« Project 333 update | Main | New Goal! »

Occupy OaklandOctober 31, 2011

You already know I love my town. But I hella heart Oakland even harder this week.


It's not a movement for "hippies," although hippies are proudly involved. It's not a movement by slackers or the homeless (although the Occupy Wall Street camps are becoming known for medically treating and feeding those who need it).

This is important. It is about YOU.

I'm going to tell you what I'm planning on doing, right after I share what Thomas Friedman said in the New York Times yesterday.

Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust. [emphasis mine]

This is just one news story in a long list of wrongdoings that need to be addressed, solved, and changed. This is immoral. And wrong. And worth thinking about.

If you need a quick one-minute explanation of what this is all about, watch this. (Also, it's funny.)


I've been a union member for more years than I haven't been in my professional life, and I believe in the way they work. (Sometimes they don't work, but that's for another day and a different discussion.) So far, the SEIU, ILWU, Carpenters, Longshore, and AFSCME unions are supporting the General Strike. The Teamsters are providing food for the day. The Oakland Education association is endorsing the strike. The Oakland Teacher's Union has unanimously endorsed it.

So this Wednesday, for the General Strike, this is how I'm protesting: I'm going to Patelco, a local credit union, and I'm opening a joint household account with Lala, and a business account for myself. Then we'll go to Bank of America and have them wire all our funds to our new accounts. Then we'll go to Wells Fargo and do the same. 

I'd been loath to do this for a long time. Why? Because I was the slacker. I've been with Bank of America for more than fifteen years. All my bills are paid with a few clicks. It was too much hassle, I always said. I'd have to spend time setting up the bill pay at a new bank. We'd have to change our direct deposits. We'd have to change every auto-payment we have online. Moan, groan, grumble, moan.

Then I realized this: credit unions are locally owned, non-profit co-ops.

It was as if the light bulb blinked on. Who do I want to support with my really hard-earned dollars? Wall Street? Or my local non-profit? It'll be a couple of hours of hassle. Big deal. And it will actually affect the outcome of all of this. (There's a good article here on a credit-union convert.)

(I have to admit, there's a small part of me that's concerned that I'll lose readers because I'm posting this. Not YOU, darling. Of course not you. But what about the people who have just read one of my books? The ones who pop by to see what I'm all about? And they find this? Clicking the Publish button is something that is difficult for me. It's a fear I have trouble letting go of. And I suppose it just comes down to this: I'm letting go of it. Right now. It's okay if the 1% don't like me. This is more important.)

The Best Article I've Read So Far

If you read one thing, read this. This is why the author Lili Loofbourow didn't buy into all of this uproar at first but eventually she "Got Off My Computer and Onto The Street At Occupy Oakland." She says (God, I could have written every one of these bullet points):

• I do not believe the police are evil.
• I do not believe in utopian societies.
• I distrust extremists of whatever stripe.
• I believe inflammatory rhetoric shuts down rational thought.
• I was (and remain) afraid of nighttime Oakland—the desperate Oakland that Occupy Oakland insisted on caring for and actually living with.
• I am lazy, prone to migraines, and unwilling to be cold, wet, uncomfortable and in constant danger of arrest.

In short, I'm a moderate: small, fearful, skeptical, selfish, with privilege aplenty...I have an iPhone, for heaven's sake. I am, moreover, a liberal with a lifelong habit of opting out of the political conversation—and out of most kinds of activism—because I find its language dishonest, combative and unjust.

But she changed her mind. The rest of her article, and what she found, is here. It's beautiful.

Follow the Occupy movement on Twitter by using the hashtag #ows for Occupy Wall Street or #occupyoakland for OccupyOakland. It moves fast; it's the best place to keep up.

Do not confuse the complexity of the issue with chaos.


(PS - Any kneejerk or rude comments will be deleted (and I'll make an extra donation to Occupy Wall Street in your honor). My blog, my rules. All kind, polite opinions of any variety, however, are welcomed and appreciated!)


I LOVE this post. Well done, lady.

I love what you wrote. I may be too selfish, lazy, and unwilling to be uncomfortable, to do what you're doing -- heck I'm a few decades older than you -- but I support you 100%.

