Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Occupy Together, Because You Can't Arrest An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Women Occupy discussion topics

You can't arrest an idea whose time has come, and the gathering of about 150 occupiers from all over the state of Maine last Saturday in Augusta was brimming with ideas. People of all ages came together as the 99%, and the youngster on the left wanted people to think about an economy that is based on value rather than on cash. She joined the Alternative Economies breakout session and explained her idea; she also listened to the ideas of people who have experienced those kinds of arrangements. The next day she told me, "I want to do more stuff like that. Stuff that changes things and make it better."

Introductions during which people identified where they Occupy ... Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Blue Hill, MDI (Mt. Desert Island), Waldo County, Mt. Washington Valley/Conway, Boston, Wall St., cultural mythology,  the food supply, independent media.

Portland, Maine was identified as the longest continuous occupy encampment in the country -- established October 1 and still going strong despite punishing cold, and an eviction notice from the city hanging over their heads since December 15. They have vigorously pursued relief in the courts, and are awaiting news on a permanent injunction to halt eviction.

Occupy Augusta pulled up stakes rather than apply for a permit, removing their Capitol Park teepee with dignity and self-respect, continuing to hold General Assemblies each Saturday at 5pm indoors.
In our diversity lies our strength!

After an amazing rapid whole group share of examples of occupation that covered centuries, we moved into small groups with people we didn't know to address two prompts:

1) Why did you join the Occupy movement? 2) What's special about the Occupy movement?
This was ably modeled by Curtis (above, left) who responded:
  1. To gain experience. Our world's falling apart and many people don't seem to care. But those who do care need to get together, share knowledge, and form a movement.

  2. It signifies nations all across the world rising up and demanding an end to the common ills we all share – war, poverty, unemployment. Shows the governmentts that we, the workers, will not be silent. We will fight back, and take what's ours.
I joined a group to talk about Media. Ten people briefly discussed the problems with mainstream media, and then spent most of the time talking about alternative media in forms including local access tv and radio, online news, YouTube, blogs; and direct actions/publicity stunts that attract MSM attention. Further uses of MSM included letters to the editor, online comments, developing relationships with reporters, and providing press releases to reporters. The role of drum circles at Occupy sites from Wall St. to Maine to Native communities in Canada was examined also, with reference to their importance in building community, and as an outlet for expression that is non-verbal.
Then I joined a group to talk about Food and Land. About 35 people gave examples of local food production and land use including becoming farmers, supporting the work of farmers, addressing the problems of landless farmers, various land use schemes, cooking, educating, gleaning, and exchanging food for work. Then the group brainstormed ways that the Occupy movement can or does connect with food production/land use.

This is a strong strand for Maine and there are years of intelligent collaborative effort to build on. A murmur of delight went through the crowd when I mentioned a Wall St. tweet I'd seen that the OWS  kitchen had quickly organized to feed the largest number of folks ever, daily, in NYC. No wonder they were perceived by authorities as such a threat!

Further news of the 99%: While we were meeting, Occupy Oakland in California was being tear gassed, beaten, shot with rubber bullets and flash bang grenades, and arrested in droves (especially reporters). Their crime: trying to occupy a years vacant building to establish a community center. Solidarity events broke out everywhere on Sunday. Here's an inspiring video from Occupy Boston:

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

Rubber bullets in California are made out of rubber. Rubber bullets in Israel are made out of steel, with a thin rubber skin.
Diane Rehm (NPR) is today discussing defense cuts (6 B dollars this year, out of towards a trillion) with a Pentagon person who describes the last ten years as a period of "war", now "winding down", while today the US has killed fifteen people in Yemen in an airstrike, even while finally (last week?) accepting President Saleh as some sort of refugee, which got him out of Yemen and thus physically sealing the deal on succession. And NATO can't quite decide if it should condemn Syria's Assad for killing his own people or back the rebels (more) in the civil war--so it will do both.
Let me work back in reverse order. Syria's rebels are too few, and the more they rely on NATO help to make astonishing attacks, the less Syrians will esteem them. US air attacks in Yemen remind all Arabs and Muslims that the US uses them for live-fire target practice in a domestic psycho-drama. The Pentagon has been the feeding tube by which the Israel lobby has fed the US public ten years of lies and suffering and needs to go back to the manufacturer for a refit. Israel confronts the end of its racist genocidal regime in the electoral process next door in Egypt. Young Hariri breaks his leg in the Swiss Alps skiing.
I leave you that last one to follow up on. It will also help lead you to my result.
Choosing to wait for a drunken tyrant to fall over dead/unconscious is one way of telling the public you don't want to be considered when a successor is chosen. Consistently speaking out on the crisis of the day with perspicacity both trains you to govern and justifies the public's choice of you to govern.
Just as, if the senses lie reason is impossible, so, if the public is stupid government is impossible. The experts of our day cringe and grovel in the cult of mediocrity, the civil religion by which the Israel lobby governs us. Joining in that cult both extends the tenture of the lobby and puts off the day of effective public action.