Do you know what POPS are? You should. By law you have every right to be there — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
All POPS (Privately Owned Public Spaces) created after 2009 must have the following: bicycle racks; litter receptacles; lighting & electrical power; plants & trees; access for persons with disabilities; seating for people; & be open to the general public 24 hours a day (unless a specific POPS has authorization, documentation, & visible signage to close early from the City Planning Commission).
POPS larger than 5,000 square feet are required to have the following: food kiosks or an outdoor cafe; artwork; moveable tables & chairs; fountains or pools; play areas; & game tables.
In New York, POPS have been in the news. The original Occupy Wall Street camp was set up in Zuccotti Park, which was a Privately Owned Public Space. The protestors had every right to be there. Yet police took actions that were illegal against the protestors.
This year there was an Occupy Public Fountains Ride (it was previously known as a yearly event called Time’s Up! Fountain Ride). Many participated in this peaceful demonstration. It was a group of people that rode their bikes from fountain to fountain (dancing, swimming & relating) reclaiming POPS & spreading awareness. Security guards asked them to leave or stop what they were doing, but there was not one arrest. They had every legal right to be there.
A great website to check out is #whOWNSpace (Who Owns Space). Here is a quote from a blog post about POPS featured on #whOWNSpace:It has happened slowly. Many of us have not even noticed. Little by little, the cities we inhabit — malls, shopping centers, movie theaters, private plazas, parks, and in some unfortunate places even entire streets and neighborhoods — become increasingly privatized. Yet many of us do not often stop and ask ourselves what this means and what we are losing in the process. What happens to democracy when we do not have the spaces to meet, organize, and collectively plan for our future? What happens when our city does not belong to us?…[to continue reading:click here]
There is a government website with the rules for New York City POPS. If you would like to view it: click here.
Another good resource is F-POPS, Friends of Privately Owned Public Space. It’s is an organization dedicated to the celebration & improvement of New York City’s POPS.
Whatever you choose do you, whether it’s taking full advantage of the POPS that you are entitled to; or educating yourself about the POPS in your community; or participating in public demonstrations that raise awareness about POPS; or simply sharing the news about POPS in your own way — take advantage of what is available to you. And if you feel moved, maybe dance & swim a little, laugh & relate a little. Have fun. Enjoy life!
Few people truly shine bright on many levels, & Dick Gregory is one of those people. He has shone inside & out, as well as across the board since the late 1950’s. And even now in 2012, you can see him at almost every major event that speaks on behalf of people’s rights.
His list of achievements is too long to list here. We are talking about almost 80 years of living fully. And when I say living fully, I don’t mean living a full life — I mean putting your life on the line! Living out loud & speaking your mind; doing all you can to find the truth; standing up for yourself & others; experimenting & testing & investigating; being an artist (first black comedian to break the color barrier); being an author (of 13 books, as either writer or co-writer); being an athlete (ran from California to New York City, averaging 50 miles per day for 71 days); being vegetarian since the 1960’s, and in more recent years raw vegan (he chose to not eat animals or animal products, because of his dedication to non-violence); fasting on water for 70 days straight (Dick Gregory is well known for his hunger strikes); running for president in 1968 (garnered 47,097 votes, including one from Hunter S. Thompson); feeding the hungry (shipped 10,000 pounds of beans to feed people in Marks, Mississippi); cancer survivor (cured himself of lymphoma with natural methods); I can go on & on.
Peter Barry Chowka summed it up perfectly when he said, “Gregory’s name, is synonymous with progressive social and political causes. He is that rare combination (like Gandhi) of activist and healer, one whose own life illustrates how real change first must come from within oneself.”
Thank you, Dick Gregory. Thank you for taking a stand. Thank you for having the courage to think for yourself. Thank you for putting yourself on the line. Thank you for looking deeper. Thank you for leading the way. Thank you for teaching others how beautiful & powerful they are. Thank you for reminding us to love & to be fearless. Thank you for showing us how much can be accomplished in one lifetime. Thank you for being you. Thank you, thank you, thank you…
James Baldwin: “Words like freedom, justice, democracy, are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.” “…there are days — this is one of them — when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it.”
