WE KNOW, WE KNOW. The Occupy Portland movement that's set up for a long campout in downtown Portland (replete with a kitchen and chessboards!) is not about specifics. The whole protest is a general outpouring of anger over our unfair economic system. But can that anger be useful? Now that Occupy has a soapbox—here and across the world—what are some concrete ideas for actually fixing our unequal country? We asked a handful of Occupiers for good ideas.
DITCH YOUR BANK
Reid Parham, 26, software engineer
I haven't been with a commercial bank since 1997. Credit unions keep the money local, you get better interest rates, and the assets of the credit union represent homes that could be right next to yours. Credit unions have fewer pressures from investors, and it's much better to bank with someone who directly answers to you as a customer rather than trying to squeeze out every little bit of profit. My wife has a Chase account—they've created some obnoxious fees. She's been unemployed for three years and they've been hassling her about the lack of regular deposits to her account. November 5 is the official national day to quit your bank, but it's never too soon or too late.
Shizuko Hashimoto, 30, legal assistant
I don't champion one cause over another. Each problem is just one of many, many problems that support the current system of injustice. But immigrant rights are really important to me. Very specifically, there's an increase in programs [called Secure Communities] that perpetuate the collaboration between police and immigration and customs enforcement. Someone who's picked up for driving without a license is now put into this deportation pipeline. Folks are scared. It's a public-safety issue—it's less safe when people are afraid to go to the police.
CREATE CHEAP, PUBLIC INTERNET
Teresa Boze, 57, consultant and writer
We need to recognize broadband as a general-purpose technology, get the infrastructure in, and quit having it throttled by the telecoms. It's going to have to be a public-private partnership, but we need to get the foot off the throat of broadband. Once that opens up, there will be a lot more economic opportunity for everybody. The City of Portland right now is developing a broadband plan and as of this month, the Portland Office of Cable Communications and Franchise Management is now, sweetly and simply, the Office for Community Technology. Isn't that nice?
ABOLISH THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
Yossi Ben-David, 24, traveling Israeli and volunteer chef
Change the sham, the façade that is the two-party, so-called democracy. I wouldn't say Israel is a functioning democracy; we are occupying and oppressing another people. But as far as the electoral system, [Israel] is more representative. It's parliamentarian and we don't have the ridiculous thing with the winner-takes-all electorate, which guarantees that the two parties backed and financed by the elites and corporations will always stay in power. If winner takes all, how will new forces establish themselves?
Ali Reingold, 26, server and tutor
A lot of people are thinking that all these protests are great, but where do we go from here? We have this idea of doing teach-ins across the country, combined with a website that's similar to TED Talks. We want to bring together people who care with some people who know, have that filmed, put it up on a website, and make it available to people in an easily digestible format where it can continue to be discussed. The website could be a living library of history of all these issues.
KILL CORPORATE PERSONHOOD
Casey Wagner, 19, Lewis & Clark student
Corporations shouldn't have the same rights as people. It's pretty simple why. Corporations are conglomerations, there's too much power concentrated in the hands of just a few people, and they can put way too much money into politics. Elections in this country are won by the people who spend the most money.
END THE WARS
Robert Ziggy Walker, 19, high school dropout
I guess this could be considered national and personal: Stop the wars. My grandpa was an agent orange veteran and he died of cancer. It's better for families to not have to worry about their sons going to war. I don't think they should stop the troops cold turkey, they should pull them out gradually over a couple years, like Obama promised.
In Other Occupy News:
• Commissioner Nick Fish split with Mayor Sam Adams this week, saying city arborists have estimated the tent city has caused $19,000 worth of damage to trees in Lownsdale and Chapman Squares, and that the parks are not good for long-term protest.
• Eight protesters were arrested early Thursday, October 13, because they refused to "un-occupy" SW Main as the city opened it after six days of closure. Since then, there's a beefed-up police force of two full-time cops at the site.
• The city turned off the electric-vehicle charging station at SW 4th and Madison that protesters were using as a power source. Looks like the outlets at city hall and Seattle's Best are about to get occupied.
• Occupiers voted Sunday, October 16, to push ranked-choice voting in Portland, and were scheduled as of press time to bring the proposal to a committee reviewing the city's charter Tuesday, October 18.