Fight the good fight.

I will admit that I am probably the 1% that you were worried about. :) I recently discovered one of your books, and it drew me in as my sister owns a specialty yarn store that ships worldwide. It was a stellar book, by the way, which spurred me to find you on Facebook.

While I disagree with the majority of what Occupy is doing, I found your post to be one of the most rational arguments for the movement. The question I continue to ask to people involved in it here in Washington is, "What do you hope to accomplish? What would success look like?" It's these questions that I have failed to get answered. Your practical steps of transferring your banking to a credit union make perfect sense.

If you are interested on my opinion of a random pastor's wife from Washington, it's here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150298482385736

Thanks again for your very well thought out post. It has made me think about the movement more, if nothing else. And many blessings in your writing!

Thank you for writing this. My LYS (my place of employment) has been collecting hats to send to Occupy Wall Street. Out of nearly 2,000 people on our mailing list we have had one person asked to be removed because she didn't like that we were supporting the protestors. Those are pretty good odds. So I wouldn't worry about losing a reader - I think your leanings are implied in your books anyway! :) Our next batch of hats collected at the shop will go to our Occupy Lansing group.

I, too, am researching my local credit union. I try not to think about the times I go to Europe and how convenient it is to have two large banks (BoA & HSBC). I buy from local CSA. I really should be banking local, too.

Thanks for a lovely and thought provoking post.

Oops..."my opinion AS a random pastor's wife from Washington..." :)

@Megan, I think that was my problem, too. I understood some of the conflict, but none of the solution. So it's made me feel a little better to figure out that this is what I can do.

Thank you for a lovely, considerate comment. Blessings back to you.

Thank you for this post - it included links to things I haven't read yet, and I am heading over to read everything now. I have to find out where my local credit union is, and I think we're going to switch from TD Bank to the CU instead. We luckily severed our relationship with BofA two years ago when we paid off our credit card and sent them a big FU, which was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done.

Thank you, lovely lady!

Brava! I've been thinking for a couple of years about switching from a big bank to a credit union, I even opened the account, but never got completely around to it. This may be the time.

Man, you could be quoting me with the excuses you were making for not going to a credit union. I even already have a credit union account. I need to move everything over there and close our Bank of America account. Really really need. one of these days I will.

Do you know if there's a place for mom and kids to occupy oakland? We get in on Wednesday and I'm super tempted to come down to oakland before driving to Napa.

A very thoughtful post. I too have been too self absorbed to join the local Occupy group. I have good excuses too (no migrains, but I've been on disability since February due to a back injury). I may take my wheel down tomorrow between doctor visits and sit for a while with them, at least add a little moral support.

Oh, and I gave up the big banks almost 15 years ago. Not a credit union, but it is a small local bank, and I've been very happy with them.

I love this post and will be there on Wednesday. @Lorajean there will be a children's brigade for kids and families marching from the Main Library to Oscar Grant Plaza at noon and again at 3.

I love this post. :)

Okay, NOW I understand what is going on. I sorta of did, or THOUGHT I sorta did, but I followed all the links, watched the video, thought real hard and I really, really think that for the very first time, I am going to sign up for a twitter account just so I can get the OSW feed.

Now, who knew I would get the best information so far in a blog written by a yarn writer/knitter? Well, I'm not surprised. It's what I've come to expect from fellow creative people. Thank you so much.

I'm so bummed that I'm not well enough to go with you on Wednesday! I'll be with you in spirit.

YAY! Rachael I'm so happy you posted this, I'm a big fan and a fellow Oaklander and I'm participating in the strike.

A la ramparts, dearie! See you there tomorrow.....

What do we hope to accomplish? It's being accomplished: the issues of corporate control of the the government and the issues of income inequality are FINALLY being discussed on a national level.

The Citizen's United Supreme Court ruling was the tipping point for me.

I've been a member of my local C.U. for almost 35 years (back then, it was affiliated with my employer). A few years ago, the Board wanted to become a bank. There was a H-U-G-E backlash, and they canceled the plan. In today's environment, I'm sure most people (including the Board, I hope) are glad it's still a credit union. Perhaps the Occupy movement will wake up complacent citizens and make them realize it's possible to bring control to the "majority" again (the reasonable, moderate people, regardless of political party). It's called VOTING. We mustn't let the vitriol (and harrassing robocalls) keep us away from the polls. Hurray for you for taking action and for writing about it.

