Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street set to "Lawless" by Andy Palmer

From Eileen Boisseau
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut

This is my son Andrew's (Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer, a progressive folk rock band) latest artwork. I thought it was pretty amazing (of course) and that our class would appreciate this timely, creative message.

Occupy Wall Street montage with musical support by Andy Palmer (“Lawless,” from Palmer’s Sometime Around). Grub Street Writer performed at Occupy Denver on Saturday, October 22nd, in an effort to support the movement’s core message of fundamental change to the regulation of our financial industry being critical.


They have no idea
No clue
What we're gonna do
There's been a breach
Down by Broad Street
And it's a hackneyed coup

Stay silent
Be quiet
Little man little man
You're a proxy mind in a
Proxy time in a
Proxy land

And they move the world how they want to move
Lawlessly move how they want to

Are we cursed?
Or just the first
Ones to wonder
Who's been played the fool?
Not you, aw, yeah you
And all the others

The huckster steals
Golden years
And nails them all to the Wall
Merchant men,
Storm the den
And Borough through the Hall

To move the world how you want to move
Lawlessly move how you want to

Got an idea?
Got a clue?
What you're capable of
Rise up
You're done
With little man matters

And you'll move the world how you want to move
Lawlessly move how you want to

What percent are you?

From Matt Kilburn
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut

Hi All ... I found this link while looking at OccupyWallStreet stuff. You can put in your salary and see where you fall in the 99%. Interesting and scary at the same time.

Commentary: On We Are the 99 Percent

By Charlene Folston
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
10 October 2011

After visiting the "We are the 99 Percent" website, I have a new found respect for all of the people that are involved in this great movement. I applaud them for taking a stand on behalf of all of us and demanding that changes need to be made very soon. While reading all of the testimonials i felt the sense of urgency and how people desperately need help for them and their families. I fully support everyone that is occupying Wall Street now. I am also glad that it is a growing movement that continues to spread throughout the country. This is something that is overdue and I do believe that it will bring a positive change. I guess it is because i do not pay very much attention to the news unless it effects me directly, but I never realized that there were so many out there like me that are suffering and struggling to make ends meet. I know that there is something that the government can do to help all of us. They need to step in and make some drastic changes. There are too many in need and they cannot continue to sit back and not take responsibility. That is why I think it is important for as many people to get involved as possible.

This article has also been an eye opener for me personally. I have not realized how often I take the life and the things that I have for granted. I am always focused on the next thing I am getting for myself when I should be trying to help someone that is in need. I never really paid much attention to the jobs crisis because I have a job but I realized that all of the things that people are going through now can just as easily happen to me when i least expect it. Most people cannot save because they are living paycheck to paycheck and I am constantly spending money on frivolous things that I do not need. This site really make you take a look at your own life and think of ways that you can help make a difference.

Commentary: On Occupy Wall Street, Ron Paul and Federal Bailout Money

By Thomas Norman
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
10 October 2011

Commentary on "Ron Paul and Occupy Wall Street Should Jointly Call for Full Public Disclosure of All Fed Bailout Money," The Hill's Pundits Blog, October 10, 2011

The ongoing protest on Wall Street and other towns in America seems to be rooted with a frustration and a desire for “change”. After reading the article regarding full public disclosure of fed bailout money, I was overcome with anger and frustration. How was it possible that we could be fooled so easily and led astray from our God-given common sense.  Congressman Ron Paul has been a strong advocate of full disclosure of where and who the monies were allocated to. The fact that we still are unaware of “ALL” banking institutions and corporations that received funds, only adds fuel to a burning fire that has heated the hearts and collective minds of so many frustrated American citizens. I clearly recall the fall of 2008 and the fear mongering that existed, and how so many Americans were afraid to lose their homes, their job, and retirement funds due to the crisis. The media did a great job of perpetrating these fears on the public  through daily newscasts and newspaper publications of the economic crisis. Each day we were glued to the TV to see just how far the stock market had plunged that day, and with each dip in value, so did our confidence and trust in the system began to dip as well. I remember former President George Bush coming on live TV to address the nation and to basically inform the American people that if their elected officials did not pass the proposed TARP bill, we would see an economic collapse more devastating that the Great Depression. His solemn, yet affective tone seduced and convinced many Americans and congressman to get aboard with what the administration was trying to push through congress. He was also rumored to have had a closed meeting with top senators and threatened marshal law if the bill was not passed. Sounds like a dictator to me. Sounds like a government operating as an imperialistic regime who was willing to do anything to achieve its aims.

I remember shortly after the bill had passed, many congressman wanted a full disclosure of where the monies were sent and to whom. I remember the former chairman of the fed explaining to a panel of senators and curious elected official that the fed was above reproach, meaning they did not have to disclose any information regarding where the monies were allocated. It was at that moment that I realized something was not right and we were being duped as a society. How in the face of a national emergency, and basically the taxation of the public to pay for a bailout that was not created by the public, should the public not know where their money had gone? How is that answer even possible within a democratic structure of government? The answer is its possible because we as a people for so long have empowered certain elected officials to manage our lives and make decisions that at some given point and time cost our collective society.

