Progressive Opportunities Conference 2012 Review
By Colin Davis
occupy [at] dslextreme.com
The POC Conference
This past weekend was quite a thrill for me. The Progressive Opportunities Conference was held at the David Brower Center in Berkeley California, and I had the pleasure of attending, in the nick of time, and with a comp’ed pass as well (Thanks Marc and Jody!).
This was a conference I had not heard about prior to this past week, but apparently many others had because it was totally sold out. In one day, the promoters, headed by Jody Colley of the East Bay Express newspaper, booked about 25 speakers or panels of speakers to deliver presentations on topics which pertain to socially and environmentally responsible business platforms, monetary functions, lifestyle choices, public policy and the like.
Basically, the conference was a place for conscientious and free thinking business minded people to explore and explain to each other, the many formulas which presently exist, that are beginning to replace the current models of social and commercial organization – and that push the Corporatocracy out of popularity.
To my pleasure, I saw a lot of young people, and a good percentage of women, but I also saw a lot of middle aged and older folks, eternally young at heart, who are still pushing the envelope of social consciousness. And I also felt something at this conference that was not physically visible. I experienced a palpable sense that’s still with me. Those were my people in there. They were focused but kind. They were open, but confident. They were real. Those were some real people in there!
I realized that I was in the presence of our future entrepreneurs and business professionals as well as future political leaders who will carry the meme of the new story into our society at large. What story am I talking about?
Google Charles Eisenstein for a more inspiring explanation, but the story we are telling is one that says that we are more powerful when we act together than when we act alone. It says that our outer world is a mirror of our inner world, and that responsible, just and compassionate people create responsible, just and compassionate societies. And the story says that the natural world is the highest representation of perfection and that rather than to childishly destroy it, the more mature and intelligent way to live is to do so in harmony with the natural environment.
OCCUPIER/UNION GOAL: REVERSE SUPREME COURT RULINGS
By Howell Hurst
Let’s cut to the chase.
Occupy Wall Street’s basic truth is that secret big money has robbed almost all of us of democracy. Secret big money is the creator of the endless list of American ills that Occupy identifies. Secret big money is possible because of one thing: laws that authorize it. Secret big money emerges from the concept that corporations are people and that secret PACs [Political Action Committees] may clandestinely fund political campaigns. Supreme Court laws enable such big money to dominate.
Until the laws are overturned that authorize secret multimillionaire donors to fund political advertising to any dollar extent they wish, 330,000,000 or more of us have been robbed of our democratic rights.
Therein lies the opportunity that Occupiers and unionsmay take advantage of to unite the majority power of rank and file Americans in a common goal that will benefit most all of us.
The Occupiers unique ability to help Americans define and counter these laws rests in the unique relationship developing between them and unions. The Teamsters and other unions need help. The Occupiers need help. The mass of the American people need help. A majority of public opinion needs to coalesce into national involvement by the rank and file to emasculate the power of secret big money. Until this is done, all the street protests in the world will have little effect in changing our corrupted political situation.
All of us writers are wasting our time with lengthy analyses and endless egghead jawboning. If the unions and the Occupiers want to take on the serious
task of returning economic democracy to the American people, all they need to do is create the means for the everyday woman and man in the street to participate.
It has been suggested that “A People’s Convention,” held this year in such a highly symbolic location as mid-America Kansas, to contrast with the Democratic and Republican conventions, would be a powerful way to provide all Americans the opportunity to focus the media on the issues of importance them. It could be the basic step needed to return to us all our democratic rights.
If the power of unions would combine with the power of the Occupiers to host such a convention, Americans by the millions would stick with the Occupiers and help them build the political coalition necessary for people to regain control of America’s democracy.
A People’s Convention could present the legal means to reverse or over-ride the Supreme Court decisions in question, which would block all secret multimillionaire spending on elections. The specific people move might be a plebiscite [a national vote by the people]; it might be some other strategy, such as orchestrating a constitutional amendment.
Whatever technical move might arise out of A People’s Convention, taking on the Supreme Court and the secret big money that calls corporations people, that funds most all politicians, and inordinately influences most all elections, is the key log in the log jam that denies most Americans our rights as citizens of a republic.
