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Sunday, September 9, 2012

How To Occupy (Chapter One)

Occupy Baltimore (Lindo, 2011)
Reports from the ground: Recent violent episodes have forced us to leak part of my upcoming book, Occupy Everything: Messages From The Movement avec slices of some of my favorite interviews these last few months. We've seen, and listened to, and videoed Occupy meet ups and conference calls from Wall Street to Maui, HI, from Los Angeles to Washington DC. We've surfed YouTube and trolled on twitter for photos and livestream updates and blogs. Having mashed that all together and run it through the old looking glass, a mosaic of the movement has started to definitely piece together. And now, in an effort to project a general understanding of the movement and its goals, we document some of our findings here including valuable links in hopes that you might find it enlightening and worth sharing. Peace.

Introduction: The Occupy Movement meet ups, wherever they've been, wherever we've seen them, and walked through, and ate with, all have similar themes and consistently the activated inhabitants (from far reaching parts of the United States) form a melody worth paying attention to. But it isn't the actual messages of the movement we are most impressed with. Those issues will change over time. It's their method that we've have found most inspiring.
(explaining the setup...) "Those committees that meet during each General Assembly, well, they have specific conversations about detailed concerns, local and national, and how best to remedy those concerns. So their mechanism of consensus has its positives and negatives, just like some of our State Legislators, but for the most part, y'all can all agree to be ruled by those rules and we Occupiers can agree to play by the rules we occupiers have created for Occupy." ~~ Jeff Stiles, Occupier Boston
These "take a stand" warriors are all sick and tired and not gonna take it anymore, and that's a concensus that's common in each city, from Oakland to Baltimore. It's in the way they arrived there. It's in what drew them out, and the jeux de vive of this movement is in the way they work towards change for the better. After bubbling up problems, they share solutions through music, art, speeches, and film.
Occupy Los Angeles (Lindo, 2011)
"What I am most impressed with, about the Occupiers, is that they all exist in this same alternative brain trust universe: Living in the Question of things, instead of being committed to a preconceived answer." ~~ Dee Lincomb, Facilitator and Occupier Wall Street
Taking A Stand is not the same as choosing sides, it would appear, or forming resolutions, or collecting evidence for one position or another. From the initial calls to meet up that were put out by Yes We Camp and others to Occupy Wall Street starting last September and following the action up until the 'Occupy' mention in the President's State of the Union this last February 2, 2012, Occupiers worldwide have shown a spotlight on issue after issue by simply standing still and talking about it. And the objects of their conversations have started to take notice.

Downtown Baltimore (Lindo, 2011)
Bank of America found out right away when it was targeted for planning to up ATM fees.The backlash from the announcement triggered the creation of Bank Transfer Day which officially took place Nov. 5, 2011. Occupiers upset by new and changing bank fees, helped push the movement as it caught fire across the country, with most of the largest national commercial banks also becoming the focus of the frustration. According to ABC News, in October 2011 alone, Credit Unions around the country gained 650,000 new customers and $4.5 billion was moved out of major banks. This action has grown since then, and is showing no sign of slowing down. When the not so invisible hands of the protesters reached into the marketplace and took out all of their money from the big bank system to move to credit unions, Bank of America, along with the other big banks who had planned to start charging the same fees, got the message and canceled their planned additional money grab. So, are they effectual? Yes.
Occupy Wall St (TedLabs, 2011)
What then makes the work of these Occupiers as powerful as it has proven to be in our national discourse? These people across the board are searching for the questions to ask so as to live a more worthwhile life. Some do it with yelling, some with art, some with dance, some with conflict resolution. That's a mouthful, but it's true. Late nights in solar powered tents have lead us to that generalization. Early mornings waking up to skid row crazies descending on the previously considered free speech zone tend to solidify the overall theme these campsites give off.
"We never thought we'd live in a country that created Free Speech 'Zones'." ~~ Police Officer Seaton, Occupy Los Angeles
Occupy Baltimore (Lindo, 2011)
These people don't have the answers. They aren't even sure exactly what's caused the problems. One universal theme amongst the fairly organized din, and there are many, is a general dislike for the current status of our two party system. According to these rather interested and inspired 99%ers, the two party system is, by its very nature, dysfunctional in American politics and from the wide spectrum of people who attend Occupy General Assemblies, the general tenants of this dislike are manifested in lots of different ways. No matter what direction they come from, they all have a problem with the entrenched two party system that dominates our political discourse and it goes a little something like this:
"Both Parties are letting us down. Republicans specifically seem to be 'of money' that has talked them into believing they are the OPPOSITION PARTY. That if there are two parties, one must be right and one must be wrong, so that the only way the Republicans can be right is IF we are wrong, if the President is wrong, if the liberals are wrong, only then can they be right. Everyone else needs to be wrong for them to be right." ~~ Joseph Sattano, Occupy Los Angeles
"This way of thinking is now a prerequisite with the way money has twisted the system. So they (the GOP) spend EVERY WAKING SECOND talking about how wrong we are. Not methodically working to solve problems at all. Unless they are the problems of those who have the money, like lowering taxes and loosening regulations, not being forced to offer health care as an employer, etc. etc" ~~ Melissa Balin, StayOccupied

"Right-left, on-off, correct-wrong, this will never work in a Working Congress. The two party system has to be rethought. In the upcoming elections, I for one will be looking for the people who are talking about this sort of thing in their stump speeches. I want a one HOPE country. My entrenched Democratic friends may disagree, and I'm sorry, but if one party thinks its number one goal is to DESTROY THE OTHER PARTY, something has gone terribly wrong. We need a win-win every day in every way. Not a win-lose system of government. I am looking for those win-win candidates." ~~ Anonymous Member, Occupy Wall Street
Occupy LA (Lindo, 2011
So each day these 21st Century warriors huddle together across thousands of miles to try and figure out where to start. They set up libraries and reading lists and numbered in the 30s in Maui, the Occupier numbers peak in cities like Los Angeles and DC in the thousands. (How To Occupy, Chapter One continued in next blog post.)

Lisa, The Policy Geek

1 comment:

  1. Lisa its Vick. WTF. You're in politics now? Email me please slightchance2006@yahoo.com. I cant wait to catch up.