Back in the late 1960s, I was a budding photojournalist and student at Boston University. Little did I know when I was a freshman in 1965 that the whole world as we knew it was going to change in a few years’ time. I turned on, tuned in and dropped out. And I found the cultural revolution a fascinating palette for my expanding vision of the world. I went to see the Grateful Dead giving a free concert to support the student strike of 1970 at MIT and to a May Day celebration at a hippie commune in Vermont. I went to hear Martin Luther King speak and broke down and sobbed. Many of my photographs from that era appear in my books and on my gallery walls.

There were many more eras to photograph: the end of the Viet Nam War, the first Earth Day, the women’s rights movement coming into its own, among others. And as the counterculture movement faded, I moved to the Vineyard, where I learned to love photographing the Island’s natural beauty in all its manifestations. My interest in rock photography turned to reggae music. Hippies became yuppies. Social injustices were swept under the rug. Things were okay. We seemed to be living the American dream, as best we could.

Over the past month or so, I have been traveling all over the East Coast to photograph and record the Occupy movement, and in many ways I’m finding it’s like the sixties all over again. I have dusted off my photojournalistic lens, traveled to New York three times, Richmond, Va. twice and made short stops in Baltimore, Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla. By chance I heard Noam Chomsky speak on the Occupy Boston stage a month ago. And while I like the idea of a leaderless organization, I think it must become more centralized with a specific agenda.

If nothing else, hopefully the election next fall will bring about significant change. The polarization of our two parties has never seemed more toxic. As Dylan once sang:

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’

As we spend this weekend giving thanks and praise, mine goes to the people of the Occupy movement who are sacrificing their time and creature comforts to try to correct a growing problem that if left unchecked will put an end to the American dream as we know it. If nothing else, I hope I’ll be around to photograph it.

Additional protest photos can be seen at petersimon.com .