Aaron Sorkin’s Commentary on Occupy Wall Street.

Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom is dealing with the topic of Occupy Wall Street, and while I loved the Occupy Movement, I’m forced to admit that Sorkin makes some pretty good points. The character Shelly Wexley is a college professor and spokesperson for the Occupy movement. She clearly knows at least some about all the issues, yet she can’t get the conversations away from being about how the leaderless group works to the issues. Sorkin’s protagonist Will McAvoy is incredibly blunt with her. He challenges what OWS hopes will happen. If they want laws to change, do they have people available Continue reading

For a Diversity of Tactics

I went last night to a presentation by two women from Deep Green Resistance. It was an interesting presentation focusing on the question of how we make change in our world. The two presenters critiqued the myth that if we just bring enough awareness out there we can create a mass movement that will bring about change through solely nonviolent means. The presenters talked about how historians and story-tellers get to choose from a huge variety of details which ones they present, and so by focusing on Gandhi we ignore Bhagat Singh (and, for that matter, the fact that Gandhi Continue reading

my thoughts on Paved With Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism

I’m getting ready to return the book Paved With Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism by Kikolas Barry-Shaw and Dru Oja Jay back to the friend who lent it to me, but I want to make a few notes about ideas I found interesting. I know a different friend who blogged about the same book, so I want to include a link to his blog here too, though I’ve been careful not to read his assessment of the book till I finished writing mine. The book outlines several ways in which development NGOs actually assist imperialistic motives. It talks about Continue reading

trying to understand yesterday

Even in my sleep I over analyze things. The other night I dreamed that I was a government bureaucrat for the Nazis. In my dream I knew I had a choice between getting myself thrown into a prison camp right away for standing up for what I knew was right, or I could try to survive in the job and use my position to help others. In my dream I didn’t feel fear for myself, just a question of what would be best for others. After all, I thought, the job would be done by someone and if I was Continue reading

A Handful of Ways to Reduce Poverty

As I was becoming involved with my local Coalition Against Poverty, I found myself surfing the webpages of other poverty reduction groups. The Peterborough Poverty Network has a wonderful poster listing 101 Ways to Reduce Poverty. Many of their suggestions are local to Peterborough, but some of them are relevant anywhere. Some of them are not so much reducing poverty as helping to reduce the effects of poverty. I want to share a few of their suggestions, and a few of my own: A couple of their suggestions: Lobby your sports teams, clubs, etc to provide a few free memberships each year. Carpool. Exchange Continue reading

Protesting is only the beginning

Yesterday was a rally that I had some involvement in organizing. The adorable picture to the left is of my son as he marched up and down by himself while most people were eating. He was chanting as he marched. “Stop the war on the poor, make the rich pay.” I was disappointed more people didn’t show up. I wanted more people to be there. Yet I was glad about the people who were there. A few things came up as we organized. First was a question of whether we should obtain permits both for the rally itself and for Continue reading

Social Skills, Homeschooling and Occupy

I’ve written a bit already about my experience with my local Occupy group, and how I love the idea of Occupy but had problems with the reality. So when I recently saw a link to an article about Occupy Toronto, I was very interested to read it. After a lengthy recounting of some of the safety hazards and failures of Occupy Toronto, the article concludes: The unwillingness of Occupy Toronto’s membership to develop and enforce standards of behaviour consistent with the values of social justice exemplifies a deeply flawed process. These problems are not unique to the Occupy movement; they have Continue reading

The Trouble with Inequality

Driving home this evening I heard a few minutes of a radio show talking about inequality. Someone was arguing that as long as there isn’t a poverty problem, it doesn’t matter if some people are incredibly, incredibly wealthy. The person kept saying that as long as people made their money legally and “according to the transparent rules of the game” it was okay. I was thinking about this and thinking that the missing details are issues of power, negative externalities, and unfair rules of the game. I don’t object to a billionaire having a huge yacht and several amazing houses. Continue reading

political legitimacy

Do you write letters to politicians? I do. I write them frequently. Yet the idea of writing letters to politicians always bothers me a little. I wonder not just about the efficacy of it but about the meaning of it. Does writing letters imply we want the politician to make decisions based on the show of popular support, or do we hope they will make it based on best information? I’ll willingly concede that the information in my letters is often the regurgitated ideas from activist organizations I agree with, so if I hope politicians make decisions based on persuasive Continue reading

Lessons from My Occupy Experience

  My local occupy group has been evicted and I pause to reflect upon different things I have learned. It has been a very intense six weeks for me. I was there regularly, participated in many meetings and in online conversations, and done everything I could to help out. I have greatly enjoyed taking my children down to the site and meeting so many fascinating people. However, as I could not stay at the site overnight or even just late into the evening, I have not had the opportunity to become friends the same way many others at the site have. There Continue reading