Occupy Christmas

International Day of Action – December 25

Occupy Berkeley Eviction

Posted by troublemaker on December 26, 2011

The first grievance raised by Occupy Wall Street was that our representative democracy represents big banks (the 1%) rather than the people (the 99%). The December 21st eviction of Occupy Berkeley tells an entirely different story. There, the elected representatives of the people aren’t necessarily doing the bidding of the one percent. Instead, they are simply ignored. As such, the will of the people that those elected officials represent is simply ignored.

On Tuesday December 20, 2011, Occupy Berkeley received its walking papers. Those papers were handed to Occupy Berkeley spokesperson Larry Silver. The papers cited the 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM curfew in the park. According to The Daily Californian, the city of Berkeley previously choose to overlook the park’s curfew and allow Occupy Berkley protesters to camp at Martin Luther King Park in Downtown Berkeley (1). Living in a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy, we assume that when someone says a city made a decision that it was duly elected representatives who made that decision.

With Berkeley city council members completely unaware of the movement by Berkley police to clear the park, we are forced to wonder if elected officials changed their minds or if someone within the city made a rogue decision? The order handed to protesters was not signed by any particular city department head (2). If the city previously decided to withdraw the permission they gave earlier, what was the process to withdraw that permission. Who, if not elected officials, runs the city of Berkeley?

“No one has permission to lodge in this park.” – From the order handed out by police (2)

Just who was it that took that permission away? What is most shocking about this eviction is that even city council members were surprised to learn police had distributed those walking papers.

“We have not received any official word from the city manager or the [police department] regarding the removal of the encampment. I honestly, at this time, cannot support the removal of the camp because I don’t know the reasons why.” – Berkeley City Council Member Jesse Arreguin (1)

Mr. Silver received the notice from a police officer (4), but that order was not at all clear who had decided to evict the park (2). Upon reading the letter, Mr. Silver asked the officer: “This is our Christmas present?” (4). although delivered by a police officer, it continues to be unclear who in the city ordered the eviction. As the police department had itself donated the Christmas tree seen in the encampment (4), it seems unlikely the order originated with the police.

Jesse Arreguin is not just a member of Berkeley city council; he was elected to that position by the people of district 4 where the city had previously permitted Occupy Berkeley to camp at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. (3) Previous to the eviction, he was working with Occupy Berkeley to improve health and safety issues not only in the encampment but in his community. Those efforts included advocacy for homeless people who had turned to Occupy Berkeley for food and shelter as well as orders to keep repeat trouble makers from the park. It was obvious to most that city council member Arreguin was not only responding to the needs of his district but to ensure that in doing so the message behind Occupy Berkeley would continue. Although Mr. Arreguin had provided his plan to interim City Manager Christine Daniel, he had not received a firm response prior to the eviction.

When Mr. Arreguin attempted to contact city officials after hearing of the decision to evict Occupy Berkeley, nobody was available to speak to him. He had hoped to have questions answered before attending Wednesday’s General Assembly where he would once again speak with protesters.

“I wish that as the elected official I had been informed. Other council members are also in the dark about this issue, even though we had requested at council meetings and in private to be informed prior to any plans to remove the camp.” – City Council member Jesse Arreguin. (1)

We to wish Mr. Arreguin had been informed. But more than that, we believe that as a representative of the people of district 4 his opinion should have been considered. As a representative of the people in the distract where Occupy Berkeley was encamped, his opinion would be important in a ‘representative democracy’. Unfortunately, in whatever form of government that is being practiced in Berkeley, Mr. Arreguin is a representative of the people in title only.

We have to ask, if elected officials are not running the city of Berkley, who is and why do the citizens of Berkeley bother to vote?

