The Other Side of Occupy

The Occupy Movement was one of the defining news stories of late 2011; however, much of the hope and meaning behind its original vision was lost in growing apathy, divisiveness of purpose, intrusion by other agendas and, in the case of Canada, the arrival of winter.  As the New Year brought both hopeful and harrowing new stories to the media, the Occupy Movement lost its front-page appeal; however, the principles behind the movement remain significant to Olds, Alberta.

Residents and government leaders in the town were touched by the worldwide gatherings and protests advocating for economic and political structures that nurtured a fair and equitable society.  At the same time, they realized that the focus of the Occupy Movement has been holding a magnifying glass to social and economic problems without offering solutions.  Olds decided it was time to explore the concept of citizen-driven engagement based on the same vision the Occupy Movement holds, yet entirely focused on solutions. For the residents of Olds, this is the Other Side of Occupy.

The community has chosen April 14 as the day it will Occupy Olds and explore answers to existing challenges the community identifies through discussion and sharing ideas.  The unique thing about Olds’ Other Side of Occupy is that the local government and other community institutions are championing the public’s effort. According to Norm McInnis, the Chief Administrative Officer of Olds, “The Occupy Movement started as a noble cause, but degenerated into groups occupying public spaces and fighting with enforcement agencies about their right to be in those public spaces. We want to use Occupy’s imagery to suggest that we need to occupy our own public spaces in Olds… not to try and get rid of things that we do not want but rather create the community that we do want.”

Olds, a rural, agricultural community of 8200, is located an hour north of Calgary.   Olds has a rich history of both community involvement and sustainability which culminated in the creation of the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development in 2001. The Olds Institute is a partnership between the local government, the Olds College, the Agricultural Society and the Chamber of Commerce.  In one decade, it has grown into a community-driven force for social, economic, environmental, cultural and governance sustainability.

With over 130 community volunteers directly engaged in initiatives like physician attraction, technology adoption and heritage management, the citizens of Olds embrace opportunities like the Other Side of Occupy. “I think this is important because it’s truly a work of the community,” says Lesley Winfield, library manager and volunteer for the Olds Advisory Group for Sustainable Living. “Unlike traditional forms of planning where there is a top down approach, a huge part of the community is involved in creating visions for the future. This makes it exciting and real to the everyday person.”

“The movement is about coming together locally to discuss local issues and find local solutions,” adds McInnis.  “In many ways, it is like the Occupy Movement in that it is turning away from global solutions that do not include the same values that local solutions require for dealing with systemic local issues and opportunities.”

The Other Side of Occupy takes place in Olds on April 14, 2012 at the Commons at Olds High School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information can be found by clicking here.

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Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton4 years ago


Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

It's not perfect, but it's the greatest reason for hope these days.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

1 May!

Kiana S.
Kiana S5 years ago

That's great! It would nice if this idea spread to more communities :)

Jean W.
Jean Wall5 years ago

(Continued) Face it folks, our government has become corrupted. We have elections, but the election process is diseased with the money of narrow interests, voter suppression is being actively employed, the people we do elect we don't necessarily trust(congressional approval is at its lowest ever) and elements of the media are engaging in an active disinformation/distortion campaigns (I actually have cable T>V> for the first time in my life and I am appalled at the manipulation of public discourse and the promotion of erroneous ideas about the structures and functions of government, the "sins of omission" in the examination of topics and the clear effort to generate more heat than light .) In the face of this, it would be a shame for Occupy to miss it's calling because of naive idealism and assuming that coalescing leadership will equal a"cult of personality" .
I can't recall who I'm quoting here, but some bright child said " i can't give you the recipe for success, but I can give you the recipe for failure and that is to try to please everybody." Establishing leadership may initially alienate some Occupiers, but it will ultimately mean the difference between being a movement that effects change or being a quixotic blip on the screen of American history.

Jean W.
Jean Wall5 years ago

it was always a given that winter would have an impact on the Occupy movement.The spring will bring a resurgence too. Occupy has its issues, because it is so broad based and has flatly refused to create a set leadership structure it has perhaps limited itself. The agenda of the Occupy movement was determined by the malfeasant behavior of the financial industry and the corruption of gvt.While it's noble and idealistic to do the "bottom up" thing of seeking group concensus , it is not the model of effective movements of this sort. While there was originally a single driving purpose, the construct became a "come one , come all " Big Tent situation where far flung agendas with little support (or even reasoned foundations) could hijack Occupy to give the appearance of more support for their agenda than factually existed.
There needs to be a clear mission statement and ground rules it WILL draw supporters and dissuade the fringies.The spell has been broken, Toto has pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz .

Chad A.
Chad Anderson5 years ago

The name occupy is something of a misnomer as such a big part of it is really about rebuilding out fractured communities.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Since the FBI infiltrated Occupy as a possible terrorist movement anything is possible.

Hilary S.
Hilary S5 years ago

i agree that the movement was hijacked by movements wit other agenda - how is it possible these days to keep a purpose clear?

Krystyna H.
Krystyna H5 years ago

All the best luck to you!