There is SO much going on in and around the Occupy movement – even in the midst of and aftermath of the many recent evictions – and even as the holiday season gets seriously underway. The diversity of local dynamics and initiatives exceeds my ability to track. But here is another taste of what’s going on:
First in this mailing I offer a remarkable movement visioning document from Toronto. Then I share news from two Occupy efforts – one in Atlanta with a variety of initiatives and one in Iowa focusing on the upcoming primary elections. Then I describe three sites where some very intensive thinking is going on about the occupy movement as a whole – one focusing on building the movement’s capacity for collective reflection, one providing an online forum for wildly participatory dialogue, and a third combining organized online reflections with sophisticated conference calls with notes made publicly available. I also skimmed a bunch of brainstorming off of that last site to give you a sense of what those folks are considering. Finally, I offer four initiatives inspired by the Occupy movement – a “national general assembly”, a January 20th demonstration at the Supreme Court protesting the Citizens United decision, a bill in Congress to tax the worst Wall Street speculative trading, and some ideas for Occupying the Holidays – including a hilarious/serious video intended to help Occupiers talk with resistant family members at their holiday dinner table.
For better and worse, there’s a lot here. Feel free to skim over to what might interest you, and dig in there. I hope you find it useful, informative, and inspiring.
Occupy your holiday with good spirit and expanding awareness and love.
A KIND OF “STATE OF THE ART” VISIONING EXERCISE ABOUT OCCUPY’S FUTURE
A remarkable Google Doc from a planning/visioning Occupy conversation convened by Occupy Toronto at http://bit.ly/uSJYuU
This is the most varied, specific and coherent strategic document of Occupy possibilities that I’ve run across so far. I’m offering no excerpts because the software won’t allow “copy and paste” from it and so much of what’s here is good stuff. I highly recommend reading it, if you are interested in this subject.
TWO OCCUPATIONS SHIFT GEARS – ATLANTA AND IOWA
Occupy Atlanta: Life after Eviction
by Jin Zhao
For Occupiers, Black Friday was a perfect occasion for action…. A group of Occupiers had paid a visit to Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta’s commercial center, Buckhead. They put fliers that read “Don’t Cry! Occupy!” on merchandise and replaced more than a thousand price tags with home-made tags with phrases like, “YOU DON’T NEED THIS,” “HOW MANY AMERICAN JOBS DID THIS ITEM COST?,” “FREE” and “DON’T BUY THIS.” The night before,… a group of Occupiers visited Target, Walmart and Best Buy stores in the city where eager shoppers had lined up camping out, waiting for the shopping extravaganza to begin at midnight. The Occupiers mic-checked, greeting the shoppers with “Happy Thanksgiving!” “We love Atlanta!” and “We love you!” Then they talked to the shoppers about the global economy and the consequences of their spending habits.
Occupy Atlanta was the first occupation in a major city to be evicted…. The setback eventually re-energized and refocused the group. Those who stayed in the movement were more committed to the cause and… had a few weeks of protest experience under their belts. The Occupiers quickly found a new location, the Metro Task Force for the Homeless shelter, known as the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, and set up the occupation’s new headquarters on the fourth floor of the building.
As the movement matures, “occupying” homelessness has become one of the main focuses of Occupy Atlanta. The group has reached out to the community, scouted churches and neighborhoods and helped the homeless to raise their voices by engaging in direct conversations. Now, living in the Peachtree-Pine Homeless Shelter, Occupy Atlanta is standing firmly with the shelter to resist its closing down… Atlanta was the first in the Occupy Wall Street movement to occupy foreclosed homes….
Occupy Atlanta also addresses other local issues, such as police brutality…. Post-eviction, Occupy Atlanta increasingly organizes its actions to engage local communities and other progressive groups. For instance, a group of Occupiers started a bike-sharing cooperative at the Peachtree-Pine Homeless Shelter that lets people use bikes in exchange for service to the Occupation or the homeless shelter. Other actions, such as the “Really Really Free Markets,” critical mass bike rides, flash mobs and events co-organized with local organizations like WonderRoot, an artist group, bring not only visibility but donations to the movement….