 

 

  1. The Daily Californian: Occupy Berkeley Protesters Handed Eviction Orders
  2. Notice and Warning given to Occupy Berkeley Protesters
  3. Jesse Arreguin’s Home Page
  4. East Bay: The Day After the Occupy Eviction

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Occupy Albany Eviction: Day and Night

Posted by troublemaker on December 25, 2011

It’s Christmas day and Dave Lucas would like you to come to Occupy Albany’s Christmas pot luck (1). It’s a reunion of sorts. Occupy Albany was evicted this past Friday, the day before Christmas Eve (2). Details of the eviction are wildly confused. Dave Lucas points out “there are two sides to every story” (3). While it is true that different perspectives on the same event can produce reports which are as different as day and night, the eviction of Albany literally involves a dispute over the timing being during the day or at night.

On one hand, we have the violent night time raid:

“A violent police raid on the Occupy Albany encampment on Thursday night [Dec. 22, 2011] ended with multiple injuries and arrests.” The Raw Story (2)

“After a move by Albany city officials to obtain an eviction order from a New York Supreme Court judge, referred to by occupiers as a “legal ambush,” ended in a melee at Academy Park Thursday night, and a brutal assault by local police.” (4)

Then we have a completely different story:

“The authorities came in daylight [Dec 22, 2011] on the day of the deadline, as they had said they would.” – Dave Lucas (3)

“Following the expiration of its permit Thursday morning, Occupy Albany was evicted from Academy Park that afternoon.” – All Over Albany (5)

Even the photos and video seem to provide a completely different story. At one point during the daylight hours, all tents seem to have been gone. But then there were other photos of protesters surrounding a tent at night and police tugging at that tent to take it down. I was starting to wonder if perhaps New York State had two different cities named Albany. Coffee flew from both nostrils when I discovered the truth behind the day / night eviction of Occupy Albany.

Occupy Albany has secured a permit allowing them to maintain as many as 30 tents in their encampment. That permit expired on the morning of December 22nd, 2011 when police moved in to clear any tent that remained. By afternoon, all the tents had been removed from the park. However, one of those tents was removed intact and erect by the protesters themselves. As a last show of defiance, they paraded that tent through the city of Albany.

“Then things went a bit crazy — Occupiers took their last tent on a tour of the city’s streets before returning to the park. That’s when police grabbed the last tent, the scene became chaotic, there was pepper spray, and a few arrests.” – All Over Albany (5)

From the many photos taken by All Over Albany, we know the press was allowed to document the event. From the story of the tent being paraded through the city, we know that most protesters with Occupy Albany have not only high spirits but a great sense of gonzo style humor. From the blog of someone who is directly involved with the encampment, we know police kept their word, arrived on time, and were mostly civil. Yes, a few people were pepper sprayed by police. Yes, at least one protester acted against a police officer on horseback. But for the most part, both sides seemed to have remained civil. Where some might believe that civility resulted in the crushing of Occupy Albany, I tend to thin it assured the movement’s continuation in Albany New York.

You see Occupy Albany acquired a permit for their encampment. That means the city of Albany; New York “permitted” the encampment. With evictions taking down Occupy encampments across the globe, it has become clear that the initial form of protest to “occupy” public spaces will no longer be “permitted”. Although we do not know the future of Occupy Albany, reports indicate that one of the few people pepper sprayed by police was a city council member. It seems obvious that working with the city during the occupation will go a great distance towards future efforts. Doing so causes officials to wonder if they are not themselves one of the 99%.

Thank you Occupy Albany for reminding us that humor is a wonderful tool in protest and that most police, city council members and even some mayors are themselves part of the 99%. Our hope for the New Year is that more media can report on both sides of the coin, day and night.

 

 

  1. Dave Lucas blogs about Occupy Albany
  2. The Raw Story: Brutal police raid brings Occupy Albany to an end
  3. Dave Lucas blogs about Occupy Albany eviction
  4. http://occupyamerica.crooksandliars.com/diane-sweet/occupy-albany-ends-after-brutal-police
  5. All Over Albany: The Eviction of Occupy Albany

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Eugene, Oregon Christmas Potluck

Posted by troublemaker on December 25, 2011

Occupy Eugene, Oregon welcomes you to celebrate Christmas in their occupation on Sunday, December 25th at 2pm in the new Occupy 5 building (7th and Polk).

