#Occupy the future together

Things are still wildly bubbling in and around the Occupy movement, which is still radically expanding and evolving. Despite many growing pains, the co-creative, committed engagement of the participants is inspiring. So many among them are using the disturbances in and around them as a motivation for personal growth and collective innovation.

Occupy Together is, as they say, a phenomenon. It is such a passionate, complex, self-organizing initiative that even chaos and complexity theories have a hard time adequately explaining it. It is ALIVE!

The word “occupy” – as a connotation-rich idea or meme – is itself a fascinating part of the movement’s impact. It invites everyone who wants a new and better world, to claim a space where they can work together to co-create that world. So far, that space is usually a public park. But that’s expanding and morphing: More people are talking about occupying a school, a workplace, a bank, a heart, a profession, an industry, a government office, the airwaves, our minds – any “place” where some piece of the new world needs to evolve and replicate itself to become the actual New World. And the word “occupy” suggests commitment to that place, persistence in it, putting down some roots, claiming and owning and taking responsibility for holding it and making it good. That’s why, as Chris Hedges notes in the video below, that when one occupier is removed, ten more show up. That’s why I hear someone has bought or rented a large indoor space near OWS for use by the protesters during the winter. We all know that this is our new world these folks are holding space for and carving out under rain and billy clubs. They are working on our behalf and so many of us naturally feel called to work on theirs. We kinda know we’re all in the same boat now.

In communities of practice that use Open Space and World Cafe, facilitators speak of “holding space for conversations that matter”, and of the importance of having a clear intention or focus or powerful questions into and around which such conversation can flow as it makes its way to its not-yet-seen sea – the future outcome that is “wanting to emerge” in and from the group’s passionate explorations. They speak of self-organization being driven by “passion and responsibility”. I see OWS and its kindred occupations providing a passionate focus that resonates with millions of people of all types, in all sectors and strata of society, and holding space for a whole-society conversation about what’s going on in our world, about where we’re headed, about where we want to go. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our place is in the society. OWS asks us to look around us, see what needs to be done, and to occupy the space needed to make it happen. “Take responsibility for what you love.” A far better future is waiting for us to occupy it.

I hope you find the many articles and videos below as inspiring, fascinating and useful as I’ve found them.

Blessings on the Journey.




[The Occupy movement is impacting mainstream discourse. Two signs among many: Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution in support of it and Starhawk – a pagan Wiccan radical activist – had an article published in the Washington Post – an article which included the http://www.occupytogether.org link “to find an Occupation near you”. I offer here only excerpts from her essay, but highly recommend the whole article.]

see http://bit.ly/nl3HMN
The Los Angeles City council resolution declared that, “…the ‘Occupy’ demonstrations are a rapidly growing movement with the shared goal of urging U.S. citizens to peaceably assemble and occupy public space in order to create a shared dialogue by which to address the problems and generate solutions…the City of Los Angeles hereby stands in SUPPORT for the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by “Occupy Los Angeles”

Starhawk’s article excerpts:
Short URL: http://wapo.st/pbjfbo
Faith in the 99 percent: What drives Occupy Wall Street?

“We are the 99 percent!” The chant thunders through the streets, from Wall Street in New York City, where the Occupy movement began, to K Street in Washington, where high-paid lobbyists influence government, to streets in cities and small towns all across the nation. In hundreds of Occupations, ordinary people have been moved to fill parks and streets and squares with signs, tents, impromptu soup kitchens, intense conversations and lengthy meetings.

What’s going on? Pundits splutter about the movement’s lack of ‘demands’ and coherent messaging, but sound bites and 10-point programs arise from central committees and top-down hierarchies. The Occupy movement demonstrates a very different model of organizing: emergent, decentralized, without a command and control structure…

At its essence, the message of the Occupations is simply this:

“Here in the face of power we will sit and create a new society, in which you do count. Your voice carries weight, your contributions have value, whoever you may be. We care for one another, and we say that love and care are the true foundations for the society we want to live in. We’ll stand with the poor and sleep with the homeless if that’s what it takes to get justice. We’ll build a new world.”

