Occupy The Gorge breaks camp

November 12, 2011

The first "Occupy the Gorge" movement camp-out was scheduled to come to a close Friday with a clean-up gathering at the Mosier event site where numerous tents had filled an open lot along the main street of town. However, the group is far from finished in their work.

According to Corie Lahr, Mosier resident and event organizer, the "Occupy the Gorge - Mosier" event attracted the attention of regional and national media to the results of financial debacles on Wall Street within rural areas.

"Rural communities have been hit harder than anyone by the policies the 'Occupy' movement has formed to fight," said Lahr, in an online article recently featured on the national "Occupy Wall Street" website.

According to Lahr, one additional "action" is planned for the group.

On Saturday from 3-4 p.m., an organized rally against the proposed 30,000-square-foot Walmart expansion is planned for the entrance to Hood River's City Hall.

Entitled "You are Not Above the Law," the rally seeks to encourage the city to oppose the expansion.

When asked how this opposition coincides with the "Occupy" message, Lahr said, "We want to keep people's voices alive in the Gorge and stop abuses by corporate entities.

"Walmart is one of the largest corporations in the world. We don't think this expansion fits with a vision for localized economies. Why should we allow Walmart to avoid local zoning laws ... do something illegal? This is a corporation whose profits do not even return to our community."

Through a coordinated outreach effort to meet the Nov. 8 deadline, "Occupy the Gorge" succeeded in adding 25 signatures from local residents to letters submitted to the city planning commission, expressing opposition to the proposed expansion.

"We have the possibility, as a small community, to create sustainable local economies and good jobs," said Lahr.

"We have a lot of employed folks with "Occupy the Gorge" who are just having difficulty making ends meet. When people say 'just get a job,' I say, what jobs?

"Rejecting low-wage job employers, and interests of businesses who want to export our jobs overseas, is critical," she said. "We want to keep good jobs here and we are taking action to support that."

According to Lahr, allowing Walmart to expand its grocery department is also a concern for local jobs.

"It will hurt our farmers markets, our farm stands, ... Rosauers and Safeway, who will be at a disadvantage trying to compete against their buying power and overseas product imports ... Both local grocery stores pay better wages and benefits."

By way of additional political action, the group posted a handwritten whiteboard signed with 35 "Occupy" signatures on site in Mosier. The group challenged Senator Ron Wyden (D - Ore.) with the following request:

"We strongly urge you to join Senator Merkley in opposing the Supreme Court ruling that grants corporate entities the rights of persons. Encourage legislative change to restore the power to the citizenry - and out of the hands of corporations."

Small communities around the country appeared to resonate with the Mosier residents' concerns, courtesy of an effective "Occupy Wall Street" web-post.

As far away as Gambier, Ohio (pop. 1,871) signs in support of the "Occupy Mosier" action could be seen posted along the small mid-western town's streets.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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