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Occupied Alaskan Librarian: An Invitation

There’s a new feature on the left-hand side of this blog. It’s the RSS feed from the blog “We are the 99 Percent” which says it is a project of Occupy Wall Street.  The blog is simple in concept. People write their experiences with today’s economy on a piece of paper or cardboard, take a picture and post it to the blog, hopefully with a caption.  I can’t figure out a way to make the photos display, but the captions will give you an idea of their stories.

Who are the 99%? I’m going to take an unusual copyright liberty and reproduce their entire intro:

Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

Who are we? Well, who are you? If you’re reading this, there’s a 99 percent chance that you’re one of us.

You’re someone who doesn’t know whether there’s going to be enough money to make this month’s rent. You’re someone who gets sick and toughs it out because you’ll never afford the hospital bills. You’re someone who’s trying to move a mountain of debt that never seems to get any smaller no matter how hard you try. You do all the things you’re supposed to do. You buy store brands. You get a second job. You take classes to improve your skills. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough. The anxiety, the frustration, the powerlessness is still there, hovering like a storm crow. Every month you make it is a victory, but a Pyrrhic one — once you’re over the hump, all you can do is think about the next one and how much harder it’s all going to be.

They say it’s because you’re lazy. They say it’s because you make poor choices. They say it’s because you’re spoiled. If you’d only apply yourself a little more, worked a little harder, planned a little better, things would go well for you. Why do you need more help? Haven’t they helped you enough? They say you have no one to blame but yourself. They say it’s all your fault.

They are the 1 percent. They are the banks, the mortgage industry, the insurance industry. They are the important ones. They need help and get bailed out and are praised as job creators. We need help and get nothing and are called entitled. We live in a society made for them, not for us. It’s their world, not ours. If we’re lucky, they’ll let us work in it so long as we don’t question the extent of their charity.

We are the 99 percent. We are everyone else. And we will no longer be silent. It’s time the 1 percent got to know us a little better. On Sept. 17, 2011, the 99 percent will converge on Wall Street to let the 1 percent know just how frustrated they are with living in a world made for someone else. Let us know why you’ll be there. Let us know how you are the 99 percent.

I suspect they won’t mind, but there’s no way to contact them for permission.  More about that in a minute.

While I have my problems with Occupy Wall Street, first and foremost their continued refusal to issue a short list of demands to rally around, the pain of the 99% and the greed of the 1% are very real. The socialization of the finance industry’s losses and the privitization of their profits are very real. So, while I set more direct action aside until the movement decides what it wants from our government, I will share the stories of the 99%. If you blog, I invite you to do the same. Most blogs these days have RSS widgets. The RSS feed for We are the 99 Percent is http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/rss. Plug it into your blog where it will be seen immediately on visiting. Share the link with others. Start sharing from the blog. Put the 99% everywhere.


As a librarian who also is involved with several outreach efforts, I’d like to offer a few suggestions that I hope you will consider:

  1. Give yourselves a contact point. Ideally by e-mail, but a Twitter handle could do. Some people won’t repost your content out of copyright concerns. Especially media outlets.
  2. Put a Creative Commons License on your photos. It explicitly gives permission to people to reuse your photos. You would need to let people know up front that posting a photo to your blog will make it freely available to use. This move would probably increase exposure.
  3. Offer people posting to your blog to offer some kind of contact information. Either on the blog itself or on file with you so that journalists could interview them. This might mean some work to separate legitimate journalists and ethical bloggers from people who want to harrass folks who dare to share their stories. Having contact information for your posters will also insulate you from charges that these are paid actors showing bogus stories. You know that’s coming. Perhaps combined with a plant or “jokester” from the other side who actual is a paid actor with a bogus story.

Thank you for the work you are doing and many thanks to the people who are sharing their stories of the 99%. I honestly believe that if you take the three steps above, you’ll have an even stronger witness to share.

2 Responses

  1. They had a nationwide vote on the list of demands on line. They want input from the people so the demands actually represent the 99%, core demands are very easy to find on line.

  2. If you found them, what’s the URL? And why isn’t there a link to them on Occupy Wall Street if they’re official?

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