We’ve been Occupying this tiny town in the Four Corners area since last October to beneficial effect, imo. I introduced readers to our wee Occupation here back in January (includes very funky and cool photos), and this past Saturday it occurred to me to share our recent experiences and small victories with you in hopes that you may be inspired to engage in similar efforts.
This photo of the valley was taken at the Mancos Overlook on the way up to Mesa Verde National Park; the town of 1334 residents is visible if you squint a bit; Mr. wendydavis and I live at the right side of the picture under the small mountain named Menefee, just about halfway down the photo; the lovely La Plata range is above.
We’re in Montezuma County, which the late Edward Abbey long ago dubbed ‘Dipstick County, Colorado’. He’s right, and by and large it’s a pretty red county, and it’s clear by now that no Dems or Indies should run for County Commissioner unless said person enjoys sadistic humiliation at the ballot box. But as all areas have wonderful and kind residents, this county is no exception; once upon a time we even had a vibrant Democratic Party in which I was extremely active, but those days are distant memories now.
A contingent of recent arrivals hope to make Mancos the next Sedona artiste community, so we’re now a mix of salty ranchers, farmers, latte liberals and small-time entrepreneurs. The population is mainly anglo, with about 15% of the population is Mexican/Hispanic/Native American.
Our Occupy consists of two members, Mr. wendydavis and myownself, and we Occupy a corner at the intersection of the only two paved streets in town on Saturdays for an hour at about one o’clock.
Now and again different folks have let us know that they’d join us, but as they’ve all been the Move-On/American Spring adherents, we mumble grateful declines. Beyond philosophical differences over the purpose of the democracy movement, we both believe that small is better, which conviction I’ll explain soon.
To provide some atmospherics behind our experiences, I need to say that most traffic that passes us is vehicular; it’s a Western town, thus plenty of latter day ‘ponies’ (pickup trucks and cars) go by as folks pass through in or out of the wider valley, another thousand people or so. Other cars are a mix of beaters and newer ones, even a few hybrids and Lexuses (Lexi?) sprinkled around. Climate change seems to have brought an eerily early spring, so tourists and fat-tire bicyclists are increasingly cruising through, maybe doing a bit of lunching or shopping at the artsy shops.
We’ve become a fixture during that time slot, and folks let us know they noticed if we couldn’t make it due to inclement weather (a freezing strong north wind, for instance). One very cool thing is that support has been increasing all the time, which to me means a couple things: folks are increasingly aware of the meanings of ‘the 99%’ and ‘Occupy Wall Street’ which our signs display, and that they may be figuring out which side they’re on. They must have been clicking through the files in their minds since the last time they saw us on the corner, calculating how hard it is now to earn money, find a job, pay for gas, groceries, a phone, and medical bills…while Fat Cats are rolling in money, in careless disregard of their wants and needs. The images must look increasingly wrong, as do reports of ‘Recovery’.
Measuring support is hard, as different days bring different results, but in general I’d guess at least 60% of the cars going by either bring honks, waves, twinkles, or thumbs-ups, with here and there some encouraging calls out the windows. We’ve had very few strong negative reactions; a couple emphatic negative head-shakes ‘NO’, a couple thumbs-down. The saddest was from a ten-or-eleven-year-old kid on the passenger side near us as Dad turned the corner. ‘Dad’ had obviously issued instructions, and the poor kid made an Ugly Face, and did an energetic two handed thumbs-down with his entire upper body; it just depressed the hell outta me knowing how proud he must have been pantomiming his dad’s disapproval for him (How’d I do, Dad, huh?”). As in: kids aren’t born learning to hate.
But back to the choice to be essentially a Binary Occupy:
In full disclosure, I’ll admit that one reason is that we can make a little sport of guessing by faces and ‘ponies’ (First American for ‘rides’) what might be going on in the heads of folks who look away from us lest they meet our eyes or scowl a bit; Mr. wendydavis says I’ve developed a particularly comical and demonic form of low-pitched laughter that bubbles out of me to go along with the slightly disparaging brief narratives I’m wont to utter. Okay, it’s not really One Love stuff, but it passes the time, and is…seriously fun.
The other reason we like it is this: as two, we are not intimidating as a big group would be. Plus we dress up a bit so as not to be targets for ‘get a job ya dirty hippies’ catcalls, but really, so we look approachable, meaning that sometimes people stop their cars to come and talk to us, or pedestrians cross the street to ask us what the hell we’re doing; in the kindest possible way, of course. ;o)
As we explain what the democracy movement is about, as in: the fact that increasingly the corporations own not only our government in terms of contributions to candidates, but that they essentially write the tax code and anti-regulatory laws that ensure their maximum profit and endless bailouts for which taxpayers foot the bill. Post financial meltdown is a good place to start, and then scoot back to earlier deregulation of Wall Street under Clinton, and what caused the meltdown and losses to their homes’ values and pensions. We explain that the old labels of Left and Right, Democrat and Republican don’t matter any longer: it’s a top/bottom wealth division that is at the core of it. We listen to our visitors, and try to answer their questions in ways that make them see more clearly that electoral politics are pretty much beside the point now except for a few possible social issues, and that even those are no sure bets any longer, as there are few politicians with any remaining ideological convictions, and that SCOTUS is no longer a hallmark of higher Constitutional deliberation, but an increasingly politically partisan institution. TILT.
Depending on our visitors and their questions and concerns, we might speak of Endless War based on chimerical ‘terrorist’ excuses, police state issues, the death of first amendment freedoms, the military budget, dying national infrastructure, etc. But always, always coming back to what the democracy movement is trying to accomplish: wresting our nation back from the Plutocracy that will soon own us lock, stock and barrel, and that with the recent laws and executive orders in place, any one of us can be declared an ‘enemy of the state’, and held without charges, effectively becoming ‘Un-people’, or ‘the disappeared’. The new SCOTUS strip-searching decision the Obama administration worked hard to support will be a good story in future conversations.
It continues to amaze me how many of visitors end up in accord with us; you can practically see the wheels turning and the gears clicking in their heads as they begin to accept a narrative that ballasts what they may have sensed, but not understood that might lie behind the propaganda on their teevee’s evening news.
I swear, I love it like all giddyup! And when the odd person calls out, “The only cure now is revolution”, I practically swoon, and laugh with utter abandon and glee, reminding myself that folks are saying that in Mancos, Colorado. Outstanding!
So if you want to make a difference, albeit a small one (but think of the power of millions of ’em), grab a friend (so you don’t feel like an idiot), make some signs, and Occupy a Corner. Talk to folks; they need to hear what’s really going on in our country. I keep thinking that even large Occupies could send out folks armed with simple explanatory pamphlets, like a New Common Sense, into the communities to encourage one-on-one conversations. Yes, it’s slow, but it feels good, and spreads the word.
Occupy Everywhere! Rock and Roll The Democracy Movement! Make it fun!
Stay strong, and spread love and true feelings of community,