“You can only survive so many beatings, so much humiliation, so much despair, so many broken promises, before something gives. Human beings are not by nature non-violent. Those [non-violent protesters & demonstrators] had to pay a terrible price in discipline, in moral discipline — an interior effort of courage which the country cannot imagine…”
“The country is only concerned about non-violence if it seems that I’m going to get violent. It’s not worried about non-violence if it’s some Alabama sheriff.”
Watching James Baldwin speak 50 years ago only brings me closer to today.
I read a quote yesterday. (Not from James Baldwin.)
“Rest does not come from sleeping but from waking.” –ACIM
Until we wake up individually, we will not have peace. Until we wake up as a people, we will not have peace.
The neglect, the fear of the unknown, & the comfort in the familiar has put us in a very compromising place. And what we are compromising is our freedom. I don’t mean our personal rights, I mean our happiness as a birthright. Who we are is love. Who we are is peace. Who we are is awareness. And until we begin to live from that space, we will continue to suffer. Not only that — but we will continue to question ourselves & wonder what life is all about.
I can tell you that life is not about work. It is not about money. It is not about “getting ahead”. It is not about war. It is not about neglect. It is not about lack of accountability. It is not about “well I’ll do something when they do something”. It is not about “when the time comes”. It is not about “one day”. — It is about right here, right now. It is about YOU. It is about your true nature — love! You are love. And the opposite of love is fear. Yet most of us base how we live our lives on fear. We choose from a place of fear instead of love. We do this over & over again, without thinking twice.
James’ comment was so spot on in the video: “The [United States] is for the first time worried about [a movement]. You shouldn’t be worried about [a movement], that’s not the problem. The problem is to eliminate the conditions which breed [a movement].”
Everyone thinks that something will solve a problem — let’s cure the symptoms. — No! Let’s look at the cause! Let’s examine the root! Leave the symptoms be & bear the discomfort. Be accountable & do what it takes to radically correct the root cause. And the fastest way to do this is within each & every one of us individually by taking personal responsibility. And then together as a people, by sharing ourselves & our lives with each other.
If we want to feel well rested, if we want to feel free, if we want to feel secure, if we want to feel peace, if we want to feel love — then it’s time we wake up! It’s time we take off the mask that we have been programmed to wear. It’s time to be ourselves. James said it beautifully in this quote: “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” Love is who we are. Let’s allow love to show us what being human is all about. Let’s let love show us how to live. — With love we can’t lose.
I’m going to present videos & photographs & information about the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS – also #OccupyWallStreet or #OWS, written as Twitter hashtags). Following that, I’ll write a few words on how I feel about the global need for change & what I think is on the horizon. And lastly, at the end of this post, I will leave information on how you can support the OWS movement.
Occupy Wall Street, New York City
I received a FAQs sheet at Occupy Wall Street being held at New York City’s Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Plaza Park) near Ground Zero. What struck me is that the sheet clearly read: “We are not a protest movement. We do not protest against things, and we do not have one or two simple demands. We are a movement which does call for accountability, however – accountability to ourselves and to our country.” To me the key word is: accountability. Personal responsibility for all aspects of one’s life is very important. This movement stems out of people who are tired of living in a country that calls itself a democracy when it is not. And now they have held themselves accountable for being the ultimate source for creating this democracy.
It continues, “We must be accountable to ourselves. First and foremost, we are calling upon ourselves, and upon one another, to wake up and employ our power as citizens: to participate rather than observe, to raise our strong voices together, rather than complaining feebly in isolation. We cannot ‘whine’ about the injustices wreaked upon us if we have been complacent and silent in the face of these injustices. We must take responsibility for our own futures – and here at Liberty Plaza, that is exactly what we are doing, by modeling the kind of society in which everyone has the right to live. Here in Liberty Plaza, having lost our sense that we live in a democracy, we are reclaiming its practice.”
