Bank Transfer Day

I am sorry not to have written about this sooner, Bank Transfer Day is just two days off, November 5th. The idea is to close your account with Big Evil Bank and move your money (meager though it may be) to a local credit union. There are 37,000 “likes” on the Facebook Page, and I read somewhere that 68,000 are planning to switch.

I heard on the news yesterday that both Bank of America and Wells Fargo have withdrawn their threat of monthly debit card fees, which apparently is what started all this. Although it’s undoubtedly exciting that the People spoke and the Man listened, I myself am disappointed that this has become all about the fee issue. I hope those 68,000 people do the switch anyway. The real problem is not the fees, but the underlying greed and overwhelming power, right?

Credit unions are non-profit, cooperative financial institutions, functioning at a local level. Sounds perfect. I’m not sure what the catch is, except that local means you can only go to your bank to make a deposit when in your hometown. They appear to have ATM and debit cards available so you can spend money everywhere, just like the big boys.

Strangely, the woman who started this set the date for a Saturday, apparently in connection with the date that Guy Fawkes was captured. Cool but, seriously? I guess the idea is that November 5th is supposed to be the deadline, not the change day. I am hoping to get the deed done tomorrow. It’s always helpful to have a deadline, but of course this is just a good thing to do, any day you can find the time. We have one account with Wells Fargo and one with an Alaskan bank. Our hometown of Cordova, which we will be returning to in May, doesn’t have a credit union so we are going to have to hold onto the Alaskan bank. But WF can go.

Honestly, this whole bank thing has been very difficult for me to grasp. I am still functioning on the apparently antiquated idea that corporations are The Man. What, banks are The Man now? When did this happen? And how will I ever, ever be able to understand it???? The whole Wall Street business is so far over my head. I have tried, on numerous occasions to get even a glimmer of what the hell goes on there, and every time it’s like sliding down a steep slope. I get just a lick of possible understanding, then whoosh!

Of course, that’s how it works, why it works. If we can’t understand it, we feel like we have no right to fight it. Certainly no way to fight it. Corporations were too obvious, too easy I guess. Too intellectually tackle-able by your average person. The Man had to get a new rig.

We watched Inside Job recently, and it did help. Mostly I felt that same old sliding feeling, but I did come away with a bit of understanding. Primarily that it’s even more straight forward than I’d thought how all the money made on Wall Street, and the ever rising arrow, are stolen from everyone else.

How do you fight something too big too understand? You camp out on the lawn. You say, “I don’t know what the fuck you are doing, but stop it.” You remember that, backwards as it may seem, you are holding the cards.

You and 5 billion other people.

Occupy Your Food Supply

You might be wondering whatever happened to my Quiet Riot in light of last month’s jolting speed bump. I will tell you, it was not forgotten. Strange as it may seem, the Riot was one of my first thoughts. ‘Shit, there goes that idea…’ But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in times of crises, having something external and good to put your energy into can be extremely helpful. Maybe the Riot would be the perfect anchor to get me through these hard times. I figured I’d give myself a month or so, then go easy, but not give it up altogether.

One of the positive things about this harrowing experience was that, rather than give me any crazy carpe-diem panic attacks that we were living our lives all wrong, it just reaffirmed to me that we are living the life that matters most. Although we fall short all the time, we are at least going the right direction, we are doing what we can.

Cancer is the industrial disease. Environmental pollution, chemical-based agriculture, denatured and processed foods, and the overriding ethic of Profit Makes Right– all the things I rail against– were given a big stamp of approval as worthy causes. According to the American Cancer Society, 44% (almost 1 in 2!) men will develop cancer in their lifetime, and 23% (almost 1 in 4) will die of it. Rates for women are respectively 38% and 20%. I know that the majority of cancers occur to older people (a shocking 4 out of 4 people die of something), but cancer in younger people is getting disturbingly common. Almost 40% of cancer incidences are people under the age of 65 (here). New studies are always linking cancer with all kinds of things, but they never make a big deal about it. It’s always sited as just a slight increase in likelihood. They never add the numbers together. Pesticides + refined foods + chemical additives + air pollution + sedentary lifestyle + continual low level radiation from electronics + off-gassing, PCBs, BPAs, BHT, DDT, and the FBI = 1 out of every 7 of you gentle readers will get cancer before the age of 65.

