shield.
So, yeah, I participate when and where I can.
Then, something magical happened.
A good friend from high school moved home from LA and he's fed up with the way things are going in rural Ohio. He's fed up with double digit unemployment, that only gets worse in December, January and February (we're rural, farming isn't really taking place at these times). And he met other fed up people, which is not hard to do at all in Ashtabula.
So, Rod and the "others" decided, they had had enough.
More below the fold...
My hometown is very picturesque. We have more covered bridges than anywhere in the country. We have the longest and the shortest in the world and one, is even named after my family. My cousin, Julie, even runs a covered bridge museum right near the Olin's bridge.
We are a very agrarian and fishing community. There is some manufacturing, but not much. And most of the union jobs fled the area, long ago. My dad lost his pension when the Ashtabula Bow Socket closed in 1980. The old factory is now a plastics factory and they pay just above minimum wage.
It's with this backdrop of low wages jobs, agrarian community and depressed economy that Mother Jones makes the case about poverty in the US and how it came about, it's like they're channeling the decline of my home:
Nor are these catastrophic levels of poverty merely a temporary response to rising unemployment rates or reductions in take-home pay resulting from the great economic meltdown of 2008. The numbers tell the story and it's clear enough: poverty was on the rise before the Great Recession hit. Between 2001 and 2007, poverty actually increased for the first time on record during an economic recovery. It rose from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 12.5 percent in 2007. Poverty rates for single mothers in 2007 were 49 percent higher in the US than in 15 other high-income countries. Similarly, black employment rates and income were declining before the recession struck.
In part, all of this was the inevitable fallout from a decades-long business mobilization to reduce labor costs by weakening unions and changing public policies that protected workers and those same unions. As a result, National Labor Board decisions became far less favorable to both workers and unions, workplace regulations were not enforced, and the minimum wage lagged far behind inflation.
Inevitably, the overall impact of the campaign to reduce labor's share of national earnings meant that a growing number of Americans couldn't earn even a poverty-level livelihood and even that's not the whole of it. The poor and the programs that assisted them were the objects of a full-bore campaign directed specifically at them.
okay, okay, enough about poverty and the movement, everyone gets this, let's talk about Rod and OccupyBula!
So, everyone got together and got a permit. They are granted a week, and the city is providing porto-potties. Pretty nice of them. The facebook page has over 100 on it and more campers, every night.
They have a general assembly and they held the 1st meeting in the gazebo in North Park. North Park was renamed last year in honor of the Police Chief's son who died in combat. It's an oddly sore subject in town. We have memorials all over town to merchant marines, sailors, WWI and II vets, Vietnam, etc...but no names on anything public to any of our fallen, until this one. Not like we were original in naming our parks, there's North Park and there's South Park, and then lots of beaches. Most folks still think of this and it's still signed as, North Park. But look at all the folks at the GA!
It started with a an idea that things in this country are just not fair. Lots of folks don't understand what the movement is about, you can even see it in the comments to the story in theAshtabula Star-Beacon. But today, 2 days in, the encampment in North Park grows, 15 strong to start, and it's already grown.
So, welcome to the Occupy movement, my little home town. Welcome to all the of the 99% at Occupy Ashtabula! I'm so happy to see you all doing this!