February 5, 2012

An Overnight with the Occupy Tampa Encampment

After many days occupying the sidewalk, Occupy Tampa was finally occupying a park in West Tampa. Voice of Freedom Park is a private park in a very public spot with both running water and electricity. It is owned by Joe Redner, a man of many public images. Occupy Tampa participants had informed me that he is both a strip-club king and a first amendment activist. As a donor to Occupy Tampa, I'd say that paints a picture of a very colorful man. Speaking of color, all sidewalks into the Occupy Tampa encampment were decorated with chalk-colored political statements. After figuring out where to camp, exploring the various activities that participants were engaging in, checking out the library and the media tent, attending the General Assemply, and interviewing the dinner cook, I settled in with the weekly Thursday night Educational Discussion Group. This week, the group had read The Precipice of Debt written by Brett Williams from the compilation, New Landscapes of Inequality: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democracy in America, published by the School for Advanced Research Press. The focus of their discussion was payday loans. They explored the many layers of our financial system that impact and are impacted by these loans, threw in some history from David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and added personal experiences, insights, and humor to the mix.

The video above shows snippets from their discussion. Their analysis of the complex world of credit and debt truly increased their collective knowledge on the subject.

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