By Jason Houge

It seems news of the Occupy movement and other protests air on networks every night. I felt it necessary to add images to the conversation more or less for my own sake. In my 32 years, I have survived excessive poverty as well as enjoyed a decent middle class lifestyle. I have worked jobs that varied from a postal worker to burger flipper, Ford lot attendant to winery tour guide. Now, I am again experiencing times that mirror my teenage years when working for a low wage was good enough. However, as a college graduate and a person of my age making $1.40 more per hour than the minimum wage, my paycheck evaporates too quickly to cover all of my expenses. As a person interested in preserving the experience of this current time, I went to the protests in Madison, Wisconsin and later to Chicago when the Occupy movement took hold. The messages I heard in both places resonate personally with me. During the time I spent in Madison, I photographed children protesting with their parents. It’s obvious in some instances these children would rather be somewhere else. Not unlike their parents, I’m sure, who would rather their fellow American be just decent enough to leave their jobs alone. I am seeing for the first time what democracy is about. I believe the children in Madison also had an invaluable experience in this as well. The increase of civilian participation in our country’s democracy has been a motivating factor to continue my work in these situations as they come to be.

 

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