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?”
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.