However, what the government did not take into account was the perseverance, courage, and intelligence of its people. We are  now witnessing a growing movement of persons who are not willing to throw away a future. They are not willing to throw away a dream. A dream that has existed in their hearts and minds. A dream that they are ready to see manifested into a reality.  They no longer want to be enslaved in a system to only benefit’s the 1% of wealthy Americans. They want their slice of the American pie that seems to be getting smaller by the day. This American pie is being consumed by the few privileged Americans who believe the pie solely belongs to them and whatever crumbs are left over, should be giving to us, and that we should be appreciative for these for crumbs. The protests that are taking place was only a matter of destiny. From the Arab Spring movement that shattered the will of so many middle eastern regimes, to the European Union protests that invaded London and Ireland, to the shore of the mighty American empire, we are seeing the developed of a movement of people unafraid to voice their frustrations with the powers that be. We are witnessing a movement that will forever stamp this period of time and define the very near future. I hope the movement continues to grow and that more Americans will find the time to join the energy that is being fed at these certain points of the earth. If one could stand atop of the world and look down upon these protests, they should be moved to action with a relentless passion and desire to bring about change. What’s more realistic and convenient is that we can witness the movement in our cities. We have an world wide web of information to obtain. Its what we are willing to do with this information. Our fellow citizens are risking their lives in a way to bring about a change for each of us. Its starts with one and ends with all. I want to be apart of the collective all to show the elite that this land and all its resources belongs to us too. The days of feeding off us will soon come to an end. I truly believe a change will transpire from these protests. I’m just not sure if the change will benefit the people, or give those who have the power, more power.

Commentary: On We Are the 99 Percent

By Elizabeth Matte
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

After reading the “we are the 99 percent” article my heart sunk into my stomach. I felt saddened and disgusted for these people. But I also didn’t feel alone anymore. I feel like I can relate to a lot of these people. I haven’t really opened up to much in this class but I think I may now.

I recently had a baby and I’m now a single mother. I was working a good job making good money. Then I got pregnant after being told I would never have children. I was a nanny for three children but the family didn’t want me bringing my child to work with me. So my boyfriend (at the time) and I decided I would stay home with the baby. Daycare, well in our area, is basically his whole pay check. So it would be pointless to put my child in daycare and I really didn’t want to do that when I was watching someone else’s children. About a month after my son was born my boyfriend and I broke up. There were a lot of reasons why but I know one reason was because he was so stressed out about having to provide for all of us. So now I am out of a job, living back home and alone. I have an associate’s degree but after coming to UConn I will have student loans I will eventually have to pay off. So I will join that group of students that are in debt.  I honestly didn’t realize how bad things were until after I broke up with my son’s father. I don’t know if it was because I was working a great job, making good money and was pregnant, but I had no idea. I had no idea that there were like no jobs out there because I didn’t have a need to look for a job. Now that I need money I’m finding that the only jobs out there are low paying. (This is a kick in the stomach after being paid so well) And if I got a low paying job all my money would go to daycare, so what’s the point? I’m fortunate enough to having parents that can help me out, but my father was planning on retiring in a few years and I don’t know if he can. I feel horrible because I have a son t take care of and my family has to help me out. I don’t feel like it’s their duty to help support him but that’s how it has to be. My son’s father isn’t really around and barley helps support him. I told my parents I’d rather not go to school so I could work (a second or third shift job) but my family is pushing me to go. I’m worried that, like most people out there, I will have all these college degrees, no job with thousands of dollar loans to pay off.

One of the stories that really struck me was one of a girl that said she had some degrees and was out of work. I guess she was trying to get a job and they told her she was over qualified and inexperienced. I found this really interesting. My mother had the same problem. She retired from an insurance company after working there for like 20 years. She took an early retirement because her boss was basically harassing her and the company didn’t do anything about it. She really couldn’t afford to retire so she tried getting another job at another insurance company but they wouldn’t hire her for a position she wanted, because she was over qualified! I had never heard anything like that and thought it was an excuse. But after see that girl’s story it made it real. I didn’t know you could be overqualified for a job. Wouldn’t that make a person more applicable?

I definitely agree with the people are courageous enough to go stand up to the people on wall-street. But I also feel like it’s not enough. I’m trying to be hopeful and positive for everyone and myself. But I feel like the government and corporations’ have dug such a deep hole that they won’t be able to get us out of it. I don’t know how it could be fixed. I think it’s easy to say “oh just cut back corporate costs, or cut the bosses pay”, but that is really unrealistic. The people that are in charge are simply that, they are in charge. I think they feel that if you don’t like what you’re getting paid they will find someone else. I feel like everyone is made out to be replaceable. And these bosses and companies don’t care about their workers. This same situation happened at my father’s job. He works at Pratt and Whitney and they recently (a few months ago) had big layoffs. They had to lay hundreds off because the CEO’s and people in charge didn’t want to take a pay cut. It was so sad to hear when my dad told me. My dad didn’t lose his job but people he knew did. There were people that had a family that had worked for the company for over 10 years. I’m sure they will be over qualified for the jobs they apply for.