YES! wonderful post, Rachael. And as a former banker of 28 years I will say that it's very likely that we still don't know the half of it. It is quite amazing what can legally be buried in an bank's annual report and Securities and Exchange Commission legal reports (10-K, 10-Q).
Thanks for being bold and brave and heartfelt and articulate.

I am new here. A friend told me I had to come read this post, because I'm a knitting author who has taken that same risk and spoken out on this subject. You wrote it better than I did, and Friedman's article needs to be shouted from the housetops--thank you thank you thank you for writing this.

And I will be back, having just discovered a new blog I quite like.

Way to go!

I'm in the process of moving from BofA to a local bank. It's SO MUCH MORE TROUBLE than I thought it would be, I estimate the entire process has taken about 25 hours of my time so far. But I'm within a week of finally being able to cancel the BofA account, which will make it all worthwhile!

Most excellent post, Rachael, and thanks for the links.

Nope, you won't be losing my readership.

Good luck, Oaklanders! The world is watching.

There was a piece on Marketplace Weekend about changing over your bank accounts that might be worth looking up for some practical concerns. (They suggest making the transition over a few months to prevent things like outstanding checks or deposits from messing things up--and also to make sure that you like your new bank better.)

I've had some good and some bad experiences with credit unions; I've been a member of two. One started charging me inactive fees, so I closed the account. The other refuses to believe that I've moved, which is pushing them up the PITA scale.

Madison, WI stands with you.

I just started the process of switching over from Bank of America to Patelco (unfortunately, I'm unable to do so in one swift move due to the complexities of direct deposit, rent, etc. but the effort is in motion!) and it's been a great thing so far. Patelco is AWESOME.

You amaze and inspire me, yet again.

Rock on, from Wisconsin! Rachel, I LOVE what you have to say and your bravery in stepping outside your comfort zone. Excellent post, I FULLY support you, and of course, we in Madison and Wisconsin know the power and rewards of heading to the streets. Every voice that joins, large or small, moves the effort in the right direction and helps others to speak out and come out. Thank you. What you've done is more powerful than you can imagine.

Your money, your business. Voting with your $$ is the most visible way. Do what you need to!!
Not that it matters, but I also think using the credit union is a fabulous choice. I do support though the idea of doing the transfer gradually, making sure the new is in place before discarding the old.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter-Martin Luther King Jr.

Brava Rachel!

I just wanted to pop in and applaud you for posting. This is a complicated issue and it is always refreshing to see people discuss politics rationally and with respect. Best wishes tomorrow!

Thank you for speaking out for Oakland. The perception is shootings, crime, and drugs. But the truth of Oakland, like the truth of the Occupy movement, is so much more complex.

I've been with Patelco for years and I'm very pleased with them.

I closed my last bank account (a business account at Bank of America) about four weeks ago and all of our accounts are now with credit unions. I'm a huge supporter of CUs and have been with the same one for my personal finances, including my mortgage, for 25 years with never a problem or any bank-style bullshit. Thinking and dreading the account move is worse than it actually is. By next week you'll wonder why you waited so long! ;-)

You rock, and inspire, and bring smiles to the faces of many. Keep on keeping on....

I love this post. Thanks for the comments. If offers a clear picture from your perspective which I respect. I bank at a family owned local bank, who will never sell out to larger banks. We are very lucky in my town.

Good on you. I totally understand the apathy to change say the banking but I guess if more people changed it would make a difference.

Great post Rachael. I've mainly just seen the stories of all the police in our city having to control the crowds of the large Occupy group...and our city are way low on numbers of policeofficers for as big of a city as we have. I like the article in that it does offer a better perpsective has to what is going on. I've had my banking at a credit union for a long time now, but we do have a B of A credit card... I'm thinking I'll transfer that over to a new credit union card.

My dh and I are about to switch from Bank of America too! Guess I really should get rid of my citibank credit card as well...Being good is a lot of work!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

knitting projects

DSCN13632.jpg Email me