“Bring a dish if you can and a space heater if you have one!” – http://occupyeugenemedia.org/2011/12/23/12-25-christmas-potluck-sunday/

Christmas is more than the religious holiday of some 75% of the population of my country, it is also a secular holiday which marks the value of not only kith and kin but community. In a culture where what you have in the bank often seems more important than what is in your heart, the Occupy / 99% movement has gone a very long way towards reminding us that things other than money have value. Many thanks to Occupy Eugene for reminding folk that community is one of those other things which really does have value.

Posted in Family & Children | 1 Comment »

Occupy Louisville – January 2 Eviction

Posted by troublemaker on December 25, 2011

You don’t hear much about Occupy Louisville because from the beginning Occupy Louisville has played by the rules. Not only did they maintain a relationship with Chief of Police White, they secured necessary permits for their encampment, have worked to keep the site clean and safe, and have been respectful of city officials while attending the Louisville Metro Council meetings.

“It has acquired permits for the encampment, and has been open to meetings with metro works, built a relationship with former LMPD Chief White and even followed the rules when visiting Louisville Metro Council.” – Pam Jean of Louisville.com (1)

Permits in hand, Occupy Louisville has accomplished much more with their encampment than you’ve probably heard. With a full functioning kitchen, staffed first aid center, security tent, and media resource tent; Occupy Louisville has not only become its own community, it has become a valuable resource for the larger community. The Coalition for the Homeless has recently commented Occupy Louisville for providing for the area homeless (2). Seven Counties Services, which is in part funded by the Common Wealth, has visited the encampment and added to the praise provided by the Coalition for the Homeless.

Despite Occupy Louisville’s repeatedly demonstrated willingness to play by the rules, change has come to Louisville, KY and it seems the encampment might not be part of that city’s future. The rules and those who enforce them have changed. Chief White, who nurtured a relationship with Occupy Louisville, has left the Louisville Police Department (see Occupy Denver – We like snacks). Shortly thereafter, the city of Louisville informed protesters that although their permit will be renewed that permit will not allow tents, camping, or any of the other features of an encampment. When the permit allowing the encampment expires on January 1, 2012 Occupy Louisville may well be evicted.

“After meeting with city officials this past Friday, protesters were politely informed that their permit for Founders Square is getting renewed for 2012, but without any sort of structure to keep them warm at night. No reason was given for the city’s sudden change of heart”. – Pam Jean of Louisville.com (3)

Considering the language of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, we should be offended that any municipality would require a permit to peacefully assemble on public property. After all, the First Amendment makes it perfectly clear that such is the right of the people. If a person has a right to do something, permission is not needed. Camping might be another story and that is where the idea of permission (a permit) comes in.  Occupy Louisville recognized that, worked within the rules, and continues to try to work within those rules.

You see things like permits exist to request the right to do something above and beyond what is already guaranteed.  They exist to allow an activity which is not ordinarily allowed.  So when the city of Louisville says it will renew the permit for Occupy Louisville to continue the protest only without tents, what they are really saying is they will not be renewing their permit.

Previously, Occupy Louisville was allowed to set up tents in the city park.  That permit expires on January 1, 2012.  While the city claims it will renew the permit, it plans to specifically forbid tents and camping.  Protesters will be allowed to stay in the park 24 hours a day / 7 days a week but not allowed to take shelter from the cold, curl up in a sleeping bag, or take other steps to make a 24 hour protest possible.

“…protesters will be allowed to stay in the park 24 hours a day, seven days a week as long as no overnight camping takes place.” – Courier Journal (4)

Some Occupy encampments have gone the route of ignoring the permit process, ignoring the rules, and taking over areas for their encampments. Others have gone the route of playing by the rules and working with municipal governments. Evictions of encampments who did not obtain permits have shown us that many municipalities will not tolerate groups who do not secure proper permits.

