Too Small to Fail: Occupy Mosier

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–Nov. 6, 2011, 5:27 p.m. EST 

occupy mosier

There are no stoplights, the only gas station closed years ago and there is not a single multinational corporation within five miles. With a population of just 430, Mosier, Oregon will become the smallest U.S. town to have an active Occupy camp. Participants from Mosier and other small communities of the Columbia Gorge are working to highlight their vision for a family-friendly camp that includes music, movies and round-table discussions with the community. While the group has stressed its solidarity with Occupy camps in urban cities across the United States, Occupy Mosier is adopting tactics and strategies they say reflect Wasco County’s rural community values.

“Rural communities have been hit harder than anyone by the policies the Occupy movement has formed to fight,” said Corie Lahr, Mosier resident. “If we do this right, we can attract a lot of rural people to the movement.”

Multiple speakers, workshops and movies are being planned in Mosier on a range of issues from reining in corporate control over U.S. politics and an shrinking an oversized military budget to supporting local credit unions, fighting plans to ship coal through the Columbia Gorge to China, and addressing wage inequality and related issues.

“People have asked us if we are getting a permit,” said Lahr. “We had to laugh because we don’t have sidewalks, let alone a city park where people could gather on city property for a protest. We are doing everything we can to communicate with the City of Mosier, public safety officials and the public about what we are planning and our goals.”

The group expects 15 or more tents to be set up with hundreds of people visiting the camp over the next week. The group has also invited local area Tea Party activists to the camp to share tea and round-table discussion about areas where the Tea Party and Occupy movements can agree.

“We think planning a 7-day camp and allowing for the possibility of another camp in a nearby town is a good way to spread awareness about the issues Wasco County cares about, such as Wall Street’s control of our economy and corporate power in our government.,” says ten-year Mosier resident Brent Foster.

Cara Shufelt, director of the Rural Organizing Project, is working with over 30 rural communities across Oregon who are involved organizing around the Occupy movement. ““Rural and small town Oregonians are indentifying with the message of the occupy movement. As far as we can tell, Oregon has more rural communities involved in Occupy actions than any other state. The Occupy Mosier camp is really unique,” said Shufelt. “We believe Mosier is the smallest U.S. town with an Occupy camp.”

Bo Vanderkloot lives across the Columbia River from Mosier in Bingen, WA. Vanderkloot is a single father motivated to join the Occupy Mosier camp because of his banks refusal to refinance his home loan following his divorce. “When the bank told me I was going to lose the home my son was born in, it was a real motivator to get involved,” says Vanderkloot. “I know I don’t agree with many of the National Tea Party’s positions, but I think some of my Tea Party neighbors would agree that kicking me and my son out of our house even though I make every mortgage payment isn’t right.”

As with other Occupy protests, the Occupy Mosier and Occupy the Gorge participants have a diversity of primary interests. Most participants share goals such as reducing corporations’ power over politics and communities, prioritizing spending on health care and education over runaway military spending, increasing environmental protections, and reforming national trade, monetary and financial policies to better support all people in our communities, regardless of race, class or gender.

While Mosier will serve as a base camp, activities are being planned throughout the Gorge from November 4 -11. Saturday, November 5 at AM, Occupy Mosier will travel to the “Break Up With Your Bank” event at the Dalles Bank of America where people will close their accounts in protest of policies that bankrupt and foreclose on local community members. “If we can organize an Occupy event in Mosier, anyone in any community can be a part of this movement,” says Lahr.

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