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Occupy Wall Street and the Environment: A Closer Look at Occupy Melbourne

March 7, 2012

Join us as Human Impacts Institute’s representatives explore the ongoing evolution of the Occupy movement and the connections between the 99%, the health of our communities, and environmental well-being. Over the next few weeks, Human Impacts Institute representatives and other MobilizeUS! Campaign partners will be exploring participants’ in the Occupy Movement opinions on “What is My Vision for a Green Economy”, as well as sustainable practices at Occupy, our progress there, involvement of other environmental groups, and more.  

Occupy Melbourne (OM) has demonstrated remarkable resilience since the eviction of its first encampment which thrived for six days in October 2011. They have have since struggled through a period of testing out new strategies to regain the energy. During more stationary times, a Renewable Energy working group organized to provide the site with sustainable energy options. In spite of challenges, Occupiers continue to innovate for sustainability including an example from Occupy Sydney where they workeds to construct D.I.Y.wind turbines from discarded washing machines.  As stated by Occupy Wall Street’s Sustainability working group: “It is not through oppression, but through innovation that will enable us to create positive change in this world.”

 

Occupy Melbourne has slowly but surely been reclaiming its collective voice. In addition to overcoming the challenge of breaking through to the general public about economic or environmental injustice.    Many Australians point to their comparatively decent social services or Human Development rankings as affirmation that everything is fine in the country. Yet this is non-reflective of the existing sociopolitical and economic issues, human rights violations of refugees seeking asylum and Aboriginal people, or the many environmental issues facing the country, including devastating droughts, depleted ozone, water shortages, and fires.

 

OM brought some attention to CSG mining in January by screening Gasland in City Square so that it was visible to all those passing by on foot or tram. The upcoming Gasland 2 is expected to further increase awareness of Australia’s dangerous gas industry. OM and all of the nation is encouraged to tap into its people power to stop CSG mining, in solidarity alongside the continued anti-fracking fight of OWS in New York State.

 

Much of OM’s progress in 2012 thus far may be credited to the innovative tactic of Occupy Friday. This weekly gathering takes place in City Square, the original encampment site in Melbourne’s central business district. Occupy Wall Street has since adapted a similar strategy of Occupy Town Square.  Overall, the unique relationship interlinking Australia’s indigenous, environmental, and economic issues are a growing thread for the Occupy Melbourne movement.

 

By Melanie Sluyter, 2012 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern

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