… We are taught that a good person does good to others and offers service to the community. Yet we see the system rewarding the rapacious while dismissing the claims of those who devote their lives to nursing the sick, teaching the young, growing our food, building our homes, fighting our fires, or producing those things we truly need.

… Of course, democracy is messy and frustrating. When people express their opinions, they don’t all agree. The movement confronts the basic questions of how people can act together. How does direct democracy scale up? We want to hear everyone’s voice, but when we gather in large numbers, how long will that take, and how do we do it without a sound system? … What do we do when needs clash-do we favor the smokers or the non-smokers, the drummers or the sleepers? How do we make alliance with people so broken by life that they are not very capable of listening to others or taking into account other peoples’ needs? Within the broad range of the 99 percent, there are people with whom I agree and others whose beliefs and opinions I find frankly appalling. How do we come together on common ground?

….The Occupy movement renews my faith in the human spirit, in our creativity, our craving for justice, our determination to root our world in love. So come on down! You are important. Your voice counts. You have a unique contribution to make. We are all the 99 percent.



Comments from people checking out Occupy Eugene

I have paid numerous visits to [the Occupy Eugene site] and can hardly walk across the block without shedding tears of happiness. As Navy veteran and former Black Panther Malik Rahim said to the crowd of 2000 on Saturday, “Ya’all ought to see how beautiful you look!” – Gordon

Having traveled the world, been to war, flown airplanes, lived out in the Alaska bush and come face-to-face with 1,000 lb. grizzly bears, rode a Harley with the Hells Angels, I have to admit the Occupy Eugene move
ent is without a doubt the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced in my 43 years of life after my son being born. Just beautiful. I think the powers-that-be missed their opportunity to crush this with concessions and now it is expanding into something truly unstoppable – where the committee system open to everybody replaces our ridiculous and corrupt hierarchical system of representative democracy. Really a mind-blower I am honored to be alive to see. – Warren



Chris Hedges speaking at Occupy Wall Street: Radical movements keep this country honest!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8UW__mFMd8?wmode=transparent]
[What Chris Hedges says in this video is, of course, compelling. But what most interests me is the form: It is a somewhat impromptu OWS teach-in being held on the sidewalk with a crowd of people sitting there who want to hear him. It looks like a mix of protest demonstration, Open Space session, and TED Talk (http://ted.com). I find the innovation startling in its implications and filled with promise. Sort of TED Talks of, by, and for the people, spreading everywhere…]

[Here’s a two-page handout describing how traditional Open Space works. The largest group I’ve heard it working with so far is 3000 street kids in Columbia. The idea of people creating self-organized groups and sessions to talk about or do things that matter to them is the underlying principle of Open Space – as well as the teach-ins and working groups of the Occupy movement. If and when this form begins to be adopted all over the society, tremendous potential for collective learning and self-organized collaboration will be released. I offer the writeup link below in the hopes that as Occupy protesters learn about the principles of Open Space they will apply them more creatively than they’ve ever been applied before…]

And here’s Starhawk’s summary of consensus the way she teaches and practices it

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9zkQcLi4Yo?wmode=transparent]
Occupy Wall Street: Outing the Ringers
[Ringers are the people at casinos who act like they are bystanders commenting on the game but are actually employed by the establishment to manipulate the behaviors of the players with their comments. In this brilliant short video, media pundits are identified as ringers for the Wall Street controlled game in the US, and when they say they don’t get OWS, they make it clear that that’s the role they’re playing.]

