Back when I was in high school, with Gulf Storm first erupting, I had a taste of political demonstrations and flexing my right to free speech. My high school friends and I enjoyed the comradery of chanting together and literally standing to be noticed, for something that scared us for being so near (some friends that were just a year older were literally fighting in the war). Every day for a week or two, we’d congregate on the lawn of City Hall with signs and join adults who had been protesting for a few hours, staying out until dark. One of the last days of my involvement with these protests, an opposing group began to assemble across the street from us. In my eye, they were disorganized and didn’t get nearly the same attention (perhaps it was my teenage ego getting in the way, a thought that us nearly diploma-ed souls had all of the bright ideas). One night, as darkness fell, they lit a flag on fire, which stirred even more fear in me than I had for a war overseas. The enjoyment of being part of a protest waned, and I made it out to only a few more demonstrations, before I threw in the towel. My own backyard was all of a sudden, a scary place, and I was reminded that I didn’t know everyone in my little hometown.
The recent Occupy movement sparked memories of these protests from 20 years ago. The camps are full of young folks, many full of bright ideas, and people are gathering to enjoy comradery, finding friends with a common goal and empathy for the emotional turbulence of unemployment, being financially wronged, and feeling caught up in an international recession that they are involuntarily part of.
I’m still undecided as to how I feel about all of this. Kudos to Occupy for helping to spread the word about the difference between a for-profit bank and a nonprofit credit union, something any person should know about. That so much of the world didn’t know about this before the movement may be testament to education’s inadequacies at preparing youth for financial independence through personal finance courses (although my high school did an awesome job) or to the 3-decade-old problem with financial responsibility in America (credit card, home loan, and “no interest for x months,” anyone?).
I’ve also thought a lot about that flag burner and what scary stuff can come out of such a big group, when one oddball gets a wild idea. Last week in San Francisco, a small part of the Occupy group managed quite a bit of graffiti, including broken windows. Granted, the actions really had no connection to Occupy’s main message, but when a little voice wants to be heard, some people have learned to go to extremes.
Holly is almost 18 months old, and still relatively nonverbal. When she wants attention, which typically coincides with a time when I am giving something else my attention (like my stove, computer, husband, or son), she’ll grab a large hard object, trot over to a window, look me straight in the eye, and proceed to bang. “bang, Bang, BANG!” The wrapping gets progressively louder, and we all fear for broken glass, and she gets what she wants – attention.
As we all know, protests don’t work this way. In the “grown up” world, we go through an iterative process with negotiations, compromises, and trade-offs, then settle on a decision. When the problem is adequately addressed, the attention-getting behavior ceases. Or, in my case, as a protester, when perspective is gained, behavior changes.
This is something I dream of, for Holly. When she applies her attention-getting routine when I am trying to make dinner, I wish she would realize that it’s in her best interest to let me cook, so everyone can eat.
Coming out on hikes is helpful, luckily. Firstly, being outside is interesting, and there is new perspective about safety versus hazards, and who/what gets attention. Being out on a Stroller Hike is insightful too – communication with others is important, just as is sharing and responding to the cues of the group. We never charge any money, so you won’t have to worry about any 1% or 99% factions in the group – the closest thing we get to in terms of protests is about where and when to take breaks.
This week we venture for our 5th Annual Turkey Toddler Trek up the hills at Fremont Older, in Saratoga. We’ll hike in the cool morning over rolling hills, getting to a wonderful lookout over Cupertino, where we can see as far East as Fremont. I look forward to wearing the kids out a little, so I can cook my turkey in peace, without the percussionistic “bang” from Holly. Audrey is offering a family hike in San Jose on Saturday, as well, which is sure to be a highlight if you are looking for a free activity with extended family. Don’t fear if your family is sure to keep you busy from Thursday to Sunday or you plan to occupy your sofa to watch football – Pippa has resumed her naptime hikes, and Andrea has resumed hike leadership with a Toddler Trek at Ed Levin. Paired with our usual runs, hikes, and more (for an event every day this week, except Friday and Sunday), Stroller Hikes can help you get some exercise to offset that extra portion of pie or extra cups of cider or eggnog over the long holiday weekend.
-Debbie (President and Founder of Stroller Hikes), Max, and little Holly
p.s. Look forward to seeing Homestead High School’s Marching Band (Sunnyvale) performing at the annual, televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, if you do watch TV events this long weekend! This is a tremendous honor to attend the traditional East Coast event. Go Mustangs!