Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why I didn't strike for May Day


Today was May Day, the day that the Occupy Wall Street movement called for a General Strike - no work, no school, no banking, no shopping. However, I didn't strike because I work for an environmental nonprofit, where I'm proud to work every day to achieve goals that the Occupy movement has set forth as below. The Rainforest Alliance not only promotes environmental conservation - we also seek economic and social sustainability, to ensure that people around the planet can earn a decent living and have access to dignified housing, education and healthcare while stewarding our planet for future generations. We envision a new economy, where large companies value rather than exploit our natural resources, where it's easy for consumers to make ethical choices in the marketplace, and where producing communities enjoy a good quality of life. As a member of the fundraising department, I'm helping the 1% give back to the 99%.

(from the Occupy May Day facebook event)
GENERAL STRIKE AND BOYCOTT CALLED!
FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS
FOR AN END TO ALL WARS
FOR ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND LABOR RIGHTS
FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE
FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES AND AN END TO THE POLICE STATE
FOR HOUSING, EDUCATION, AND HEALTH CARE AS HUMAN RIGHTS
FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUITY

Protests are useful for drawing attention to issues, but where do we go from there? The Occupy movement has generated a lot of talk and continual rallies (several more days of action are planned for mid May in New York), but I do wish there were more specific actions coming out of it. There are lots of existing nonprofits and initiatives, both large and community-based, that are working to change our society for the better, where people could get involved. A couple examples of organizations that are encouraging us to move beyond the current big bank economy are Center for the New American Dream and the New Economics Institute and Move Your Money. Find a nonprofit you believe is making a difference and volunteer or make a donation you can afford. Or take small personal, local and community actions. Shop according to your values and buy locally or sustainably produced goods (like products with the Rainforest Alliance certification seal). Join a a food cooperative or a CSA or a community garden. Put your money in a credit union or try investing some of your money in socially responsible funds. Organize a skillshare or a community resource pool with your friends. What other ideas do you have for fixing our broken economy?


That said, I did slip out of work right at 6pm today to catch up with the main protest as it marched down Broadway so I could lend my presence to the more than 10,000 people calling for a change. Unfortunately I threw out my poster during my move last weekend, but it said "Wake up to the corporate lies that are all around us." Don't accept the life that advertisers have convinced you that you need, because we can't afford it -- our consumption culture is perpetuating low paying jobs, making us go into debt, and constantly exposing us to toxins, while depleting the natural resources on which we all depend. We can change this, but we have to do more than protest, don't you think?

(the views presented here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the Rainforest Alliance)

2 comments:

  1. unfortunately, the occupy movement in Nova Scotia has completely disintegrated to ridiculous protesting for no apparent purpose... :S
    not showing up to work, or cancelling clients just to protest isn't really what I feel comfortable doing. It would be doing a disservice to my preschool aged clients and their families.
    I agree, i wish the occupy movement would get solution specific.

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  2. I am SO glad to hear you say that more needs to be "done". I couldn't agree more. There are so many people who are more than willing to protest, but what happens after that?
    It's just like the pink slime issue that has been brought to light lately. Things like this need to be shoved in America's face in an unavoidable fashion so that they see how they are being treated like sheep. Then, we all have to step up to the plate and demand change. It's high time for a change, but I don't believe we have the governmental leadership to properly establish both progress and boundaries. It's sad. We should all be doing more to create positive change, but our cultural environment is just not conducive to change of any kind. This country is brainwashed.

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