10 Ways to Support the Occupy Movement
There are many things you can do to be part of this growing movement—and only some of them involve sleeping outside.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/oDCO7W
The Ad Men Behind “Occupy George” – Occupy Wall Street Infographics Printed On Dollar Bills
By Morgan Clendaniel
[You have to go to the site to see what makes this article interesting. Two advertising professionals, inspired by OCW, have created easily replicated ink stamps which print graphs depicting various statistics about wealth disparity in the US – which they then print on dollar bills and exchange them for non-imprinted dollar bills, which are then imprinted. The bills become a carrier for information about economic injustice. A fascinating example of what has become called “culture jamming” – a practice promoted by AdBusters magazine which had the original idea for OCW.]

Bill Moyer’s Movement Action Plan (MAP) – A Strategic Framework Describing The Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements (now apparently being picked up by some in the Occupy movement). A quick summary is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_Action_Plan.
(The graphic at the top of the historyisaweapon versiion is one I drew for Bill to illustrate his ideas, to accompany an interview I did with him for THINKPEACE newsletter… twenty years ago…!)



[The following two essays – and many other articles, videos, and personal stories I’ve run across – all add to my sense that it is not yet – and may never be – time for OWS to formulate “demands”. Their most powerful roles, in my view – and from what I observe about what they are already doing and the impact it is having – are the following:
(a) to provoke, stimulate, catalyze, and convene conversations about the unjust, unsustainable state of society;
(b) to model a courageous, caring “beloved community” (MLK’s phrase) that demonstrates ordinary people’s ability to “speak truth to power”;
(c) to clarify a coherent vision of the kind of society which could work for all of us and
(d) to explore and promote specific healthy alternatives for meeting needs and organizing society at all levels of scale.

In addition to giving voice to the frustrations and longings of the current 99%, I hope Occupy Together will soon be spearheading a vast participatory inquiry into “What is possible now?”. (It actually saddens me – although it will excite others – that there are efforts emerging to create an official set of demands. See https://sites.google.com/site/the99percentdeclaration. Last night I appealed to them not to create demands – but if they were determined to do their proposed delegate assembly to formulate the demands, to please use random selection instead of elections, so they could ACTUALLY represent the 99 percent. But the working group was both too overwhelmed and too far along their track to take a different track. We shall see what happens…)]

1. Excerpt from
A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street
By George Lakoff

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed. It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow.

2. Excerpt from

Short URL: http://slate.me/q3ZqHK
How the movement has already shaken up American politics, and where it should go from here.
By Eliot Spitzer

Occupy Wall Street has already won, perhaps not the victory most of its participants want, but a momentous victory nonetheless. It has already altered our political debate, changed the agenda, shifted the discussion in newspapers, on cable TV, and even around the water cooler. And that is wonderful.

Suddenly, the issues of equity, fairness, justice, income distribution, and accountability for the economic cataclysm–issues all but ignored for a generation—are front and center. We have moved beyond the one-dimensional conversation about how much and where to cut the deficit. Questions more central to the social fabric of our nation have returned to the heart of the political debate. By forcing this new discussion, OWS has made most of the other participants in our politics—who either didn’t want to have this conversation or weren’t able to make it happen—look pretty small.

…The point of OWS is not to be subtle, parsed, or nuanced. Its role is to drag politics to a different place, to provide the exuberance and energy upon which reform can take place.
The major social movements that have transformed our country since its founding all began as passionate grassroots activism that then radiated out. Only later do traditional politicians get involved. The history of the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, labor movement, peace movement, environmental movement, gay rights movement, and, yes, even the Tea Party, follow this model. In every instance, visceral emotions about justice, right, and wrong ignited a movement. Precise demands and strategies followed later. So the critique of OWS as unformed and sometimes shallow may be correct, but it is also irrelevant….



