Occupy Rural America
A group of about 25 persons showed up at the West Plains branch of Bank of America Friday afternoon, Oct. 7, and held their signs up in peaceful protest as part of the mushrooming national movement Occupy Wall Street. Occupy West Plains spokesman Dean Henderson said they decided to join in protest with the Wall Street kids and show their solidarity. He referred to Bank of America as an international bank that was a symbol of big money. He said people needed to withdraw their checking accounts, run them out of town and throw their support to local banks.
Some of the protesters told the Hill ’n Holler Review that they were there because they are part of the 99 percent. I’m uninsured and working part time, one said. She was referring to the slogan coined by this movement. “We are the 99 per cent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 per cent.”
I think it’s important for rural Americans to engage in this conversation. Sure, we don’t house the headquarters of the world’s financial system, but corporate greed and influence permeate our daily lives. They influence domestic and foreign policy that affect us. They influence environmental, energy, and agricultural policy which affects us. Many of the issues that we as rural Americans face, such as lack of access to broadband and adequate healthcare, can be directly tied to the fact that we are not a profitable investment. Corporate greed influences our personal possibility and the health of our communities on a daily basis. We are the 99%! It’s important that our voices are heard.
At the same time, I think that we carry the power to impart positive change. Certainly, I think there should be steps taken on the policy level to limit corporate influence in our government, but many actions, and perhaps the MOST powerful steps, can be taken on the individual and community level. If we all pulled our money out of major banking institutions like Bank of America and re-invested our money in community banks and credit unions that would have a measurable impact. We should support our local businesses. We can grow our own food and/or support those in our communities that do.
I encourage all Americans to participate in the current conversations concerning Occupy but I think that it is especially important for rural America and those who care about it to participate and make their voices heard. We are not a passive people. We are the 99%.