Unions and the Occupiers are ideally positioned to empower the majority of American workers and laborers to regain the democratic rights that are ours.
The question is: Are the Unions and Occupiers ready to get serious?
Occupy The Solutions
By Colin Davis
America, as a culture is very goal oriented. We have a hard time getting a lot from process itself and we want to see results. It’s a cultural thing. Keeping that in mind, I think, will help Occupy related groups to keep the energy going.
I find it healthy that Occupy groups are oriented in a way which lets any and all opinions be heard and lets a group be steered by the members collectively rather than by a leader or core membership’s rule. But I have to say that I think that there is a time and a place for slower, process heavy groups and more structured, goal oriented groups. Its up to any one group where they want to be, but always shooting for goals is a good way to keep energy levels high.
I’m attending a number of working groups and Occupy affiliated groups, and I see that each of them is struggling to establish where it should go, or they have marked their goals very broadly in order to be as inclusive as possible. Again, this is great for process oriented groups which want to strengthen personal bonds, but it can be a turn off for goal oriented people who want to see more rapid results.
We all have a certain amount of time and energy, and we want to use it for the greater good, but we sometimes find ourselves going group to group looking for a place to settle, and never doing so because each group we find is unsure about what its place is, and many are not effective at reaching goals. So, here are a few ideas which may help in this regard.
Composting Anger at Occupy: An Oasis of Calm Amidst the Camp
By Madeleine Lansky
“I’m being raped!” screamed Georgia (not her real name) at the top of her lungs. “I’ve BEEN raped…and I’m BEING raped… and I WAS raped–and I’ve murdered people, too!”
Georgia is an elderly homeless woman who had been seen mumbling to herself and talking to auditory hallucinations around the Occupy San Francisco camp site. She was one of the attendees of our first Composting Anger meeting at the camp, which had just commenced five minutes prior.
“No! Not NOW!” barked Georgia, when the class looked at her in shock. “But I HAVE been raped. And I’ve murdered and raped people!” Georgia began to loop these phrases over and over, in a voice that was impossible to ignore, but impenetrable to the concerned questions of her peers.
I had walked into the OSF camp just days before, curious about rumors I’d heard about the growing population of street kids, homeless folk, and “travelers” that had set up shop within the Occupy sites. Some were reportedly committed to the movement, but others were said to be there just for the free food, medical care, and chance to party. Others saw OSF as a chance to hide from the police.
All in the Family: How family dynamics play out in the OWS movement
By Madeleine Lansky
The current debate about the Occupy Wall Street movement and its foibles—its vague demands, “communist” leanings or “rag tag” participants—reminds me eerily of family dynamics that I have seen play out in my child psychiatry practice.
If one were to describe the populace of the United States as a family, who would be the children, and who would be the parents? I would argue that the occupiers, as representatives of the 99%, would be the “children”, and that the parents would be a self-serving Wall Street and a sluggishly responsive government.
To therapists, calling someone a “child” is the opposite of an insult. It’s often the children who are the most thoughtful, insightful, caring and aware. The body politic—in this instance a metaphor for a family–is one in which the people in charge are not taking care of the family system as a whole, despite their hold on the power of the system.
Everyone is Expendable
We, the people, of OccupySF, are here to create an authentic consensus based democracy, that recognizes the value of all life.
We are determined to respectfully and with the full dedication of our hearts, minds and bodies, do everything in our power at this eleventh hour to rise from the rubble of disaster capitalism and celebrate the brilliance of the human spirit.
To give real respect to the indigenous people of this continent and the people whose ancestors were brought here as slaves, we recognize the rights to speech, assembly and the occupation of the commons as a human birthright that cannot be limited by governments, nations or corporations.
We recognize the rights to clean water, air, and earth for all life forms.
The world community is forming, the borders that stand between nations are dissolving as the evolutionary forces of human consciousness awaken to the possibility of sustainable communities. Corporations are the usurpers who cross borders to exploit labor and the environment, buying off corrupt politicians to reap their profits, while families are being ripped apart by deportations that stop people from exercising their rights to a decent living.
