Start the revolution! Occupy movement may set up CP branch

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“Body”:{“display”:”The Occupy Lanark County General Assembly met in February to discuss various issues. The assemblies are the main decision-making body for each Occupy group and decisions are made on a consensus basis.”}
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“Body”:{“display”:”The first ever Lanark County “Meet the Occupation,” even was held at O’Reilly’s Irish pub in Perth in December, the event that prompted the formation of the Occupy Lanark County movement, and which is similar to the event to be held in Carleton Place on Sunday, March 25.”}
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This weekend is your chance to get to know members of the Occupy movement better.

The Lanark County Occupy movement will be holding a “Meet The Occupation,” session at Ballygibblin’s Restaurant, 151 Bridge St., in Carleton Place this Sunday, March 25.

The meet-and-greet is modeled on a similar one held at a pub in Perth just before Christmas.

Up until now, most of the local Occupy movement’s activities have been in Perth.

“Perth was the first place where there was substantial interest outside of cities,” said organizer Peter Brown, who said that a lot of their local support comes from people interested in the sustainable agriculture and local foods movements.

Brown hopes that the Occupy movement, which began last year with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and then spread across the world, from Ottawa’s Confederation Park to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, will soon have its own offshoot in Carleton Place.

“I had always seen Carleton Place as a very conservative place,” said Brown, but his perception is changing. Lanark County Occupy members have been in talks with the Social Concerns Committee of Carleton Place, which unites concerned citizens from various churches all over town.

Brown is quick to point out that the Occupy movement is not a “bunch of unemployed, unwashed hippy types. I don’t see it that way at all,” said Brown, calling many of the members “very well informed people.”

While the pictures from Wall Street may paint an image of people who are angry at capitalism, it is actually big corporations, and their actions, which the Occupy movement takes exception to. When it comes to local businesses, they are all in favour of it. The group recently held a “cash mob,” a take on a social-media-organized “flash mob,” where they decided – by consensus, on Facebook – to pick one local business whom they admire for their practices and reward them for their efforts.

“We’re all going to go and spend $20 on this particular day (at the chosen business)…to support a local business that has done good,” said Brown. The winning Perth location was The Factory Grind, something that Brown would also like to see repeated with small businesses in Carleton Place.

“It’s to keep the local community alive,” said Brown. “I’d like to see us do that in Carleton Place because we have so many big box stores,” who are impacting the existence of smaller stores.

“To do anything now, you have to drive,” said Brown, lamenting how walkable the downtown core used to be.

Brown also pointed out that the Occupy movement has moved beyond “camping” in public parks towards public events like an “Occupy the Mic” night scheduled for April and occupying houses that are due to be foreclosed, “but I don’t think that there is a group that is ready to do that in Lanark County,” he said.

The group is also concerned with the widening gap between rich and poor and the link between unchecked capitalism and ecological destruction.

“The more that happens, the more people will be interested in changing it,” said Brown. “We’re turning into a world of the super rich who hold all of the power, and the desperately poor.”

Like the butterfly effect, Brown believes that the winds of change from the Arab Spring helped start the ball rolling for what would become the Occupy movement.

“I started noticing a lot of change in world affairs a year ago, like a lot of people, during the Arab Spring,” said Brown. “Not that I want a revolution! But I do think that change is needed.”

When he saw the Occupy Wall Street movement set up in Manhattan, he remembered thinking – “Oh, look, it (the Arab Spring) has come here.”

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