The message being sent by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer seems to be that encampments willing to work with municipalities will no longer be tolerated either.

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  1. Louisville.com – Occupy Louisville facing potential eviction.  
  2. Louisville Homeless
  3. Louisville.com – Occupy Louisville prepares for eviction.
  4. Courier Journal on permit change.

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Google’s Christmas gift to us.

Posted by troublemaker on December 24, 2011

Although they might take it back tomorrow, Google gave us a very special Christmas present today. In a search for the term Occupy Christmas, “Google returns About 46,800,000 results (0.14 seconds)”. Sitting on top of that list, in the number one position, http://OccupyChristmas.org. Many thanks to Google for our early Christmas gift. Even more thanks to our readers for sharing links, talking about our articles, and doing whatever it is that Google looks for when they rank pages. It really helps us to feel our message is well received.

Merry Christmas – Occupy Christmas – Thank you all!

Please do not think we will be going into hiding now that the Christmas season draws to a close. Due to the tremendous response of our readers, we remain inspired and have been talking about practical applications of the Occupy Christmas message for the seasons that follow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Huge retailers now scrambling

Posted by troublemaker on December 23, 2011

The broad message across Occupy Christmas has been to avoid gift shopping at major chain stores and to avoid using credit cards. We at OccupyChristmas.org have asked you to buy local. Other portions of the Occupy Christmas movement have asked you to buy American. North of the U.S. / Canadian border, Adbuster’s magazine has asked that Buy Nothing day be extended into a buy nothing Christmas. Maybe it is just a sluggish economy, but we like to think the occupation has been felt in lower corporate profits this year.

With only a couple days left before Christmas, the New York Times is reporting that in an effort to decrease the damage of an off season, major retailers are slashing prices far below anything expected. You will recall that this year’s Black Friday sales started on Thursday. Well, it seems like this year’s after Christmas sales have started before Christmas. The New York Times has reported Abercrombie & Fitch at 40% off that Ann Taylor is at 50%, the Gap is at a whopping 60%. (1)

“Aggressive last-minute deals in the days before Christmas are good for procrastinators, but they could be an alarm bell for the retail industry.” – New York Times (1)

Discounts across the entire store likely indicate Christmas shopping has been lower than expected. Retailers are willing to lower their prices dramatically prior to the end of the shopping season for two reasons. The first and most obvious is that they do not want to get stuck with unsold merchandise. The second and more obscured reason is consumer confidence which is often directly related to stock prices. When a corporation reports good Christmas sales, consumer confidence is boosted and stock prices tend to go up. Executives of major corporations are often stock holders themselves. If the stock goes up, even when it is not directly related to an increase in profit, the wealth of those executive who hold stock in that company goes up. When considering the sales figures from this Christmas season, it is important to keep an eye on profit rather than volume.

Although Black Friday volume was reportedly larger this season, remember that those huge sales not only started the day before but involved larger discounts than previous years. Despite looking good in the news, profits were driven down by larger discounts and expenses were driven up by the cost of opening earlier than previous years. In the case of retail giant Wal-Mart, it is tempting to claim that starting Black Friday sales on Thursday did not adversely affect profit as they are open 24 hours on a regular basis, that idea is offset by counting Thursdays sales as part of Black Friday reporting.

With large retailers starting their after Christmas sales before Christmas, it stands to reason that part of that effort is not only to eliminate excess inventory but to eliminate that inventory before the Christmas season closes. That way those sales are counted and reported as sales during the Christmas season, something with always finds its way into news media and the minds of potential stock holders.

“Plus, we’ve planned additional incredible values for shoppers visiting our stores on December 23 and 24 with buy one, get one 50%off deals, free gifts with purchase and significant discounts.” – Toys R Us(2)

In addition to offering deep discounts on the two days before Christmas, Toys R Us is offering 24 hour shopping. Macys Inc. has offered 24 hour shopping for the three days before Christmas at fourteen of its stores (3). It seems major retailers noticed the drop in volume shortly after Black Friday..