The Empire Dies, The People Rise!
(Speech delivered by Magick on the steps of SF City Hall on October 15th, the International Day of Protest for Occupy Everywhere!)
The media and the government ask us what do we want, what are our demands? What is our political platform? And we answer we do not have one issue or demand; we do not want to win over each other, one side against another.
What we offer is an invitation to the greatest experiment in the history of the world, a global experiment in true democracy. We are not waiting to be thrown a bone while the empire continues to lurch towards mass destruction.
The governments of the world have failed the people because they are not governments of the people.
We are practicing and learning consensus-based decision-making that arises out of protecting life itself.
Is Occupy San Francisco Still Alive?
By Ethan Davidson
Not long ago, I talked to my girlfriend’s 84-year-old great aunt at a family reunion in Kansas.
”I never doubted your intelligence” she said “but I doubted your conformity. Don’t forget, I am a traditionalist.”
She had my number, of course. But what I should have said was “In San Francisco, to be a non-conformist IS to be a traditionalist.”
I have been living in or near this city most of my life, and participating in it’s activist politics on and off since 1977.
But in recent years I have been feeling more and more like the San Francisco I love, the city of activists, poets, eccentrics, artists, visionaries, seekers, and just plain weirdoes, is dieing, drowning under wave after wave of dot com money.
A Suggested Strategy For The Occupiers
By Howell Hurst
The unique opportunity of a lifetime stands before The Occupiers. A presidential campaign is in progress over which they can wield the major influence – if they are willing to assume the responsibility. The Republicans hold a Convention next year. The Democrats hold a Convention.
The Occupiers are better positioned than anyone in the nation to host in 2012:APeople’sConvention.
Consider the benefits The Occupiers could bring to the country if they would focus the American people’s energy on defining in their own Conventionwhat they demand from a President today.
A current national poll documents that 50% of all Americans are either on the edge of or under the poverty line! These are the allies of The Occupiers.They would support, attend, and participate in A People’s Convention.
‘Tis The Season
By Colin Davis
I’m sorry to tell you all this, but our present system is not in any way fixable. And from what I can see, many of the younger folks, myself included, are just not that interested in trying to fix it. We are trying to figure out what it is exactly, and then we are going to replace it. Civilization as it is built, and the type of economics it uses, cannot possibly work in an equitable way, so we are going to replace it – that’s my prediction.
All of the basic laws of commerce are written to create and then leverage creditors over debtors. In fact, the fundamental laws and customs of nearly every “modern” country pre-suppose a hierarchical system built to subjugate and dominate other humans, children, females, animals, nature and even the universe itself. And right now, that system has become so alienated from its ancient human requirements that it’s spinning out of control like a smoking jet engine.
Why The Camp Matters
By Colin Davis
Last night, the San Francisco Police department raided the Occupy San Francisco camp at Justin Herman Plaza and confiscated all of the camper’s belongings. From what I can see from here, the camp has been wiped out. But we have seen this before. This is the third raid on an OSF camp. It remains to be seen if this camp will resurrect or if a new one will pop up elsewhere. Regardless, the way the Occupy camps are run and the type of participation they attract is similar all around the country. And that style is apparently extremely offensive to city officials.
Confronting The Aristocracy
By Howell Hurst
While tens of thousands of ordinary Americans demonstrate to expose the ethical shallowness of our nation’s wealthiest management elite, the politicians, police, and mass media that these pillars of society finance, react with the lack of creativity, compassion, and economic common sense that consistently characterize them.
The magnate’s words, responses, reporting and writing – all exhibit their labored, mechanical, mean-spirited mental paralysis: their utter lack of subtlety. Their over educated manipulation of language alone unveils the depth of disregard they hold for the common, living flesh-and-blood citizens of America. If their regressive strategies were not so bluntly brutal, they would be embarrassing. However, the blood is real, the tear gas tangible, their barely concealed conceit all too apparent.
Why We Occupy
By Colin Davis
As of today, the Occupy Movement is merely 7 weeks old. This worldwide undertaking is showing good staying power and is growing. There is a sense that there are many more surprises and advances to come.