As I was typing this paper, I started chatting with my dad about this article. He was explaining tome and telling me his opinion on it and I also agree with him. He said that the people that are occupying wall-street should be at the White House and protest their policies because it’s their issues and they can do more about it. My dad was saying that Kudlow (who I can’t stand) talk’s about it on his show. I guess he has been covering it a little every night and will continue to cover the story.

Commentary: On We Are the 99 Percent

By Eileen Kennedy Boisseau
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

It was difficult to read the old English and interpret clearly what Benjamin Franklin was talking about. I believe that he was saying that those who are in power should use that power wisely and justly in their dealings with fellow citizens. But as Mr. Franklin says, there are also those forms of government that would turn things into a “tyranny”, and I think one in which the current government might becoming guilty of. In order to correct this, the general population should be entitled to education and therefore more wisely and fairly be involved in running our own country.

I am stunned to hear of the hardships facing so many. It was even more difficult to read these stories about my fellow citizens who want nothing more than a job and to provide for themselves and their families, and is being denied this opportunity. It is appalling that so many in this powerful democratic nation of the United States are struggling just to get by. I am stunned to read the words of my neighbors and their hardships. I am heartily saddened to know of friends and neighbors either living paycheck to paycheck or standing in lines months on end looking for that elusive job.

These are not people who are bemoaning that they are owed something. These are responsible individuals who would be happy if only they have the opportunity to have a job or have that job back and pay their own way. It is a fair expectation in a country as fair as ours – at least it used to be. People’s dreams have been shattered and people’s good faith efforts been stifled by lack of or outright denial of opportunity and lack of the government caring for their citizens. Losing homes, jobs, retirement savings and paying exorbitant prices for an education are not acceptable.

One gentleman defined the America of today as “corporatocracy” – an apt description if we interpret this to mean an America representative of and driven by corporate greed and denying the workers any share of profits. This description sounds tragically correct.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Commentary: Occupying My Mind

By Julie Bauereis
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
18 October 2011

Commentary on

I find the Occupy Wall Street movement fascinating! Obviously, it is completely inappropriate that the banks have such enormous political and economical control over the country as they do. This movement has been a long time coming; and I feel that more and more people are coming on board with it. Americans are angry to be losing their homes, their jobs, healthcare, benefits, retirement, etc. Though, when looking at most countries throughout the world, even with the economical situation as it is in the US, we are still living pretty well. Our culture believes, and I agree, that all that is being taken away from us, is our right. It is not for the 1% to take away. In our front yard we have a sign posted amongst our Halloween decorations that says "We Are The 99%: The Middle Class Is Too Big To Fail." I believe that if Americans unite, and stay peaceful and level-headed, we can accomplish what we want for a country. As a liberal from Texas, I have been frustrated for years about partisan separation that seems to be nothing more than absolute anger and hatred for one another. I lived in a small town and worked at the only Planned Parenthood within a 300 mile radius, and had to vote against Bush in a Pentecostal church. I literally had people walk by me as I stood in line that whispered "Sinner!" in my ear as they passed. I LOVE the fact that we can ALL stand together and fight for an issue united. It's not about religious morals or taxation; this is about American livelihood.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Artist Lily Yeh on Using Art to Transform and Build Community

This week for the Fall 2011 Creativity + Social Change class, we read "Warrior Angel: The Work of Lily Yeh" by Bill Moskin and Jill Jackson, a paper on hartist/activist/educator Lily Yeh's methodology of using art to transform and build community. Below is a presentation by Lily Yeh at the Bioneers conference, where she spoke about and shared examples and pictures of her work. She has a new book out, as well, called Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms, which documents her methodology as implemented at the Dandelion School in Beijing, China, a school for the children of migrant workers. I am honored to be interviewing Lily on Creativity in Play at 12 p.m. EDT on Thursday, November 10. Listen live or download the podcast after it airs.

Video streaming by Ustream

From Collage to What Next

Patterns, images, metaphors and connections from the Fall 2011 Creativity + Social Change class, responding to the collective collage they created in response to "What if we ...?" and "Wouldn't it be nice if ...?" questions about how to link their personal creativity beyond themselves to the community and society. We used the collage as a planning process tool a few weeks ago. The following Wordle was created from ideas they shared as they talked about the images they contributed to the collage.

