Anyone else follow the story out in Brooklyn on the Occupy Wall Street folks who took over a home foreclosed by Bank of America three years ago and basically handed it over to a homeless family? Wow, it just hits so many chords in every direction. Now I know many people across the country are split on this whole Occupy Everything movement. Part me thinks there’s nothing more American than people assembling for a cause. Hey, that’s basically how we became our own nation, right? At the same time, it also doesn’t take too much to go overboard.
These activists marched around the neighborhood with balloons, brass bands, vuvuzelas and all on the glorious day of the actual occupation. Yes, vuvuzelas, those annoying horns from the World Cup that apparently haven’t realized that they, too, are only welcome once every four years. The police gave them the necessary escort but didn’t escalate the situation by preventing access to the home that Bank of America still legally owns.
“Foreclose on banks, not people!”
The basic premise behind these “liberators”, as they are apparently calling themselves, is that they consider the foreclosure of the house itself to be illegal. “Foreclose on banks, not people!”, read their signs, and in light of the many allegations against the big banks over the past couple of years, it’s hard to find fault with that argument. No one is giving the banks a free pass here at all.
However, does that mean that we all just rise up and take over abandoned properties in our own neighborhoods and start sticking our homeless in them? No doubt we have a homeless problem here in Hawaii. From park closures to scheduled maintenance and cleanup, the homeless are getting shuffled around the islands like a bad Christmas present at a party. But it seems rather illegal as well to storm vacant properties and call them our own. You do it once, you get attention from local and national media for your housing cause. You do it again and again and inevitably the legal owner or police will get involved, especially when a homeless person is injured in one of these unsafe properties and sues the state.
How will it end?
No one would want to be homeless in a New York winter (or anywhere, of course), and on the surface it honestly is a shame that there are vacant properties that could at least provide shelter to people who need it. It’s also heartening to see a community come together so strongly for a cause they believe in. I just wonder how this is going to end — because it has to come to an end in some fashion. This family will not be living there illegally for the next ten years. Love BOA or hate BOA, but they won’t turn a blind eye forever.
What would happen if that same scene played out here in Hawaii? Should we occupy a foreclosed home in Kalihi? Kahului? Kona? Would the community support it or would they squash it before it got started? How do you feel about what’s transpired in Brooklyn? Are you all for it or have the “activists” gone too far?
Ok, I promised something a little extra. I was recently introduced to a woman that has a very fascinating business. Lisa Simon is a Personal Historian. She interviews older people about their lives, captures it on video and then creates a DVD as a historical memento for the person’s family. How neat is that?? She’s seen people do this before in her previous home in Chicago but found that most people, while having the best of intentions, never got around to doing it until the opportunity was gone. Lisa is also a member of the Association of Personal Historians. You can learn all about her very unique service at: http://www.remember-media.com/.