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#Occupy Turns to Environmental Action

The Occupy Wall Street movement began with a handful of protesters in mid-September. October found protesters “occupying” every continent but Antarctica. November promises to be a month of action, when the #Occupy movement turns their momentum into real societal change.

Tomorrow, national teach-ins for #OccupyColleges will begin at 66 colleges across the country to discuss the occupy movement through articles and videos from progressive leaders like Naomi Klein. On November 5th, more than 64,000 Americans have signed-up to participate in Bank Transfer Day and move their money out of large banks like Bank of America and into local credit unions. Then, on November 20th, environmental organizations across the world have joined together to host #OccupyRooftops, a day for people to come together and kickstart a solar project in their community by taking a picture in front of a building that they want to help go solar. November might just be what the #Occupy movement needs to transform from a protest into an Arab Spring-type revolution. As Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig explained in a recent post,

“What the protesters are saying is true: Wall Street’s money has corrupted this democracy. What they are demanding is right: An end to that corruption. And as Flickr feeds and tweets awaken a slumbering giant, the People, the justice in this, yet another American revolution, could well become overwhelming, and finally have an effect.”

But, before this revolution can begin, the demands must be more clearly defined. As Micheal Greenberg notes in an article for The New York Review of Books, “the movement’s assertion it is an ally to ‘all people who feel wronged by corporate forces of the world’ has made it a blank screen upon which the grievances of a huge swath of the population can be projected.”

Recently, environmental leaders and organizations have sought to merge climate activism with #Occupy’s outrage over rising inequities. Prominent climate blogger Stephen Lacy believes that ”as an all-encompassing economic, environmental and political issue, climate activism has the potential to become a key piece of the protests.” 350.org, an large environmental organization, has built a new page on their website to explain the connection between the climate movement and #occupy. 350 is one of the  many environmental groups that have partnered with  Solar Mosaic to host #Occupy Rooftops on the 20th.

As Yale climate forum blogger Keith Kloor recently noted, the climate movement has traditionally had problems rallying around such an amorphous problem like climate change with so many people most concerned about where their next paycheck is coming from. By harnessing the momentum of #Occupy around the fastest growing industry in America, solar, #OccupyRooftops hopes to help people create beautiful, job-producing solar projects in their communities and speak to their visceral economic anxieties.

Whether November produces “occupied” college campuses, massive bank transfers and community solar projects worldwide remains to be seen. Undoubtedly, it is poised to be a month to remember.

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