#Occupy Together – emerging patterns and suggestions

I’m beginning to sense a progression of developments that may productively unfold in, through, and because of the Occupy Together movement. It is still somewhat vague, but something like it is definitely in the works. All of it is happening both as a sequence and simultaneously.

1. Share stories, creations, and demonstrations of frustration and outrage that
.    a. speak to and rouse an increasing majority of ordinary people
.    b. challenge the institutional sources of that frustration
.   – and while we do it, create occupation communities that reflect our values
.   and experiment with new, better ways of being together.
2. Encourage, stimulate, provoke, catalyze and convene expanding conversations
.   about (1) and every subsequent step, in every sector, nook, and mind in society. 
3. Consciously reach out to more and more people unlike ourselves – 
.   the rest of the 99% – creatively, powerfully, and lovingly expanding toward 100%
.   inclusivity. Welcome people into a new world of possibility. 
4. Learn about and explore dreams and alternatives – about new economics, politics,
.   governance, education, health care, community, and all the rest…  Gain real
.   certainty that “another world is possible.” 
5. Develop and articulate a powerful shared vision of the society we want. 
6. In place of demands, clarify two things and organize to make them happen: 
.    a. What millions of ordinary people can do to further the vision. 
.    b. What governments and institutions must do, not only to further the vision,
.        but to continue functioning at all, in the face 
.        of the rising forces for justice, sustainability, meaning and joy. 
7. And while we do all this, share, learn from experience, and use all forms 
.   of diversity, skill, passion, technology and struggle creatively. 

Below are some of the ideas and images that make me feel something like this is beginning to unfold. I find all of them important, both in themselves and as signs of the larger societal motion (“movement”), the larger awakening that seems to be happening here.

Oh, and don’t miss the video “Marine Defends Occupy Wall Street” that’s included below. I can’t help wondering what its many impacts will be.




Excerpt from
Bringing the Salt March to Wall Street
By Miki Kastan

… I have some wild hope that there can be a way for the many who gather and those who support them to articulate an inspiring vision. This is not about making demands. The people on the street as well as the organizers have been deliberately shying away from articulating demands…. However, not having demands doesn’t mean not having a vision. If we don’t want corporate profit to rule the day, what is it that we want instead? I know what it is for me: A call to create structures and systems that put human needs at the center. What can it be for an entire movement that prides itself on self-organizing? How can a vision be articulated within such a movement? Which of us will go and attend the meetings to support that in happening?

Mass popular support will also require finding a way to address the profound divides that continue to cut through US society. I see this possibility as resting on having conversations across many divides – political, racial, and social. The kinds of conversations that have rarely happened; that seek to transcend rather than entrench the polarities; that aim to find the shared human needs and dreams that give rise to such opposing views and experiences. Combining a simple and clear vision with the capacity to engage lovingly with others may be key to the movement’s ability to gain the consistent support of many more people.

A third and last element that I would like to see is the capacity to mount multiple forms of actions beyond the current gatherings…. What actions could a mass popular movement generate that both disrupt the control of corporations and…. directly attend to human needs?… What if masses of people took possession of goods produced by corporations and distributed them to those in need? What if large groups of people appropriated structures and buildings so that homeless people, including those created through the recent ongoing foreclosures, would have a place to live? What if a million people stopped paying taxes and invested that money in sustainable technologies or permaculture? Would such actions be the equivalent of the Salt March or the lunch counters? And what would be today’s equivalent of the spinning? Gandhi insisted that anyone who joined his movement would commit to spinning for 30 minutes a day. What if we all committed to 30 minutes a day of taking action, individually, in groups, and in communities, that would free us from the rule of large institutions in the areas of food, shelter, clothing, health, and education – the most basic of human needs? Can you imagine how much energy a movement could generate if every day masses of people engaged in popular education, grew and made food from scratch, learned again how to make home-based medicines, and supported each other in all these areas?….

Miki’s essay flows into the following excerpted from one by Sharif Abdullah

Visions and goals are different – understanding this is absolutely critical to the continued existence of Occupy Together. I am very clear that this is NOT the time for the Occupy Together forces to develop a “12 Point Platform” or anything like that. That comes much later, after a coherent vision has emerged… However, the development of vision is both timely and important…. We’ve got to be willing to make this up as we go along, creating, modifying (and discarding, when appropriate) new systems and structures… for economics, for politics, for all of the elements that make up a society.