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Iowa Occupy Movement Steps Up Activism in Iowa
The Occupy movement is making its presence felt in Iowa ahead of the Iowa caucus, the nation’s first nominating contest for the 2012 presidential elections. Demonstrators have targeted the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters and the ‘Obama for America’ office in recent days, protesting measures being considered in Washington dealing with defense spending, a planned oil pipeline and jobless benefits. Next they plan to focus on Republicans who will be crisscrossing the state in the next two weeks seeking voters’ support.
GENERIC SITES WHERE THE FUTURE OF OCCUPY IS BEING EXPLORED
1. http://thefutureofoccupy.org – MAJOR MATERIALS THAT SERVE THE MOVEMENT’S COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
The declared intent of this site is to “speed the process by which the movement is developing capacity for wise deliberations in complex matters, at an increasing scale. That intent is a direct response to a statement in the Occupy Mandala that reads: ‘Let us not be weighed down by the complexity of our situation.’ The complexity that we’ll have to tackle will only increase, as Occupy “occupies everything” and re-invents social institutions by general assemblies of Occupy Education, Occupy Monetary System, etc., one by one. Hopefully, so will capacity to meet that challenge.”
Here are excerpts from a recent essay on the site along these lines – “The Imperative of Movement Sense-Making” by Mark Jagdev:
“It is time to sit down and think together about our ways of relating to each other and managing our affairs together. We [thefutureofoccupy.org] want to serve that kind of thinking at a systemic level and provide an open platform of participation and collaboration for enhancing the movement’s capacity to learn from the future as it unfolds. Currently, we have only an online platform but thanks to an expanding network of collaborators, in 2012 you will see us more engaged in the action-reflection-action cycle on the ground. The platform serves the cross-fertilization of insights, aspirations and the practices worth replicating that arise within the movement. We also curate the news and views related to the movement’s identity and strategy. Together we call those two functions movement sense-making, which is the identifying and naming of the emergent themes that arise from the collective intelligence of the General Assemblies, direct actions, online exchanges, the Occupy media and sympathizing websites.”
2. http://www.occupytogether.org/discuss – NETWORKING, LEARNING, DISCUSSING
Here you will find A LOT OF DISCUSSIONS about Occupy-related issues and what’s next for the movement. Way too much to excerpt here, but if you want to spend an afternoon exploring this super-participatory meadow, go to it!
3. http://www.occupycafe.org – ORGANIZED DIALOGUE
These folks are facilitating and integrating Occupy-related dialogues on conference calls, face to face gatherings, and online forums. The first round of their discussions about Occupy 2.0 were summarized on a mind-map at
On their “harvest” page, one participant noted: “When Liberty Park was evicted, I had the thought: ‘What if Occupy tents suddenly appeared in every park in NYC and in more parks all around the country?’ And if not tents, discussion groups. I remember in the 60’s how parks where often a central meeting place in many communities. This kind of decentralization allows easy access to participation for folks everywhere and much more visibility.”
Note: In a World Cafe conversation, notes are often written down on paper tablecloths at each table. In OccupyCafe conversations, notes are written on Google docs and called “tablecloths”. Below are selections from the Occupy 2.0 “Tablecloth” of 11/29
* We don’t need to wait the consent of the powerful to build communities that work for everyone
* Occupy has to transcend and be apart from these traditional left wing interest groups. it has to have its own authentic voice that the 99% recognize as their own.
1. Identify the movement’s purpose.
• To uncover the deception.
• To preserve the commons/ a livable earth.
2. Create a strategic vision & practical action plan
• Use symbology – pictures that speak 1000 words – use different
. media, different senses. Keep the message simple
3. Develop diverse Occupy Tactics and Actions Plans
• One size does not fit all – in terms of occupy actions. Be creative –
. we’re moving into a whole new territory
• seeking other places to ‘occupy’ (more permanent residence)
. • example: fixing up abandoned buildings, booking spaces
. for events/forums/film nights/discussions/councils/workshops
• creating occupy-events (temporary gatherings)
. • examples: candle light vigil, hope infused symbolic actions
. maybe around winter solstice, direct actions to protect
. against foreclosures.
