Hasn’t it been fascinating to follow the recent Occupy Wall Street and other protests in the United States? What a remarkable demonstration of an engaged, informed people entering into the democratic political process. Inspiring at its core, whether you agree with their viewpoint or not.
At SEED Livelihood Network it has made us think about this question: What’s the real issue involved in Occupy Wall Street? It seems clear that it’s not that corporations are making money – that’s always happened, and in the capitalist system always will. The perceived problem is the disparity between what corporations, and the richest individuals, receive as income compared to “the rest of us.” The issue, therefore, is not simply economics, but economic justice.
At SEED, we get that. It’s why we do what we do. We recognize that, even more than in the US, people in many countries are dealing with the simple fact that no matter what their skills, no matter what their motivation, they don’t have many options for making a living. And if you are disabled, diseased, or a woman, well, forget about it.
We found an intriguing stat recently, that there are more people involved in co-ops in the US than own stock in the stock market. There seems to be a bit of a social reorientation to local sharing such as tool libaries, to local initiatives such as community and individual gardens, and to local livelihoods with many encouragements to shop local stores instead of just big boxes.
Half of SEED’s tag line is “Local livelihoods.” We earnestly believe that people should be able to live in their local communities and make a sustainable living, even in places where the streets may be not only unpaved but even unnamed. We also recognize that in today’s messed-up world that’s not always possible only with community resources. So we acknowledge the need — and the great benefit — of “Global partnerships.” Maybe if we spent more time thinking of, and in, community, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about occupying someone else’s space.