Five years ago, Micah White, now 34, made headlines for his role as an organizer of Occupy Wall Street, a protest movement that spread to 82 countries. Four years ago, White moved to the Tillamook County hamlet of Nehalem (population 280). He's got a new book out (The End of Protest), and he is running for mayor, a volunteer position.
Here's what you need to know about White:
1. He considers the Occupy movement a "constructive failure." The movement made a lot of noise but didn't change anything. "We failed to change the way power functions or to get money out of politics," he says. "We failed on all fronts."
2. He's now convinced that politics is the answer. He's not affiliated with a party and says he doesn't want to be a politician, but he does want to get elected. "If you want to make change, you have to win wars or win elections," White says. "Wars don't work, as you see in Libya or Syria."
3. Nehelam is a microcosm of the larger world. His goal is to make the five-member city council responsive to citizens—and to update the town's comprehensive plan. "Because it's so small-scale, the problems that seem insoluble elsewhere can be solved here," he says. "We can make Nehalem the best place in the world."
4. Opponents tried to brand him a Satanist. This fall, a parent at a Nehalem-area school announced plans to start an after-school Satanist club. Entrenched interests tried to blame White. "People are saying I'm affiliated with that," he says. "They are just making stuff up."
5. He's gone fishing once in Nehalem Bay, but he didn't catch anything. After Occupy failed, White and his wife decided to move to "the most beautiful place" they'd ever been. "When it starts to rain and the mushrooms start coming up, it feels really magical. It's like America was 50 years ago, before we took a wrong turn."