Occupied in Arlington

The sun shone on bobbing balloons and temperatures were summerlike as local musician Chris Nauman played for a circle of several dozen outside Jefferson Cutter house, but his lyrics were not what one would expect on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Occupy! Occupy! Occupy your rights. A decent job and education, this is why we fight,” Nauman sang, strumming his guitar. “Occupy! Occupy! Occupy your home. Don’t let the bankers take from you everything you own.”

Nauman, who went on to sing about single-payer health care plans and the “greedy 1 percent,” wrote “Occupy the Song” last October after visiting his son at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park in New York.

Last Sunday, he performed it for the first general assembly of Occupy Arlington, which kicked off its campaign for change by marching from Town Hall to the Cutter House. More than 50 people were there at the peak of the event.

“What goes on in our country affects all of us, even in Arlington,” Nauman told them.

Lynette Culverhouse, the group’s media representative, agreed.

“Republican or Democrat, right wing or left wing, we’re all affected by the economy,” Culverhouse said. “I hope different groups in Arlington with differing backgrounds and opinions can come together, talk to each other and work together.”

Not a tent went up and the balmy breeze was a far cry from the winter weather suffered by the first Occupy protestors, but handmade signs outside Cutter House bore slogans seen in Boston’s Dewey Square: “Don’t let the 1 percent speak for you; we are the 99 percent” and “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.” Many signs were the work of resident Anna Tarkington, a Fordham University graduate who visited Occupy Wall Street.

As a microphone made its way around the circle and voices boomed from a speaker in someone’s hand, fingers waggled approval in the style of original Occupy protesters, who discouraged noisy applause.

Many issues were those trumpeted during the initial Occupy movement, such as overspending on national defense, economic inequality, money in politics, bank bailouts and corporate greed. But speakers brought some of them home, explaining their local impact. Several people urged support of an Arlington Town Meeting article opposing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that government cannot restrict corporate spending in politics (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010).

Others advised moving money from multinational banks to local credit unions.

“We need to walk with our feet away from the large financial institutions that have created so much volatility and disparity,” said Lori Kenschaft, who spoke for one of the groups.

Like others, Kenschaft called attention to the MBTA’s plan to raise fares and reduce service, which would affect Arlington residents who ride buses and the subway. She recommended networking with existing organizations and lobbying state representatives to fight the plan.

“There’s a general sense of citizen non-participation and helplessness,” Kenschaft said. “There are lots of ways people can get a little feeling of empowerment. It makes a big difference.”

Even more local were issues such as claims of inadequate teacher pay, growing class sizes, the upcoming Arlington Master Plan update, a project to put Astroturf on a local playing field, and the presence of sewage in Alewife Brook.

“I wish the Occupy Arlington group would demand politicians remember and abide by and enforce the ‘Clean Water Act’ on the Alewife watershed,” wrote Bob Smith in a statement he brought to the assembly.

Culverhouse said Occupy Arlington has been in the works through the winter.

“I think a lot of the political debate at the national level is so unintelligent and lacking in substance. Someone needs to model a new way to dialogue,” Culverhouse said. “It doesn’t matter what your opinion is; there needs to be a place where everyone can express themselves and be heard respectfully and with dignity.”

She hopes Occupy Arlington will create such a forum.

“The whole idea is to bring people together to talk to each other and work together on issues,” Culverhouse said. “The idea is to try and create a more participatory democracy and for people to feel part of the process.”

Organizer and recent UMass Amherst graduate Mike Baker said they hope for an even bigger turnout at their next general assembly Sunday, March 25, from 3-5 p.m. at the Senior Center.

“These are the beginning steps of hopefully creating lasting change,” Baker said.

http://www.wickedlocal.com/arlington/news/x738245671/Occupied-in-Arlington

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Occupied in Arlington

The sun shone on bobbing balloons and temperatures were summerlike as local musician Chris Nauman played for a circle of several dozen outside Jefferson Cutter house, but his lyrics were not what one would expect on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Occupy! Occupy! Occupy your rights. A decent job and education, this is why we fight,” Nauman sang, strumming his guitar. “Occupy! Occupy! Occupy your home. Don’t let the bankers take from you everything you own.”

Nauman, who went on to sing about single-payer health care plans and the “greedy 1 percent,” wrote “Occupy the Song” last October after visiting his son at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park in New York.

Last Sunday, he performed it for the first general assembly of Occupy Arlington, which kicked off its campaign for change by marching from Town Hall to the Cutter House. More than 50 people were there at the peak of the event.

“What goes on in our country affects all of us, even in Arlington,” Nauman told them.

Lynette Culverhouse, the group’s media representative, agreed.

“Republican or Democrat, right wing or left wing, we’re all affected by the economy,” Culverhouse said. “I hope different groups in Arlington with differing backgrounds and opinions can come together, talk to each other and work together.”

Not a tent went up and the balmy breeze was a far cry from the winter weather suffered by the first Occupy protestors, but handmade signs outside Cutter House bore slogans seen in Boston’s Dewey Square: “Don’t let the 1 percent speak for you; we are the 99 percent” and “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.” Many signs were the work of resident Anna Tarkington, a Fordham University graduate who visited Occupy Wall Street.

As a microphone made its way around the circle and voices boomed from a speaker in someone’s hand, fingers waggled approval in the style of original Occupy protesters, who discouraged noisy applause.

Many issues were those trumpeted during the initial Occupy movement, such as overspending on national defense, economic inequality, money in politics, bank bailouts and corporate greed. But speakers brought some of them home, explaining their local impact. Several people urged support of an Arlington Town Meeting article opposing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that government cannot restrict corporate spending in politics (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010).

Others advised moving money from multinational banks to local credit unions.

“We need to walk with our feet away from the large financial institutions that have created so much volatility and disparity,” said Lori Kenschaft, who spoke for one of the groups.

Like others, Kenschaft called attention to the MBTA’s plan to raise fares and reduce service, which would affect Arlington residents who ride buses and the subway. She recommended networking with existing organizations and lobbying state representatives to fight the plan.

“There’s a general sense of citizen non-participation and helplessness,” Kenschaft said. “There are lots of ways people can get a little feeling of empowerment. It makes a big difference.”

Even more local were issues such as claims of inadequate teacher pay, growing class sizes, the upcoming Arlington Master Plan update, a project to put Astroturf on a local playing field, and the presence of sewage in Alewife Brook.

“I wish the Occupy Arlington group would demand politicians remember and abide by and enforce the ‘Clean Water Act’ on the Alewife watershed,” wrote Bob Smith in a statement he brought to the assembly.

Culverhouse said Occupy Arlington has been in the works through the winter.

“I think a lot of the political debate at the national level is so unintelligent and lacking in substance. Someone needs to model a new way to dialogue,” Culverhouse said. “It doesn’t matter what your opinion is; there needs to be a place where everyone can express themselves and be heard respectfully and with dignity.”

She hopes Occupy Arlington will create such a forum.

“The whole idea is to bring people together to talk to each other and work together on issues,” Culverhouse said. “The idea is to try and create a more participatory democracy and for people to feel part of the process.”

Organizer and recent UMass Amherst graduate Mike Baker said they hope for an even bigger turnout at their next general assembly Sunday, March 25, from 3-5 p.m. at the Senior Center.

“These are the beginning steps of hopefully creating lasting change,” Baker said.

http://www.wickedlocal.com/arlington/news/x738245671/Occupied-in-Arlington

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