There are as many views of the movement as there are observers. Here is one:
When I visit Occupy, I essentially step into a society within the society. And I’m encouraged by the members to participate in the creation and perfection of their micro civilization. They welcome me in and show me the rules of participation. They only ask that I listen to others first, and then I’m encouraged to say anything I want to – with all my honesty. Where else can I go for that?
By Chance Martin
By the time many of you read this, Mayor Ed Lee and the City and County of San Francisco will have concluded a Monday morning meeting to determine the fate of OccupySF’s last remaining open encampment at Justin Herman Bradley Manning Plaza. What little information we’ve managed to gather from Mohammed Neru, our City liaison, is that the discussion will involve a proposal to offer OccupySF a location far from our corporate and financial adversaries. The other tidbit was that the long-threatened police raid will likely occur Tuesday or Wednesday night… more likely meaning the wee hours of Wednesday or Thursday morning.
Hella, Hella Occupy: National Bank Transfer Day
November 5, 2011 San Francisco, CA: Justin Herman Plaza
By Al Pacina
The November 5th National Bank Transfer Day’s march against Big Banks began at Justin Herman Plaza, in San Francisco, and occupied its way to Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chinatown, and back. As the rain evolved from romantic to pelting, the people kept pace, kept chanting, and even the sage somehow kept burning. ”This is not just a march,” announced a key speaker, a tall woman with twisted blondish dreadlocks and a large, expressive mouth good for lip reading, “This is also a teach-in.”
At each Big Bank, the people were asked to “occupy” simply by sitting down. Then a designated panel of teachers gave succinct location-specific lectures taught through the crowd via the People’s Mic.
A Yearning for Direct Democracy
By Jeff Whitehead
One thing that is refreshing about this “Occupy” movement in San Francisco is the welcome it extends to anyone sincerely interested and willing to participate in any way they can. There is a real desire among many of these folks to have input and/or participation from anyone who has the knowledge, skills, or even just the energy to take part in San Francisco’s segment of the anti-greed-and-corruption movement that has been gaining momentum throughout the world. One of the deepest yearnings in the hearts of these “occupier thugs” (as the right-wing media enjoys calling them) is to have a genuine democratic process to live by. This is apparent in the general assemblies where there always seems to be a background focus on preventing anyone from feeling alienated and disallowed from having a voice in the decision-making that takes place there.
Authority and Autonomy
By Joshua Lerman
One cold and uncharacteristically bright day, when I was twenty-five years old, the world as I understood it shattered. I was a senior film/media studies student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, working on a documentary series about the city’s response to the impending (and then materialized) wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My digital camera stood on its tripod next to me. I was sitting in a standard gray office chair, across the desk from the professor I was interviewing. St. Martin’s college; I had never heard of it, even though it was just down the road from downtown Olympia in Lacey. I don’t remember the professor’s name or the lead that brought me to him, but there I was under strange fluorescent lights, surrounded by strange bulletin boards, at this catholic affiliated university, fixing him in the camera’s LCD screen, making sure he had “head room” and the aperture was appropriate for the assaulting light. He was kind, in his mid thirties (my age, now), wearing brown slacks, a blue button-down shirt, a brown tie and sporting a beard, also brown like his medium length hair, parted down the middle. He looked like a Sunday School teacher!
By Will Joseph
I have been waiting for this for thirty years.
That is, I have been waiting since the American public started down its road of mass delusion, thinking that we would all get rich if we gave everything that was in the public coffers to those who already were rich. The day Ronald Reagan was elected, I began looking forward to some future time when we would hit the streets, when we would tell those in power that we saw through what they were trying to sell us–or rather, trying to foist on us at an exorbitant price.
The time has arrived! –and I sit in my room and write because, on balance, what I risk by becoming visible in the eyes of local and national governments differs from what many others risk. In October, the NYPD chained a transgendered man to a jail-cell toilet that was in near constant use for eight hours, as well as refusing him the food and drink being offered to the other Occupy Wall Street protesters with whom he was arrested. When I read the account of what happened to him, I was actually relieved that this was the worst that had come about. How is it that I am supposed to find it comforting that he only got pissed on?