Heart of Occupy, July 25, 2012
Freedom at Occupy National Gathering, July 2, 2012, Philadelphia
Photo: Stacy Lanyon
Occupy was an answer to my prayers. I’ve been on the activist path for a long time and consistently frustrated by the apathy that I witnessed, so when Occupy came along, it was just like, “Finally, people give a shit and are willing to do something about it.” When it started, I was very under employed. I had been looking for a job for a year, so I was spending a lot of time on Facebook, like all day, everyday. I was sharing activism stuff. I had actually started an activism page on Facebook looking for that community. People started sharing about Occupy on Facebook. Then, I saw that Occupy LA was going to start on October 1st. I had been sharing information for about a week preceding that and started trying to get some food donations for the occupiers and things like that. I was involved about a week before that, and then I attended the first march in Los Angeles on October 1st, where we marched from Pershing Square to City Hall and started Occupy.
One of the beautiful things about Occupy is how it empowers people. It helps them find their voice. There are a number of ways that people become empowered. One of the many, many ways that I became empowered was, when Occupy first started, I had just finished yoga teacher training, and I was looking to develop myself as a yoga teacher, so I became the point person for yoga and meditation for Occupy LA. I set-up a meditation temple, a big room where a lot of people, including myself, really found a sacred, sane space in all the chaos that was being at City Hall and camping there. I started a committee, and we had daily yoga in the south plaza at City Hall at five o’clock, and we did some meditation classes as well. On 11/11/11, we did a big silent meditation.
That’s really where I started my yoga teaching career. For the most part, I’ve only been teaching occupiers. I’ve been teaching outside of Occupy a little bit. I’ve been traveling around to the national gatherings and the inter-occupies. I’ve taught at a lot of them. I did a spontaneous class here in Philadelphia today, and a guy from San Diego was there, and he said, “Hey, didn’t you do this at Inter-Occupy San Diego?” “I said, “Yeah.” “He was like, “I was there.” At Chicago, I taught people from ten different occupies, and on the road trip to Chicago for NATO, we took the buses, and we stopped at a lot of different towns, and I would do mini yoga classes to get people to breathe and get centered. It’s just been such a gift to be able to teach to occupiers because there’s a real need for people to stop and breathe and get centered in the movement, and I think it really helps to re-energize people and center people. Many people in the movement already do yoga, and some have never done any yoga. It’s their first introduction to it. That’s one of the beautiful ways that Occupy has empowered me.
We’ve got a world to save. We’re on the Titanic. We need as many of us jumping on and turning that wheel as possible. We all have to get on that chain and just be pulling that wheel and trying to steer clear of the iceberg. There’s a whole ocean of icebergs right in front of us. We’re on the Titanic, and we’re very close. It’s past the eleventh hour. It’s eleven fifty-nine, and we need to be waking people up. We need to be educating ourselves and each other. Humanity was not brought here to be greedy, to kill the planet and live in greed. We need to love each other and create a heaven on earth. Occupy is a means to that end, as I see it.
A tagline that I’ve been using for many years through a couple of businesses I had was, “What’s your wish for the world?” I would put that out consistently to people to try and activate them into thinking about what kind of world they want to live in, and my answer to that question has always been broad but accurate, which is, “I want a world that works for everyone.” I’ve never been a huge fan of the 99% message. I think it makes sense for the movement, but I’m more of a 100% person. I want to live in a world where 100% of the people are getting their needs met, and that all sentient beings are being loved and respected. I hope that the movement will help awaken people to the point where we can get closer to that. Lord knows it will take a long time. We’ve got a long way to go, but really, for me, the eye on the prize is creating a world that works for everyone.
You can view Freedom's livestream at http://www.ustream.tv/occupyfreedomla.