Wordle: Creativity + Social Change

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Commentary: On #OccupyWallStreet Anger

By Eileen Kennedy Boisseau
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

Commentary on "Occupy Wall Street: What Are They So Angry About?" Huff Post, October 9, 2011

That’s a good question and it seems it has been taking a little while to define the answers, but if we sit back and listen, we can hear the message.  I liked the opening statement that clearly defines the frustration level that those Occupying Wall Street are at: “they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”.  In fact as the article brings out, a great many of us are disgusted with the economic challenges most of us – yes, I’d have to say 99 percent of us are experiencing.

I think Occupiers on Wall Street is providing visibility and effectively speaking out  against  the outrageous greed of many of the Wall Street banks and big businesses.  According to this article and a quote from Clinton, there are “20 million people officially out of work”, not including the unofficial number which brings it even higher, and that is staggering.  As Ben Bernanke states, this would qualify as a “national crisis”.  This would also explain the outraged numbers of people squatting at Wall Street and the countless more nationwide.

I appreciated both the short and longer histories that Monika Mitchell included in this article to remind us in understanding or reminding us how we got here.   After the 2008 Wall Street crash, the government provided the Toxic Asset Relief Program in the hopes of saving the banks and infusing them with the funding to turn around and provide reasonable loans to the American people. Instead, they held onto those funds and by doing so, further crippled the economy.  And it’s taking a long time to find accountability; if we ever can accomplish that fully.

So, the government is broke and wants to now draw off the hard-working people futures by underfunding Social Security.  It gets more and more outrageous and intolerable.

The longer history recalls the American people’s democratic spirit and resolve to create the land of equal opportunity culminating in the American Revolution over 200 years ago. I liked Ms. Mitchell’s quote related to that: “desperate people do desperate things”, and another from Janis Joplin “freedom’s just another work for nothing left to lose." The activists of OWS are basically saying just that, because they have no jobs to lose.

There was some defense in this article about Wall Street not being entirely at fault.  The mortgage securities market is blamed; but I contend that had the bankers or government securities regulation been monitoring them, this recession could have been avoided.  So now as the leaders of the “private equity firms and hedge funds” recognize, due to the lack of “capital and credit…”, “everyone is sitting on cash”.   So funds are apparently stuck at the top and simply put, need to get unstuck.

Discussions need to happen soon and I think the “Occupying Wall Street” movement is the “in your face, I’m not going anywhere until that happens” catalyst that just might be bring that to fruition. We need to bridge the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. We can reshape democracy and make it more equitable.  We can be imaginative and create more workable solutions if we keep an open mind, and keep in mind that we all need to take more responsibility for each other in this local and in the national community.

Commentary: On Deepak Chopra’s Message to #OccupyWallStreet

By Juliet Kapsis
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
12 October 2011

Commentary on "Deepak Chopra’s Message to Occupy Wall Street and Beyond," Washington Times, October 10, 2011

As Deepak said in the shared group meditation at #OccupyWallSt, “Go beyond anger as that comes from fear. Go towards compassion…. Ask yourself, how can I be the change that I want to see in the world?”

Humans have been creating concepts of greater beings for thousands of years.  The Greeks imbued their gods and goddesses with human traits such as anger, jealousy, and desire.  I thought of what I’ve read of the Trojan War, how when things were just about to fizzle out and the fighting stop, the gods and goddesses were able to get things going again.  They did this by inciting the emotions of the human chess pieces that were playing out the chess game on the battlefield, in the city strong-hold, and everywhere else.  Anthony Robbins, the motivational speaker, has said that if you can get yourself to experience the right emotion, you can get yourself to do anything.  And what if you – or a god/goddess or your parents or an advertisement – can make you feel the “wrong” emotion?  An emotion that brings up fear, anxiety, judgment or uneasiness is what I am referring to with the label of “wrong."

Managing our emotions is essential to remaining conscious, calm and aware.  This is a gift we give to ourselves and others.  It is not simply a small thing we do – because this practice imbues us with the strength, clarity and desire to tap into our full potential and discover what it is we were meant to do here in physical form.  Our emotions can be manipulated by societal memes as tradition, where we are told this is how things have always been done and that we are obligated to carry on.  These are not our bags to hold anymore.  If something is heavy, it is not meant to be brought forward.  Rikka Zimmerman, a transformational life coach, says that the truth will always make you feel light and a lie will always make you feel heavy.  Check in with yourself and see where your truth lays – one that is part of the recognition that we are all connected.

What we are experiencing here is not simply an economic revolution – this is only what is happening now.  We have been experiencing a spiritual revolution.  Here in the West, with the gifts of meditation, yoga, and other philosophies, we are blessed to receive these gifts.  Noam Chomsky, in a talk he gave to academics at Princeton University earlier this year, spoke of the responsibility that intellectuals have to humanity – to speak the truth.  I see that this speaking the truth is a responsibility of us all, specifically those in the West.  Speaking the truth is part of this spiritual revolution.  Susan Campbell, Ph.D. and self-transformation author wrote:  “Once we face our own true feelings and beliefs, we can start to act on them, bringing our behavior, relationships and professional lives into alignment.”

