It is a living, evolving statement approved by consensus of the Occupy Eugene General Assembly, December 6, 2011.
We are a nonviolent, non-partisan, social-political movement for accountability and responsibility in government. We stand in solidarity with Occupy Movements around the globe and all people who will no longer sit back and watch corporate and special interests run their Government, and spoil the living Earth.
In our United States, since 2007, 1 out of every 10 homes has been foreclosed on (1). 1 out of every 7 potential workers are unemployed (2). Millions have lost their livelihoods since the crash of October 2008, which was caused by deregulated financial speculation and an institutional willingness to sacrifice the welfare of people for the short-term profits of a very few.
We protest global banks and corporations because they embody the process that causes untold misery among 99% of the people for the benefit of the top tenth of one percent with incomprehensible wealth. We protest the acceptance of a government, economy, and society that sees a growing number of people as a disposable inconvenience.
The occupy movement is the protective response of civil society to a financial debacle our governments cannot address because global banks and financial institutions have taken control of our governing process. It is the terrible financial crisis we face that makes Occupy Eugene necessary.
By placing our bodies in public space, we have given hope to demoralized Americans who have lost their faith in our governing institutions. We recognize that our isolated efforts have divided us, and that only through cooperation can we properly navigate these rapidly changing times. We utilize the sort of transparency we expect from our government.
For we, the people, are the government.
On this planet, which produces just $60 trillion in real wealth each year, the global financial elite has created $600 trillion in phantom wealth in the form of financial derivatives.(3) Over one-third of that is held by the four largest banks .(4) It is not possible that these financial obligations can ever be redeemed. And it will not be possible to bail out the banks which hold this phantom wealth- yet our government insists that we keep trying. We beg to differ.
Because the present system is broken, we are trying something new. We are utilizing an organizationally flat, non-hierarchical model, using consensus for policy decisions and autonomous committees to carry out the work. These decision-making models of radical inclusiveness with distributed, task-based authority are important experiments for future democracy.
We have come together to create a community that expresses our common needs, to organize, network, and participate in solutions and to remind one another that, as a society, we have unfinished business in our pursuit of social and economic justice.
We need more than a band-aid for this system, which is built on and maintained by the exploitation and the degradation of the human condition, animals, forests, waters, and the rest of our living planet. The problem lies at the core of current power structures, ideologies, and institutions that have prevented these changes from occurring years ago. The problems we face were created by our human race and it is past time to repair our wrongs.
It is time to turn away from a culture of war and domination, and create a living economy which operates in harmony with our living planet. We must begin by opening our hearts to those the present system would discard and push into the shadows, because we believe that, in our United States, it’s we the people who are sovereign- not global corporations.
Without Occupations the number of people experiencing homelessness would remain unchanged. There would remain on American streets over a million runaway youth. We are here because, across our country, our veterans and fellow Americans are being assaulted on the street, are overdosing on the street, are urinating, defecating, sleeping, and dying on the street. We are changing these problems through our direct action. Since the Occupations began people are paying attention to problems traditionally ignored by politicians and the public alike.
As Occupiers, we will not ignore them anymore.
This is both a matter of conscience and necessity. By facing our problems we create opportunities for these problems to be addressed. We are picking up where the system has failed, even as we call for political and economic change, we endeavour to lift up those in need; to provide basic shelter, water, food, and even healthcare. We recognize there is enough wealth here on this Earth for all and believe it is every human’s right to have these basic needs met. Taking responsibility for our brethren is the beginning of our task: to create a living economy for planet Earth.
As long as the sites are occupied, the discussions will continue.
The longer the discussion continues, the more concrete the proposals which will emerge from the conversations within the Occupy Movement, and between the movement and city, state, and national power centers.
At the Occupy Eugene site, numerous projects, goals, proposals, actions, and workshops are in process through over a dozen separate committees. Activities range from discussions about specific steps for solving global problems to a new Sunday class on the US Constitution to workshops for learning internet skills. All free and all available to anyone interested!
A major contribution of our Occupy Movement will be permanent connections between all the splintered demographics who, individually, cannot hope to contest for their share of political influence, but who, together, have a real chance of securing a society that is more just and equitable than the one we now have. Physical occupation provides a community where this amazingly diverse collection of people not only can, but must interact, and this interaction works to strengthen the larger Eugene-Springfield community.
Occupy stands behind the need to decriminalize homelessness. Many may not realize how meaningful it is for a homeless person to be able to have a simple canvas tarp to call home and a secure night’s sleep without police harassment. There isn’t money for the programs we’d like to offer in our community so Occupiers are here to work with our city leaders to find space to create cost-effective systems to help each other. A piece of land with bathrooms (including showers), drinking water, electricity and access to public transportation is the most affordable solution possible. Our present location is far from perfect, but still a wonderful haven to those with nothing to protect and nurture them. And we’re improving it every day.
The Occupy community offers many benefits to those suffering from the effects of the economic downturn. The kitchen now serves more than 800 meals per day. We have on-site medical services supplemented by volunteer doctors; security and peacekeeping, construction and engineering, sanitation, a safe women’s space, legal observer teams, and relatively dry, not-quite warm tenting accommodations we’re working constantly to improve. Donations of clothing and camping gear supply the Free Store, keeping Occupiers, guests and residents as comfortable as possible during the onset of Oregon’s winter. Many of our long-term and short-term homeless participate in daily chores. Our next step is to begin to create jobs for our residents.
Occupy Eugene has emerged from the passions of individuals. We are now putting in place an organizing council which will integrate our many activities and allow us to become an active partner with the City in pursuit of longer-term solutions to our common goals. Ours is a community that began with few resources a very short time ago and is able to meet many of the basic needs of its population. Occupy Eugene is a fledgling, not yet ready to leave its nest, but growing fast. We know we must evolve and develop.
Our Occupy site is showing the way we can care for each other in spite of the economy. These are all functions of a physical community and would not be happening in the dispersed, stratified and separate communities we live in. It is true and will remain true that
The Occupation is the message.
Our thanks to the city council and the entire city of Eugene for your heart-warming support of Occupy Eugene. We hope you find us to be an asset to the community in this country’s time of need.
Eugene is a unique and far-sighted city. In partnership with Occupy Eugene, the City of Eugene can be a beacon of hope to America. We hope that this city council does not feel constrained by the distressing example of other cities across the nation, who themselves have succumbed to pressure from the very national power centers about which we are raising the alarm.
We hope that you, our elected city officials, can recognize our legitimate efforts and choose to support the important American values we are trying to protect instead of condoning violence to oppress the voices of those already feeling oppressed by our current system.
Let us make Eugene an example of how a local government can cooperate with its citizens, of how we can work together toward solutions for the problems of our time. Join with us, working towards transformation of our community and, eventually, our economy. Please do not criminalize us for trying to take care of each other.
(1) Nine million foreclosures since 2007:
(2) Real unemployment 16% or better:
(3) Global economy 60 trillion, derivatives 600 trillion:
David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy 2010;
(4) Derivatives held by top four banks: