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August, 2013 | Occupied Stories

Archive | August, 2013

Excuse me, but can you spare a smile?

New Orleans, LA–97 to 284… 381 people in total. Sat on Decatur St in the French Quarter and tried to spange [to ask for spare change, panhandle–ed] on all of these people–but not for money, or cigarettes nor booze. No, I was pleading for smiles, or grins or even a small smirk. I turned down every offer of money and cigarettes (though I did accept a bag of cookies from one man, for it was food. And a tall boy of PBR from a couple, as we had quite a long conversation about my thoughts on several scientific topics, including the most likely form of the universe, to cryogenics.

I spanged this way for a number of reasons; one, because a smile can be quite contagious. And I was hoping for a domino effect. But more importantly for the next two reasons, the second being that it’s a break from the usual selfish plea that barrage the average passerby on any given day. The plea wasn’t for me, but instead for them, to make their nights slightly better, and yes, if only slightly… but the main reason for this performance art/social study was to gauge just how detached we as a society, and as a species, have become towards the cries of those desperate and in need. It was meant to pierce that bubble of indifference, a calyx many have formed over their conscience throughout the years from a steady form of indoctrinated false elitism, in hopes of exposing the empathy that lies underneath and, more importantly, the ability to preform acts of charity and good will. I understand why people feel the need to turn a blind eye, though I can never condone such a reason.

In this country of extreme privilege, it’s difficult to see how one can be so self-absorbed with such petty first world problems, that they can’t even acknowledge others who are in far dire circumstances–to push that line of comfort to the point of breaking, just to be seen and heard, not as a beggar, but as a human being. And for them to understand that, they both are one in the same. With only a dollar in my pocket I turned down (for certain) 18 dollars (and another 43 cents that was thrown at me from what appeared to be a man who became quite irate after I turned down his first advance of the change… also, this excludes the uncertain amount from the offers of money from people who hadn’t pulled any out yet) and 23 cigarettes. I did so because it would have sullied the entire project, to look the way I look and to respond to these people with “No thank you, but please share the same consideration and kindness to any brothers and sisters in need of it, down the road.” And to see their expression change to slight confusion, and then an unspoken acceptance of such a drastic diversion of the usual routine, only better solidifies the message. And that is, it isn’t about what one needs, but what one can spare to make this world a better place. If only just a few fleeting seconds, to hear a voice that is usually lost to the wind.

On a side note, the dollar was given to me by a homebum, he saw me outside of a gas station salvaging some food from the trash. He told me not to do that, and before even laying eye on my face had offered and insisted on buying me a burger, a gesture I couldn’t turn down–not because I was starving, but because that must have taken a lot, when one has so little. When buying the burger he handed me the dollar, to my usual “No, brother, I can’t,” to which he insisted further saying, “Take it, son, it will keep the gangs off you.” He gave me some pointers on stealing food from major supermarkets, and he went on his way, not expecting anything in return. And that’s what it’s really about–to have a sense of humanity. Hence why you can see how I can’t understand how someone can’t stop for a few seconds just to acknowledge someone else. And for all of those who think they can’t, the bullshit you’re rushing off to isn’t that fucking important, hate to break it to you…
-William Gunner Estrella-

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A Victory for Everyone

Rosario, Argentina–So what ever became of Occupy Rosario and our struggle for affordable homes for everyone from Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina? Subsequent to the publication of our article by Occupied Stories on May 29th 2012, the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez-Kirchner openly acknowledged on June 12th of 2012 that the nation was facing one of its worse national housing crisis ever. The cat was out of the bag and it went global!

In quick response, the Argentine government passed a housing law program (Procrear) to provide low cost financing to anyone who owned land or wanted to purchase a new home but was not able to afford financing through banks or conventional lenders.  Everyone is eligible for the program, all an individual needs is proof of a stable job regardless of the wage. Funds for the program are made available through the national social security monies. In an essence our own wage deductions are used to help finance low cost mortgages to the working class and poor.  Therefore, the banks and conventional lenders are completely cut out of the picture, preventing a home mortgage crisis similar to the one in United States.

Our camp was comprised of a handful of families, almost all of who were jobless and homeless.  Nevertheless, our tireless passion for justice could not be quailed or shaken, after enduring countless of attempts by the City Mayor Monica Fein of the Socialist Party to tear down our Occupy Rosario camp, we defied the odds, earned the respect of many and stood our ground firmly during 126 days. Following our occupation and media attention we decided to take our struggle before the city council. We were determined to be the voice for those who did not have a voice.

Today, many of us who were homeless have obtained viable employment and a place to call home. As for myself, I continue to keep the story of Occupy Rosario alive by participating in nonpartisan protests as well as, by sharing our remarkable camp’s story in different disadvantage neighborhoods throughout Rosario.

We believe that everyone is Occupy; therefore, this victory belongs to everyone. We realized that without the support of vendors who donated food, groups and individuals who stood by us during evictions attempts our camp would have not survived as long as we did.

Our next endeavor is occupying the airwaves!! Stay tuned.

 -Claudia Minuet-

Camp organizer and facilitator

For more information on Occupy Rosario visit www.ocuparosario.org

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Young Elders

Editor’s note: This poem was inspired by Apaches and Angels, a tumblr blog by Douglas Miles portraying native culture.

 

Thank you for reading.

