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Crystal Zevon

Crystal Zevon is author of 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon,' an oral history of the life of her former husband and lifelong friend and co-conspirator

March 14th, 2012 9:18 AM

Bail Out America

Movements behind the Movement

Before the whole “Occupy” thing happened, I had decided to write a book of interviews with people across the country who were suffering either as a result of the economic times we’re living in, or because they were simply born into poverty and the deck was so stacked against them that they never found a way out.  To prepare myself for the project, I read books like The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler and Broke U.S.A.: From Pawnships to Poverty, Inc.- How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin.  My daughter, Ariel, had founded a non-profit with training programs for the poor and disenfranchised to learn culinary skills and how to utilize local agriculture to start a small business, so I found my first ‘subjects’ through her.  When her business failed (after five years) due in large part to the economy, I discovered that there was no shortage of people who had fallen prey to hard times – even within my own family.

I’d conducted 5 or 6 extensive interviews and felt they covered enough bases for me to write a book proposal, and hopefully get a publisher interested in the project.  Among the people I interviewed was a family who had lost their home to foreclosure.  Another family suffered terrible illnesses brought on by the mold-infested rental they couldn’t afford to move out of.  Another man had come out of years of incarceration, unable to find a job or a way back into society.  Feeling pretty confident that I had a handle on the topic, I sent my proposal off to my literary agent.  She responded almost immediately.  “This is too depressing.  I don’t want to know these people, and I don’t care about their problems.”  Whoa.  Wow.  WHAT???

As I was reeling from her response and trying to figure out what to do next, Occupy happened.  It took me about five minutes to decide that this movement had the potential to do a lot more good than my book, so I bought a tent and dove in head first.  As fate would have it, one of the people I worked with early on was a guy named Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign (www.backbonecampaign.org).  His organization is dedicated to something they describe as “artful activism”.  They contribute gigantic props and theater to a whole host of progressive causes and actions, but one of Bill’s passions is debt, housing and foreclosures which attracted both my daughter and myself to his strategic and creative tactics for building movement power.

Now that most occupations have suffered eviction, new ways of harnessing the energy of Occupy into more long term and strategic campaigns are emerging.  Occupiers recognize that for this movement to do what it set out to do (change the world!!!) we need to grow our numbers.  We need to train more organizers.  We must find new ways of approaching old issues that the power brokers are working feverishly to entrench with even more intractability into the current system of corporate governance.  At the forefront of this effort to empower “the people” to fight the ever increasing encroachment of corporatism and militarism on American and humanitarian rights and freedoms are small, independent organizations like Backbone Campaign. 

In D.C., where I was occupying, there is gathering momentum for an American Spring, and Backbone is bringing their knowledge and skills from Washington state for 2 days of Training, 2 days of Action – March 31st -April 3rd.  Their plan is to ‘provide focus and capacity to the emerging populist uprising.’  At this juncture, we have changed the conversation in America.  But, we cannot stop there.  To win, and it will be a long struggle, we must concentrate on building the movement in numbers and in strength.  The time for reflecting on what we learned from the spontaneous energy and momentum of months of encampments and daily actions is up.  To those who have been sitting back watching it all from a computer or TV screen, congratulating those of us on the front line… GET UP!  Seriously.  STAND UP NOW.

There are opportunities all over the country to get involved, and a million different ways.  I know a couple in Virginia who go out with signs and fliers to their local Wells Fargo bank every day.  People are starting to listen to them.  Withdraw their money.  Join them.  So… Pick a cause.  Find a group.  Whether it be the predatory lending practices of the banks, defending families whose homes are being foreclosed on, fighting student debt, or standing up against Wall Street or war and drones… The time is now.  This is our moment.

As a mother and grandmother, my proudest moments are watching as my daughter picks up the torch, and her eight-year-old twin sons boast to their schoolmates about what their mom and nana are doing.  Okay, full disclosure time.  My daughter just made a great Doo-Occupy video with Backbone Campaign (check it out!): http://youtu.be/Ih-7naoBvp8.  And, she’ll be with them in D.C. to do the artful activist trainings and actions. JOIN HER (I’ll be doing my part - babysitting).  http://Doo-Occupy.org/ 

Come on.  Rise up. Help me prove that my cynical agent is wrong.  Occupy is here to stay… and, WE DO CARE.  

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