Commentary: Occupy Hudson Valley!

By Elissa Jane Mastel

If you’re anything like me, you’re watching the Occupy Wall Street news with great interest. Even if you’re not like me, you can’t help but notice that Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum. People in other cities and other countries are jumping on board. Let’s face it — Marx was right on point. The thesis and antithesis are at odds and we’re due for a revolution. It is about time.

Last week, a local, very successful and prominent restaurateur posted a mockery of the Occupy Wall Street effort on his Facebook wall. In my usual, up-front style, I responded that I was hugely offended. I wrote that he’s contributing to the problem and that his reputation for being one of the less-reputable employers in the area is something he should look at rather than tease those who are making an effort to evoke change. The response on his wall was disturbing — his regular customers came to his rescue but I could name 10 disgruntled ex-employees for every one of those beloved customers who would have something very different to say.

After this, my adrenaline kicked in, I turned of my computer for fear of exposing my anger more fully on Facebook and watched the clouds pass over the skyline of downtown Manhattan. I began angrily ranting to myself in my head. I thought, “Occupy Wall Street? How about Occupy the Hudson Valley?”

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They say if you want to create world peace, you need to start with your own backyard. Well, I think this could also be applied to if we want change in our economy, we need to begin instituting change right here and right now. I’m pretty confident that you’re reading this, and that you’re probably part of this 99 percent. If you’re not, and you’re the 1 percent, there’s still something in here for you too. As one of my favorite signs I saw online today reads, “If your neighbors are poor, then you are poor.”  Read on.

I confess — I went to the mall at least two times this past week. I shopped at Target and got provisions there on both occasions. I love Target. Who doesn’t? But where do we begin? What if I changed my shopping habits and only purchased items I need in local businesses? I have banned Wal-Mart from my life for years and years, why not all the other big box stores? If I put all of my money back into the local economy, would that make a difference? Meh, maybe. I’m pretty poor. But hey, it would be a start.

What if everyone started really supporting their local business? Then what? If we stopped shopping in big box stores and started giving our money to Hudson Valley local businesses, what would happen to our economy?  Collectively we could strengthen our economic standing tremendously. Why not make a different choice with how we spend our money? Imagine, life the way it was meant to be, all the businesses in our towns thriving, creating more local jobs and creating more pride for each of our towns.

This goes for everything — food, clothes. I’m not saying give up those boot-cut jeans from The Gap you love so much, but how about trying on a new pair of jeans at a local boutique? Maybe they’ll look even sexier on you.

There are 3 comments

  1. Julie Griffin

    Not with you on the Marx part but I completely agree that supporting local businesses is a huge part of the solution – local shops, local banks, local food. Take that thinking one step further and use a local currency which keeps more more money in the local community. We can not depend on the government to solve our problems when they are the problem. Corporatism is the problem, and Obama is just as much a part of that system as the many Presidents before him were. Right now there is only one person running for president who wants to end corporatism, ensure that we have a sound currency, end the wars, and is NOT financed by big banks. That person is Ron Paul. Do not dismiss him because CNN and Fox tell you he is crazy or unelectable. Do your own research, every person in this nation owes it to our country to listen to what he has to say and make up your own mind about him. He has more individual contributors to his campaign than the other GOP candidates, but with an average contribution of $110. He is financed by the people, not the corporations that are plaguing us. He will work for the people. If the OWS movement has taught us anything it is that the people are motivated and want real change. He is the only one that offers that. Obama is not on our side like we thought he was. He has huge campaign contributions from Goldman Sacs and Morgan Stanley, and his administration is full of Wall St. execs. He is not even pretending to be on our side. His support of Wall St. is blatant and disrespectful to the people that elected him. We have a voice, let us use it to end corporatism. Don’t let the media tell you who is electable and who is not. Anyone is electable is they have the support of the people!

  2. Elissa Jane Mastel

    Thank you for your comment… I can tell you this… as I watched the Obama campaign machine roll out, and all the Volvo’s with the Obama stickers on them driven by cute old lefty ladies… I knew… we were doooooooomed! You’re right, unless everyone REALLY votes for someone who is going to impress CHANGE and not be swayed by $$$ …. we’re doomed. Anyway, I do hope you’re feeling inspired to be even more mindful of how you spend your own dollars… It’s a start.

  3. Rich

    Occupy everything around you, and coordinate with others who want to occupy the same space. Failure to do this will result in you not getting what you want. Anyhow, just my 2 cents on it.

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