“A sharp drop in shopping since Thanksgiving weekend has prompted worried retailers to slash prices, extend specials, stay open later — and rewrite the calendar.” – New York Times (4)

The decline in consumer spending at large retailers has not been limited to any one area. The Irish Times joins the New York Times in reporting a decrease in sales volumes over last year. (5) The Guardian is also reporting poor sales figures in the UK. (6)

“Sales at department stores fell by 5.4 per cent compared with a year earlier, although there was a 0.5 per cent rise compared with October.” – Irish Times (5)

With stock prices and executive bonuses riding on how the Christmas season is presented, there can be little doubt the spin will start soon. If they cannot spin it enough to hide decreased profits, it will likely be blamed on the global economic downturn. We tend to believe it has been a combination of events and circumstances. One of those being the heightening of consumer discontent with huge retail establishments. Many thanks to that Canadian magazine Adbustrs for kicking off the recent interest in consumer consciousness. Now let’s Occupy Christmas into the New Year and beyond.

We enter this brave new world with our eyes open.

 

  1. New York Times: Retailers Are Slashing Prices Ahead of Holiday)    
  2. Toys R Us – Last two days before Christmas
  3. Macys Inc – 24 hour store announcement
  4. New York Times: Super Saturday moved a week back.
  5. Irish Times
  6. The Guardian

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Occupy Dayton: Why I love it.

Posted by troublemaker on December 23, 2011

Our participation in Occupy Christmas does not include a Facebook page because there are so many other efforts on Facebook that reflect a very similar ideology. However, like most folk online all involved here keep in touch with Facebook and other social media. It was there on my personal Facebook page that I first commented on how much I love Occupy Dayton Ohio. Although hundreds of people often participate in their protests and marches, the encampment on their Facebook page seemed to consist of only five very dedicated individuals and a single tent. Why then, I respectfully joked, do they often use their Facebook page to ask for food for “…about six people”? I speculated that one of the protesters is extra special hungry or maybe the other protesters think one in their fold is entirely too thin. I might now have the answer to my question.

Today, while I was skimming newspaper reports on Occupy Dayton, I ran into those two numbers once again: six and five. On December 8, 2011 the Dayton Daily News reported that “5 Occupy Dayton members arrested” (1). The police agree that it was five protesters who were arrested.

“Dayton Police Lt. Kenneth Beall confirmed that the five individuals that were arrested were in the yard of the house and had set up a large tent.” (1)

What makes this particularly funny is that like my good humored jokes on my personal Facebook page, Occupy Dayton protesters informed the Dayton Daily News that the police were wrong. That in fact, there were six Occupy Dayton protesters who were arrested.

“The activists said they never intended to remain at the Seneca Drive location. It was an interim home while other arrangements were being made. The statement also indicated six arrests had been made, not five.” – (1)

Now that we have the police involved, only one answer makes sense. One of the protesters is pregnant. That would certainly explain one of the five protesters eating for two. With so much national debate over the abortion issue, surly their might be a person within Occupy Dayton who believes an unborn child is a person.

In truth, Occupy Dayton’s Facebook photos feature more than five people standing in their encampment. My jokes about there being only five core members who eat like six have been for the sake of humor and humor alone. In fact, I have a great deal of respect for Occupy Dayton campers because it takes a whole lot more fortitude to stand with small numbers than to stand with a large crowd. That is what this article is about; when standing up means standing alone. It is something that only a few people seem to be able to do. That is why the Occupy / 99% movement is so important. Not because of the numbers observed on the evening news, but because of the number of folk watching the evening news.

No matter how many people cram themselves into Zuccotti Park, no matter how many people camp in all of the Occupy encampments across the world, that number is tiny compared to the number of people who are now talking about the Occupy / 99% movement.  So while numbers in your photos might be small, please remember the difference you are making is huge.

Many thanks to Occupy Dayton Ohio and all of the other occupations which remain small in occupation numbers but who are making a big difference.  You are an inspiration for future occupations.

