Occupy Fredericton’s initiatives will soon be ‘occupying’ ten areas of concern as gifts to be opened daily, beginning Christmas day, under the tree at City Hall. For example, the ‘Occupy Food Security’ box will relate to, among other things, urban agriculture.
“We were quickly asked by our partners: ‘Why ten days, not twelve?,” says Julian Renaud, a technical writer and Occupy Fredericton participant. “This symbol represents the ten percent of New Brunswickers who live in poverty, which is one of the many symptoms of the systemic flaws the global Occupy movement seeks to correct.”
“These are our gifts to the people,” says EcoFredericton coordinator and Occupy Fredericton participant, Dana Hartt. “Through our teach-ins and discussions, we have been developing these initiatives as starting points for further development by the public.”
Having already begun to form partnerships with local businesses, unions, and community organizations, Occupy Fredericton will soon be hosting public forums on the proposed initiatives in which citizens will be encouraged to participate in the Occupy movement’s trademark direct democracy. This process will encourage local governments to implement sustainable and socially responsible programs, ready-made by the public. But government involvement is not the only avenue being explored.
“All of this is meant to foster growth in the local economy while making our way of life sustainable,” says Tiffany Campbell, STU anthropology student and Occupy Fredericton participant. “One way is to form new institutions operating largely independently of existing ones. We are facilitating the development of these new institutions by uniting like-minded groups. In the case of urban agriculture, for example, we are bringing local gardening groups to one table to discuss a plan for an urban agricultural network in Fredericton.”
“Food security and food sovereignty go hand-in-hand,” says Andi Emrich of NB Community Harvest Gardens. “The current system of petroleum-dependent industrial agriculture is unsustainable. We need to offer opportunities to enhance people’s participation in the creation of a food system that works for all. Increasing our cities’ potential for urban agriculture is a crucial part of enhancing the capacity of community members to participate in a self-determined food system.”
“For us, it’s about sustainable and socially responsible, local business over multinational corporations,” says Arthur Taylor, another EcoFredericton coordinator and an Occupy Fredericton participant. “Multinational corporations have a history of driving local businesses out of business, as well as subverting the democratic process. Local businesses tend to be much more responsible and better able to serve their customers.”
Mayor Brad Woodside visited Occupy Fredericton on December 20th, apparently to express his support of Occupy Fredericton’s affordable housing-related initiatives. He stated that he would like to have Occupy Fredericton’s concerns resolved by the end of this year, which Occupy Fredericton, while appreciating his enthusiasm, regards as an unrealistic timeline for solving such significant socio-economic problems. In reference to those who live in sub-standard housing in Fredericton, he said that this has gone on long enough, and that he is the one who has it on his conscience and that it really bothers him. He has agreed to help Occupy Fredericton to solve this with everything that he feels is necessary.