Make Art, Not War

Monday, September 17, 2012

1 year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street NYC

 (my speech at our rally at People's plaza, Mpls 09/17/12) 

It’s great to be back here. I can’t tell you how many memories happened right here on this plaza. Memories that have solidified into a single lump of time for me-
The Occupation of Minneapolis: People’s plaza.
Tough as nails, dense and complicated. Life is a messy thing. We learned that first hand out here. It was one of many lessons.

I slept right over there, under the stars and under a tarp. We slept in the overpass when it rained, and people sent us pizzas and deliveries of coffee when it got cold. I didn’t know anybody, and I didn’t have any expectations- just here to see what this was all about. The 99% what’s that about? People over profits. What’s all this?

It’s crazy to think it’s been a year, and here we are. A lot has happened for us, and across the country, and around the world. I can tell you what I learned, man, I fought the law and the   law won. When we tried to sue the county over the way they were treating us, they basically laughed in our faces. We tried to hold an intersection in front of U.S. bank to talk about home foreclosures and the cops cleared us out and threw the book at us. The occupation didn’t last. It couldn’t stand. It wasn’t allowed to. And now here we are, still coming together, but without the buzz and the anticipation and the media attention. Yet here we still are.

Well, nobody said it was going to be easy. And I don’t think anyone seriously committed to change came down here expecting that the establishment was just going to give in, that the police would be there to clear the path to freedom. They are the ones who set up the roadblocks, send in the infiltrators, who pass out drugs and call us the problem. The media was never on our side either! They weren’t going to pick up this story and do all the work for us, spreading our message far and wide and undistorted. So Middle America doesn’t get us- so what? No one ever mentions that they don’t want to, that it’s easier to stay safe in their little boxes and be mindlessly entertained.
And when the going got tough, the crowd got smaller. (laughs) 
But here we still are.

So, are we going to listen to the news?
and let them tell us that we’ve gone away?
Are we going to listen to the politicians?
who are clamoring for our attention right now, and let them fool us into thinking that this figurehead or that one is the answer to all of our problems?

Of course not- it’s nonsense.

The occupation may have fizzled out, but we are awake now. There is no going back from here. So, yes, it’s good to look over the last year and learn what we can and reminisce, but I came here with a mind and a hope for the future. Because hope is not a trade marked phrase of the Obama administration. Hope is not a bullet point on a flyer. It is a personal endeavor. An individual contribution to the whole. So I came here tonight with my hopes and my dreams for the future, and a little poem that I’d like to share called Beautiful World, cause this isn’t over- it has only just begun.

Beautiful World

I have lived my life in fear and found no solace there. I learned that even with your head in the sand your other end is left blowing defenselessly in the wind. I have also learned since not to go marching into darkness just to prove you're not afraid of things you should be. I'm on guard with good reasons these days (knowing the worth of my own dead weight) and I must balance my values of freedom and dignity on a regular basis. Minneapolis, war-front that I love.

I have learned the importance of community, having support systems in place to watch our own backs and back alleyways. And the 1st use for society is survival. Skills shared openly and resources for everyone not owned, sold or traded. Or at least I imagine it could be like this. I've learned the power of our dreams and local politics.

And I have learned to be patient, and when not to wait around for permission to change because change is inevitable and the only question is direction, and yes, I am here today with an agenda. I wanna set it right and see what happens. I want to get it right, and give it some room. A little sunlight and attention to bask in, to bloom.

See what becomes of creation when you give peace a chance. A plot of land in a shared space under my care can flourish. We are so rich when we work together and for everyone. We are so rich when we work together and for everyone that it bares repeating. I go on, believing this and then making it come true. And I've seen it work and so have you. And isn't it a more beautiful world when we do?

[ this is, of course, the anniversary of the start of Occupy in NYC. There will be a similar demonstration to mark the start of Occupy in Minneapolis on Oct 7th 2012 and I hope that it is at least as well attended as this one, if not bigger. Hope to see you there!]

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