Occupy My Story/Occu-Evolve: Discussion With Bill Johnsen
Bill Johnsen is a Vietnam vet, longtime peace and justice activist, lifetime Staten Islander and was among the very first and key organizers at Occupy Wall Street. He currently leads Occu-Evolve in Staten Island. For many years, Bill has been taking a yearly “Walk for Democracy and Justice.” He sets out to walk 240 miles around Staten Island in increments of as many as ten miles at a time, stopping along the way to engage Staten Islanders in issues that are close to their hearts.
According to Bill : “Foreclosure, homelessness, jobs, family, love are all very poignant words,” Johnsen says. They represent the sentiment and passion that he aims to project to the Staten Island community. “Apathy is in control of our community here on Staten Island. People are extremely reserved on what they are willing to discuss,” he says. But he adds: ‘that if he were to become discouraged, he would be failing at what he’s doing.’ He wants to encourage people to see the possibilities around them, to take a greater, more involved role in community groups and other organizations so that they might share their knowledge and insights.
He further states ”There is a wide ranging spectrum of ideas and possibilities that, hopefully, I and Occu-Evolve can help open up for people.”His particular outreach and organizing tactic is his: Walk for Democracy and Justice.” From his days as an activist as a Vietnam Veteran against War he learned early that people are always intrigued by the idea of demonstrating in the form of walking, because he stats ‘they can see the commitment in the sheer fact of physical exertion and are inspired by it’. His unique voice, life experiences and firm but thought speaking abilities and presentations are his ways is to inspire, motivate, and not antagonize.
He recently concluded the final leg of this year’s “Walk for Democracy and Justice” celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.Come hear this great man and veteran activist share his inspiring and courageous story.