Man Bartlett

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#OWS: Seeking Personal Change Over Policy Change

"Chase," photo by the artist,* 2011 

Change… Just that word gives me shivers these days. But the change I’m thinking of here is not a political change, it is a change within myself. My own actions. The awareness of my consumption. And just…awareness. I turned a blind eye for too long. And if you’ve seen my Twitter or Facebook streams recently you’ll know I’m making up for lost time.

Yes, the banks should very much be held accountable for their actions over the past x-number of years. Yet why have I put my trust in them? Honest answer? Because it was convenient.

My first bank account was with Fleet in Boston (later they merged with BoA). I went with them because they were around the corner from my apartment, were giving out free coffee and were actively seducing myself and other college freshmen into opening accounts. And I think they had balloons outside. Balloons are fun. I like balloons. I am a sucker for balloons. Then when I moved to Chicago in 2003 I opened a BankOne account (later they merged with Chase). I went with BankOne because they had the most branches. More was better. When I moved to New York, I was able to keep my accounts. It was easy to justify having a Chase account because there is a Chase ATM or bank almost everywhere in New York. And they offer a lot of services. But at what cost? That’s what I’ve been asking myself quietly since the bank bailout in 2008, slightly louder when I realized that the TARP had no strings attached, and most pronounced since #OccupyWallStreet began.

Over the last few weeks of following the Occupy movement I’ve witnessed a steadily growing number of people who agree. As such, I’ve decided that I will close my Chase accounts and move my money to a local credit union. If you live in New York and have suggestions, I’m open. I will gladly exchange some convenience for peace of mind. 

There is tons more. To follow… 

*Photo taken with an Olympus Pen camera that I got for free from Tumblr/Olympus. I think I’m still supposed to disclose that? I’m part of this project