  1. Dayton Daily News: 5 Occupy Dayton members arrested

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The War on Christmas

Posted by troublemaker on December 23, 2011

Mike check. Mike check. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of the Press are each guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and by the laws of every civilized nation on this planet. This does not mean freedom of JUST your religion, freedom of JUST your speech, or freedom of JUST your press.

Evidently Bill O’Reilley is right. There is a “War on Christmas”. Waging that war seems to be one of the things some Occupy protesters, police, city officials, and even the owners of Zuccotti Park agree on. As you probably know, Occupy Wall Street was initially encamped on private property owned by Brookfield Office Properties. The property known as Zuccotti Park is now cleared of tents, camping equipment, tarps, and anything which might impede the general public from making full use of the park. Evidently, this also includes the occasional Christmas tree. The Atlantic Wire has reported that police stopped a Christmas tree from entering the park.

“The cop went and threw it on the curb, next to the street, and they stood it back up, and then another cop came and threw it by the garbage can,” – Tim Pool quoted by The Atlantic Wire (1)

The Atlantic Wire also reports that a Christian based religious group asked for permission to bring in food, beverages, chairs, musical instruments and other materials for a Christmas celebration. Evidently, Brookfield Office Properties and the City of New York does not feel the park should be used for such silly things as marking a national holiday.

Meanwhile, in the gossip pages (literally), we hear that Occupy Wall Street protesters are wildly opposed to such symbols of Christmas as a living nativity scene. Although filmed at Occupy DC, the protesters in the video clip are identified at being members of Occupy Wall Street. That same group whose Christmas tree was denied and who is not permitted to have a religious service on site for Christmas (2). The Blaze gives a much better presentation of what happened in Occupy DC.

According to The Blaze, responses to the living nativity scene were mixed. (3) While there were some protesters who wildly opposed the holiday message, some were completely surprised by those objections.

“I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s right on time. Christ is the reason for Christmas. I don’t know why [the other protester would] be offended.” The Blaze quotes a protester (3)

Although the anger expressed by some of the protesters is likely off putting to the majority of Americans who indeed celebrate the Christmas holiday as the birth of Christ, something more alarming is present in those few comments.

“It goes against what our Founding Fathers created in this country.” (3) – In fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America assures not only the Freedom of Speech enjoyed by the person who made this comment, but the Freedom of Speech enjoyed by participants of that living Nativity Scene.

“I wouldn’t get up here and start preaching Islam to people. I wouldn’t because it’s not my place. It’s not your place either.” (3) – That protester might not be preaching Islam to people; with his participation in the Occupy movement he is certainly preaching an ideology.

After one protester asked: “Is that legal?” another protester responded “No check – go check.” (3) – Yes sir it is legal. Mike check. Mike check. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech are the very foundation of Civil Rights within the United States of America and you are protesting in Washington DC. While the negative comments represent only a portion of the protesters involved in the Occupy / 99% movement, the basic concept of freedom of speech should be understood by all protesters.

 

  1. Atlantic Wire: The War on Occupy Christmas
  2. The Hollywood Gossip
  3. The Blaze

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Occupy Christmas taking ground

Posted by troublemaker on December 23, 2011

Our contribution to the Occupy Christmas movement has asked shoppers to buy local and avoid huge chain stores. We have tried to avoid using the term “Buy American” because we believe the idea behind supporting local economy is valuable beyond the borders of just one country. We have not called for a boycott of imported goods. Instead, the idea is that you should first attempt to produce your own goods (the family garden comes to mind), then rely on your neighbor, your municipality, your county, your state, your country, neighboring countries, and then the global market. Our motto has often been “Think global but act local”. If you live in Canada, you should buy Canadian before buying American. That said, we are seeing a tremendous growth in the movement here in the United States where ‘Buy American’ is becoming a selling point. The message behind Occupy Christmas is catching on and the media has taken note.

