Three new potent Occupy Together resources

Three new exciting resources have just showed up.

1. OccupyCafe.org – a linked phone and online forum space for conversations among everyone “who cares about what is happening on Wall Street and around the world.” Its phone mode uses the advanced MaestroConferencing system that enables activities like breakout groups and hand-raising. Topic conversations begun on the phone can be continued in the online forum, and vice versa. The first phone call is Monday morning. See details below.

2. Organizational consultants study grassroots activist communities – This article didn’t exist online, so I got a blurry scanned copy from one of the co-authors and typed it up over a couple of days so I could post it and send it to you. The next day the other co-author posted a clear pdf online, so that’s what you get below. I think it is applicable and potentially useful to the Occupy movement.

3. Some very clear advice from nonviolent activist Sharif Abdullah of Commonway in Portland Oregon. Sharif’s the fellow who spread the phrase “create a world that works for all” into movement circles. Taking lessons from Gandhi, King, Argentinian activists, and his own work in Sri Lanka, he offers guidelines to help the folks in the Occupy Together movement sustain their transformational impact.

Bit by bit, action by action, conversation by conversation, we develop the collective knowledge we need to make a world that works for all…

Coheartedly,
Tom

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1. OCCUPY CAFE

With the generous sponsorship of the Co-Intelligence Institute and MaestroConference, a small group of colleagues and I are launching Occupy Cafe
http://www.OccupyCafe.org. You are all invited! Our “grand opening” is this Monday, 10/24 from 11am-2pm Eastern, via your phone. Please use this link to register.
http://myaccount.maestroconference.com/conference/register/QGE64BZNGH8ITQ5Y

And please consider forwarding this invitation to anyone you know who cares about what is happening on Wall Street and around the world. You can also follow us on Twitter via @OccupyCafe.

What is Occupy Cafe? It’s “a virtual open space for global conversation” inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement. It exists both on the phone and online, with a face-to-face presence possible down the road. We will host a regular series of MaestroConference calls, beginning with three consecutive Mondays at the time above. The schedule is also posted and updated at http://www.OccupyCafe.org. You can join for part or all of a “Cafe Call.” Coming at the top of the hour is recommended.

Our goal is to have the synchronous space (i.e. MaestroConference calls) be open twenty, forty or even eighty hours per week, based on demand and our ability to develop hosting capacity. If you are interested in hosting conversation and/or assisting in “driving” the calls on MaestroConference, please let me know at ben@occupycafe.org.

In addition to our Cafe Calls, we have our OccupyCafe.org Ning site where the conversation can continue, topics for calls can be suggested, and with any luck, some social fabric will be woven. The conversation is already getting started there with the question “What is the #Occupy movement to you and why do you care?”
http://www.occupycafe.org/forum/topics/what-is-the-occupy-movement-to-you-and-why-do-you-care

The format for our calls will incorporate “conversation starters” at the top of each hour, offering ~10 minute stories from the movement. This is followed by a choice of a hosted large group conversation with the conversation starter in the “main room” or small group dialogue in the “Topic Tables” area. The latter is a sort of “world café meets open space” zone. We will focus initially on a set of “Core Conversations” our host team establishes. Eventually we hope to incorporate on-the-fly participant-generated topics as well. You can suggest a Core Conversation here. http://www.occupycafe.org/forum/topics/what-core-conversations-would-you-like-occupy-cafe-to-host

We’re inventing this as we go, so please come co-create with us! In particular, I am interested in thoughts on how to make sure Occupy Cafe:

–Is a heart-centered space
–Is welcoming to all
–Is especially valued by Occupiers on the ground
–Inspires iterative conversation flowing back and forth between the synchronous and asynchronous modes, fed by the energy that is being released on the ground
–Supports harvesting and synthesizing that allows us to successfully make meaning
–Builds community that might lead to some form of “virtual Occupy gathering.”

We are convening a circle of “Friends of the Cafe” where process conversation on the above items can take place.
http://www.occupycafe.org/group/friends-of-the-cafe

I hope to see you in the Cafe!

Sincerely,
Ben Roberts

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2. ORGANIZATIONAL CONSULTANTS AND “COMMUNITIES WITH A MISSION”

http://www.CommunityAtWork.com/CommunityWithaMission.html
(download) http://www.communityatwork.com/CommunityWithAMission2.pdf 

What Can OD Professionals Learn from Grassroots Peace Activists?
by Sam Kaner and Eileen Palmer

Tom Atlee comment: Many of you know I spent most of 1986 on the 400-person Great Peace March from Los Angeles to Washington DC. It left LA with 1200 people but the organization that ran it, ProPeace, went bankrupt two weeks after the march began. The march fell apart in confusion in the Mojave Desert, with 800 marchers going home and 400 marchers pulling themselves together into a new march stitched together with bootstraps, conversations, and determination. Thus began the most remarkable experience of my life. A while later, unbeknownst to me at the time, two activist organizational consultants visited the march to study how it managed to self-organize the complex logistics of its mobile community with no formal organizational structure or top-down leadership or management. These two consultants, Sam Kaner and Eileen Palmer – who years later became important colleagues in my inquiries about co-intelligence – published their findings in a magazine called Vision/Action, describing the dynamics of what they called “community with a mission.” I’m sending it to you now because I find in it much insight into the power and potential of Occupy Wall Street and its kin communities.

