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The Self Examiner

Sharing is very important to us at Cafe Gratitude. This blog is our means of connecting with you, our community through sharing what's happening with us and creating a conversation around the many facets of this community.
Tags >> protest
Andrew

The Occupy San Francisco encampment was receiving so many food donations last week, they had to turn generous people away. Across the nation companies, organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Occupy movement by contributing supplies to the camps of people who now occupy public zones in reportedly more than 1,000 U.S. cities. These citizens are not merely erecting tents and staying the night, however: there is incredible organization going into the demonstrations. Many encampments have their own first aid tents, communications areas, and, of course, food tables. All the effort going into creating these temporary mini-cities reveals how popular the movement has become in the month it’s been active.

How did Occupy Wall Street begin?

The Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters first proposed the idea of occupying the New York financial district in late summer of this year, circulating a poster showing a dancer atop the Wall Street bull and posing the question, What is Our One Demand? Since the protests began September 17, many demands have emerged, including ending corporate personhood, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, shrinking the income gap between rich and poor, and reforming campaign finance laws. With its strident and raucous anti-capitalism stance, we could have expected Adbusters to launch a fringe movement that would fail to capture the hearts of a majority of citizens; however, widespread anger at the state of the economy and exploitation by corporate power have caused the movement to move towards the mainstream. Time magazine, for example, recently reported that 54% of Americans approve of Occupy.

Where does Cafe Gratitude fit into all of this excitement? Well, if you haven’t heard, our LA location just trucked a big batch of Grateful Bowls over to Occupy Los Angeles to feed the people camping outside City Hall (see the video below!). Ryland Engelhart, general manager at Gratitude LA, explained that he sees the Occupy movement as a call for unification from people across the country. Americans are feeling separated from each other and from our institutions, he says, and this may be a chance to bring us all together to improve our society. Luckily, the tent village in the City of Angels was still in need of food, so Ryland was not turned away and protesters got to enjoy delicious organic vegan meals!



We can connect food to the Occupy movement in more ways than simply feeding the demonstrators, however. A great article in Mother Jones has just been published, illustrating how the financial industry is not the only economic behemoth that has been consolidating power and causing angst for the majority of Americans. The food industry, the article claims, is even more consolidated and monopolistic than the financial sector. For example, just four companies produced 75 percent of cereal and snacks, 60 percent of cookies, and half of all ice cream in the U.S. in 2002. And since then, not much has changed, although the food movement is gaining steam, and will ramp up its power this October 24, the first-ever National Food Day.

Here’s hoping that the people on the streets keeping eating well, and that we can all start understanding that we’re going to need a movement as powerful as Occupy Wall Street to reform our current food system!


 

WOW!  Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting my PhD in Not Taking it Personally.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a powerful declaration of what I’m up to in the world and how I am using my physical body to portray it and be the change I wish to see in the world.  I am proud and empowered by literally taking Gandhi’s words into my life and make my life be dedicated to rupturing the oppressions that I feel and see in the world.  How this shows up, is that I don’t shave my legs and I’ve recently tried stopping plucking the hairs from my chin.  It has taken me several steps to get to this place of first noticing where I’m feeling disempowered, then making a difference, and now- speaking out about it.  I thought that I had it all figured out, that I was on top of any feeling of unworthiness and truly in my power as a woman fully in choice and freedom around my body.  Well, rarely are we ever done and finished with learning lessons.  As I’ve heard time and time again- as soon as you declare something, everything else shows up.

Immediately after posting I found comments on my blog that were hateful and degrading to me and my commitment.  I found that a link to my blog was mentioned on another website with dozens of responses and reactions to my commitment with disgust and hatred.  I felt attacked, alone,  diminished, defensive, angry… and then I recognized what work there is to do from my seat.  My emotional reaction to the circumstances of their comments is my work to push through.  It’s human to feel sadness with criticism and defensive with aggressive words… and it’s my job to stay in my commitments and weather the storm.  As Kindred Spirit reminds me, upsets are not personal:


Integrity is the system working.  Integrity shows the solid strength of a person, an organization, a container.  If integrity is out, it doesn't mean that there's something wrong.  There's nothing bad about being out of integrity, just as being in integrity doesn't necessarily mean that there's something right.  Integrity is just the system working as it is.  

Integrity will move in and out as organizations grow, or as projects move.  I see it being as natural as seasons and as beautiful and creative as our natural planet.  As integrity moves out (say, if staff come in late when we've made a commitment to being on time) then it's a creative moment for us to see the leak in the container and decide to recommit to coming in on time or create a new system that better matches what we're committed to.  If being your word is a source of power... being out of integrity is your ability to stretch and grow.  The trick is to not make yourself or the organization wrong when you are out of integrity.

Consider that we are constantly repeating ourselves to create a strong structure, that we are reminding ourselves and others whenever integrity is out.  One of my favorite theorists, Judith Butler explains how repetition creates an opening for choice and re-evaluation.  She uses the concept to describe how social norms are created and maintained as dissent comes up and the repetition of thoughts and beliefs re-attach what is created to be "normal" or "central".  In this, she explains, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate and envision various options:  just as we are about to repeat, we see the possibility of change. 


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