Today, let us acknowledge our leaders locally and nationally
People on the outside may criticize Occupy for not having a political face, but perhaps this is strategically genius, so that all may be stakeholders. All may have a chance to think critically for themselves and make decisions, have dialogue with the stranger next to them or learn about their friend’s who are gathering with them. And, as we remember one of the greatest leaders and speakers in American History, Dr. Martin Luther King, it may also be safer for the Occupy movement to remain faceless as we can see that controversy makes our government very dangerous towards the safety of our public figures. As we examine our past historical and successful movements of dissent, we are still finding our way today to practice free speech in a media controlled society and consider the Occupy movement as a practice. A practice in making something new, so every march, every action may not be perfect because this is a national and global experiment. Communicating with new media has connected large audiences and updated those involved in solidarity despite some of the bad comments on the sites. I continue to urge artists to propose projects in support and solidarity of Occupy. We need your voices and creativity to keep the movement alive with color, with humor, and with humanity.
When I think of local art leaders, I automatically think of Lawrence Rinder from the Berkeley Art Museum as he is on the right path to employing local artists and cultural producers to co-program for the museum and again, pay those artists to perform and engage. He is on the right path to opening the museum as a forum. To SPUR, for engaging with all who appreciate architecture and to open the conversation to the public about development and new groundbreakings in San Francisco and their effects on community. To mavericks like Amy Franceschini who brought food politics to the foreground of her art practice to help these communities which affect everyone. To Amanda Eicher, who has used her excellent artistic vision to helping a community in El Salvador meet their basic needs. For all the inclusive and cool public programming happening at the SFMOMA where public engagement is key to examining exhibitions from a variety of access points.
Nationally, I know a lot of people are disappointed in Barack Obama. And in an election year, we want to see more fulfillment of his proposed “change”. Angela Davis said at Occupy Oakland that it is hard for one person to make changes when they are still part of a structure that makes it difficult. But yesterday, my friend quoted Obama in his intent to bail out banks saying, “We are too big to fail.” But pointed out that for anything to change, we needed this failure to start over. It is almost a point of arrogance to say such a thing. Is corruption too big to fail? As schools in Oakland close, as the public sector gets privatized thus, Unions are broken, and the have’s and the have not’s become a mandate for Republicans as usual, it may be too much to politely ask our government over and over to re-prioritize our budgets and pass laws that don’t oppress Americans but deliver creative incentives not capitalistic ones. As public money is poured into scientific research, war, all in all pure capitalistic gains for oil and control of industry and the creative sector is squeezed into patronage from oligarchs, we ask that you experiment. That you gather in discussion to meet your own needs with your peers. To use your time differently and critically. That you gather to form community. That you gather to take a stand. Bit by bit, take Occupy as inspiration for something experimental, confusing, challenging and as a gathering that will stimulate work to recreate a better future. The goal may not yet be clear, but working together is a good step.