“If you want to be free from the banks, the governments and giant corporations, you have to learn how to provide food, water and medical needs. Whoever is doing that is running the ship. We have to learn to pilot the spaceship Earth in order to get out from under the banks and corporations.” – Steven Hager, “The Octopus Conspiracy and other vignettes of the counterculture”

This interesting quote describes what the occupations are prototypes of, but which will require far more development to bring to scale. The occupations model a gifting economy, but many of the gifts that are flowing through it were made by the corporate industrial system. Developing the local economic productive capacity is one of the major challenges presented to the long-term visionary work of the Occupy movement. There are many innovations that could make that possible, for example:

1. The expanding possibility of a “do-it-yourself” economy
* http://www.ted.com/talks/marcin_jakubowski.html
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester or car or brick-maker from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000). See their site at http://opensourceecology.org
* http://www.wired.com/magazine/19-04/3D printers printing objects – see a video at http://nhne-pulse.org/3d-printing/
* http://www.truth-out.org/who’s-building-do-it-ourselves-economy/1316352663
Yes! magazine’s articulation of how crisis is helping us learn to do it ourselves locally

2. The expanding possibility of a “sharing economy”
* http://www.ted.com/talks/rachel_botsman_the_case_for_collaborative_consumption.html
* http://shareable.net
* http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/153/the-case-for-generosity.html 
* http://www.freemoneyday.org/ 

and these are just the tip of an iceberg I’m mapping out in my alternative economics research….



Occupy the Airwaves
by Duane Elgin

“Occupy Wall St.” is a spontaneous uprising of citizens. It is both a protest against corruption, poverty, homelessness, and greed as well as a call for citizens to come together to build a better world. For many, this is a ‘100 percent movement’ that recognizes we are all in this time of change together and no one can be excluded from a respectful contribution to the conversation of democracy…. The ‘Occupy’ gatherings are an attempt to reclaim citizen participation in our democracy,

…[But note:] The average person in the United States watches roughly 4 hours [of TV] per day. Importantly, the amount of TV viewing time is not declining with the growth in Internet use. Surveys show that most people still get most of their news about the world from a single source — television…. There is no shortage of issues and concerns but there is a shortage in the “public space” being given to those concerns by the broadcast media….

Here is where the rubber hits the road. It is vital for citizens to have the confidence of understanding that we literally and legally own the airwaves at the ‘local level.’ …[Broadcasters] have a strict legal responsibility to serve the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” before their own corporate interests…. Nonetheless, I cannot say too strongly: TV stations are not the enemy — public apathy is! The laws are entirely in favor of the public interest. What is required is that the public claim it’s ownership of the airwaves and organize itself in a way that transcends special interests….

Each major community could create an independent “Community Voice Organization” that is strictly non-partisan and non-profit, and has only two jobs: first, to listen to the community and understand the most pressing issues of concern and, second, to place those before the community in “Electronic Town Meetings” [ETMs] and other forums that foster mature civic dialogue, consensus-building, and opportunities for community feedback to persons in positions of power….

In the 1980s, I co-founded a trans-partisan “community voice” organization in the San Francisco Bay Area called “Bay Voice.” In 1987 we put an interactive Electronic Town Meeting on the air in prime-time, working with the local ABC television station, that was seen by over 300,000 persons. Six votes were taken from a pre-selected, random sample of Bay Area citizens. By the end of the hour, the sentiments of the Bay Area public were quite clear and the Electronic Town Meeting demonstrated the ability of a metropolitan community to have a meaningful dialogue. Roughly a quarter of a century ago, our non-partisan organization demonstrated that we could achieve an entirely new level of citizen dialogue and engagement, and this was before the advent of personal computers. Now, with the Internet to provide sophisticated feedbac
k, the technology to support powerful ETMs is abundantly present.

With shared conviction regarding the need for a new era of public dialogue, we can come together as communities and walk into the broadcast TV stations as proud citizen-owners of the airwaves who have come to work out a new path for communication that truly serves the public interest at this time of profound transition. The airwaves are already ours. To “occupy the airwaves” is simply to occupy a home that we already own. Let’s step inside and get busy — building conversations for a future of sustainable prosperity.

Duane Elgin is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and non-partisan media activist. Previous blogs on media themes include, “Take Back the Airwaves,” “The Last Taboo on Television,” and “Can Television Help Awaken a Healthy World?” His website is: http://www.DuaneElgin.com

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