“So has Occupy Eugene dropped the ball on the homeless situation?” a friend asked me recently.
Our summer issue of the Eugene Occupier had just come out, and I happened to have a stack with me. I handed him a copy and invited him to read the front-page article on Opportunity Village by Jean Stacey. Opportunity Village is an exciting new project whose goal is to create a safe place where homeless people can sleep, live and contribute — and eventually transition back into the larger society. Activists from OE Homeless Solutions committee together with activists from other organizations, such as CALC and Occupy Inter-Faith, are creating a new nonprofit to make this dream a reality.
I could have also pointed my questioner to the article on the Downtown Public Safety Zone by Ally Valkyrie. This exclusion zone, as many call it, targets the homeless. A majority of the people who get cited for acts such as jaywalking and who end up being excluded from the zone are the poor and the homeless. Other people jaywalk downtown on a regular basis, but if they look like shoppers or business people, they are usually not cited.
The DPSZ was slated to sunset last April. The police recommended that the zone become permanent and the City Council seemed willing to extend it for two years, but OE activists, along with other opponents of the law, argued for ending it. The council compromised by extending the zone — but only until November. When public hearings come up in September, OE will again testify against the DPSZ, questioning the constitutionality of a process that targets the homeless and disenfranchised and can exclude them from downtown Eugene without first convicting them of any crime.
So, no, OE hasn’t dropped the ball on the homeless situation.
We realize, however, that we have become much less visible to people since our eviction last December from our encampment at the Washington-Jefferson Park. And now, with the closure on July 11 of our colorful, flag-flying Outpost VI at the old Federal Building, people are once more asking us where we are and what we are doing. We are happy to provide some answers.
Is Occupy Eugene still around? Yes, we are. We have offices and meeting spaces at two locations. We have a donated storefront and warehouse we call Occupy Eugene V at 1274 W. 7th Ave., and we have space at the Growers Market at 454 Willamette St. You can also find us outside at our biweekly General Assemblies, Tuesdays beginning at 7 pm and Fridays beginning at 6 pm at the Free Speech Plaza. We have over a dozen committees that meet regularly too.
Since meeting times and places may change, always check our calendar at occupyeugenemedia.org for the latest information.
What Is OE Doing These Days? In addition to our work supporting the homeless, we hold free medical and dental clinics open to all from 1 to 5 pm Sundays at the Park Blocks at 8th and Oak. We help homeowners who are attempting to save their homes from foreclosures. We protest big banks in front of Bank of America at 4:30 pm every Friday and encourage people to move their money to credit unions or small, locally owned banks.
We fundraise most Saturdays at the Free Speech Plaza by Saturday Market. We publish and distribute thousands of copies of our newsletter. We broadcast TV shows created by our talented media team on Comcast Cable Channel 29 on Sunday and Wednesday at 7:30 pm and on Monday at 8 pm. We air radio programs from 6:30 to 8 pm every Wednesday on KWVA 88.1 and we have 30 audio podcasts available for download.
We support our allies who are working in areas such as health care for all, a cleaner, safer environment and a country where corporations do not count as people.
How can I find out more about OE? You can explore our website or join our announcement list by signing up at http://occupyeugenemedia.org/contact You can call us at 525-0130.
Can I attend a meeting? Yes. All our meetings are open, both General Assemblies and committee meetings. We make decisions by consensus, work openly and welcome anyone who wants to join us in our efforts to move toward a better world.