Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy pop culture: Reflections on Occupy Wall Street | Washington Times Communities

By Balance Edutainment, special to Omkara World

OAKLAND, October 28, 2011—News of Occupy Oakland spread quickly after a police raid on Tuesday, October 25. Associated Press reported that, “Police in riot gear cleared anti-Wall Street protesters on Tuesday morning from the plaza in front of Oakland's City Hall, where they had been camping for about two weeks, prompting health and safety concerns among city officials. Seventy-five people were arrested, mostly on suspicion of misdemeanor illegal lodging, as hundreds of officers and sheriff's deputies from more than a dozen agencies went into the encampment with tear gas and beanbag rounds around 5 a.m.”

BALANCE EDUTAINMENT is an Oakland-based organization co-founded by Aaron Ableman and Dave Room that provides ecological education through entertainment and story. Ableman is a musician/emcee, social entrepeneur and the author of Pacha’s Pajamas. Room is a social entrepreneur, deep ecologist and storyteller.

“Marching with the people of Oakland for justice and peace - despite the tear gas and terror of the police, we move forward with the spirit of solidarity and chants for a better world. We are at a critical time to manifest real change, but we need to find solutions inclusive of all,” Ableman stated after the raid.

“Before BALANCE Edutainment, Aaron Ableman and I were engaged in a number of projects to build community resilience, ecological awareness and green jobs. It is natural that people are asking us about the Occupy movements sprouting up across the globe. Folks want to know is this real; or are going to peter out like most demonstrations and protests? Will the occupiers be around next week, next month and next year?” Rooms says.

“Frankly, from our limited view of the situation, it is an open question. The story is unfolding. We can imagine the occupy movements getting squelched by the powers that be or perhaps even by something as natural as winter. But we also see the possibility of the Occupy Movements morphing into new political and social entities. Whether the Occupy Movements are the vehicle of change or simply the most effective wakeup call we’ve had in decades, we are inspired,” adds Room.

BALANCE EDUTAINMENT provides these thoughts towards the Occupy movements:

Occupy Your Mind and Yourself

Like many things, occupation starts at home. It’s great to be occupying public areas, but we simultaneously can focus on occupying our own headspace. Many of us have essentially turned our attention over to the very corporations that are propping up the system that is designed to widen the wealth gap. It seems silly to camp out on the Main Street lawn as part of the local Occupy movement and at the same time, eat industrial hamburgers and fries, while listening to the misogynist, violent, and vapid music that crowds the airwaves.

The popular refrain that “we are what we eat” seems reasonable on a physical level. Awfully reasonable when we are eating junk and beautifully reasonable when we are eating whole, organic foods. On the cultural level, however, one might say we are our music. We are what we listen to. We are what we learn the lyrics of. We are what we sing in the shower or in the car. Unfortunately, most popular songs glorify things that are making us unhealthy as individuals and as a culture. If we are really serious about occupying institutions like Wall Street, we need to occupy our own headspace. We need to crowd out all the garbage to make space for the good stuff, good food and good music.

And that’s not civil disobedience, its corporate disobedience. If we stop feeding the beast that preserves the ever-growing wealth imbalance, maybe we will see a reduction of the imbalance. To do this, we need to stop giving the bankers and other parasitic entities our money, especially the ones that are actively propping up the status quo. In addition to occupying Main Street, let’s occupy our own headspaces and take responsibility for everything that comes into our mind and body.

Occupy The Media

The work of the current Media system essentially tells and spreads stories, and suppresses others. When did you hear about the Occupy Wall Street movement? It started in mid-September. Many of us did not hear about the movement in its early days because of a highly-effective media blackout. We need to occupy the media and more specifically, occupy the world of stories and culture. We must cultivate and tell the stories of resilience and share them. We must also learn to amplify the stories of the most impacted people. Occupy Wall Street could benefit from spreading the stories of the protesters, especially those who have lost homes, been out of work, etc… We must also learn to tell these stories across media platforms and make them culturally-relevant, like the Pacha’s Pajamas project.

Through partnerships and the Pacha’s Pajamas products, including an eBook, interactive apps, audiobook, live performance and feature film, BALANCE EDUTAINMENT intends to reach millions young people and their families at this critical time.

Occupy Pop Culture

If we want to deeply engage youth, perhaps the most important space to occupy is pop culture, as expressed in music. At BALANCE Edutainment, we believe music, in its various forms including audio, performances and videos, is the most viral communication platform. In the last century, music played a pivotal role in many of the world’s most important social movements such as the Union movement, Civil Rights, and Anti-Apartheid. As reported by MSNBC, rap played a pivotal role in the Libya, Tunisia and Egypt uprisings:

[Rappers] are pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression across the Middle East. The rappers have even been credited with helping to spark the so-called Arab Spring uprisings that deposed three long-serving dictators and rocked several other regimes.

The significant factor is youth: 60 percent people in the Arab world are aged under 30. Rap popularized calls for reform and the Internet spread that message like wildfire.

Recall how the “Yes We Can” music video (22 million views and counting) buoyed Obama on the campaign trail. Occupy and other movements can do that as well.

Call Out For Liberation Music

Music is already emerging from the movement such as:

We consider this Liberation Music. Another moniker is protest songs, which have a rich tradition as documented in the book “33 Revolutions Per Minute.”

The New Your Times recently reported that the Occupy Movements don’t have a melody:

“Every successful movement has a soundtrack,” the songwriter Tom Morello told reporters after he had tried to fire up the crowd at the Occupy Wall Street Protest last week with a Woody Guthrie tune and one of his own labor songs.

Perhaps he is right, but the protesters in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan have yet to find an anthem. Nor is the rest of the country humming songs about hard times. So far, musicians living through the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression have filled the airwaves with songs about dancing, not the worries of working people.”

Imagine if the Occupy Wall Street movement had a soundtrack, with simple sign-a-long choruses and potent messages:

#Occupy yourself!
On or Off the Wall Streets
Life of Debt bleeds
While the movement leads:
Our music can beat the system!
We’re the 99%

And, let's keep chanting:

Get Up, Stand Up,
Stand Up for your Rights!
The People United,
Will never be divided!

For more information, visit

#Occupy Pop Culture

Related Omkara World Stories: Has the Occupy Movement come up with their one core demand?

Deepak Chopra’s Message to Occupy Wall Street and Beyond

Occupy Wall Street Protest Sparks Nationwide Movement

“Gross National Happiness”: A Better Indicator of National Well-Being.

Adam is a Reiki Master, certified Health and Lifestyle counselor, Intrinsic Coach, Licensed Massage Therapist, 20 year practicing bramana initiated Bhakti Yogi, Spiritual advisor, visionary, jock and veteran of the “hardcore punk scene” all rolled into one. His clients have included celebrities, politicians, professional athletes, and professional sport team owners. Adam is the founder of Omkara World and produced the mind/body fitness DVD “Intelligent Fitness."

No comments:

Post a Comment