Most media attention has focused on the noisy, boisterous Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in American’s biggest cities. But some of the most powerful statements about corporate greed and the government’s refusal to curtail it are made in much smaller towns.
Diane McEachern is an assistant professor in the rural human service program at the University of Alaska’s Kuskokwim Campus. She lives in Bethel, Alaska — a town of only 6,400 — but knew that she had to find a way to bring the message of Occupy Wall Street home for her friends and neighbors.
McEachern started by sharing a picture of herself (above) holding an Occupy Wall Street sign in the middle of the Alaskan tundra. She posted it on the Occupy Wall Street Facebook page with the caption, “I am a woman. The dogs are rescues. The tundra is outside of Bethel, Alaska. The day is chill. The sentiment is solid. Find your spot. Occupy it. Even if it is only your own mind.”
Since posting it on Facebook, McEachern’s picture has gone viral, sparking stories in Reuters, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News and countless other websites.
The foreclosure crisis may not have hit bush Alaska in a huge way, but people in Bethel are paying $6.87 a gallon for gasoline, McEachern told the LA Times. Stove oil prices for heating homes are equally unaffordable. Cuts in social services to rural villages are pending.
“And right now, they’re proposing here the largest gold mine in human history, the Pebble Mine, that’s going to do catastrophic damage to the environment and the native community, in the premier wild salmon habitat in the world,” she said. “So I’m not well-versed on the larger economic system, but I can relate to the idea of corporate wealth being lopsidedly in the hands of so few, when so many are struggling.”
Occupy The Tundra now has it’s own Facebook page with over 175 fans, and the tiny occupation in Bethel, Alaska, has grown from one woman to a small group of sympathetic Alaskans determined to make their voice heard as members of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
As winter begins to cover the hundreds of Occupations around the country with a blanket of cold and snow, just think about this tiny but determined group up in Alaska…and stand strong. We are in this together!
Image Credit: Diane McEachern/Occupy The Tundra