“New Occupy Christmas movement sweeping USA”. (1)

From an article decorated with an American flag, reporter Elizabeth Cate from WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Florida.

While covering the Occupy Christmas movement, reporter Elizabeth Cate visited a store in Jacksonville, Florida to do research. While we would have encouraged her to find gifts produced in Jacksonville, Florida she was unable to find many items made there or anywhere else in the United States. She did mention she was able to find gift wrap paper that was made in her country. While shopping, she briefly interviewed fellow shopper Linda Dan.

“I do care if it’s made in America; I like to buy stuff that’s made in America. Why? Just because that’s where we live and that’s what I want to support,” shopper Linda Dan (1)

Elizabeth Cate isn’t alone in wanting to promote the message behind Occupy Christmas. ABC News has begun its own buy local campaign. Centered in the United States, ABC news has established a list of gift ideas from US companies who proudly sell products made in the United States. (2) The list is the result of asking for input from viewers and readers as part of their “Made in America Christmas” campaign. (3)

“The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. If that money was spent entirely on US made products it would create 4.6 million jobs.” – ABC News (3)

CNN reports that more and more Americans are taking the Occupy Christmas (4) by taking the Buy American pledge offered by one of the Occupy Christmas Facebook pages. With only 166 likes at the time of this article, CNN is right in saying the site has a small group of followers. However, the very fact that CNN reported on the site shows that the Occupy Christmas movement as a whole is much larger than anyone could have predicted just a few months ago. It seems the message behind Occupy Christmas is spreading well beyond the holiday season.

“Perhaps the clearest sign of its growing popularity is the recent proliferation of websites, blogs and Facebook groups dedicated to setting the record straight. Among these communities, it’s common knowledge that quintessential American brands like Levi’s and LL Bean are mostly made offshore, and the latest news about Wal Mart’s labor policies tends to generate heated discussion.” – CNN Reports (4)

Local Harvest, a community based organization which promotes community supported agriculture (CSA) and a focus on local economy, explains that American grown produce travel and average of 1500 miles before reaching an American grocery store. (5) While Local Harvest explains the distances are vastly larger when produce originates outside of the US boarders, even that 1500 miles will shock most Americans. They warn that the current model for food production and delivery simply will not last forever. If for no other reason than rising fuel prices, Local Harvest and common sense warns that the system will collapse under its own weight. Although this might seem like fear mongering, the banks that were said to be too large to fail did just that not long ago. So did the automotive industry, stock market, the housing market, and many other financially centered institutions. In the face of the global economic downturn, entire nations have declared bankruptcy. Is it really that hard to believe the food industry would be any different?

With the global economy in a global crisis, developing local economy seems to be the logical alternative. If things continue to go as they have for the past few years, a conscious effort to develop those micro economies might no longer be a matter of sending a message to big business during the holiday season. It might be a survival mechanism. We urge you to Occupy Christmas well beyond the holiday season. Making that conscious decision may very well be the best gift you can give your family.

 

  1. Elizabeth Cate: New Occupy Christmas movement sweeping USA
  2. ABC News: Made in America Gift Ideas
  3. ABC News: Made in America Christmas
  4. CNN: Holiday shoppers pledge to ‘Occupy Christmas’ and buy American
  5. Local Harvest: Why buy local?

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What am I eating: Part 1

Posted by Press on December 22, 2011

We as Human Beings need to be more conscious of not only how we spend our money in terms of who we spend with, but also what we are buying. In the past sixty years, less than a century, we have gone from a relatively healthy eating lifestyle to one of lethargy. Obesity is up, depression is up, heart disease, and the list goes on and on and on. We all know the benefits to eating a healthy diet are huge, but there are so many ways the big food industries still try to cover up harmful food practices so they can make more money.
Raw, Pasteurized, or ultra-pasturized?
I do want to make sure people realize, I am not against pasteurization.  I think it was a brilliant invention that has saved a lot of lives.  I also think it has been taken advantage of, like most brilliant ideas.

