This blog began over a year and a half ago as what I now realize was an attempt to live through despair.
Then by April of this year I had made progress. -I had figured out that although sadness about environmental issues was what bothered me most, the political climate was more important in the short term, because if it remained hopeless then the chances for a compassionate response to the environmental crises I foresee are very bleak.
Of course the bizarre events of my rapidly-changing personal life then distracted me with a climax in September when I thought I had terminal bladder cancer and was preparing for the end of my life.
I still am amazed at how that situation suddenly vanished and was replaced by better health than I've had since I was sixteen! Maybe the lack of stress from having no money worries and also being newly retired just suddenly kicked in. Or maybe it was some kind of a miracle as some of my friends have hinted.
For this discussion the weird thing was the timing -I suddenly felt healthy and strong exactly when hope appeared for the problem I had just identified in April -the seeming inability or unwillingness of Americans and others to confront the corrupt political situation.
On September 17th in New York City the Occupy Wall Street movement began. I immediately recognized it as real and viable, because it had all the elements so lacking between 1996 and 2002 when I considered myself a local environmental and pro-urban activist.
Then in early October it had spread to Dayton, and I was immediately involved, and immediately impressed, as the last post, from October 6th makes clear.
Now it's been over two months since then, and although I'm in Florida and not involved in person again until Spring, I'm just as pleased about the Occupy Movement as when I first joined it.
We are at a point now where just about all of our Occupy cities have experienced at least one crisis, several for some cities, such as Dayton. We are evaluating these events collectively and as individual thinkers. We are also contemplating all the other lesser successes and failures we've seen, asking ourselves what they mean and what they teach.
As I do that personally, just like every other individual in Occupy Dayton, the question is "What next?" -for me, for the movement, and for me as part of the movement.
I choose to grapple with that question here -because writing is how I like to sort things out.
First, now that hope has returned, I want to ask myself what I would most love to see in the years just ahead. Then, what happens next makes more sense because it will ideally be toward that longer-term goal.
What I would most love would be to see the neighborhoods in Dayton deeply focused on self-reliance and social health and to be a designer and instructor of renewable energy implementations there, exchanging this for the food, health, management, and other talents of the rest of the people.
In 2002 though I abandoned activism toward such a vision because everything I did was undercut and negated by the political system and yet the public did not want to fix that system.
Now that a large portion of us finally do, I can revive that dream.
But getting back to NOW, how long will it take before the will to fix things finally leads to a system that will not undercut and negate individual work toward dreams such as mine? And, even though current Occupy work is not as fulfilling as my "dream job" of being a renewable energy designer and instructor, will I stay involved in that work anyway for as long as it takes because it will make my dream job possible if it succeeds?
I cannot know these answers now. I can only be optimistic.
But I DO have concrete ideas about what Occupy should begin focusing on next to be most effective and thus make the time we all must spend directly on politics instead of our dream roles in a better society as short as possible.
I first think we need to take over the hollow and ineffective Democratic party from the individual precinct level on up. I became convinced that this is a practical and possibly brilliant strategy by hearing Thom Hartmann argue for it on his radio show frequently in the past few years.
Secondly, I think we should focus a lot on efforts to undue Citizen's United, and to amend our constitution to clearly state that corporations are NOT people and that money is NOT speech.
I see the emphasis now by my fellow Occupy activists on keeping exposure of the widening wealth disparities and on the continued mishandling of foreclosures as healthy and worthwhile. These issues lead more and more people every day to ask WHY they came about. This outrage will make more and more people in the coming months want fundamental change. Then the two ideas I just gave for starting that change will be ready to move ahead. I think we are on the right track. Direct action still is the name of the game here in mid-December. All of our cities are watching each other for ideas now. This is good and I feel good about it!