I hope I get this one wrong.

 

Visual indoctrination, brain st@mping. It’s real.

Lovely, we need more human Natives, preferably angry but most importantly: living.

Those NDN identity politicians are paid by the feds using pork policy.

Number & package Native bodies, rationed fractured identity. Mass frugality.

How does a Native body look in 2013 A.D.?

The WASP’s poison hibernates your mother & throws away your father.

 

Land O’ Lakes butter sitting on the bare countertop.

Native hands made mashed potatoes.

Choose your toppings.

Those “young people” prefer Frito-Lay & phone apps versus the butter.

 

That kneeling pretty face, she’s staring at me; offering Paula’s flavorful federally protected wicked Wampum of take. One handed traitor. When your mother doesn’t match the cover, O’ Land of Fakes, it’s more lemon on the opened skin endured growing up Native in America.

 

Native role models.

Script readers.

Made in China.

Her name, Stereohype.

 

Those swag hand-me-downs, we still thrive proudly in them. #Green was Red before “cool.” This is Native youth culture, live streaming & no filter. This isn’t a victim Olympics, Mills will tell you that.

 

Sir, the youth aren’t getting any younger. Younger elders then.

 

Q: Why did the Dineh watch the Lone Ranger?

A: To see their backyard on the screen.

 

Q: Why did you take all the copies of the sports page?

A: To see my older sister’s championship mug. Shero.

 

Artist hands smelling salts. Wake up, folks.

 

“We gotta stop tryna look like someone else except ourselves.” – DM “8 hours ago”

 

It’s our present recorded, Real Time Native Narratives.

 

Native talent already rose long ago & it still smells fabulous. Here’s the truth that’s making boardrooms & Diane Sawyer uncomfortable since America thought it had a conscience.

 

America swallowed Native youth & now they are full grown Athenas, born & bread in the womb of revolutionaries, thanks to Sir Miles. Native Ego is dangerous. DM isn’t avant-garde; he’s just sifting through the bullshit. You better censor him while you still think you can. He’s busy having fun.

 

Mr. Miles captures (no lasso, better tools) real live Natives, neither cover charge nor 3-D Ray Bans needed. Feel free to pop out the lens when you are ready, thou Proud Indigenous. We haven’t found the “young person” that’s been giving us a bad name … and we are still looking.

Tristin Moone-

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VIDEO: “I’m not a criminal; I came here to make a change”

Editor’s note: This video is the first in a series produced by the Undocumented Citizens of the 805. You may view their Facebook page here, and YouTube profile here. The name of the video’s subject is Gio.

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Another Government-Backed Swindle

I originally borrowed $20,000 from a 4 year college . I worked night shift in an urban hospital as a phlebotomist. The hospital was reimbursing the cost of some of my classes. One semester I had a 4.0 GPA and received a letter from the president of the university as well as from a state senator. In 1992, I dropped out of college to care for my mother, dying 6 weeks later from cancer. At the time I was planning on returning to college and finish my degree in nursing, physical therapy, or athletic training.

On a bike tour in Northern New Mexico,  I met a pilot that inspired me to become a commercial pilot. Upon returning to Ohio I began flying at a local airport with the intention of becoming a professional pilot. Knowing I needed a high-paying occupation to pay off my already accumulated student loans, I researched pilots salaries and learned pilots salaries approach $85,000 within 3-4 years after school. Wages for more experience was reported up to $150,000 after gaining 10-15 years. I always thought the loans would be insignificant compared to the initial cost. I was in top physical shape, and possessed an excellent demeanor for the rigors  of flying.

I contacted a number of out of state schools, but was sold by recruiters from a community college in Colorado. I moved to  Colorado in June 1994 and waited one year to begin my flight training, in order to avoid out of state tuition. I finished most all the ground classes including instrument, flight engineer, and commercial. I passed my FAA CATS instrument rating with a 94%, which is reported as the most difficult for pilots. I was on the dean’s list and had a 3.13 GPA. I received my Private Pilot Certificate
in 1996, and passed my first stage of my instrument training when the college advised me that they could no longer secure financing to continue my training. Since I had no other way to finish my training, I realized I had become the victim of a bait and switch scheme.

I have resorted to living with/imposing on various family members. I have paid $6,270. I currently owe $90,044.81 plus a reported $30,000 in collections fees. I am now 56 years of age and have been robbed of the chance to have any quality of life. I have not been able to get married and have children, and I consider what happened to me to be tantamount to genocide by financiers/ school officials. My estimate of the the wages I have lost over this period would be in excess of $1,000,000. Is the system that corrupt that the public doesn’t recognize that justice needs to be served for the miserable conditions these criminals  shamelessly cause?

In an article bemoaning the value of a college education, a Massachusetts attorney commented that when he needed a plumber/tradesman, he can’t call a person with a degree in social work. Given his arrogance, I challenge this Sturbridge attorney, when needing a package overnighted, a vacation flight for his family, or  a flight to attend a professional obligation, to consider calling another attorney. What makes this idiot think that his career is worthy of more merit than another occupation? This reminds me of
financiers/political officials that attempt to harbor shame on harder working individuals than themselves. My father warned me when I was a child that there are people in this world that are so crooked, they would need to be screwed into the ground when they die. The federal government had no business getting involved in funding higher education in the first place.

-Wright Way Corrigan-

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