After many years, Petaluma continues to amaze me. This week I bought National Geographic Traveler Magazine, its 2012 Best Places to visit lists Petaluma for shopping opportunities, yet what is more remarkable still is a deep sense of community.

Our town created an Urban Growth Boundary to determine the right population and our ability to sustain that; we have the only homeless shelter in Sonoma County (COTS); we raise piles of money through Carousel Fund for children with extreme diseases. We volunteer to help others.

So it isn’t surprising that the Petaluma version of Occupy is a sweet, smart bunch of locals who are currently working up a moratorium on evictions/foreclosures during the holidays to help people here who have lost their homes in this economic downturn. Occupy Petaluma (3 Facebook sites call for volunteers) will consult with Santa Rosa Catholic Charities and others to be sure they are doing the most they can to help victims of foreclosure.

I sat Sunday pm with Tim Nonn, John Bertucci, Amy (who helped start Petaluma Bounty Farm) and a few other focused organizers planning the moratorium. Chuck Sher, synonymous with Petaluma Progressives, stopped by to drop off pizza. A sweet day atop Penry Park’s hill, the hill at E. Washington and Petaluma Blvd. Was pleased to offer a blog or two to get the word out – they need more folks to get engaged. Showing up will make you feel good – and then you can do some work to help.

Petaluma people who answered the Argus poll on Occupy are in sympathy.

Margie Helm, lauded as Citizen of the Year in the Argus poll, sent this through Facebook: (I assume she wants you to know!)
“Tim Nonn, with Occupy Petaluma is doing a fabulous job as the bridge between the Occupy activists and the City. Occupy Petaluma is requesting help to spread the word about the “Holiday Moratorium on Foreclosures & Evictions.” Here is the website for Occupy Petaluma and a recent newspaper article about the moratorium. The very modest goal is to stop individuals and families from being evicted during the holidays from Thanksgiving (November 24, 2011) through New Year’s Day (January 1, 2012).”

After all, she did ask us to “Please help spread the word” so now you have it if you didn’t yet.

Takes a lot of thought to get into the Occupy stream. I mean you could just say Yippee for free speech! and people venting their fears and frustrations – but people are starting to get hurt doing this, the soldier back from Iraq who got injured in Oakland, unable to speak and now fear for the Occupiers who are in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Petaluma, Sonoma – and that’s just Sonoma County.

This is of course an international ongoing event spurring young people and old to confront the injustice at the heart of income inequality and other way off balance elements of our society, here, in the US, in the world. Being the 99% means having way less access to everything than what is available to the richest 1% when we have a terribly inadequate health care system and our schools are victims along with those foreclosed upon.

Not that things are way better abroad. This is a global movement after all, pointing to the fact that we need a new scenario, a “Shift” according to Institute for Noetic Sciences, now with two locations in Petaluma. A shift to what we thought democracy is all about – justice for all.

What could that mean? Certainly healthy food and water, good schools to educate future adults, homes that can’t be taken from residents who have worked all their lives in some cases to obtain a home. Some people get this right. I hear wonderful stories of Mondragon, Spain, where the largest worker-owned coop brings in an annual income of over $14 BILLION, no one is rich, no one is poor and everyone is doing well. I’d like to see that here. I’d like to see
a transparent government where we know who funds what. I’d like to see excellent schools and job opportunities for those who complete their school work.

But what we have is capitalism with a capital C – Corporatocrasy – where our votes don’t count as much as those of corporate heads of state – the real leaders of this country at this point. Corporations AREN’T people – loved hearing President Clinton say he hates this, too, on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.

I remain a diehard optimist – I’ve been in the Berkeley riots and felt the state of being at war in the streets of the town where I live, I’ve been on the edge of being homeless, though I never was that. I’ve helped find housing and food and clothing for people who are homeless and for a couple of years people dying of AIDS (before newer drugs, thanks to those who developed them!)

And all this is supposed to be in our past, that is if we are ever to grow up and be a civilization. Gandhi, ongoing reference for me, said “Civilization is a good idea,” that we never acheive? There must be ways to get to a just world – and the whole Occupy movement is at least trying to find out what the matter is – not that they/we have clear, easy answers, but if we never speak up – well the rich just get richer and the rest of us suffer.

I do very much appreciate the volunteer efforts of our friend, Linda Lipps, at Oasis Center downtown, in bringing together a group to discuss mindfulness – the art of managing your thoughts and feelings to attain equanimity – balance and open heartedness. With a high level of mindfulness, you can live through practically anything free of (much) fear or hatred. But we really ought to address the CAUSES of injustice – now. Population: Over 7 billion; CO2 pollution, off the charts, species die off: unheard of; climate crisis: upon us today, irreversible by 2017. Thank you, President Obama, for at least delaying the Keystone Pipeline, a symbol that you do care about the environment. So much more to do!

War and famine? Happening in those other countries – but we are all one – and so it happens to us, too. We have more hunger and homelessness in Sonoma County than for many years.

For more links to Occupy Wall Street and the cities holding rallies and General Assemblys (and this is just the beginning):

And stay tuned – to any media at all or better, to media you trust. Democracy Now, PCA, KOWS FM, WFMT are a few favs for radio and TV.

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