In this post are the most-liked images from the Arcata Photo Studios shoot. Thank you for all your input and kind words. Thank you, thank you!
In motion, Josephine Johnson.
From Humboldt to San Francisco and back and around the County, I’ve been moving and taking it
all in, talking with a range of folks from different backgrounds. From Oakland street conversations, BART station banter, rideshare debates and Old Town Coffee and Chocolates repartee, all of these exchanges have circled back to the current protests on Wall Street. Some SoHum (Southern Humboldt) friends are certain the demonstrations are pushing toward something very big—nearing the critical mass of a genuine movement. My Eureka open-mic friendsseem assured this is the beginning of a major paradigm shift in America, that soon we’ll all have to be more communal in our living and working arrangements because more and more of us will be making less and less, and we will have to figure out how to get along in order to share our dwindling economic
resources. Also common among these disparate conversations is the notion that the strength of this ‘movement’ is grounded in the fact that so many protesters are seemingly average Americans. Sure, there’s a contingent of typical college-aged firebrands (your presence, thank you!), but there’re are also out of work fathers, struggling single mothers, homeless families and concerned grandparents all weighing in and standing up in support of taking back America from the corporations and executive managers that have slowly squeezed the wealth from the rest of us over the last forty years. Most agree that corporations have robbed this nation of our middle class (what’s that?).
Right now, there are Occupy Humboldt sites on the Arcata Plaza, Eureka Court House and Humboldt State quad. This weekend I will be camping with the HSU occupiers—Travis Turner heads up that site. Likely, if you’re reading this you’re part of the 99% and we need to unite. If you are able to join a site for a day or night, do it. Or start your own Occupy site. We have much strength in our numbers. Align, be peaceful, get together & power to the people.
For insight check out http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10#
This link takes you to a slide show of graphs depicting, among many facts, how wages for what we’d ostensibly call the middle class have been eroding since the early 1970s while CEO pay has ballooned to more than 300% relative to the average wage-earner. There’s also insight into the current American jobs picture. It’s not pretty. At all.
And yeah, I’m nervous about it.
Like many, many people right now, I worry about the future. Right now— for the sake of pursuing music as well as out of necessity—I juggle odd jobs, freelance writing and a little music to make ends meet. What pays the bills best? Manual Labor. And really, I am thankful to know great folks who hire me for lawn maintenance, fence building and house painting. (Need something painted, trimmed, constructed? Contact me. I may be your girl.) Halleluiah and a shout out to the Student Conservation Association and the undergrad & grad school grounds crews I worked on— these jobs and experiences provided vital skills to pay the bills, to be sure.
Why manual labor? Because it pays better than anything else I could be doing right now including food & beverage, teaching and
administration. And I do enjoy it. Yes, I have a Master’s in English, and I really, really enjoy teaching, but there’s none of that to be had right now in California and in most of the U.S. I could return to China or another South East Asia locale to teach and use this brain, knowledge and passion to inspire and challenge young minds—and maybe someday that will be the best option—but I’m an American, and I love living here, especially in Humboldt. So, I’m going to hang in for as long as I can and be thankful for employment options to juggle. Maybe I’m revealing too much, here, but it’s my labor, time and talents that I have going for me, not a trust fund or rich relatives. I am a hard worker, and music, education and travel are all things I’ve labored at most of my life on my own merit and dime to achieve. Just want you all to know that :)
I can probably juggle like this for another 20 years, though I’m praying in time I juggle fewer and fewer odd jobs and play more and more
music. But then what? There’s no pension, no insurance, nothing like that. And it’s not like I’m saving anything to squirrel away in an IRA or tuck in an off-shore bank account. But I keep at it—like lots of folks right now—and tell myself things like “it’s a good thing I’m tough, ‘cause I CAN do this, grrr,” and “this is good for me, builds character, arrr.” You know, all that lemons-to-lemonaid-power-of-positive-thinking-law-of-attraction-pop-psycho babble many have come to hold close in recent years because believing in it is far rosier and more comforting than embracing the dark implications of what graphs like these illustrate. Note their sources.
Yeah, I worry, just like many, many other Americans. I worry.
And I have a feeling that soon folks like me working multiple jobs without insurance or pensions will be the norm, if we aren’t already. And for this I’m deeply disappointed in a system that taught me in 3rd grade anyone can be president in the U.S. (well, actually, you gotta at least be a millionaire first), that if I work hard, I can be/do anything (being a millionaire definitely helps with that, too), that my vote counts. ARRRGH! Yeah, so I’m Occupying Humboldt this weekend. I am. It’s an opportunity to spend time with folks and listen to stories of where they’ve been and hear their ideas, visions and hope for the future. To build solidarity because I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need to work together to move through this 50-years-in-the-making mess we have ahead of us. Besides, what’s there to lose, the middle class?
Yes, there will be singing.
Which brings me to one more point: Food for People is the designated food bank for Humboldt County and currently serves over 12,000 community members each month through its 12 programs. Within the last year, there has been a 45% increase in requests for food assistance, and the food bank is
struggling to keep up with the current need for food assistance in Humboldt County. For more information or to find out how you can help, contact Harriet Pecot, Fund Development Direct at Food for People (707) 445-3166. Additional information about Food for People can also be found at www.foodforpeople.org.
Huh? What? Singing and the food bank?
On October 22 the North Coast Journal and Arcata Playhouse are sponsoring an evening in celebration of the Journal’s 2011 ‘Best of Humboldt’ edition. Chris Parreira and I tied for best solo performer, and we’ll be sharing the Arcata Playhouse stage to raise money for Food for People, also voted best non-profit Humboldt County 2011. The cost of admission for the evening is just $10 and a non-perishable food item. Doors open at 7:15 pm. Show starts at 8. I think the amazing Russ Cole will be running sound, so you know it will be great.
Singing? Here’s a new song recorded late last night—enjoy, and I challenge you to find ways to shine with each other, to be the best of us for each of us. We must stand together if are to weather and get through this economic shit storm. Be peaceful, be patient. Be brave. Be tough. Be together.