For years we have been told not to drink unpasteurized animal or plant products. We have become so conditioned that we don’t really understand what we are eating anymore. For starters, what exactly IS pasteurization? Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, usually liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite length of time, and then cooling it immediately. This process slows microbial growth in food. It has been used in China since the 1100’s as a way of preserving wine, but the modern version was created by Louis Pasteur in 1862 (1). There are two reasons for pasteurization 1) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present and 2) to lengthen the shelf life of the products, up to 16 days longer than raw (2). In fact it would have saved 2 lives, and 191 hospitalizations in the past ten years (6), but we still need to educate ourselves.
What are the disadvantages to pasteurization? Not only does it kill the bad bacteria, but it also kills the good bacteria. “Raw milk does contain antimicrobial properties which are destroyed with the heat of pasteurization, along with many of the vitamins within the milk itself. Raw milk has also been shown to have a protective effect for those who have asthma, hay fever, and atopic sensitization.” (1). As those of you who have experience with breast feeding know, and if human milk is any indication of how milk in general takes care of it’s purpose, milk is an amazing super food meant for nourishing young through it’s most delicate stages. Not only does it provide nourishment, but it can also cure just about anything. Ear infection? Put milk in it. Rash? Put milk on it. You get the picture. Somewhere along the way of all this processing, the milk we consume has lost all properties except for nourishment.
How about ultra-pasteurization? To put it lightly it’s an unneeded process which yields tasteless food that can stay on your shelf for months, and they can run large quantities very quickly. In the process it kills pretty much everything in the product, but also gives it a “cooked” taste to it, and destroys the elements that give the product its flavor and texture. To compensate the companies add products to it, in the cause of milk they add guar gum and carrageenan for texture. The worst part? It doesn’t even make the product any safer for consumption, it’s purely for the profit of the company. (3) Ultra-pasteurization also means that once a food is packaged it doesn’t have to be refrigerated until opened (4), which explains why some milk products are not in the refrigerated isles. Gross right? One has to wonder what this does to your body, and at this point, is it even food?
I can only infer from my background in biology and various research that we are creating a world of people who are no longer immune to things we used to be immune too. We are causing ourselves to be sick. The way the immune system works is that we get antibodies from our mothers, our food, and our exposure to the environment. Our immune systems take in this information and create antibodies, so even if we don’t get sick from something, as long as we were exposed to it through one of those ways we have antibodies to defend ourselves. We also have good bacteria that live in our bodies that we usually get from our food sources. If we kill every bacteria we could possibly come in contact with and surround ourselves with antibacterial everything we leave our bodies defenseless when there is an outbreak of something we could have protected ourselves against. Also, to put this into perspective, from 1998-2008 (a ten year period), there were 449 deaths from lightening strikes in the US (5). You are 224% MORE likely to die from a lightening strike than you are from drinking raw milk. It’s a scare tactic to get consumers to purchase goods that they wouldn’t otherwise produce themselves.
When we purchase from our local dairy farmers most of the time you are getting pasteurized milk, which is still very much ok, but sometimes you can get raw milk, and fresh cheeses that haven’t been overly processed. You will get more good bacteria and antimicrobial properties and you may actually feel a little better. Try it, you may actually like it!  If you are concerned about the bacteria, pasteurize at home by bringing the milk to a temp of 161 in a double boiler for 15 seconds, then place on a bed of ice to cool quickly. It’s that easy!
Here’s a thought for you to take with you, do you know we used to have to shake milk? Most people don’t even know that NORMAL milk separates.
Next up: Fruit, why it’s better to buy local.
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteurization
(2) http://www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/dairyedu/pasteurization.html
(3) http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/food-science/food-science-whats-the-deal-with-ultrapasteurization-082428
(4) http://www.befoodsmart.com/blog/dairy-dairy-quite-contrary-how-does-your-bacteria-grow/#more-491
(5) http://www.infoplease.com/science/weather/lightning-deaths.html

(6)http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-questions-and-answers.html

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