. • Put occupy lyrics to Xmas carols and sing them in shopping malls
. • Ask people to put a tent in their front yard next to Xmas lights
. • workshops on conflict resolution, building harmony in groups
. strengthening unity
. • creating more live face-to-face interactions
. • example: We can call on our congregations, other community groups
. or our own homes to host discussions of the issues that are being
. highlighted by Occupy. We might call such meetings “Amplify”
. Meetings. The goal of the meetings will be to answer questions and
. generate and expand support for the systemic changes that are
. called for by Occupy. In the meetings introduce and use direct
. democracy skills, and emphasize listening to all voices.
. • Involve school kids and teachers at family friendly events.
. • learning and teaching tools of council and practicing council
4. learn to listen better (emphasize more than speaking).
• contrastly: how to allow ‘every’ voice to be heard
5. develop a liquid democracy http://communitywiki.org/LiquidDemocracy
• exploring method and implementation
• using technology as an aid: such as smart phones as tools to vote –
. degrees of agreement on proposals
• present plan: for internal use per occupy site, then across occupy sites
• Identify/develop a platform & methods to enable participatory democracy.
. Define genuine participatory democracy.
6?. essential/essence: what does equality and justice and happiness really look like? Wealth and money and well-being are not synonomous. True wealth is in our relationships with our family, friends, neighbors and community and Occupy is demonstrating this, even if in less than “perfect” ways.
7?. political power comes from unity. Is the allegiance to a political party (dems) moving us to where we want to go? do we continue to work within a broken, corrupted two-party system and try to fix it OR let the broken systems continue to collapse and get to work in building the next version of the American experiment in democracy
Selections from 12/6 Occupy Cafe Call Outline and “Tablecloth”
* Our spiritual work was our dress rehearsal. Now we get to put it into play. We have the potential to actualize doing what we want to do how we want to do it – nonviolence and the creation of a vision we want to step into
* Occupy Movement is the portal into the new world
* We’ve been telling ourselves false stories about the nature of reality. We have latched onto “survival of the fittest.” That is a false story, a distortion of what Darwin/Spenser were trying to say.
* If you go to a GA, [you think] “We’ve got a process!” There’s a process consciousness that hasn’t been true of the past. I’m excited about its role in enabling truly diverse people to engage and learn from each other.
* Natural resources belong to the people and species of the planet.
* [Occupy demonstrates] potential for civility and the way people are paying attention [to each other]. [A spirit and practice of] inclusion is part of the movement.
* Persistence, perseverance, and non-violence – never give in, never give up, never surrender … just keep showing up, keep showing up, and keep showing up.
* It’s as if we are suddenly cultivating a society of adults embracing self-responsibility and getting excited about taking responsibility for taking action going forward.
* [Some of the Occupy memes:] Equality, economic equality, movement away from economic disparity, importance of dialogue and process, participation, people being able to thrive, legislation as a result.
* The current movement reflects fundamentals in the US Constitution.
* We don’t have to make this happen. It’s already happening, we are already in a time of change. It’s the natural course of things. We vision and support it but we don’t have to push.
* This movement of oneness is leaderful with all of us. People can contribute what’s meaningful to them. * If you go back to the women’s movement, intimate conversations were life-changing for people.
VARIOUS COMMENTATORS’ RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WHAT THEY THINK OCCUPY SHOULD FOCUS ON
Short URL: http://bit.ly/t6uWdB
A Possible “Second Act” for Occupy Wall Street
November 18, 2011
While recognizing that there hasn’t been a Constitutional Convention since the end of theConstitutional Convention in 1787, a writer for the Atlantic [suggests] that organizing around a Constitutional Convention could help produce change even if the Convention were never convened. He also notes that one of the original sort-of-demands from Occupy Wall Street (via Adbusters) was to have President Obama “ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.” And now a group called “the 99 Percent Declaration” has begun organizing for a “National General Assembly” to be held on July 4, 2012, in Philadelphia….
