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On Your Mark, Get Set: Occu-pie Everywhere

2011 November 21

By Kara RotaA-march-viewed-from-my-office-windowNew York, NY – Here in New York, something is happening. Whether we talk about it openly after work, read upto-the-minute updates on ThinkProgress as we sit at our desk jobs, or spend our days facing the imminent consequence of plastic handcuffs, our minds are occupied with the protests and direct action taking place around the country. In the 1960s and early 70s, the phrase “the personal is political” became widespread in feminist discourse. It was used to engender awareness of the ways in which the private and public spheres are inevitably enmeshed, that the “ordinariness” of daily life happens in a wider social and cultural context, that choices about “the self” and “the movement” are difficult and fraught, connected and disconnected in complicated and important ways.

I’ve been thinking about this phrase lately, this week especially. When I saw my first-year college roommate’s name at the top of the restraining order filed in the NY Supreme Court last week against the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg, I was jarred and delighted and deeply proud to know her, to have gone to a college that produces citizens so passionate, determined and brave. Sitting at my desk at a job I truly love, which happens to be in Tribeca, on Chambers Street, where I can hear the protests daily, I felt uneasy. When my kids ask me, years from now, where I was when people got so angry they took to the streets, what will I have to tell them?

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I am angry, too. I am angry about farming subsidies and education de-funding and anthropogenic climate change and the jobs bill. I’m angry that I live in a place where a man who wants to run for president can derisively refer to an elected official as a “princess” in the same breath as he halfheartedly and unapologetically responds to accusations of sexual harassment. I’m angry that I live in fear of how male lawmakers can decide to use my rights over my body for political gain. I’m angry about food waste and child slavery and Congress deciding that pizza is a vegetable. And I’m guilty of making choices that are easy, so much of the time, instead of choices that are hard.

As the second installation of my mom’s and my inter-generational presentation of raw and vegan Thanksgiving desserts, I’ll be making a vegan sweet potato pie, inspired by Amri’s Kale and Butternut Squash Phyllo Pie and the Raw Sweet Potato Parfait with Cashew Cream that my mom and I made last week.  I’m lucky enough to live just across the street from the 79th Street Greenmarket on Columbus Avenue, right in front of the gorgeous Museum of Natural History. I can get in-season sweet potatoes there, as well as locally produced tofu. Cooking one meal from local ingredients is such a small thing, when people I know and people I don’t know are making such sacrifices, risking so much, fighting such hard battles all of the time. It’s a small thing, and humbling. But it’s something I can do. Where were you? I imagine my daughter asking me. I don’t know, I’ll say. I was angry too. I was proud of everyone there. I sat at my desk and listened to them calling. I baked a lot of pies that autumn. 

Kara Rota is the editor of Cookstr and blogs on ingestibles, but much too sporadically, which she feels guilty about as well.