This week, 100,000 people nationwide will be trained in non-violent action through The 99 Percent spring movement.
Saturday, about 30 local residents joined when the movement came to Mount Pleasant.
Andrew Blom, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, is one of the organizers who volunteered to lead the training on his own initiative.
“We saw a movement that spoke to the struggles that all of us in the community face and we wanted to be a part of it,” he said.
The free training, which lasted about seven hours, was held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Michigan, 319 S. University Ave.
It drew people ranging in age from college students to senior citizens. They came to the event for different reasons, challenged by issues with housing, education, debt, health care, job loss, inequality, homophobia and sexism.
After hearing the presentation, attendees formed small groups and shared their stories with each other to bond as a community and find what they had in common.
The movement, which has more than 60 sponsors, also includes a six-week period of local action.
At the end of the training, the group made several plans for local action. One of its campaigns is the rising level of debt students must acquire in order to get a decent education and job opportunities.
“This makes young people more and more vulnerable at the very beginning of their adult lives to the struggles that confront all of us in the 99 percent, such as the dire costs of unemployment and underemployment and the inability to acquire good credit,” Blom said.
Blaine Stevenson, associate sociology professor, also helped organize the event.
He has traveled with his students to demonstrations such as “Occupy Wall Street,” and to protest the charges against Bradley Manning. He said the event was beneficial to bring the community together.
“People are feeling isolated,” he said. “Sharing stories helps.”
For faculty and personnel services secretary Caral Turner, workers’ rights were her biggest concern. Two years ago, her husband, Ron, died of a rare cancer after working for a construction company. He was not even 60 years old.
He received no workers compensation and she did not qualify for assistance after losing half of her household income.
Turner said the main reason she attended the training was to bring information back to her fellow members of the UAW, the union for office professionals at CMU.
“Our country is in crisis and that’s not going to change unless we step up and fight back together,” Blom said.
More information about the movement is available at the99spring.com.
Community members and students can still join the movement by contacting Blom.