[and then Sharif quotes Abraham Lincoln:]

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves … Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We… will be remembered in spite of ourselves. We – even we here – hold the power, and bear the responsibility. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth.”

[and then he offers this vision exercise]

When developing a vision, don’t start with what you don’t want. Start with what you do. Yes, the Declaration of Independence had a long list of grievances against King George. That’s not why we remember it. We remember it for one lofty idea, one big enough to stir an entire society to action…
1. Sit in meditation for 5 minutes. Then,
2. Write your response to this question: “What is the society that you wish to leave to our grandchildren?”
3. Go back for a few more minutes of meditation.
4. Look at your statement.Cross out words like “more” “better” “increasing” “reduce” “manage”… These terms lack the capacity to stir people to action. John F. Kennedy didn’t say, “At some point in time or another, we’ll get closer to landing a man on the
Moon.” Be definite about the kind of society you se
– but don’t be afraid to revisit and revise!
5. Engage 3-5 people per day in this exercise for a week. Ask them the question, then, after they have responded, share with them yours.
6. Finally: Post the responses (yours and others) here, and/or on any of the many “Occupy” media outlets on the Web.



I realize that my own vision may best be summarized by this article I wrote several years ago, which I hadn’t read in at least two years but which a subscriber reminded me of today. It underlies what I wish I could share with all the Occupy protesters – but it would take too much time and energy away from the next stages of my work opening up entirely new possibilities. However, feel free to pass it on, to see if it inspires…

Learning to BE evolution
by Tom Atlee



Excerpt from
Occupy Green Building: The Economy As a Design Problem
Short URL:

Ultimately a smattering of living buildings in a dying economy won’t take us much further than a smattering of “green” products in an economy where it’s still cheaper to ignore ecological and social consequences of manufacturing and its supply chain. A smattering of companies taking “triple bottom line” and “corporate social responsibility” to heart is equally limited when publicly traded companies can get sued if they let anything get in the way of maximizing financial shareholder value, and where discounting the future is basic unquestioned business practice.

What I get out of this upswelling of activism is that many in this country and the world are ready for a new economic story. It’s not just about jobs, although that’s a big part of it. People are connecting the dots between things that don’t work in our food system, our education system, our building industry, our government, and so much more–-and why the fixes we attempt seem to get stymied by the incentives and assumptions embedded in our current economic system. More and more people are actively looking for alternatives.

What’s fantastic is just how many creative alternatives are out there–-just like the green building movement, there’s a whole world of people and organizations testing new ideas and designing a new economy. There are new corporate structures that let publicly traded companies concern themselves with more than profits; proposals for a financial transactions tax and to replace labor taxes with resource taxes; new ways to get dollars circulating in local communities; even alternate frameworks and entirely new models for the economic system as a whole.

I’d like to see the building design and construction community approach the economic system as a design problem to be solved rather than a design constraint to operate within…. Imagine if building green products, buildings, and communities was the no-brainer default option because the economy gave us the right signals. Just think what would be possible!

[Tom Atlee comment: Ultimately, it is possible for all “sides” to envision radical income tax cuts which are replaced by taxes and fees that make it expensive to exploit or damage the human and natural commons – the environment and resources we all share, that rightfully belong to us all. By monetizing such damage or exploitation and internalizing those amounts into the costs of the goods and services involved, they become more expensive than similar goods and services that are more socially and ecologically responsible. Thus the ecologically and socially responsible products and services become automatically favored in the free market – and the self-interested behaviors of consumers and corporations that are currently destroying our world stop harming – and can even start healing – the society and the planet. At the same time, such taxes and fees can increase government and community budgets so that income taxes tied to productive labor and investment can be reduced or eliminated (which could make them broadly popular). This, combined with taxes on speculative financial transactions not connected with actual production – the global speculative “casino” which constitutes well over 95% of all financial activity on the planet – could not only rein in dangerous speculative activity but get rid of government debts and deficits, eliminate poverty, heal the environment, provide guaranteed basic incomes, and/or many other healthy social outcomes. Many of these proposals have support from both the Left and the Right – see, for example,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigou_Club and http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/business/16view.html – and thus may be potent attractors as Occupy Together explores how to rechannel resources towards the 99%ers.] [Oh, and because you may be wondering, Jennifer is my daughter.] 

