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Saving the City's Soul - Occupy (South East) Roanoke

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"Most of the homeless at the Mission are law abiding and hard working people who have encountered difficult circumstances and need a place to start over.  They are 'invisible' because they look and act in ways that do not draw attention to themselves. I am hopeful this dialogue will produce creative solutions that will help all involved."   Rescue Mission Director, Joy Sylvester-Johnson in "Neighbors Oppose Mission Expansion"

'The Enemy's Lies' - Is a Totalitarian America Imminent?

In a recent blog entitled, " A Leaderless Revolution ", written and published at OpEdNews in support of Occupy (Roanoke) , a section subtitled, Betraying Our Trust: 'A Crisis in American Leadership' presents a clear overview of homelessness in our city.  Similarly, but citing an article published in June (see - 'American Psychosis') depicting political forms of neoconservative and neoliberal leadership as constituting two sides of "a single globalization coin" promulgating both corporatism and the privatization of property, I alluded to how these same "partisan values" are imbued throughout society and effectively, embodied by "the contemporary church" (1).

So too, as author of " In the Belly of the Beast - Report from a Homeless American ", written only weeks after landing at the Rescue Mission in October of 2008; my tenure there since has served as a study in (alternative modes of postmodern ) urban dwelling.  Yet, and so as to not appear overly glib, I can attest that my experience has been anything but genteel.

Nevertheless, and over this same term, I've endeavored to serve the local community in a multitude of ways beginning more than two years ago by regularly attending Continuum of Care and RVARAC meetings in support of our region's homeless.  I also initiated two websites for Roanoke's Central Church of the Brethren in the Fall of 2009, prior to launching City of Peace

and enlisting it to help coordinate our city's maiden BridgeWalk .  During this time too, I played a contributing role in planning the organization and start-up of Roanoke Valley's Time Bank .  More recently, and in addition to authoring three articles on leadership (" Tribal Leadership ", " Integral Leadership in the New World Economy ", and " A Leaderless Revolution "), I was afforded the privilege of coordinating and subsequently co-hosting, a Release Screening of 58: The Film at Green Memorial United Methodist Church this past October.

At the same time though, and while I'd be the first to acknowledge such efforts merely reflect an abiding passion for our amazing metropolis, extensive research and writing leads me to concur deeply with Amy Goodman and Chris Hedge's expressed sentiments to Charlie Rose about the Occupy Movement .

Amy Goodman indicates that we are in the midst of a revolution.  Chris Hedges describes this revolt as one that strives to regain democracy and is opposed to the current system of ' inverted totalitarianism '.  It's not "classical totalitarianism.  It doesn't find its expression through a demagogue or a charismatic leader, but through the anonymity of the corporate state . . . [In a system of inverted totalitarianism], 'corporate forces purport to pay a fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the iconography and language of American patriotism, and yet have so corrupted the levers of power as to render the citizens impotent.  We see that in one piece of legislation after another . . . The formal structures of power are tone deaf . . . [Under the corporate state] there is no way to appeal to the system.  It doesn't matter what the citizens want." quote from " Amy Goodman and Chris Hedges discuss #Occupy with Charlie Rose " (Vieth, 2)

Envisioning Sustainable Cities . . . Globally!

The effects of current economic and monetary policies are starting to approach the level of genocide against large segments of society, if not in their intention, at least in their effects. Crime, health, and income statistics identify vast areas of both urban and rural environments as what have aptly been called "death zones'."   quote from Richard C. Cook's , We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform (p. 127) (3).

Yet strangely, where a globally centralized, debt-based monetary system is essentially 'the beast' behind the social and economic injustice against which the Occupy movement has so adamantly rebelled, practical resolutions aren't generally construed as being readily tangible.  Fortunately though, but anticipating our world's present crisis more than four years ago, Richard Cook in We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform has proposed utilizing

social credit in the form of a basic income guarantee (BIG), rather than debt, to fill the current GAP between Gross Domestic Product ( GDP ) and Income .  In a recently produced video from a 'teach-in' at Occupy Roanoke then, Richard explained how adopting his Gaia Plan would afford each of our planet's inhabitants a path towards 'economic self-determination' through the creation of 'subsistence income' (BIG) in the amount of $800 per month.