Take action in your own life by loving, accepting and forgiving yourself.  Practice waking up in the morning and saying, “Today is a judgment-free day”.  How free will that allow you to feel, to be judgment-free for just one day?  That experience will trickle over into another day and another – until you are filled with a knowing that you are loved, just as you are here and now.  The practice of releasing self-judgment allows you to see and be yourself with others in your life.  Facing your fears inspires them to face theirs – when we are not choosing fear, but love, we move towards healing and new frontiers. 
Question yourself and your thoughts.  Rikka Zimmerman recommends a three-day thought cleansing where for three days you ask yourself “Who does this thought belong to?” after each of your thoughts.  It is miraculously light feeling to realize that most of your thoughts do not belong to you, they were given.  Ask your friends what is new and good?  What is making them smile today?  Ask people what makes them deliciously happy?  What thrills them to their very core?  We can fall into a place of focusing on what is not going right – there’s always something to talk about in this realm.  And just as there’s never any lack of the negative stuff, as we are in an all-abundant Universe, there’s equally never a lack of the positive stuff.  Of this fact, I am positively positive about!

Thank you for sharing the meditation from Deepak!

Commentary: On #OccupyWallStreet as Mob

By Karen Faass
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

Commentary on "Don’t Confuse “Occupy Wall Street” as a Protest, It’s a Mob," Mail Online, October 12, 2011

I chose this article to bring another perspective into the mix of “Occupy Wall Street.” I do agree that people have the right to speak up about what is happening in our economy and the impact it is having on all Americans, especially college-age students.  There is no denying, after reading many articles this week, people are struggling and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

However, now that “Occupy Wall Street” has made a stance and has been noticed around the country in many major cities, they now must be careful this “occupation” does not turn into a “mob scene” where the true meaning of the occupation is lost.   Making this “personal” by marching up the individuals’ homes, I don’t believe, was a wise choice.  “Occupy Wall Street” is definitely “personal”, as it affects the well-being of so many individuals.  The movements’ statement that the economical affairs of our country are in need of repair and needs to be addressed is the focus.  Crossing the line of a peaceful statement and showing up on the property of individuals’ homes outside the boundary of the demonstration could have a negative outcome and the cause could lose its momentum.

This might be the time to organize thoughts and ideas as to where this occupation is heading…to now have a goal of how to proceed.  It seems part of the crowd is turning into a “Woodstock”…camping out…walking around dirty…areas of the park becoming filthy…I feel this will greatly impact any serious discussion of why they came to Wall Street in the first place.

The article brings up a point that “Occupy Wall Street” aligns themselves with the Tea Party.  This group is a movement for the people.  While the groups do share concerns that are similar, the Tea Party movement is organized and does work within the democratic system.  One difference between these groups indicated in the article was that “Occupy Wall Street” does not want to work within the political system and there is no or little organization within the group.  The Tea Party has had organized rallies where the area in which they gathered was left cleaner when they left. 
Unions have backed the occupation and some say this is no different than the union strikes of the seventies.  President Obama has said nothing regarding this event, not even asking the people to leave.

No one knows where this will end.  Now that they have the attention of many, can they now begin to focus on where to go from here and begin a new chapter in working for a better America?

Commentary: On #OccupyWallStreet Policy

By Marco Vernacatola
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

Commentary on "Occupy Wall Street Shifts From Protest to Policy Phase," Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2011

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement, up until recently, has been dismissed by, well, almost everyone.  The protesters, often described as hippie-like, appear to have no goal in mind, no end game for how this whole movement will turn out.  However, as the movement picks up steam, more and more intellectuals and organizers are attaching themselves to the group, turning what was once a disorganized group of outcasts into a force to be reckoned with.

As this article describes, "Occupy Wall Street" is ready to move on to it's next phase, which is the policy-making phase.  The media and establishment reaction to the growth of this movement is starting to show hope for actual change in how the financial aspect of this country is handled.  A point this article makes is that "Occupy Wall Street" is a distinctly progressive movement, which before now, was not represented in the media in very many shapes or forms.  This movement, in the words of the author of the article, "will help give concrete form to a political narrative that so far has remained abstract in the public mind: That the financial industry has so far gotten a pass on its responsibility for the 2008 crash and escaped sufficiently stringent regulation, while government assistance to banks and Wall Street firms has left consumers in the dust." (1)

The idea that the financial system is being exploited by the major players who participate in it is something that is often voiced when two people discuss our nation's financial problems.  The ironic thing about it though, is that at a time when our nation needs financial reform the most, movements like the Tea Party spring up instead, wanting less regulation and reform.  For progressives, "Occupy Wall Street" is the cavalry that almost arrived too late.  As they enter the stage in their development where actual policy making may become the end result, it offers a beacon of hope for people desperately searching for an answer that doesn't consist of simply replacing everyone currently in office.

