Tag Archive: strike debt


I feel fine

Image stolen from Strike Debt UK –  http://www.strikedebtuk.com/

My son likes to argue with me that Occupy didn’t achieve anything. That it failed. I try not to engage with him, because who really wins an argument with a 16-year old who has a very black-and-white way of seeing the world? But, really, it seems like everywhere I turn I see ways in which the politics and tactics of the Occupy movement are being carried out in to do good in the world. Partially because Occupy brought so many good-hearted people together, and now we kind of all know each other and know who to call when something needs to get done. But also because the politics and tactics of the Occupy movement were just another iteration of politics and tactics that have been evident in activist/social justice movements forever, and in some ways they are becoming more and more refined.

This weekend in Austin, amidst the ridiculous conspicuous consumption of the F-1 spectacle, a representative of Strike Debt New York paid a visit to help facilitate a Debtor’s Assembly and participate in a Debtor’s Carnival. Both events were aimed at destigmatizing debt and bringing people together to discuss the effects of debt on their lives and what might be done about it. I was unable to attend the assembly, but did attend the carnival today, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to talk about this project with one of its organizers. In addition to the Rolling Jubilee – which raised money in order to buy huge amounts of debt for pennies on the dollar and forgive the holders of the debt that was bought, the organizers of Strike Debt are trying to find ways to form Debtor’s Unions and some are holding Debt Clinics to empower people who are in debt to get out of debt and/or deal with debt collectors in an informed manner. It’s an amazing movement, and just one of many examples of how the tactic of gathering random people together in a park for weeks on end spawned ambitious ideas and action. I’m really looking forward to working with my activist community to hold debt clinics and work with people on fighting back against debt collectors.

Image Courtesy of Austin Common Ground Relief – https://www.facebook.com/atxcommongroundrelief?directed_target_id=0

I also continue to be impressed with the hard work of the Austin Common Ground Relief. After floods hit the Dove Springs area in Austin, hundreds of people were left homeless, and it took several days/weeks for significant help to arrive. Now, two weeks after the flooding, the agencies that were helping are packing up and leaving. With F-1 racing happening in the city, hotels that were housing displaced residents are putting people back out on the street so they can accommodate wealthy tourists, and the shelter is closing down. Meanwhile, members of Austin Common Ground Relief are still preparing daily meals and distributing them to people who were impacted by the flooding (which is really just a symptom of climate change and environmental racism.) While distributing meals, they are also having people fill out intake applications listing their needs and desires, and providing assistance with cleanup and whatever else the residents are looking for. Because of the work activists have done in Austin to create an infrastructure of support, the infrastructure of information sharing and organizing was quickly put into place. Decentralized planning, volunteer-based assistance, and ubiquitous social media presence enable the Common Ground organizers and participants to be flexible and respond immediately to the needs of the community. The hope is that once there are a sufficient number of community members who are out of crisis, those tools can be provided to the community so they are able to provide mutual aid for their neighbors, and call upon the larger group when necessary. It’s truly a beautiful thing, and another example of the influence of Occupy on local organizing. I couldn’t be more proud of the folks who are doing the really hard work. While I can only spare a couple of hours a week towards the effort, it feels so much better to know that the time I do volunteer is having a direct, positive impact on those who need the help, rather than being filtered through the ranks and red-tape of a large organization like Red Cross.

These are the things that sustain me and help me get through my own struggles. I’m really proud to be part of a community that is invested in doing good things for other people and actively working towards making the world a better place.

 

So, this week I tried something new. Instead of considering the feelings of every single person in a situation except for myself, I chose to actually consider my feelings first. I realized I didn’t have to be angry at someone to reject what they were offering, I just had to think about what I really wanted, and whether what was being offered was in alignment with what I really wanted. And though the short-term effect of that decision is painful…from past experience I am almost 100% certain that the pain I’m feeling now is nowhere near the pain I would feel if I were to have accepted that offer. Sometimes really wonderful people won’t have what I need. And just because it still hurts doesn’t mean it’s not progress.

Yay! (she feebly celebrates…) hahaha.

In other news – it’s nearly mid-month and I have not done much for the zine. I need to kick it into high gear these last two weeks! Oddly enough, it’s the writing that’s giving me trouble. I don’t know what my deal is with the writer’s block, but I wish it would just stop. I have plenty to write about. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. It’s that I allow myself to become distracted. Writing needs to become ritualized. It needs to become something I do at a specific time every day or at specific times throughout the week WITHOUT FAIL. Once I’ve established the habit again, I can be more lax about when it happens. I need to remind myself that writing matters. Perhaps overcoming minor heartbreak will be a good impetus. I definitely did a lot of journal processing these past couple of days.

Also, just when I thought I was going to completely run out of money, I discovered double-time-and-a-half holiday pay at my job. I’m working pretty much every holiday through the end of the year, so…hopefully that will help me take care of some of these things I’m behind on and/or have been waiting for money to take care of. Things like new bras, fixing my kid’s computer, A FREAKING HAIRCUT FOR ME, and I was thinking I could really use a new dress. Something swing-y and retro and comfy. Oh, and…you know, catching up on my stupid utilities and fixing my damn a/c on my car. You know – stuff that piles up when one is living paycheck to paycheck. And funding the zine, though I’m hoping I can just take advance orders to fund it.

Oh, randomness. I’m loving the cold, though I spent much of the day today stubbornly refusing to turn on the heat – blowing on my hands between calls and shoving them in the pockets of my sweatpants while on the phone. It occurs to me that I should drag my footie pajamas from the storage bin under my bed. How very awesome that I can wear footie pajamas while working. What a frikking coup that is!

And…just when I”m feeling like hibernating in my little Hidey Hole and not socializing – here comes a busy weekend filled with plans. Most of which I really can’t cancel. I’m going to need to look hard at my schedule and plan another “lay in bed and read comic books all day” day sometime soon to make up for it. But some truly exciting stuff is happening. For one thing, I feel like I need to contribute to all of the great work that’s being done to help folks who were flooded out of their homes on Halloween. I’m really proud of all the hard work everyone is doing working with those communities. For another, I’m truly excited that some of the folks from Strike Debt will be here in Austin this week to hold a Debtor’s Assembly and Debtor’s Carnival. I can’t make the assembly because I have to work, but I’m super stoked about seeing people at the Carnival – though I wish it could happen in my bedroom with me in my jammies and the covers pulled up under my chin. hahaha. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I had the power to just travel everywhere in my comfy bed – all tucked in? I feel like there needs to be a movie about that if there hasn’t already been one. Or, wait…was that a Kids In The Hall sketch?

No matter – I’m just dreaming. Dreaming about sleeping and dreaming and floating through life in my comfy bed in my jammy jams. ❤