Similarly, and as presented initially on this site in " Taking an Evolutionary Step . . . ", Bernard Lietaer's academic group published their findings in 2008 announcing a remarkable breakthrough in ' sustainability theory '.  As I later shared in a subsequent article at City of Peace entitled, 'Conscious Christian Leadership' , a well-qualified study had also concluded, "were it not for the generation of 'major innovation cycles' at 'a continually accelerating rate to sustain growth', those same systems become subject to the vulnerability of 'stagnation or collapse'."

In their own way then, these findings paralleled those of "Lietaer's team with natural ecosystems," where efficiency wasn't derived from "economies of scale as an arbitrary function of design.  Instead, their study" reflected the fact that "systems not utilizing man-made, ultra-efficient (e.g. monopolistic, constrained) streams to control and distribute money , energy , water , or whatever," weren't necessarily "dependent on innovation for survival but rather, resilience."  Consequently, the group's conclusions (4) resulted in generating "a single metric as an emergent property of (the ecosystem's) structural diversity and interconnectivity " which, in itself, constituted a sustainable balance between efficiency and resilience (Lietaer et al. 5).

Saving the 'Hood' - "What is emerging at OWS?" . . . Sustainable Communities!

John Fullerton: The Biospheric Reality from Katie Teague on Vimeo.

Consequently, but as John Fullerton , a former JPMorgan Managing Director concluded after visiting OWS himself . . . the fact that " participatory and deliberative democracy " emerged "as the movement's only initial priority" reveals Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is primarily "about taking back democracy."  In that too, as he further notes, is something "serious" and "organic" but also consistent perhaps, with his own organization's (the Capital Institute ) mission "to explore and effect economic transition to a more just, resilient, and sustainable way of living on this earth through the transformation of finance" (6).

"The surprising insight from a systemic perspective is that sustainable vitality involves diversifying the types of currencies and institutions and introducing new ones that are designed specifically to increase the availability of money in its prime function as a medium of exchange, rather than for savings or speculation."   quote from Lietaer's (et al), " White Paper on All the Options for Managing a Systemic Bank Crisis " (7 )

Alternative Currencies: The Solution to the Economic Crisis?
View more presentations from groupepignosis

At the local community level however, and as much of the foregoing content suggests, alternative currencies represent an especially viable means of fostering economic vitality.  At least this was one of Richard Cook's central themes in his presentation of " Alternative Currencies: The Solution to the Economic Crisis? " at Roanoke's Main Library earlier this week.  In addition to adapting alternative currencies to the specific needs of a local community's people (i.e. time banking ), business and commerce (i.e. IRTA ) though, community land trusts too, may prove a more feasible form of ownership in loosing the bonds of systemic dependency. 


Works Cited 

 1. McConnell, Brian. " A Leaderless Revolution: Occupy Economic Democracy - Part 1 of 2 ." (2011): , December 2011. Web. 17 Jan. 2012.  
 2. Vieth, Erich. " Amy Goodman and Chris Hedges discuss #Occupy with Charlie Rose ." (2011): Dangerous Intersection - Human Animals at the Crossroads , October 2011. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.  
 3. Cook, Richard. We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform . (2009): Tendril Press. Print.
 4. McConnell, Brian.  " 58: Conscious Christian Leadership ." (2011): City of Peace , 30 September 2011. Web. 23 Jan. 2012.
 5. Lietaer, Bernard, Robert Ulanowicz, Sally Goerner, and Nadia MeLaren. " Is Our Monetary Structure a Systemic Cause for Financial Instability?: Evidence and Remedies from Nature ."  (2010): Journal of Futures Studies . April 2010, Vol. 14, no.3. Web 24 Jan. 2012.  
 6. Fullerton, John. " Occupy Wll Street (OWS) from a banker's perspective ."  (2011): In the Spirit of the Forum for Stable Currencies . 29 October 2011. Web 24 Jan. 2012.  
 7. Lietaer, Bernard, Robert Ulanowicz, Sally Goerner. " White Paper on All the Opitions for managing a Systemic Bank Crisis ."  (2008): October 2008. Web 25 Jan. 2012.
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Brian McConnell, BA has worked with the underpinnings of Integral thought and theory, primarily in the fields of education and psychology since first introduced to Ken Wilber's, Eye to Eye in 1997. His background in contemplative practice stems from (more...)
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