We have put the corporate world in control and, whoops, they don’t give a shit about us. In fact as My Man often points out, they aren’t even allowed to give a shit. As corporations, they are required by law to make money, at all cost. And they will. They will do anything they can get away with. They will scrimp and cheat and lie till their last breath, with which they will beg for bailout.

Though the real Riot for Austerity is about climate change and peak oil, my Quiet Riot was more broadly about lessening my family’s support of this system of corporate power that places no value whatsoever on anything but profit. Climate change and peak oil are the sharp, scary parts, but it’s quite a bit bigger that. It’s everything, and it’s already happening. It’s international human rights, it’s loss of wilderness, it’s the degradation of our family meal and social soul.

It’s cancer in 1 out every 2 men, and My Man is 1.

What better motivation towards focusing my efforts than such an intimate threat?

Strangely, after we got the almost glowing test results back and the over 99% cure rate, we both got very depressed. My Man felt it immediately, mine took a few days to set in. I’ve been feeling downright deflated. I have no energy or desire to do anything, let alone change the world. I haven’t been writing, as you know. But it’s not because I’ve been too busy kicking ass on my Riot, or being a good mom, or cooking extra nourishing foods, or getting our house really clean. Honestly, I’m not sure what the fuck I’ve been using up my days with. In between my reluctant and short-tempered parenting, I’ve just been laying around the house reading while my kids veged in front of dvds for hours at a time.

Partly I know we had just been holding our breath, not feeling things really for those two weeks of waiting, and the respite of good news and crisis averted finally gave us a chance to process everything. But also I think we had felt so motivated to noble and essential action at first, we were going to conquer cancer! And then when it turned out our efforts were not needed, there we were, standing around shuffling our feet. All dressed up with no place to go.

I am trying to be patient with myself through this low-energy phase. I know we’ve weathered a storm, and although it was quick and seems to have mostly blown itself out, it was the real deal, The Big One. We need to be easy on ourselves for awhile, allow for recovery. But there is a very fine line between going easy on yourself and slumping into a depressed lethargy of paper plates and glowing screens. After emotional upheaval, we need time to feel what we are feeling, to be sure. And then we need a pry bar to get ourselves up and moving again.

I’m hoping this malaise won’t last much longer, that I will soon have the strength to heft the pry bar. This morning I read about Homegrown’s Occupy the Food System and felt a refreshing spark of inspiration. My Man and I have been following the Occupy protests and it’s killing him not to be able to go to NY. He loves big, extreme action; I’ve always been the quieter homebody revolutionary, the change from within type. When I saw Homegrown’s article today, a little bell went off. I’m not sure what HG’s purpose is exactly, it seemed exploratory. They know they belong somewhere in this movement and are trying to figure out where. I wish I were feeling a little more peppy right about now, because I suddenly understood that all of us can, from our very own homes, Occupy Wall Street. And I don’t mean in any quaint, anecdotal way. We could effect a very real disruption of the corporate beast by simply refusing to feed it with our money. Imagine if everyone who supports the Occupy concept but can’t get to a protest, instead boycotted all corporations for a month. As in, really didn’t buy anything beyond absolute survival necessities. If enough people did it, even just a week could make an enormous statement!

I might do this on my own, incorporate it into my Quiet Riot. But that’s not what my mind’s eye is conjuring. I’m imagining it big, as a real, recognized, meaningful part of the Occupy movement. The other side of the protest coin. To be that, it would need critical mass. A thousand people look impressive waving signs in the street, but it would take many more thousand people to put a visible sag in that ever-frisky market erection. And although there have been successful boycotts of specific products and corporations in the past, would such a complete boycott be possible for a meaningful number of people? Even if the word could spread far enough, could enough people take such drastic measures? Seems impossible, but if we could…. Oh how they would squirm!

But, hey. Not me, man. I’m not leading this bull out. Surely someone else will get this idea, if they haven’t already. Right? Someone else will come up with a catchy logo and eloquent manifesto for the Occupy Corporate Boycott. I don’t really have to be the change, do I? Can’t I just tag along with someone else’s change?

And, not that I’m so brilliant, but why couldn’t they have called it Occupy the Food Supply? Is it really so hard to get a rhyme around here?