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Occupy Wall Street With Attitude

CSRwire CEO Joe Sibilia reflects on his experience at the Occupy Wall Street protest in NYC

Submitted by: Joe Sibilia

Posted: Oct 16, 2011 – 10:00 PM EST

Tags: occupy wall st, ows, activism, csr, energy, sustainability


By Joe Siblia

Wall Street needs to change its attitude. It’s not about the money. It’s about the human condition. It’s not about how much you have. It’s about how you get it. It’s not about who has more. It’s about how more can have.

If Wall Street changes, capitalism will be forced to change its attitude. It will no longer be acceptable to consider maximizing returns to shareholders as the only arbiter of value. It will be a new economy.

The forces of change are around us. A new economy is being innovated. Technological advances are like an underground economy operating in full view. Companies cannot hide. And, transparency will be rewarded.

And this begs the questions, how much do we really need? The statistics are staggering. The United States has income inequality equal or greater than Tunisia and Egypt – look what happened there. The disparity is getting so great that people are demonstrating in the streets, all over America and the globe. Invocations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi – peaceful non-violent revolution – are no longer a whisper, it’s a shout. Non-cooperation will come next.

At the demonstration there was a mixture of drumbeats, beatniks, some beat down, others up beat and many, many photos. Cameras, film crews, cell phones, kids, dogs, food carts, carpets, canopies—all there without crime. Older people were talking with younger people. Signs were everywhere. There was free food – self-organization, self-sufficiency. One 20-year-old protestor told me he had been eating better here than at home. 

No megaphones were allowed. Someone yelled and others repeated. Hand signals were used to support a point of view or object to another. Whatever the message, it got delivered, with respect.

Later that evening FOX News cameramen have told me every time they visit, they are shouted at with force – “FOX Lies.” It was the only time I saw tightened teeth, clenched lips, frowned foreheads – FOX News was the least popular media outlet covering the protests. It saddened me to see this glimpse of anger in an otherwise positive environment.

At the protests, I learned there is a general assembly that convenes each night at seven o’clock and is widely attended. While police surrounded the park and the sunset shifted the atmosphere, the lights went up and the volume changed. Whistles blew, the energy heightened, much like a festival, like Burning Man. The scent of lavender filled the air and Sikh meditation and chants brought smiles, hugs, dancing and feelings of optimism.

Slowly the crowd began to settle in for the night. The volume descended, the cops relaxed, snoring replaced shouting, passer-bys pointed and continued on their way. Occupiers rest for another protest. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not a simple sound bite or quarterly earnings report. It’s a deeply-rooted movement no longer willing to be cut down and ignored. The CSR/sustainability movement has come of age and it’s the ageless ideal of equality for all that will sustain the movement. We’re in for a great ride—fasten up. 

About Joe Sibilia

As a visionary of the socially responsible business movement, Joe Sibilia is the founder of Meadowbrook Lane Capital (MBLC), described by the Wall Street Journal as a “socially responsible investment bank” specializing in turning values into valuation.

He is also CEO of CSRwire, the social responsibility newswire service that distributes and archives corporate social responsibility/sustainability news to journalists, analysts, investors, activists, academics, public relations and investor relations professionals worldwide.

Joe also founded the Gasoline Alley Foundation, a 501(c) 3 corporation that has incubated 43 small businesses since 1985 and teaches inner city and/or underprivileged persons to be successful entrepreneurs using socially responsible/sustainable business practices while revitalizing inner city neighborhoods.

Through MLBC, Joe has worked with a number of socially responsible companies and has been widely recognized for his work in attempting to take Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream private, while creating a private stock exchange for CSR companies. MBLC successfully preserved many of its founders’ social initiatives and advanced the connection between good corporate citizenship and increased share value.

His long-range plan for CSRwire is to establish a “platform for innovative revenue sharing applications advancing the ‘Sustainability Movement’ towards a more economically just and environmentally sustainable society and away from single bottom line capitalism.” 

Joe and David Mager recently co-authored Street Smart Sustainability: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Profitably Greening Your Organization's DNA as part of the Social Venture Network Series published by Berrett-Koehler. 

This commentary is written by a valued member of the CSRwire contributing writers' community and expresses this author's views alone.

Readers: Is ‘Occupy’ an extension of the CSR/sustainability movement? Weigh in on Talkback!

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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