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Where Occupy and Transition Meet: Our Future, Ourselves

April 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 183

I sit on a plastic pickle bucket listening to members of our Farm household talk between bites of soy tortillas and collard greens. Six children rrmmm little cars around the wood stove's safety guard. A kerosene lantern hangs on one of the two posts that hold our tent's ridge pole up. A winter wind whips the canvas walls against the two-by-four frame. In this cozy setting I feel I have come to the center of the world, the place that is wise enough to teach me what I need to know in order to survive. The year is 1975. It's an experience for which I'm grateful to this day.

This day I see a lot happening from that beginning. Both the Occupy Movement and the Transition* Movement hark back to the 1960s and 1970s when young people woke up to what the government and financial institutions had done since the end of World War II. Government and finance had retreated from responsibility to the people they supposedly served and had redefined patriotism to mean something self-serving. Government and finance had abandoned families and individuals -- unless you were among the elite, with off-shore bank accounts. Democracy was not working, though it took another quarter of a century for people in large numbers to know this beyond doubt. And to begin to rescue the American Dream.

One of the strengths of pioneer movements today is the emphasis on people as resources. Participants in Occupy America and its sister movements across the globe believe in the ability of people to do what is needed without waiting for government action or permission. In the Transition Movement, every skill becomes a resource more powerful than dollars and pounds. Folks are dancing into the future on waves of local creativity.

Why did it take so long?

When I was a young woman raising children on The Farm, most of my relatives thought it was a dead-end lifestyle. They trusted what they knew, working nine to five for a company they did not own and paying rent or mortgage for a home they could lose. A few of my relatives worried that my husband and I had been head-copped by "Steve and his henchmen," referring to Stephen Gaskin, who, together with friends, founded The Farm. Very few of my relatives noticed that they themselves had been programmed, that parenting and schooling has long been much more about indoctrination than about true inquiry and freedom. Stephen was a poet, an awakener, not a programmer.

As I visit the Green in New Haven, I find a few old hippies among the young people engaged in Occupy. They say, "Look! Our day has come and I have lived to see it!" Similarly, I find in the Transition Movement Buddhists who have been quietly meditating their way toward enlightenment sitting beside traditional farmers, men and women who are eco-village trained, and plenty of young and old who have at last found a way to go green. The term bag lady is redefined as someone who sews cloth into shopping bags. One of the Transition villages in England has a whole group of these ladies.

Joining Occupy and Transition folks in their dreams and efforts has done my hippie heart good.

*The term Transition means to shift off dependence on fossil fuels for energy.

Article by Patricia Lapidus, author of the memoir SWEET POTATO SUPPERS: A Yankee Woman Finds Salvation in a Hippie Village. Patricia is a writer, editor, teacher, and an encourager. Books include SWAMP WALKING WOMAN, a mythic fairy tale about women's strength, GIDEON'S RIVER, a novel dedicated to all who live with a temper, their own or someone else's, and RED HEN'S DAUGHTERS. Note: SWEET POTATO SUPPERS is now available in a second edition with pictures from The Farm in the 1970s. This memoir is for those interested in communities, in spiritual hippies, and in the personal journey of discovery.


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