Occupy Wall Street: Better Methods

Cold weather is coming. On the left coast, our forecast is a La Nina winter: frigid and wet. Despite the insistence of OWS organizers, it won't surprise me to see the number of occupiers dwindle of the the next month.

I've never understood the value of protests - at least not in it's modern incarnation. The practice has lost it's swagger since the days of the civil rights movement. Sure it gives you attention, but your voice could easily be drowned out by those who disagree with you. As for long term impact, the results of the OWS protests remain to be seen. But if recent history proves anything, I'm not anticipating much.

Protesting can be a thrill, but if you really want to change the way corporate America functions, there are better options than standing on public property holding up poignant signs.

1. Get your money out of the major banks. Close your accounts with banks that got bailouts. Move your funds to regional banks or local credit unions.

2. Shop local and/or buy used. Buy as much as you can from local retailers. Support community farmer's markets. Avoid fast food. Patronize thrift stores. If there is something that you can't find locally, buy it used or second-hand. (ps, you can still find name-brand items through local merchants or second hand retail - it just takes a little more effort.)

3. Find an alternative commute. Use public transportation. Carpool. Walk. Ride a bike. Invent a teleporter. OK, I was just joking about that last one. Kidding aside, find ways to use less gas and limit wear and tear on your own vehicle.

4. Support local artists. Watching open mic night at a coffee shop is far more affordable than catching a movie at the nearest cinema. You might not be able to go see a play on Broadway, but you can see a show at a local playhouse. Visit your local galleries, find ways to see a local band play live, hire local photographers instead of going to a chain portrait studio. This does more than provide us alternate entertainment options, it increases opportunities for our kids. Studies have shown that students involved in the arts perform better academically, they develop creative problem solving skills, and are more likely to become leaders in their community. We can give our kids tools to make this a better world.

5. Give. Be generous. Give your time, your money, your resources. Donate to charities and food banks. Volunteer your time at homeless shelters, retirement home, or youth centers. Cook a meal for someone who needs it. Help your neighbors. The possibilities are bountiful. The free gift of your time and energy, your funds and goods is the polar opposite of greed. It's illogical from the viewpoint of how capitalism works, but generosity can be the catalyst for something bigger than you could ever imagine.

So do that. If you really want to occupy Wall Street, do the above. Not only will you be cutting into Wall Street's pocket books - but you'll be making a positive impact in your own community and improving your own physical, emotional, and financial health.

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