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is also bringing to the forefront the inequality between the rich and the poor.  According to the article, "in 1980, the average income of the top 1% was about 30 times that of the lowest 20% of households; in 2006 it was more than 100 times that of the lowest quintile." (1)  While these figures aren't new, "Occupy Wall Street" is broadcasting them to the world in a big way.

I feel "Occupy Wall Street" may become much bigger than its detractors expect, or want, it to get.  It has become one of the few voices for the disappointed and discontent, and has gone from just a group of "lazy hippies" to a movement of like-minded people of all backgrounds wanting to make some sort of difference, even if it means taking on this nation's giants.

Commentary: On Wall Street March to Millionaires' Homes

By Michelle Hypolite
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

Commentary on "Wall Street Protesters Plan 'Millionaires March' to Tycoons' New York City Homes," Fox News, October 11, 2011

I decided to go to Fox News to seek out an article to see how the "other side" was reporting about the protest and the individuals involved. Many members of the Republican Party have called the protesters un-American, radical, and even criminals so I was pleasantly surprised to see that this article was unbiased and didn't paint the negative picture that has attempted to undermined the protest. The article talks about the protesters plan to march from the Wall Street Headquarters to the homes of some of the wealthiest New York residents who live on the Upper East Side. The march is to draw attention to the tax breaks that wealthy citizens receive in comparison to the average resident of New York State.  The article also states that celebrities are coming down to Wall Street to show their support. Russell Simmons and Kanye West made an appearance and tweeted about their visit, drawing more attention to the protesters and the cause.

I'm completely elated about the protest and the support that it is receiving. For awhile I was concerned that the media was not giving it coverage but the protesters refused to be ignored. I had a feeling that certain media outlets and politicians would do their best to discredit the participants and use methods of propaganda to make the protesters seem radical. It's refreshing to see the Democratic Party embrace the protesters and defend them publicly. It's easy to go off the record and say how you feel, but when I hear people like Nancy Pelosi and Robby Mook (director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) encourage Americans to stand up to billionaires and speak against their individual and corporate greed.

This movement is right on time. I was involved in the grassroots movement in the Hartford area one summer signing up residents to vote with Connecticut Working Families. We went to the poor-working class areas in New Britain and even held a protest rally at Nancy Johnson's office. This was the same election year that she was defeated by Chris Murphy and lost her seat in office that she held for about 18 years.  It was a pivotal moment for me and it was my first taste of making a big difference by doing simple things like going door to door and reminding everyday people that they can make a difference by coming out to vote. I had the same experience for the 2008 presidential election and though I'm not a fan of politics or politicians, I have an understanding that it is better to be at the table that in a corner complaining about how everything is wrong. The occupy wall street movement has refueled my fire and I'm ready to dive on in! In my woman's studies class our group project is to have an Occupy Uconn event and I'm so excited. The time for change is now and it is an ever evolving concept that we can never allow to lose steam and go cold.

Commentary: On New Haven's Occupy Movement

By Kathy Glass
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

Commentary on "New Haven's 'Occupation' Takes Shape," New Haven Independent, October 11, 2011
The article about New Haven's Occupation highlights some interesting facts about how such a movement is being fulled and shared within communities.  It seems that the organizers and occupiers are using various tactics to "get the word out," namely door-to-door canvasing and speaking at churches and stores.  In addition, the "Rock-upy New Haven" effort has been conceived to include local bands in the movement and to help spread the message.  Most recently, a member of the group created a website specifically for the New Haven movement (  All of these various forms of communication seem to spur the movement and spread the message to the people.  It's clear that this Occupy movement, like many others, is not only about the political, social and economic positions it presents, but also about uniting a community of citizens and opening up the lines of communication that may have been closed or inaccessible before.  If nothing else, this movement is giving people a platform for communication and change rooted in community.

Commentary: Occupy Wall Street and Insurance Companies

By Will Carnes
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
11 October 2011

Commentary on "Next Occupy - Wall Street-Run Health Insurance Companies," HuffPost, October 11, 2011

I found this article pretty interesting because health insurance companies such as Aetna and Cigna were brought up in the discussion. I live in Farmington, Conn., and these companies are a ten minute drive away. I have actually done an internship at Aetna a couple of summers ago and met with the former CEO Ronald Williams. After reading this article I had a completely different outlook on the company that I spent a summer working for.

