Occupy Christmas

International Day of Action – December 25

Interview for Ottawa Fulcrum

Posted by Press on December 8, 2011

An interview for the Ottawa Fulcrum:

Q) How did you hear about and get involved with Occupy Christmas?

A) This is a quote from the person who started the blog on a similar question concerning why they started it now.

“With very much respect for Occupy Wall Street, my wife and I questioned how Occupy Wall Street planned to deliver what they promised: “we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy”. Occupy Wall Street protests have been heartwarming and amazing, but who is listening? If Occupy Wall Street is right, government listens primarily to big business and big business listens primarily to money. It seems like few people in charge are listening.

The Christmas season is the largest shopping season of the year, so the timing seemed right. As money is the language of big business, silence seemed likely to get their attention.”

This is my story:
I have been following and participating in the Occupy Wall street movement here in Kentucky and through the social networking sites since October. My close friend started the occupychristmas.org blog and I began following it intently right before Thanksgiving. He and I conversed often about political views on what was happening with the Occupy movement and would bounce ideas off of each other. I agreed that more proactive actions needed to occur on the part of the 99% in order for people to start listening. Being a small business owner myself, and being involved in many small business organizations, I was able to see firsthand what would happen if 1) people stopped spending all together or 2) they just shopped locally. I became very vocal in my community about the importance of shopping locally. Soon after my friend asked me to be the press side of the blog and I was happy to join the team.

Q) Are you also participating in the Occupy Canada movement?

A) As was stated earlier, we are participating in the Occupy movements but we question how they plan on delivering their promise to “end the monied corruption of democracy”. We support the Occupy movements and even post updates about them on our blog.

Q) It seems that many people conflate Occupy Christmas with #OccupyXmas, how would you say that the two campaigns are distinct?

A) The obvious difference between the two movements is that #OccupyXmas asks people to refrain from spending any money during the holiday season while Occupy Christmas only asks for people to return to thinking about your family, friends, neighbors, and community during the holidays. Instead of hurriedly spending money in some big box retail store, where you will most likely get poor service from the workers who are making minimum wage and are treated as expendables rather than people, take the time to go into the locally owned mom and pop shops. Most of them are people in your community, neighborhoods, and sometimes even your family. Not only will you (usually) have a very pleasant experience, you can feel good in knowing that you helped that person. That money will be used DIRECTLY to help keep the business open, and even keep that person in their home. We also feel that the government isn’t going to start listening to us until the money flow changes. That’s not going to happen if we don’t make that change in ourselves.

Q) Do you think Adbusters’ arguably more disruptive #OccupyXmas campaign is helpful, or could it turn people away from re-assessing their Christmas traditions?

A) We do not oppose Adbusters’ more disruptive campaign, we just chose not to participate in it. We feel that speaking about this issues and educating people on the trickle down effect of each dollar they spend is a more effective means of getting to a similar end. If you knew that only 43 cents of each dollar was going back to your community when you purchase at a retail chain versus 68 cents if you spent locally, or that a fraction of a fraction of a cent was going to your friend Joe who works for minimum wage versus 20 cents, or even 40 cents, that was going to your friend Sam who owns his own coffee shop, would you change your spending habits?

Q) One of the main critiques of the Occupy Wall street and subsequent Occupy Canada movement has been the lack of clarity of the participants goals. Do you think this is also a problem for Occupy Christmas? What are the goals of the campaign?

A) As far as occupychristmas.org is concerned we have a very solid view of our goals. One of our main critiques of the Occupy movements is how they plan on achieving their lofty goal of ending the monied corruption. Occupychristmas.org was started as a way to answer those questions of HOW. We believe we are part of the solution of how to change the corruption of capitalism. Government listens to big business, big business listens to money. How do we break that chain? Stop the money flow. It’s like telling a small child not to do something while rewarding them for doing it. The child isn’t going to learn anything and nothing will change.

So how do we break the chain? 1) stop using credit cards. It’s called telling yourself “no”. If you can’t afford something don’t buy it. We overextend ourselves trying to have the best things, be like the “Jonses”, while putting ourselves in a deep whole we will barely be able get out of by next year. Some of us are even putting this Christmas on top of what we still haven’t paid off from LAST Christmas. Who wins? The credit card companies. Stop the cycle and put them away. 2) Buy local!!! Help your friend, neighbor, family member, etc, before giving it to a big retail store. Show the people in your community how much you care.

Q) What do you personally hope to accomplish by participating in Occupy Christmas, and what do you hope the campaign as a whole will accomplish?

A) I can’t speak for my friend, but personally I hope to make some sort of a difference in the occupy movements. I do hope to see a change in the way this country is run. I knew something had to change three years ago when we nearly lost our house after my husband was in a car accident. He suffered from a fractured neck and was out of work for two months. There was nobody there to help us, but plenty of people threatening to take us to court. We even had health insurance. It took over a year for our mortgage company to even TALK to us, and we were lucky they didn’t take our house. For three years I have been telling people that SOMETHING has to change. The fact that a large percentage of us are one car accident from losing everything they have is really sad. We have forgotten what it is like to CARE about people. People are no longer people anymore, what happened to that?

Q) How do you see the campaign continuing in future years (especially in light of the recent Occupy Canada camp break-ups)?

A) This is a difficult question. Given that occupychristmas.org is more of a silent protest as opposed to the #OccupyXmas movement, I see us continuing our work as we have been. We plan on continuing to give updates on the Occupy movements, continuing to speak both publicly and via web on the importance of being proactive when spending your money, and continuing to support our local vendors. It’s difficult to break up a protest that is more of a “social” protest than “public”, not unless they take away freedom of speech and restrict the internet and social media.

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