Fredericton – Occupy Fredericton’s initiatives will soon be ‘occupying’ ten areas of general concern as gifts to be opened daily, beginning Christmas day, under the tree at City Hall. For example, the ‘Occupy Food Security’ box will relate to, among other things, urban agriculture.
“We were quickly asked by our partners: ‘Why ten days, not twelve?’,” says Julian Renaud, a technical writer and Occupy Fredericton participant. “This symbol represents the ten percent of New Brunswickers who live in poverty, which is one of the many symptoms of the systemic flaws the global Occupy movement seeks to correct.”
“These are our gifts to the people,” says EcoFredericton coordinator and Occupy Fredericton participant, Dana Hartt. “Through our teach-ins and discussions, we have been developing these initiatives as starting points for further development by the public.”
Having already begun to form partnerships with local businesses, unions, and community organizations, Occupy Fredericton will soon be hosting public forums on the proposed initiatives in which citizens will be encouraged to participate in the Occupy movement’s trademark direct democracy. This process will encourage local governments to implement sustainable and socially-responsible programs, ready-made by the public. But government involvement is not the only avenue being explored.
“All of this is meant to foster growth in the local economy while making our way of life sustainable.” says Tiffany Campbell, STU anthropology student and Occupy Fredericton participant. “One way is to form new institutions operating largely independently of existing ones. We are facilitating the development of these new institutions by uniting like-minded groups. In the case of urban agriculture, for example, we are bringing local gardening groups to one table to discuss a plan for an urban agricultural network in Fredericton.”
“Food security and food sovereignty go hand-in-hand,” says Andi Emrich of NB Community Harvest Gardens. “The current system of petroleum-dependent industrial agriculture is unsustainable. We need to offer opportunities to enhance people’s participation in the creation of a food system that works for all. Increasing our cities’ potential for urban agriculture is a crucial part of enhancing the capacity of community members to participate in a self-determined food system.”
“For us, it’s about sustainable and socially-responsible, local business over multinational corporations.” says Arthur Taylor, another EcoFredericton coordinator and an Occupy Fredericton participant. “Multinational corporations have a history of driving local business out of business, as well as subverting the democratic process. Local businesses tend to be much more responsible and better able to serve their customers.”