I was unaware that Aetna and other health insurance companies were “profit machines” for Wall Street. I didn’t know rates were going up and less care was being provided. In my intern program I was under the impression that programs for more health care coverage were in the making. I don’t think I was being lied to but I had no idea that the CEO’s of these companies were pocketing an abundant amount of money for themselves and Wall Street. It’s hard for me to pay attention to these facts because I am still under my parents insurance, so I don’t actually pay anything. After watching some of the videos from Occupy Wall Street website, I remember one woman being interviewed in particular. She was saying most Americans are for the movement but as long as they are living comfortably in their homes they are not actually going to come down and protest, they are going to let someone else do it. She went on to say that the people who don’t have health insurance, or a job, and are in financial trouble are the people that have to stand up to Wall Street and make a change. When I think about the future it’s scary because one day I will have to pay for my own insurance. “We've got 9% unemployment, falling wages and a declining standard of living, and these guys are taking raises that stagger the imagination.”(Ethan Rome)

I think its going to be hard to break this corporate greed. I’m all for what the protestors are doing but what if they were put in the positions of theses greedy CEOs. Would they give away their bonuses to help the poor and middle class gain health insurance? In the article it mentioned CEOs received 1 billion in compensation in a 10 year period. Does anyone really need that much money? So the question is ..If these CEOs were to donate the billions of dollars they make, how would it be distributed out? Who would the money go to first? That’s the one issue I have with this movement on Wall Street. Things are not going to change in one day. At what point do the protestors know when they win? Will bills be passed right away and the economy taken out of recession? My opinion is no.

The important idea is maybe one day things will change because all these people protested. Maybe one day we will have a true democracy where the people who keep this country running have a voice in what decisions are made. Maybe one day we will sniff out the greed and keep it out. All we can do is try and hope for the best.

Commentary: On The 99%

By Jen Pradhan
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
12 October 2011

When I went on to the website for We Are The 99%, I was mesmerized (for lack of a better word) at everything that people had put up about themselves to take a stand. I was very moved and intrigued all at the same time to keep going. I almost felt morbid, but the sad truth is that its so real. I was flipping through the channels last night and Chelsea Lately (10/11/2011),touched upon how the media was focusing in on the young adults that are out there for sex and food rather than on the bigger picture. Why are they focused on the negative and hiding behind what’s really going on? Instead of standing by and supporting and making a change, the newscast picked the most unnecessary thing they could to report on.

What’s truly sad is that there are millions out there who are only going by what the news is telling them. I was one of those people that took the situation at face value, wondering to myself… “why are you complaining since you choose the job and the career you wanted. You made your bed and you have to lay in it.” I wasn’t thinking about all the other factors such as having a family to support, kids to feed, health deteriorating, debts and foreclosures that are going on with these individuals.

Reading and seeing the pictures of each one of the individuals was a reality check. Not everything is merry and not everybody has control of what they are doing… even if they do have a nice paying job or think they are getting  by. One thing I am learning from all this is you think you are ok now but tomorrow you can get into a car accident that can take you from your “comfortable” world (with enough in the bank for a rainy day) that you live in to one that’s going to have you feeling helpless and lost.  It’s depressing.

One thing that astonished me was an article that I came across on facebook. When I read it at first, I was agreeing and telling myself …”oh well, this individual should’ve known better. Its sad, but pick something better. It’s a land of opportunity.” But today I went back to read some of the comments that were left by the people that agree with the article just as I had. And I was shocked and disappointed to revisit the article.

The comment below saddened me the most:
obamas1goodyear: 10/08/11 18:13
A few years ago, I attended an open house at a fairly prestigious, and very expensive, university with my daughter who was evaluating various colleges. One of the programs we attended was a panel discussion featuring four or five of the students who were attending the school. During the student introductions, one girl on the panel proudly announced that she was majoring in Women's Studies. After the program adjourned I asked my daughter what she thought that particular girl was going to do with a degree in Women's Studies. She said, "Probably live with her parents." My guess is that she is one of the Wall Street protestors.
The problem is not student loans. It is what students do with the loans. If you are going to borrow and invest $200,000 in a college education, you better learn something useful. 
It made me wonder if the mother thought of America like we all or once did –“ the land of opportunity.” Its people like the young individual that was going to major in women studies… that once stood up for women’s rights a while ago when no one believed in us (females) to be equals. Its because of individuals who went for what they believed in to make a change that Obamas1goodyear is able to voice her opinion at all.

I am glad I chose to go over this website ... it’s the tragic truth that I believe everyone should hear and know. Because each one of us can relate and should be proud to be part of the 99% and stand up for our rights.

Commentary: On Occupy Wall Street and Leadership

By Eileen Ahlquist
Creativity + Social Change
University of Connecticut
12 October 2011

Commentary on "What Occupy Wall Street Demands of Our Leaders," Washington Post, October 11, 2011

I am only just learning (more) about Occupy Wall Street. I am not much of a news-watcher, because I feel that the media is constantly buying into and feeding fear. I am someone who is more focused on immediate surroundings and what I can do to directly affect who and what is around me. However, I have been feeling a little ignorant and out of the loop of this major event.  After reading the article “What Occupy Wall Street demands of our leaders”, it summarized a little more about what is being cried out for – hope, economic opportunity and the need for acts of bravery, integrity and responsibility from our leaders. The article also mentions the denial of the “American Dream” to young people. But, I extend that point and include ALL people. I am in my forties, not necessarily the “young” generation anymore. Like many others, I am in a process of career change, back in school, and I am treading the thin ice of creating school debt while the economy just seems to keep failing. As a self employed person who has been hit by the change in economy and being a student trying to monitor the debt I am enslaving myself to, it is starting to make me feel a little immobilized.

