Our Members. We are residents of Brookings, SD, and the surrounding area. In solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which by now has spread into a national and global movement, we organized in November, 2011, to form our own local effort. We are ordinary people who share a multitude of concerns about our society, most especially the incredible economic disparity between 99% of our citizens and the wealthiest 1%, and the nearly absolute political power wielded by the rich, to the detriment of the common good. We are tired of talking about it. We want to act. We're starting now, right where we are.
Our Name. Especially living in South Dakota, where Native Americans have long suffered what they regard as the "occupation" of their ancestral lands by Euro-Americans, we have serious misgivings about using "occupy" terminology. In reality, here and around the globe, "occupation" is all too often synonymous with "oppression". On the other hand, we also recognize that this term has another history--this one on the side of liberation. Occupations of one variety or another--the "sit-ins" by African-Americans at segregated lunch counters during the civil rights movement, the 18-month occupation of Alcatraz by members of the American Indian Movement in 1969, just to name a couple--have sometimes carried such moral force that they contributed to major social change. Despite our ambivalence about this mixed history of the term "occupy," we have decided that at least for now it would be best to call our local movement Occupy Brookings, so that it can be affiliated, for both symbolic and practical reasons, with the larger Occupy Wall Street movement.
Our Mission. Our mission statement reads: "We work for the common good. With a constructive vision of what our society could be, we educate, inform and empower the public to help bring it about; advocate for economic justice; agitate for vital reforms, especially in our political and economic systems; and seek to create a vibrant social culture that respects the worth and dignity of every child, woman and man."
Our Current Objectives. These five strategic objectives are united by our commitment to "economic democracy" in support of the common good.
- Creative Support of Local Business (including Local Agriculture). OB will challenge the dominant assumption regarding economic life in Brookings--namely, that to have a thriving community we must bring in big box stores and chain restaurants from outside (often by granting them special privileges). We want to help create an environment more favorable to small locally and regionally owned businesses, including local farms and food producers.
- Creative Support of "the Commons". OB will plan unique ways to draw attention to and sustain the work of existing taxpayer-supported public institutions and services, such as public schools, public libraries, the post office, first-responder services, public parks and the arts. While “the commons” is generally taken for granted, the disturbing national trend toward the privatization of the commons is neither well known nor understood in Brookings.
- Creative Support of Public Education. OB will advocate and agitate for greater funding from the state in support of our students and their teachers.
- Creative Support of Local Financial Institutions. OB will educate its own members and the public about local banks and credit unions and plan specific actions in support of them.
- Creative Support of the Environment. OB will champion the enhancement of our air and water quality and the preservation of our land and natural resources.