Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beat the Bank!

On Sunday, after a journalism workshop with a bad-ass writer/mother/former editor of Mother Jones, I decided to take the Embarcadero to the Golden Gate Bridge. Big mistake. San Francisco was seething with people on that lovely sunshine day. I literally sat at a stop-light, not moving, and watched it go through SEVEN cycles of red to green. An old man thumped my bumper with his Mercedes. Someone's 50 Cent drowned out my Nick Drake. I blamed the whole thing on Fleet Week (sailors? ships? who cares?) until I realized, after finally reaching the bridge AN HOUR LATER, that it might also have to do with the Occupy SF movement.

Which made it all seem better somehow: a noble suffering. After all, what's the inconvenience of a traffic jam compared to having the bank foreclose on your home? I used to lead the bullhorn at protests, my righteous anger sweating out of my pores. Now my anger has given way to a muted disillusionment, a tragic cynicism that makes me seriously consider never voting in a Presidential election again.

But the beauty of this current movement is that we don't even need a bullhorn to be heard. All of us who have money in the big banks have power. Imagine what would happen if we all decided to put our money in credit unions, to infuse our LOCAL economies with the hard-won fruits of our labor?

M and I opened a shared account at Bank of America because it was easy, he already banked there, and they were willing to cash the savings bonds my dad gifted me for our wedding. Convenient? Yes. Ethical? I don't think so. We're pulling out of there ASAP, moving all of our banking to the Redwood Credit Union. Because there are some things that matter more than nation-wide access to ATMs and savings bonds, because somehow we've got to believe that people like us can still make a difference.

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