Occupy Movement, A Small Town Version

Photo Feature by Rafiki*

HAVANA TIMES, Nov 26 — “It’s a human being thing.  Here on earth we’re here to grow, become, wake up something.”  “We hear these things about liberation.  What does that mean?”  “As we come forward, we will learn something about who we are, that we are all connected.”

Sitting, the elderly woman gobbles down her late-afternoon meal in huge gulps, quickly, quietly, hardly chewing, her face hidden by a large floppy hat.  To say she is hungry is an understatement.  This must be her only substantial meal this day, as the bowl swiftly empties.

It’s 4:00 pm and the Occupy Bisbee encampment has just finished delivering its free meal today, as every day of the week, depending on donations.  The movement in this small town is something more than dissent from the power structure that isn’t representing us.  It is about community and caring for others, regardless of their circumstances in life.

The fact that this Occupy site is on private land has limited conflict with the powers-that-be.  The police are actually helpful and supportive, being very honest as to what to watch out for and how to avoid legal problems……..no illegal substances or disturbing the peace.

The leaders here know that this response is unusual and a blessing, part of what makes this town special and unique, separating it from what is occurring in most cities of the United States.

As I try to get a feeling for this particular encampment a tourist walks by and voices their support for the idea of the movement.  Other people, looking poor and on society’s edge, read while letting their dogs stray at the adjacent dog park, and occasionally talk with participants about the laundry needing to be done, the possibility of rain.

Still others converse about embracing all beings and the environment in a fair and healthy way, standing with everybody and everything.

Although the tent town is empty at night due to the appearance of the desert winter, the tents remain in position and are still up, awaiting a not-too-far-away spring when people expect to live here full time once again.  But for today the chill is obvious, as the sun passes quickly over the canyon to the south, and shadows cover the makeshift assembly.

Contrastingly, the bright colorful artwork nearby adds a lightness to the site.  Images of the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa glance slightly downward on the meeting area below.

Surrounded by a macabre tableau of skeletons, masks, and tarot cards in honor of the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration (in honor of the ancestors and their way of being) lends an inspiring, but haunting air.  A wall covered by graffiti, much of it political in nature, towers above the main area of the site.

As the movement evolves, striving to create a vision for the future while attending to the discussions and activities that comprise its daily structure (movies, meetings, hot cocoa, parades, and art), it will welcome the support of others whether it be food, money, reading material, clothes, conversation, or advice.

Standing with everybody means it must be open to everybody, willing to listen, to work together over time to make something unavoidably better.

For some people this “will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls”.  For others it will mean more and more involvement.  It is hard to guess the ultimate outcome, but in an experience that is becoming more and more global, the urgency of change is all too apparent.

*Rafiki did a Havana photo feature for us back in 2010 (Opening the Veil on Cuba).  Now he has offered to contribute a vision of the Occupy movement from the  town of Bisbee, Arizona, population 5,000+ near the USA-Mexico border.  

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