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3. SHARIF ABDULLAH’S ACTION GUIDANCE FOR OCCUPIERS

http://www.praxis.commonway.org/2011/10/20/vision-03-occupying-the-occupiers/

OCCUPYING THE OCCUPIERS — KEEPING THE TROOPS BUSY
by Sharif Abdullah

In her article
http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/10/12/bringing-the-salt-march-to-wal… 
Miki Kashtan recommended “multiple forms of action”, the physical occupation of space being one of them.I strongly agree. OT [Occupy Together] must find many, many ways for people to get involved, to feel that they are a part of a multifaceted movement, one that spans many different forms of expression. 

In my observation of “Occupy LA”, I noticed that there were a handful of people working their tails off, doing security, media, communications, interface with police… Then, I noticed a larger group, that was doing… nothing much. Not talking, not reading, not marching, just sitting.

Engagement: Internal and External…

In creating a movement, it is critically important to keep the participants both engaged and informed. That can and should take the form of internal actions (work details, camp organization, nascent systems and structures like sanitation, energy generation, etc). And, most importantly, engagement can and should be externalized.

What kind of external work? Work that is engaging for more than the “Occupation” group. For example: How can a busy working mother feel that she’s contributing to a global phenomenon – without leaving her job or family? In both Portland and Los Angeles, I’ve heard many “Occupiers” implore people “come down here and support us”. For this phenomenon to mature and sustain itself, that must change to “Let’s go out there and create/support the LARGER Occupation!”

In my work with Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka, we developed several different tools to support my small army of “Truth-Seekers” in developing and disseminating the People’s “Vision Declaration” across the island. In doing this, we were able to bypass the government-controlled media – we became our own media! The Truth-Seekers’ strategies included:

  • Conducting thousands of surveys (Individual, group and “person on the street” interviews). Surveys are very powerful instruments, especially when it is necessary to by-pass the “official” version of events and opinions. 
  • Facilitating scores of group dialogs (100-200 person “People’s Forums” held throughout the island). These brought people from all walks of life into face to face dialog. They realized that, when the dialog was not being controlled by those who wanted separation, people could come to powerful consensus with each other. 
  • Conducting leaflet and poster campaigns in major cities. 
  • Enlisting support from all religious groups in spreading the word (“Truth-Seekers” ate and slept in churches, temples, mosques and kovils across the island). 
  • Conducting direct village campaigns (taking the Vision Declaration to hundreds of village elders, in both Government and Tamil Tiger held areas). 
  • Informal “street theaters” to dramatize the issues and visions. 
  • “Wild cards”: using opportunities presented by evolving conditions to spread the word. For example: turning long-distance buses into “moving dialog groups”; and using each military checkpoint as an opportunity for education.

By taking our campaign out into society, we were able to engage and enlist the support of hundreds of thousands of people, from all walks of life. All of our actions were non-violent, positive and demonstrated the nature of the society that we intended to create.

What can the “Occupiers” do to expand the “Occupation” front? I think all of the actions of Sarvodaya’s “Truth-Seekers” are available, in each “OT” city.

In addition: I think that OT is approaching the time for “direct action” vision implementation. Protests only go so far: to be effective, it is necessary to show people what the change in society, the change in POWER, looks like.

This is what Gandhi did with the Salt March. An act that was highly illegal AND highly moral. This is what the Civil Rights demonstrators did with the lunch counter sit-ins. Highly illegal and highly moral.

A Lesson from Argentina…

This is what my friends down in Argentina did. While visiting my friend Juana’s ranch, one of her guests told me about how they stopped a rash of foreclosures when their economy tanked in 2000. “I didn’t know what to do”, the friend said, during an outdoor meal held at the ranch some years ago. “I had nowhere to turn. Finally, I went to the radio station and they put me on the air. I was crying, asking people to come to the auction of my family’s ranch the next day.”

The next day, hundreds of her neighbors, mainly women, showed up at the auction. “None of us knew what to do. The auctioneers had hired armed guards to prevent us from doing anything. We didn’t know what to do, so when the auction started, we just fell to our knees and started praying. Loudly. VERY, VERY LOUDLY! So loud, that the auctioneers couldn’t see or hear any of the bidders! They had to call the auction off!

“The next day, even MORE people came out. And, the auctioneers hired more guns. They would reach under their jackets and wave their guns at us (as she demonstrates in the photo). We were very, very afraid, but we never stopped praying. And, they were never able to foreclose – on ANY of us!”

It’s really hard to claim the moral high ground when you’re threatening to shoot a bunch of unarmed, praying women. And, once the moral high ground is lost, the campaign is over. YOU’VE WON!

Next Steps for “The Occupation”…

What’s the lesson for OT? An effective “vision implementation” campaign has to have a number of factors:

• Very positive
• Non-violent
• Highly illegal, and
• Highly moral

I’ve seen OT posters asking President Obama to declare a moratorium on foreclosures. Fat chance of that. However, there’s nothing to stop OT from “foreclosing on the foreclosures”. Pray-ins, foreclosure theaters, bidding with Monopoly money, campaigns to withdraw funds from banks that carry forward foreclosures… the possibilities are endless. One bank could be chosen as a target (the way the sit-ins took place primarily at Woolworth’s lunch counters). Different OT cities could try different tactics, to see what’s the most effective.

Remember: the goal of “vision implementation” is not just to stop a foreclosure. Our goal is clearing and developing our own character, understanding and strengthening our own spirit. As the motto from Sarvodaya states: “We build the road, but the road builds us.” Stopping injustice in the world requires us to understand and remove the injustices within our own hearts.

Let’s begin.

Peace,
Sharif

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Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440
http://www.co-intelligence.org / http://tom-atlee.posterous.com
Read THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY – http://www.taoofdemocracy.com and
REFLECTIONS ON EVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM – http://evolutionaryactivism.com
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