My Occupy thesis:
In my quest to follow the Occupy movement this summer, I realized it’s imperative to first understand what Occupy is and who it represents. We have all seen the signs and heard the slogans about the 99 percent, but is everyone involved and do they even care? Given, it’s rather a complicated task—defining a movement of this magnitude—but I’m willing to give it a shot.
Looking in from the outside at the Occupy movement, I can see a few distinct characteristics of those involved. Take the May Day rally, which marked the resurgence of Occupy in Toronto: attendees were a combination of young, twenty-to-thirty somethings, members of the working class, students, activists, and the obviously left-wing.
That does not fully represent the 99 percent. Really, it’s only a small slice of the percentage pie. For something of this magnitude to work, everyone must be involved. I look at the Occupy, a group brave enough to stand up for the 99 percent, and I can’t help but notice a substantial segment is missing. I think it’s fair to say that almost everyone involved would fall on the left of the political spectrum. What I don’t see is the right. Don’t they also need to be part of the conversation?
When I mention the right-wing I’m not speaking of the radical, extreme right card carrying, pro-abortion, anti-immigration type, I’m talking about regular people, business owners, your neighbour, and your co-worker. The big problem is convincing those who have yet to stand up and join in the fight. We need to show them the Occupy movement can—and should—represent all of us.
I’ve talked with a lot of people recently; it’s apparent some people feel under-represented by the movement. They sympathise with Occupy and all it represents, but don’t feel their voice is being heard. Sure, it could partly be their own fault—they may be intimidated by a movement of this size and find it difficult to find their place. Even so, there has to be away for everyone to get involved. People need to see themselves within a movement to consider taking part. To get more people involved we need something everyone can latch onto. In short, we need a definition.
Throughout the summer I plan to talk with those fully engaged in the movement’s activities, but also with the rest of 99 percent—the entirety of people this movement was designed to represent. A lot of people have a hard time trying to find some form of cohesion, that ah ha moment when everything finally makes sense. Occupy has, in some ways, garnered itself a bad name due to the lack of public understanding and public connectedness to the movement. While there is some beauty in an one-size-fits-all movement, many activists and observers (myself included) believe that if this is something that is going to work there needs to be some type of goal. And for a goal to be achieved there needs to be an agreement of direction.
The first question I asked myself is: how do you find out what the people want? My answer: just talk to them. I know it’s not that cut and dry. There are a hell of a lot of people out there and how do you know you’re talking to the right ones? Well, the odds are in my favour. I have a 99 percent chance of asking the right person. They are everywhere: They are walking to work, having lunch, at the soup kitchen, on the subway and your next door neighbour. They are you and me.
My plan this summer is to talk to as many people as possible and report my findings. This isn’t something I can accomplish in one fowl swoop; it will take a copious amount of time and energy. Time more than anything because if I just go wandering outside my office building (401 Richmond Street West) for one day, my data pool will be flawed.
With that said, my plan will be to have my recorder and or cell phone, with me at all times and asks the various people I meet throughout the city the same three questions:
1. What does the occupy movement mean to you?
2. Who is the 99 percent?
3. What do think needs to happen for positive change?
I will also offer up my email address and twitter handle so if you would like to help in this crazy plan of mine, feel free to drop me a line answering the questions stated above.
I hope people understand what I am saying and trying to do. I want to help unite the 99 percent by showing both sides of the political spectrum that there is a common bond, and that to attain a goal there must be cooperation and communication.
Email – [email protected] Twitter – @kylejdupont