The next paragraph states, “Our government must be accountable to us, and corporations must be accountable to the government. We are saying definitively: We no longer live in a democracy, and we refuse to accept that. We seek an end to the collusion between corrupt politicians and corporate criminals, as democratic and capitalist institutions have become conflated. (*1) As such we must see major advances in the area of the relationship between corporations, and people, on par with the amendments which outlawed slavery and assured civil rights to all people regardless of race, sex, or class…”
I wish I could type the whole FAQs sheet out for you, but this blog post would be way too long (-it’s too long as it is!) So, I will just add one footnote that belongs to the paragraph above, I think it’s important.
*1 “In the United States, the right to become rich has become collapsed with the very notion of liberty. From the time we are children, Americans learn to confuse democracy (a system of decision-making and governance), with capitalism (a system for regulating and releasing money flows).”
Occupy Together: Occupations all over the USA
All over the USA “Occupations” have been popping up from city to city. It’s steadily growing in the number of supporters & in the number of locations.
I was so proud to see this video of my hometown, the East Bay in Northern California. The video is from Occupy Oakland (aka #HellaOcuppy).
No doubt about it, there is much more to come. Not only in the way of government reform, or even epidemics & environmental concerns – but in each one of us individually in a way we haven’t been challenged before.
We will eventually find that there is nowhere to turn for a sense of true security & peace. At that point it will be obvious that it can only come from the one who is seeking it.
The only thing we can truly change is ourselves. The only place we can truly find peace is within us.
Looking for answers or solutions outside of oneself never works in the long-term.
At the same time, yes! – Occupy Wall Street & other movements are important & necessary. Especially when it comes to waking people up & taking them out of their comfort zone – their automatic way of sheepishly & passively speeding through their lives. It makes total sense to be forward moving & create the external changes needed at the moment, but after that, the work just gets deeper.
Otherwise, everything reverts back to the way it was. The work will not be done until we have uprooted the source of the confusion & suffering within us, & cultivate a new way of being.
In my opinion we need a balance between the tangible side of ourselves & the intangible side. Our culture is so wrapped up in the importance of materialistic things, or external things (anyone or anything outside of ourselves). But it is the intangible experiences of love, harmony, joy, generosity, trust, balance, peace, & more, that truly make us happy, that make us come alive & make us feel whole.
Love, harmony, & joy are states of being & they can only be experienced & generated from within. The only one that ever has control of this is us. Each one of us has the power to create & maintain these states of well-being.
For lasting change, the most important revolution that needs to take place, is the one within.
Creating a daily lifestyle for ourselves that is meaningful & healthful, as well as building communities with others based on the values & qualities we believe in, this is what change in action is all about.
So let’s #OccupyLove! #OccupyBliss! #OccupyJoy! OccupyAwareness! #OccupyMindfulness #OcuppyPeacefulness #OccupyOneness!
The ways you can support Occupy Wall Street or other Occupations near you…
Every Occupation needs something, the most important thing you can give is you. Share your love & support by physically being there & by sharing your intentions (what you intend by showing your support) with others. If you aren’t able to be there in person, actions like: donating money, food, blankets, hygiene supplies, drinking water, rain gear, tarps, tents, etc, can also be a great way to show your support. So can blogging, taking & sharing photographs or video, spreading the word, & doing whatever you can to contribute.
To send a donation to Occupy Wall Street in New York, their shipping address along with a link for information on their current needs is listed below. There is also a link to all other city Occupations in the USA.
The UPS Store
C/O Occupy Wall Street
118A Fulton Street #205
New York, New York 10038
“As I go through all kinds of feelings & experiences in my journey through life — delight, surprise, chagrin, dismay — I hold this question as a guiding light: “What do I really need right now to be happy?” What I come to over & over again is that only qualities as vast & deep as love, connection & kindness will really make me happy in any sort of enduring way.”
– Sharon Salzberg