Monday, October 10, 2011

Unschooling and the Occupy Movement

In a few days I will bring my children to Occupy Vancouver.

The Occupy movement is about decentralization, and Unschooling is a huge part of that, so I want to discuss my thoughts about the whole thing, here on this blog.

We've been widely criticized for not naming a particular gripe or issue, and some are very reluctant to put a name on the movement. But I will attempt one:


We live in a highly centralized culture, and we are finally feeling the sting of that culture as it eats away at the core values and resources we need for life. We can debate and protest all we want within those diverse smaller issues, but any progress we make will be stifled by the centralized power we exist under. The only solution is to decentralize – which requires a great, massive 'coming together'.

I see it in these 2 terms:
1. We (together) develop a compassionate, conscious society. (So as we 'occupy' the central districts of our cities we put our minds together in peace and begin this journey.)
2. Being together in this way, we show everybody else that it IS possible, and that we CAN make change, and that they ARE welcome (Empower the rest of the world to join us in 1.)

There is already widespread unhappiness with 'the system'. People talk about the 99% taking back the power from the 1%, but I don't see it as being that adversary. The benefit of the occupations is to coalesce, and to reach the 98% who don't realize they're a part of the 99%. If 99% truly stepped away from the trap we live in, the 1% would probably join us, too. It's all about togetherness, as I said. Things like democracy, equality, and understanding cannot be reached without togetherness.

I think we're already making great strides in decentralization. If we can tackle the issues of openness, then other movements will just pick up speed, such as these, for example:

Unschooling, and other methods of decentralized learning and living are increasingly popular, with communities growing all over the world where progressive thought and action can flourish. My kids are completely unschooled, and have been for 3 years, now. The number of unschooling families joining us seems to grow exponentially, and the large conferences of like-minded unschoolers seem to be growing, too.
And for this reason I think it's essential that we allow our children to occupy our cities, too. It's their future, and they should be a part of it.
"Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child."
~A. S. Neill     Summerhill School

Healthcare & Food:
There is a growing movement of decentralized food (local food, homegrown food, raw food, unmedicated food, small farms, raw milk, etc. etc.) This is the beginning of what will hopefully be a complete overhaul of 'the system', and reach its arms out to encompass and encourage the healthcare system, as we all head for the care we need, as opposed to the care that the government pays for. Much of that happens outside the hospitals, and I think we're a much more educated society than we were a few decades ago; more of us know how to look after ourselves, and healthcare gets decentralized as we become less dependent upon the hospitals to care for us.
Although I don't support privatizing healthcare, the freedom to choose our care (or not) will give new ideas and technologies space to grow.

The Occupy movement, among others, is working towards educating the masses about the effects of consumerism, capitalism, and living beyond our means, allowing us to take responsibility for the way we live, and to live in a way that our finances (and health and environment) can sustain. If we take out loans to buy houses we cannot afford, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves. The banks do, indeed, capitalize on this, but it is our choice whether or not we give them our money in the first place. I hope that the predicted real estate and financial crash will quickly encourage new forms of investment (like maybe social?!)

Who writes the history books? Who shapes the past and the future? Occupy movements are also a perfect example of how the centralized media are not working for us, and how we can make our own, decentralized news-sources. We've made them already: Social Media.
As we render useless the current systems (mainstream media, etc.), copyright issues and other such problems will sink away in an open-source social system where we all have voices, and the right to know anything we choose.

My friend published this very informative interview on her blog. It almost says more about the current state of traditional and social media than it does about Occupy movement. (And she transcribed it! Thanks, Alison!):  Chris Hedges and Keven O'Leary on CBC

Not so impressed, really.
There is, to me, little point in marching through districts where the super-rich live, or in using combative language/behaviour against those who seem not to support us. We are in this together, and in the end we want those who are now against us to feel welcome in our new reality. Further, we can't forget that each individual police officer, polititian, and CEO is also a part of the 99%. It will be a beautiful day when they begin crossing the line they draw.

