In addition to the political, environmental and socioeconomic issues facing our nation, I’ve found myself preoccupied with the paradox that while technology advances so does our desire to go ‘“back to the land.” It’s echoed in our cities, with farm to table restaurants, organic markets, urban gardens—we yearn for true connectivity. Yet computers, the Internet and social networks are the tools helping to sound alarms, assemble, occupy, protect our environment and uphold our democracy. This contrast is what excites me most about the time we live in. With that in mind, I went to the ALL IN FOR THE 99% event in Los Angeles and asked these two questions of the following activists, artists and allies in the movement.
1. What do you think is the greatest issue facing our nation?
2. What excites you about the time we live in?
President and Author of Rebuild the Dream
1. “The fact that it’s almost impossible for kids to go to college and get a good education without graduating with tons of debt and possibly no job. There’s no country in the world that is making it harder right now to get an education. There are only two ways to have a middle class in your country: either you have highly skilled manufacturing jobs, or you have a highly skilled, well trained, knowledge-based workforce. In other words, college. We’re giving away our manufacturing and we’re putting up barriers to college. That’s a fast track to having no middle class. That we could live in a country with no rules for the rich, no rights for the poor, and no middle class to speak of, is wrong; it’s a crime against the next generation and we’ve got to do something about it.”
2. “What I find exciting is groups like 350.org, Occupy Wall Street, Domestic Workers Alliance, New Bottom Line and my organization, Rebuild the Dream, are beginning to stand and say we can be a better country than this. America should be leading the world in green and clean solutions, and human rights. We shouldn’t be leading the world in wars and incarceration rates and pollution. We can be a better country. I think we’re going to be a better country. I’m excited about our rising generation.”
1. “For me the most important issue is climate change because it in some ways trumps every other issue. Everything else we care about falls by the wayside if the Greenland ice shelf falls into the sea. And if suddenly sea levels rise 21 feet, everything we hold near and dear ceases to exist.”
2. “ I think the most exciting thing is access to information. People’s ability to document things and expose things that may have not otherwise been documented and exposed. All the information you want is available instantly, which is overwhelming, but I think can have a positive change on the political process and accountability for leaders and corporations.”
Director of the
National Workers Alliance
1. “I think we’re in a fight for the soul of the country. Everything that we believe in and count on is really in question right now. Our safety net, public education, housing, health care, so many things that are fundamental to a healthy democracy, are under attack. So I think, in general we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
2. “I think this is a moment of a lot of possibilities, and openings. Occupy and the 99% movement are really going to break through, and we are going to create a new economy, an economy that we need that works for everyone. Where everyone works, everyone counts and everyone contributes.”
Chair and Founder of the
1. “The most important issue facing our nation right now is income disparity wrapped in democracy.”
2. “I think the most exciting thing is what’s happening in California, where our organization, the Courage Campaign, and some others, just forced the Governor of this state to take our billionaires tax and fold it into a tax measure that will be on the ballot in November. It will be the highest income tax rate in the country, 13.3 percent on people who make over a million dollars. It really could refund the state, change the way the state works, and send a message to the rest of the country. That’s what I think is exciting.”
1. “Not just because this event focuses on it, but I think that the influence of people with power and money to distort democracy and have their interests served before the rest of the population is the biggest problem. That is caused by two things: campaign finance and the way that’s structured, and by the Citizen’s United supreme court decision. So those two things are keeping democracy from working right.”
2. “What excites me is that, when things are tough, people become resourceful, and now with the Internet, social networking and the ability for people who in the past had been relatively powerless, they have tools to be able to spread ideas and organize. The urgency is there and the tools are there and I think that the possibility for really, really powerful results is there. I think it’s all brewing, it’s all bubbling up right now.”
photos by wyatt troll
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