(The Economist one of the world’s leading business and economics magazines, in the UK)

excerpt from
Hunting the Rich

America… relies far more than other countries on income taxes and has a mass of deductions on everything from interest payments on mortgages to employer-provided health care, so taxes are levied on a very narrow base. Getting rid of the deductions would simplify the code and raise as much as $1 trillion a year. Since the main beneficiaries of the deductions are the wealthy, richer folk would pay most of that. And since marginal rates would be untouched (or reduced), such a reform would do less to discourage them from creating wealth.

In Europe, where tax systems are more efficient, one option would be to shift more of the burden from income to property, which would collect more from the rich but have less impact on their willingness to take risks. The “mansion tax” proposed by Britain’s Liberal Democrats would thus do less damage than the 50% rate [tax on high income]. And on both sides of the Atlantic there is room to narrow the gap between tax rates on salaries and bonuses and those on dividends and capital gains. That gap explains why Mr Buffett, most of whose income comes from capital gains and dividends, has a lower average tax rate than his secretary. It is also the one hedge funders and private-equity people have exploited to keep the billions they rake in.

There is a basic bargain to be had. Imagine a tax system which made the top rates on wages and capital more equal, and which eliminated virtually all deductions. To avoid taxing investments twice, such a system would get rid of corporate taxes. It would also allow for a much lower top rate of income tax. The result? A larger overall tax take from the rich, without hurting the dynamism of the economy.

[Tom Atlee comment: As with all proposals, these have many pros and cons. What interests me most is that the call to rein in the top 1% has rippled into the mind of this elite magazine. Rather than merely dismissing the demonstrators, they seem to ally with the demand for raising taxes on the rich, while retaining their view that wealthy capitalists serve society by trying to make money on investments and innovations. They join with many green economists in suggesting that governments replace taxes on productive labor and investment – i.e., income taxes, which de-incentivi

ze productivity – with other taxes targeted at property, non-productive investment, and/or socially and environmentally harmful economic activity.].


Excerpt from
Tell the Super Congress: Tax Wall Street and cut fossil fuel subsidies.

** Fossil fuel subsidies are a commonsense place to make cuts.

The polluting profiteers in the oil, coal and gas industries do not need taxpayer money. Over the last decade, the largest oil and gas companies alone reaped more than $1 trillion in profits.

Ending fossil fuel subsidies would reduce national debt by $122 billion over ten years.

** Wall Street is a commonsense place to increase revenue.

A very small tax on short-term speculation on Wall Street would boost federal revenue by $100 billion a year.

This financial transactions tax would also create a disincentive for Wall Street’s riskiest practices – many of which continue despite the fact that these risky practices led to the economic collapse in 2008.

Combined, these two smart policies could reduce the deficit by more than $1.1 trillion over 10 years.



1% allies of the 99%
People of wealth step forward to join Occupy Together’s call for economic and social equity

Marine Defends Occupy Wall Street
United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY went toe to toe with the New York Police Department.
[Tom Atlee’s comment:  This video had a profound impact on me. So much is going on in it. Sgt. Thomas is being so authentically passionate. His Marine training and sergeant role are fully in play here – with tremendous force but no violence. He speaks Truth to Power.  He is clearly being a warrior for principle and peace, grounded in profound love for his country and everyone involved in the demonstration – and it is all bursting out in the form of outrage, directly and potently communicated to his fellow warriors, the cops, who are not behaving with honor. The fact that they are under orders doesn’t matter to him. He is speaking to them from a higher place, to that higher place in them, and some of them clearly know it. No one can look him in the eye. He is like the prophets in the Old Testament or Jesus in the temple (“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored…”) In nonviolent movements, when soldiers and police and other power-holders who are principled or open to connection start to turn away from oppression and towards the People, the tide turns.] 

Excerpt from:
Why OWS is Bigger than Left vs Right 
What nobody is comfortable with is a movement in which virtually the entire spectrum of middle class and poor Americans is on the same page, railing against incestuous political and financial corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. The reality is that Occupy Wall Street and the millions of middle Americans who make up the Tea Party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues, and that’s a story our media won’t want to or know how to handle…. When someone says this or that person speaks for OWS, don’t believe it. This thing is bigger than one or two or a few people, and it isn’t part of the same old story. 

It looks like this movement might be heading closer to 100%….


And finally, two interesting articles not directly connected to the themes of this mailing, which add depth and context to the unfolding story of Occupy Together:

Cyberactivism From Egypt to Occupy Wall Street

Cogent critique from the Peak Oil / Climate Chaos / Collapse worldview

…. And a bit of humor

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