Most of us have one or a handful of big issues that we've been concerned about for a long time: salmon, indigenous rights, education, food freedom, financial integrity, etc. etc. And all of these things are important. So bring them! But remember that this is about decentralization, so we don't want to centre our attention on one issue. We need to forge this change from the top down. We must co-create a new human policy, and then we will all bring our issues to the fore, and talk about them as humans with a common interest of finding peace and equality.

Iceland recently had a revolution (if you didn't know, don't be alarmed; neither did most of us! It wasn't covered by most mainstream media.) The people reclaimed their power, and wrote their own constitution, collaboratively, transparently, online. When Canadians reach that point, that will be the time to hammer out the details that concern our many separate issues.

Yes!!! This is where we break free of our definitions and find a new reality.
I think that the ideas of those people who don't believe in democracy will be instrumental in our communal development of a new definition of open-source, communal governance. Maybe it won't even be called democracy. The whole notion of democracy implies that there are other ways. I think when there is true agreement, we won't be pitting our various viewpoints against each other but will instead have a new way of conversing.
Surely there will be plentiful disagreement, but our progress depends upon our finding harmony.

US vs. THEM:
There's no point. We are gathering not to accuse or to blame, but to find better avenues for conscious living. What this does is give us the chance to be together, to share, to support, and to make change. Ultimately we make the changes in our own individual ways, but in doing so, and in community, we encourage and empower others to do the same.

Quite simply, because we're not in such dire straits – yet. But I think the sense that we could be is growing urgently, especially as we watch our federal government wheel us closer and closer to US policy, culture, and affiliation. We need to reclaim our voice and power, before they take us too far over that threshold.

So my family is making changes. Arguably, we've been making them slowly, for a long time, as we've chosen to eat organic and local food, drink raw milk, unschool our children, participate as a whole family in community changes and events, not give Christmas gifts, and garden. But feeling the support of the Occupy movement, we've now extended the no-gift-giving to the rest of our family members, telling them that we will not be giving gifts this year, and will refuse to accept any. We're assessing our options for going fully off-grid (not wanting to be dependent upon a hydro company that has no interest in its' customers' wishes), and we're cashing in our savings, paying off our debts, and going credit-free. We're also considering changing banking institutions, to support our tiny local credit union. We've stopped attending classes that require us to drive across the island every week, and now that our children can ride bikes, we can do more outings by bike, making our gas-powered vehicle less and less necessary. And we intend to raise chickens, sustainably.

Getting out of the system is REALLY scary to some of us. (No hydro? No schools? No Superstore?) But if we work together we can find ways to develop the new communal/open-source infrastructure we need.

"The solution's here! The solution is public understanding! The solution is explaining the difference of the 99% and the 1%. The solution is to explain practically what can be done!
What we need right now is a massive social understanding. It's starting here; it's spreading around the country."
~Jeffrey Sachs

So the actual gathering -- the Occupation -- works by bringing people together. It's a place where we can share ideas, support each other, and also be a beacon for those who need a light to follow. Hopefully it will continue to spread online, to reach those who don't live in the large metropoli. And most importantly, it makes the issue visible, so that people can see the potential for change, and can realize that they, too, are part of the 99%.

Join as you are; know that we all have our own causes, and let us be one voice for humanity.


  1. Thanks for laying this all out in such a cohesive and thoughtful manner. I like what you say about decentralization, and I hope to see this play out also in a change in our culture's obsession with heros. In this we can all be the heroes I believe we have the opportunity now with the internet to not have to have a figurehead all the time. I saw a post recently on the #occupy movement that was titled Revolution or Evolution and I think this may indeed be something we aren't expecting that will come out of this movement.

  2. I love your website! We're wild foodies, so it's wonderful I stumbled upon it! I love the idea of making the word Evolution prominent in signage, this Saturday... hmmm....


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