Is the second act for OWS campaign finance reform? Capping corporate executives’ salaries? Attacking the corporate “personhood” (that corporations are treated in the law as “people”)? Becoming a movement to revive organized labor (since unions increasingly showed up as supporters of Occupy gatherings)? Fielding a slate of candidates for public office? Or packing it up for the winter and coming back in the spring “ready to rumble”,as Adbusters suggests? What’s your advice for the Occupy movement?
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Jan 20, 2012: Occupy the Courts
Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark this notorious date [the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision] with a one day occupation on Friday January 20, 2012, of the Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States and as many of the 89 U.S. District Court Buildings as we can. Inspired by Dr. Cornell West, who was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court…, Move to Amend will lead the charge on the judiciary which created and continues to expand corporate personhood rights.
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Lawmakers Introduce Targeted Wall Street Trading Tax
The measure will place a small tax of three basis points (3 pennies on $100 in value) on most non-consumer financial trading including stocks, bonds and other debts, except for their initial issuance. For example, if a company receives a loan from a financial company, that transaction would not be taxed. But, if the financial institution traded the debt, the trade would be subject to the tax. The tax would also cover all derivative contracts, options, puts, forward contracts, swaps and other complex instruments at their actual cost. The measure excludes debt that has an original term of less than 100 days. By setting the tax rate very low, the measure is not likely to impact the decision to engage in productive economic activity. It would, however, reduce certain speculative activities like high-speed computer arbitrage trading. A transaction tax could help to shift Wall Street away from short-term trading. Given the very high volume of financial trading, it will raise considerable funds, badly needed for government services and for reducing deficits.
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Occupy Chanukah and Christmas
by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Chanukah was the first recorded national liberation struggle against Greek imperialism, and Christmas celebrates the birth of a hoped-for messiah to free the Jewish people from Roman imperialism. The symbolism of a homeless couple giving birth in a manger surrounded by animals because the more comfortable people have not been able to make room for them inside a roofed home is akin to the symbolism of the candles lit on Chanukah to celebrate the victory of the powerless over the powerful: both offer a powerful reminder that both Judaism born of slaves in Egypt and Christianity born of a movement of the poor and powerless were in their times the “Occupy” movement that confronted the powerful and those who served them.
All the more tragic to witness how both religions have been twisted in our own time to serve the powerful…. [But Occupy reflects] precisely the hidden message of Chanukah and Christmas: Don’t be realistic, but transform reality in accord with God’s most loving vision for our world. That is what it would mean for us to Occupy Chanukah
and Christmas once again in 2011. What seems impossible can become actual, because in the final analysis, the world is governed by a force that seeks justice and love, and we humans are created in its image to make that love and justice real on this planet.
How do you manifest that this Chanukah and Christmas? Try this:
• Give gifts of time rather than of things. Give your friends some time to do something they might need. For example, a gift certificate of four hours to do painting or plumbing or electrical work or mowing their lawn or shoveling their snow or babysitting their children or shopping for them or cooking some meals for them, or taking their children for a day while they go and play, or helping out with an elder whom they care for so that they can get some free time by themselves, or … well, you know your friends and you can figure out how a gift of time might be far more valuable to them than a gift of a thing, and what that gift of time might be.
• Insist on breaking through the gift focus of the holiday by bringing your family and friends together to talk about the spiritual meaning of the holiday for each of them. You can do this on Chanukah Eve (first candle Dec. 20) or Christmas Eve, or more casually at work before the holiday begins, or even by sending this article to them and asking them for their reactions.
• At your holiday meals, bring up the issue of those who are struggling this Chanukah or Christmas—both the poor, the near-poor, and all those who are deeply insecure and frightened. Ask people how they imagine their society would be different if the original messages of Chanukah or Christmas were being taken seriously today…. Focus on the core message of what needs to be repaired in our society and how you can become yourself and with your friends the local embodiment of Occupy in your neighborhood, carrying out the strategies and tactics you think “they” should do—because YOU are part of it just by identifying with their demands for justice and fairness, and so you can be the leader in your area to make Occupy be what you think it should be!….
PS: Here’s a humorous video guide for spreading OWS ideas at holiday dinner tables at home: