Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Community Investing

I was proud to participate in Bank Transfer Day and I know I am not alone. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced that between the end of September and beginning of November, $4.5 billion dollars were deposited in new accounts in the credit unions.

650,000 people moved their money into credit unions during this time and as the late Senator Everett Dirksen said: “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

There is a vital lesson here: we can control what we do with our money, and our money can have an effect when we band together. 99% of the population is a lot of people – over 300 million to be sure. This action remains for me the most exciting chapter in the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement and should stand as a model for how we can change the economic environment.

I want to share with you a user-friendly guide to community investing that has been put together by my friends over at the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the Jewish Funds for Social Justice.

I have not been moved to close more ports or participate in endless demonstrations. I have visited Occupy sites in the Bay Area, but not felt a part of what was happening. This is who I am, not a criticism of those participating. But actions such as Bank Transfer Day have been a very powerful experience. I am not sure how far the movement can go in an election year. We need to focus on ensuring that the candidates from the party that most represents our values.

They should receive 99% of our votes – a game changer.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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