Back in Sonoma County
“Occupy.com, which means to occupy the commons, will go online later this month,” reported Michael Levitin, 35. He spoke March 16 in Santa Rosa, California, hosted by the forthcoming Occupied Press—North Bay/Prensa Ocupada—Bahia Norte. Levitin graduated from Forestville’s El Molino High School in l994 and was back in town visiting family and giving talks.
“We need an Occupy media to report the national and international evolution of this fast-moving movement,” Levitin observed earlier in the day in Sebastopol. “Tomorrow is the six month anniversary of Occupy,” which was launched Sept. 17 at Zuccotti Park in New York City by Occupy Wall Street (OWS).
He also spoke with students at the Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University, and the University of California Santa Cruz. “Students want to participate in some constructive way, rather than just shout at corporations. We need to see the injustice, abuse, and limitations on our freedoms. People can get depressed and inactive by the bad news. We have to show what we can do constructively,” Levitin noted.
A graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he was a freelancer for Newsweek, LA Times, Associated Press and other publications. “They have sold out. They tell the stories of the people in power. So we need to occupy the press,” Levitin asserted. He was one of the founders of the Occupied Wall Street Journal in New York.
“We need people power over corporate power,” Levitin asserted in his Santa Rosa talk. “One of the most important things to occupy is the media. We need a new kind of story-telling. Newspapers have deceived us for decades. We need to explain better what justice, freedom, and economic equality mean. We need to use a language that everyone can understand.”
“The main thing that Occupy.com will do is crystalize the Occupy message—make it plain, clear, and simple. We will seek to engage people and give them many options for how to get involved. We need ways for members of the 99% to participate and thus grow the movement,” Levitin explained.
“We want to harness the power of online journalism. We do not need corporate journalists to tell our stories. Their journalism failed us. It did not report on financial inequities and corporate criminals who bankrupted our country,” Levitin added.
Occupy.com plans to be broad-based and report on the issues that Occupy raises. It will include personal stories about corporate abuse, economic injustice, and accountability by financial over-lords. It will publish human interest and community stories that put a human face on the movement. Video, photographs, music and other creative genre will be included, as well as material on the environment and climate change. “We will report the corruption and balance that with the good things that people are doing to make things better,” Levitin said.
“We want to bring forward Occupy news, but it will be a much broader platform. It will include the cultural creativity of the movement through video, music, visual and performing art, and poetry,” Levitin added.
The lead story on Occupy.com will be the recent court victory in West Virginia of retirees who won a $40 million suit against Century Aluminum for cutting their benefits. “This is a national 99% story of people in their 60s to 80s who ended up living on the roadside. We want to tell the stories of people who are suffering and touch people emotionally,” Levitin explained.
While in Sonoma County Levitin met with organizers of the annual Bohemian Grove camp-out, which is when members of the 1% come from all over to the redwoods to relax and plan. The San Francisco Bohemian Club is nearly 140 years old. Since l980 there have been demonstrations at its annual summer events. Speakers there have included political, corporate, financial, and military elites such as Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, George Bush, Sr., Antonin Scalia, Dick Cheney, and New Gingrich.
“Bohemian Grove is the 1% in Sonoma County,” observed long-time organizer Mary Moore, now in her late 70s. “We are not trying to close the place down,” Moore explained, “but to expose what happens there. This is the longest-lasting gathering of the 1%,” Moore said. With the national rise of Occupy and its expanding media, she hopes to attract the largest crowd ever to the mid-July summer demonstrations.
(Shepherd Bliss farms, teaches college, and can be reached at email@example.com.)