Also, I agree with other points of the demands that say we have to protect jobs in America and more importantly, highlighting the real problem of too much power in the corporations.  How is it that there needs to be some kind of attention to the fact large companies can hoard money & not divest and continue the flow of economy? As a student in social work classes, it is frustrating to notice I am in a community of people learning how to help and serve the world, while leaders are not displaying commitment to guarding the quality and integrity of lives as much as they are committed to guarding dollars. Social Workers are people who become professionals to serve the needs of people, to promote justice, protect dignity and worth of people and it feels like we are being sent to battle our leaders who really don’t care to see real change for people… they just keep enough band-aids around to keep people in their places. The great vision of this country seems to lie more in its people, not in its leaders.

I am waking up and claiming: I AM THE 99 PERCENT! While my business has remained with some consistency, the trickle of work is slow and “just getting by” seems to feel like a blessing when I look around me. I am in the process of furthering my education and shifting into a new career, but have reservations if the job will be there when I am ready. I own a small house and every month, I have gratitude that I was able to pay the mortgage. Sometimes, when the responsibility feels too large, I don’t even have the option to sell, because I would not sell it for what I still owe on it ... so, sometimes it can be immobilizing. However, as Occupy Wall Street has grown and continues to spread, the hopelessness can start to shift. First, having connection and unity with others feeds the spirit and then feeling some restoration of power as people band together and demand what is needed.  I am grateful to be learning more in-depth about what is going on in this movement and I am grateful for the people who have spent their time and energy getting this message going. If the pulse continues, it can continue to wake up and inspire people like me, who have been feeling untrusting of the future yet lacking power. The more voices, the louder the message  ... and the more people, the more power.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We Are The 99% - #OccupyWallStreet

Mothers, Fathers, Daughters, Sons, Sisters, Brothers, Students, Doctors, Lawyers, Cops, Black, White, Latino, Asian, LGBT, Straight, Young, Old, We Are The 99%.

Filmed By: Kristopher Rae
Edited By: Kristopher Rae & Nicky Eyebrows
Music "We Are Your Friends" - Justice & Simian

Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution - #OccupyWallStreet

"We want to share insights into the formation of a new social movement as it is still taking shape in real time. The video was shot during the 5th and 6th day of the occupation. This idea to occupy the financial district in New York City was inspired by recent uprisings in Spain, Greece, Egypt, and Tunisia which most of us were following online. Despite of the corporate media's effort to silence the protests, and Yahoo's attempt to to censor it in e-mail communication, the occupation is growing in numbers and spreading to other cities in the US and abroad. ... Please forward our video to likeminded people via email, facebook, twitter - and make the voices of dissent circulate. ... Find the latest news, learn how to participate and support:"

Creativity at Heart of Society ... An Irish Presidency Vision

By Steven Dahlberg

Why I Should Be President ... The Irish Times recently asked the seven candidates hoping to succeed Irish President Mary McAleese to outline why they believe they would make a good president.

In a statement of a mere 700 words, Labour Party candidate Michael D. Higgins put creativity at the heart of his vision for society, citizenship and development. Higgins also is the former Irish Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
  • The vision I am offering is of inclusive citizenship in a creative society, as we build a real Republic that makes us proud to be Irish in the world.
  • Everyone has a contribution to make – whatever their religion, capacity, origin, orientation or income – and inclusion also means shared responsibility, to each other and to generations yet to come. As president, I would also promote a creative society, combining the best of tradition with the spark of innovation and opening up possibilities in every area of life from education to science to business.
  • I would encourage creativity in practical ways, something I did as Ireland’s first minister for the arts in the 1990s, establishing TG4 and a network of local arts venues, and helping transform Irish film from an €11 million into a €186 million industry.
  • I see the same potential today in creative industries from games development to artisan foods. However, creativity is, most importantly, a vital part of citizenship and needs to be supported from the ground up, in our communities and schools. As president, I would encourage access to art, music and self-development for every child.
Rare is a politician who truly understands -- beyond lip service -- that the creative imagination, ideas and engagement of every citizen is the raw material that builds community, develops the economy and shapes the political process. Higgins, whose self-description includes "poet,"  deeply understands that developing and expressing one's creative self in society is how one meaningfully engages in learning, work and community. He is a prime example of this personally.

Would that the 2012 United States presidential campaign season would include such a dialogue ...

What role does/should creativity play in engaging U.S. citizens in society? How does Michael D. Higgins' vision inspire you? Is there any connection between such a vision for a creative society and what is happening with #OccupyWallStreet?