© John Emerson

You have probably seen the signs around the neighborhood calling for a General Strike today, May 1, 2012. That means, no work, no school, no housework, no banking, no shopping. I like NOT doing all of those things, but what for? And what does this mean for Greenpoint?

According to the OWS.org website: “We are striking to halt the flow of capital, reclaim a tool of resistance, and unify movements against exploitation, repression, and corruption. You should join the movement and strike because: everyone else will be doing it and it’ll be fun and empowering. But more importantly, join because you’ve experienced exploitation, repression, and corruption, and you are aware of their impact around you. Join if you are forced to work and consume; if you want to have a choice for an alternative.”

“Everyone else is doing it,” is not convincing but a disempowered sentiment certainly lingers.

Janie Grenier, a 16 year resident in Greenpoint commented, “I believe people in Greenpoint and all over the city should follow their conscience on May Day. I admire and respect anyone’s choice to make a statement against income inequality and the essential injustice of the bank bailouts in the absence of meaningful help for struggling homeowners, the unemployed and the underemployed. That said, I hope the spirit of non-violence is observed by all, protesters and police alike.”

© Rachel Schragis

I have been dabbling on craiglist.org looking at apartments because my soulless landlord took away two simple joys in life: my bird feeder and my hammock.

The prices for rentals are unspeakably high. And buying property is laughable.

I feel dejected. I was born and grew up in this city, went to public school here, have made a career for myself here and I can barely afford a decent apartment in a great neighborhood. I don’t want to live in the Trump Tower!

You’re saying, “Get a grip you spoiled brat. Bird feeder? Hammock? You’re lucky you have it so good!”

Lots of people have real problems, like homelessness, unemployment and no healthcare. But it’s the feeling of having no choice many people share. If I were to quit my job to work on this website full time (my dream!), I can forget about affording my apartment (along with the bird feeders and the hammock) and I won’t have healthcare. I don’t have a choice but to work two jobs to stay here and do what I love. Something has got to give.

© Seth Tobocman

David Colon, writer for Brokelyn.com made an interesting point that, “asking a population that’s made an art out of holding down two jobs and already works at making commerce hyperlocal to put it all aside for a day could be a hard sell.”

Not working is not an option for many. Not patronizing local businesses or expecting them to close seems more damaging to the community than good.

We cannot suffocate the very businesses that are working to improve our community by sourcing local food, like EAT or buying Brooklyn-made products, like Eastern District.

Local politicians are optimistic about the demonstration. Lincoln Restler, State Committeeman said, “I am excited to see the Occupy Wall Street Movement come back in force tomorrow. There is a march beginning in Bushwick that will be heading over the Williamsburg Bridge at 10:30am. The dozens of rallys and marches tomorrow provide a great platform to advocate for sweeping campaign finance reform in New York State that can take the corrupting influence of special interest money out of our political process.”

Many people want many different things. It would be a lot easier to get on board if the message wasn’t just: “everything and everyone is screwed so let’s strike.” But taking action is better than just complaining.

Are you striking without a clue? Brooklyn Skillshare has planned a day of free talks and workshops at Launchpad in Crown Heights called “Building Community Alternatives to Capitalism.” The site assures everyone that “while you don’t have to have an opinion on the movement, you can come out and learn!”

Learn about worker cooperatives, vacant land uses from 596 acres, how to move your money to a credit union, and a lot more. The day is topped off with a documentary called Battle for Brooklyn.

One thing this movement has brought forth is an amazing collection of great artwork and posters! I love posters! Want to see more? Check out Occuprint.org, an organization that collects, prints and distributes posters from the worldwide Occupy movement. Many contributors are Brooklyn artists. And you can upload your own. I haven’t seen an “Occupy Greenpoint” poster yet…

What do you think about the general strike? What you are doing (or not doing) on May Day?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *