Progessive Calendar 02.21.12 /2
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 14:19:21 -0800 (PST)
P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.21.12

1. Resource gathering 2.21.5:30pm
2. Felon/status           2.21 6:30pm
3. Money                   2.21/22 7pm
4. Black history          2.21 7pm
5. Sea change/film      2.21 7pm

6. Mn social net          2.22 2:30pm

7. Common Dreams - Occupy targets ALEC
8. Rebecca Solnit    - Occupy spring
9. ed                       - sign

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From:david [at] headwatersfoundation.orgHaving
Resource gathering 2.21.5:30pm

TuesdayFebruary 21, 2012
5:30-7:00 p.m.
Riverview Cafe &  Wine Bar
3747 42nd Avenue SMinneapolis

Social movements are about changing how and why we do what we do. To that
end, some have been asking if fundraising as a field can support social
movement organizations. Can it? Should it? If not fundraising, then how
will organizations gather the money, resources and support required?

Join Susan Raffo and Kate Eubank, Co-Executive Directors of PFund, as they
reflect on "Resource Gathering" as an alternative way of supporting the

 PFund Foundation is a vital resource and community builder for lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied communities by providing grants and
scholarships, developing leaders, and inspiring giving.  PFund
traces its roots back to 1987, when four friends joined together to create
a modest fund of $2,000 aimed at supporting and developing their LGBT
community.  Since then, PFund has grown to become a vibrant and vital
community foundation, that grants and scholarships to LGBT-related
individuals and organizations throughout the Upper Midwest - in Minnesota,
Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
You can learn more about PFund at
Come early tolearn more...

If you would like to be part of our ongoing work, join the Headwaters
Street Team of highly social, highly skilled and/or highly socially
networked people who serve as Headwaters outreach ambassadors, social media
advocates, and resource experts to the nonprofit organizations we support.
Some people call it volunteering, but we're taking it to the streets.

Informational meetings are held at 5 p.m. at the Riverview Cafe & Wine Bar
just before our Movement Building session begins.

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From: patty pattypax [at] via
Felon/status 2.21 6:30pm

Tuesday, Feb. 21,  Frank Brown, Organizer,  Justice 4All, TakeAction
Minnesota, will be the guest and will be discussing with us the discrepancy
of African Americans and people of color in our Criminal Justice System and
in our prisons.   One of the things he is working on is to "Ban the Box",
the box on applications for employment where a person must declare
him/herself a former prisoner, thus, a felon, and making it almost
impossible for getting the job.  He said it will be a very frank discussion.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN
Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

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From:Richard Kotlarz richkotlarz [at]
Subject: Money 2.21/22 7pm

Week #5 Sessions:
Tues, 2/21/12, Open Workshop - Money, Society and the Spirit
   Suggested theme: Open – Bring your questions and topics of concern
Wed, 2/22/12, Course Offering - Deconstructing & Renewing the Economic Order
   This week’s subject(s) – Continue picturing the process by which a
“Dollar” is born, and its ramifications for our economic practice, language
and culture.
Location: Macalester College (Old Main, Rm 009), 1600 Grand Avenue, St
Paul, MNTime: 7 to 9 pm

Richard Kotlarz:  richkotlarz [at], 218-828-1366
Richard is a seeker after the truth about money and the economic life, who
has engaged in literally thousands of discussions on money-related topics
with people from all walks of life, across the U.S., and in Canada and
Steven Gorg:  steve [at], 651-334-7624
Steven is a professional environmental engineer who has come to see that
becoming truly conscious about Money is the portal through which a
meaningful and effective ecological and social transformation can be

Richard and Steven have discovered that, concerning money, there is a story
to be told and a vision to behold of which We the People are getting hardly
even an inkling through conventional media, academic orthodoxy, or popular

Offered under auspices of Experimental Community Education of the Twin
Cities (EXCOTC)
Quote of the Week:
“The division of the United States into federations of equal force was
decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe.
 These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained in one
block and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence
which would upset their financial dominance over the world.  The voice of
the Rothschilds prevailed.  They saw tremendous booty if they could
substitute two feeble democracies, indebted to the financiers, for the
vigorous Republic which was practically self-providing.  Therefore, they
started their emissaries in order to exploit the question of slavery . . .
 Lincoln’s personality surprised them.  His being a candidate had not
troubled them; they thought to easily dupe a woodcutter.  But Lincoln read
their plots and understood that the South was not the worst foe, but the
Otto von Bismarck, 1876
*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
  *     *     *     *
General Information

• What is the real story behind all the bad economic news?
• Why are we not richer by our burgeoning tangible wealth, instead of
poorer by a snowballing financial “debt”?
• How could it be that an innocent child born in the U.S. today is already,
according to the “experts,” a quarter-million dollars in “debt”? When did
newborn babies borrow this money? How are they supposed to “repay” it? Is
their future mortgaged before it starts? Has “original debt” replaced
“original sin”?
• If every dollar in circulation is “borrowed” into existence through
“loans” from private banks, where does the money to pay the “interest” come
• After a century of explosive growth in real economic activity, why have
we not grown out of our “debt”? Is there a perverse logic built into the
system that is causing us to grow into it our “debt”?
• Why in the last century have family farmers been forced off the land by
financial foreclosure, or threat of foreclosure, until now those living on
the farm comprise less that two-percent of the population?
• What is this “debt” burden doing in real terms to our civilization, our
earth, ourselves? What is “debt” anyway? What is its effect on the psyche
of generations growing up in saturation of its financial demands,
ecological devastation and social disintegration?
• If I am well-educated, working hard and “playing by the rules” in the
“richest country on earth,” why can I not pay my bills and/or why am I
perpetually in debt?
• Has fear of financial destitution replaced fear of dying as the most
dreaded eventuality in people’s lives?
• Is there hope?

These and many other monetary riddles haunt our post-modern world. Indeed,
they are increasingly experienced as threatening the viability of our
personal lives, the existence of civilization, and even the continuation of
life on earth itself. Can we get a perspective on this? Can we turn a
corner? Is there a vision on the other side?

These questions and more will be explored in two separate series of
two-hour evening sessions that will meet every week on Tuesday and
Wednesday, respectively.

Tuesday Open Workshop:  Money, Society and the Spirit
This is conceived of as a discussion that will introduce the attendee to
the way money originates and how, generally, the financial order, political
life and civilized culture arises from that process.  From there we will
explore money and economy along whatever avenues of inquiry are of interest
to those attending.  All are welcome, whether having attended a previous
session or not.

The tenor of Tuesday’s conversation session will be informal.  It will
start at 7 pm (promptness is helpful), and end at 9 pm, or however long
people want to stay and talk.

Wednesday Course Offering:  Deconstructing & Renewing the Economic Order
For those interested in a more structured, rigorous and substantive
learning experience, each Wednesday evening there will be a class that will
offer specific content much in the manner of a college course, but without
right answers, grades or accreditation.  Nevertheless, there will be an
emphasis on intellectual rigor and conversational discipline.  In
particular each attendee will be asked to set aside his or her previously
acquired “financial sophistication,” and be ready to approach the subject
with a clean slate.  Holding forth on one’s opinions, ideologies or
expertise about the financial order and will be strongly discouraged.  This
will be a serious exploration of “Money,” a topic that has so far bedeviled
human experience, along new paths of inquiry.  The first hour will be
devoted to a lecture-presentation, and the second opened up to discussion
based on what had been presented.  Each class will have an announced topic
or theme, and, as required, hand out material.

The tenor of the Wednesday’s class session will more formal, and the
importance of starting promptly (7 pm), and ending on time (9 pm), is
emphasized.  Regular attendance is strongly recommended, and any content
missed can be covered in one-on-one or small-group discussions with the
facilitators outside the class session.  Those who wish to join in after
the class sessions have started are welcome, but are encouraged to meet
with a facilitator outside of class in preparation.   We will be embarked
upon a serious course of study, analysis and exploration, and it is crucial
that a rigor of thought and discipline of discourse be observed.  The
rewards, we believe will be great.

The Tuesday and Wednesday sessions are separate offerings, and it is not
necessary to attend both, but they are designed to compliments each other,
and attending both could create a more comprehensive experience.  The
facilitators are available outside of scheduled sessions for special

Both classes are free, but there are costs, so donations will be gratefully
accepted. We ask that those who attend and find the benefits of the
sessions to be real seriously consider the gesture of making an offering at
whatever level seems good.  At the root of our work is a pay-it-forward
spirit, and the ideal that we all benefit if we look to the needs of
others, as we would appreciate others considering ours.  Economically
speaking, that is how we become visible to each other in an actual way that
reaches beyond the merely theoretical or rhetorical.  Monies or other
resources received will be used with an eye toward ensuring that the
unfolding public conversation and consciousness about “money” will

Experience suggests that we will have a wonderfully fruitful time.

Dates & Times (Sessions held every Tuesday/Wednesday, from January 24/25
through May 22/23, 2012):
All sessions will convene from 7 to 9 pm:

Money, Society & the Spirit           Deconstructing & Renewing the
Economic Order
   January 24, 31                                     January 25
   February 7, 14, 21, 28                         February 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
   March 6, 13, 20, 27                             March 7, 14, 21, 28
   April 3, 10, 17, 24                               April 4, 11, 18, 25
   May 1, 8, 15, 22                                  May 2, 9, 16, 23

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Black history 2.21 7pm

Now Hear This KFAI's 1st Annual LIVE Soundstage Celebrating Black History
Month Tuesday, Feb. 21st, 2012, 7pm-9pm Golden Thyme Cafe 921 Selby Ave St.
Paul, MN 55104 90.3 FM Mpls, 106.7 FM St. Paul listeon online -
Share this event on Facebook and Twitter

KFAI, Fresh Air Radio, 90.3 Mpls, 106.7 St. Paul, Listen on web

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Sea change/film 2.21 7pm

“A Sea Change” movie will be shown at Ridgedale Library, February 21

On Tuesday, February 21, at 7 pm, the film “”A Sea Change – Imagine a World
without Fish” will be shown at Ridgedale Library, 12601 Ridgedale Drive,
Minnetonka, MN 55305.  The film is about the problem of ocean
acidification, which is being called the lesser known evil twin of climate
change.  This film beautifully documents the real danger that fish and
seafood populations in the oceans could collapse as a side-effect of the
CO2 that we’re putting into the atmosphere.  Some CO2 from burning fossil
fuels is absorbed by the oceans, making the oceans slightly more acidic,
which makes shellfish at the base of the food chain less able to build
their shells.

“A Sea Change” follows the journey of retired history teacher Sven Huseby
on his quest to discover what is happening to the world’s oceans. After
reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s article “The Darkening Sea” in The New Yorker,
Sven becomes obsessed with the rising acidity of the oceans and what this
“sea change” bodes for mankind. His quest takes him to Alaska, California,
Washington, and Norway as he uncovers a worldwide crisis that most people
are unaware of. Speaking with oceanographers, marine biologists,
climatologists, artists and policy experts, Sven discovers that global
warming is only half the story of the environmental catastrophe that awaits
us. Excess carbon dioxide is dissolving in our oceans, changing seawater
chemistry. The increasing acidity of the water makes it difficult for tiny
creatures at the bottom of the food web – such as the pteropods in the
films – to form their shells. The effects could work their way up to the
fish one billion people depend upon for their source of protein.

A Sea Change has won these awards: Best Green Film, Kosovo International
Documentary Film Festival; Grand Prize, Feature Documentary, FICA
International Environmental Film Festival; Dumosa Award for Best Coastal
Film, Cottonwood Environmental Film Festival; Best Nordic Country Film,
Polar Film Festival; Aloha Accolade Award, Honolulu International Film
This film is being shown as part of the Climate SOS Film Series.  For more
information about the Climate SOS Film Series, contact
ClimateSOSFilmSeries [at], check the Face Book page “Climate Action
Needed Now” or call 612-965-8284.

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From: Welfare Rights Committee welfarerightsmn [at]
Mn social net 2.22 2:30pm

Join the Welfare Rights Committee and others to protest the most damaging
and devastating changes to public assistance for families and poor people.
The politicians are ready to make life unlivable for families and disabled

WEDNESDAY, February 22, 2012 - 2:30 PM (expect to be there till 4-4:30 pm)
Health and Human Services Reform
Room: 200 State Office Building

The politicians are poised to gut important social programs that families
rely on to get them through any economic crisis. Our families have been
living in economic crisis for many years even before the collapse of the
economy. On Wednesday, the politicians will seize their power and make life
even harder for us to get out of poverty.

How are they going to do this?

1) cutting the time limit that families can have to get assistance (from 5
yr Life-time to 3 years Life-time).
2) To throw families off assistance when they reach 100% of the federal
poverty guidelines. Even though the guidelines haven’t been adjusted for
years and welfare grants have been raised in 26 years.
3) Literally criminalize poor families by doing background checks from the
past 10 years. If you have any past incidents from 10 years AGO, they can
and will deny your families assistance.

THIS IS SERIOUS! When bills like these are being considered, politicians
are making life harder for poor families and disabled individuals when they
are at an all-time low in their lives. In these economic times, more and
more people are slipping into these ranks.

With all these cruel and inhumane bills the politicians want to pass, how
are these gut wrenching bills going to help people get out of poverty?

One and the only answer: THEY ARE NOT!

It’s very important that we come to the house on Wednesday, bring signs,
our voices and protest these criminal and immoral bills. These politicians
really want to criminalize poor and low-income people and families in any
way they can. Let’s stop them!

Below is a short description of this gut wrenching bill. So, it is VERY
important for everyone to come to the hearing and PROTEST. (At the bottom
are 2 other bills that will be heard that are bad.)

(House File 2080 -Senate File 833) This bill modifies the MFIP program by
(1) reducing the maximum time limit from 60-months to 36-months, (2)
reducing the MFIP exit level from 115 percent to 100 percent of the federal
poverty guidelines, (3) disqualifying persons convicted of a drug offense
within the past ten years, (4) requiring criminal history background
studies at the time of application and recertification to determine if an
applicant or participant has been convicted of a drug or other
disqualifying offense, and (5) modifies sanctions to reduce the number of
sanctions for noncompliance a participant receives before the MFIP case is

Please forward and invite everyone!  (If you can help in any way, please
let me know.)

Other bills on the Agenda:
HF1956 (Anderson, S.) Offenders possessing multiple welfare electronic
benefit cards required to be reported by law enforcement departments to the
commissioner of human services.
HF2081 (Daudt) Electronic benefit transfer cards modified.
HF2080 (Daudt) MFIP ineligibility modified, MFIP sanctions modified, MFIP
time limit modified, and MFIP exit level modified.

If you can, sign up to testify. They need to be slammed on these stupid
bills. (If you don't know if you can come, sign up anyway. The more people
that sign up the more they can't be in denial that what they are doing is
very criminal!  *you can sign up as a citizen, too! Send an email to
holly.iverson [at]

Facebook event:

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Occupy Movement Targets Corporate Interest Group with Ties to Legislators
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will face ire of the 99%
- Common Dreams staff
Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by Common Dreams

A coalition of Occupy groups, led by Occupy Portland in Oregon, is calling
on people "to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC)" with direct actions and public events later this
month. The Occupy groups, organizing under the banner Shut Down the
Corporations, sees ALEC as the "prime example of the way corporations buy
off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of
corporations and not people." ALEC was instrumental in creating the
anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin last year and the racist bill SB 1070
in Arizona, among many other measures pushed or passed in state houses
across the country. ALEC uses its large coffers and wealthy membership to
spread free-market, corporate-friendly laws around the country.

Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, was modelled on ALEC's No
Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act. (Photograph: Michael Dwyer/AP)
The day of action is slated for Leap Day, February 29th.

According to their call to action:

Occupy Portland calls for a national day of non-violent direct action to
reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and
greed by shutting down the corporations. We are rejecting a society that
does not allow us control of our future. We will reclaim our ability to
shape our world in a democratic, cooperative, just and sustainable

We call on the Occupy Movement and everyone seeking freedom and justice to
join us in this day of action.

There has been a theft by the 1% of our democratic ability to shape and
form the society in which we live and our society is steered toward the
destructive pursuit of consumption, profit and greed at the expense of all

What is ALEC?
ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched”
organization. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which studies and
tracks the group at its ALEC Exposed website, agrees.  They say that ALEC
should not be considered a lobbyist group or a corporate front group, but
something altogether worse. "It is as if a state legislature had been
reconstituted," ALEC Exposed explains on their website, "yet corporations
had pushed the people out the door."

Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the
changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.
Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations
sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve
“model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets
jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not
vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations.
Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then
bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the
land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy
innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the
bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by
legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into

You can search for and review ALEC-influenced bills in your state by using
the ALEC Exposed wiki here.

According to a report in The Guardian:

Alec was founded in September 1973 as a "nonpartisan membership association
for conservative state lawmakers". The organisation, which counts the
conservative billionaire Koch brothers among its financial backers, has a
membership some of the largest companies in America.

One of the better known examples of Alec's influence can be found in
Arizona's SB 1070 bill. The legislation, seen as one of the strictest
anti-illegal immigrant laws in America's history and criticised by Barack
Obama, was modelled on Alec's "No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants
Act", which had been approved by an Alec task force made up, in part, of
prison companies that stood to benefit from the act being passed.

Democratic lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin are seeking to introduce the
Alec Accountability Act in their states, which would require Alec to
register as a lobbying organisation and subsequently disclose its

Mark Pocan, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin state assembly who is
gunning for Congress in in Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District, is
behind the proposed Wisconsin legislation.

"Alec is like a giant corporate dating service [for] lonely legislators and
their special interest corporate allies," Pocan told the Guardian. "Alec
operates best when it operates in the shadows. Once people find out that
it's really nothing but a front for corporate special interests you start
to know that the ideas they put forward aren't in the public good."

According to The Guardian, the nationwide protest at the end of the month

... is being co-ordinated by Occupy Portland, with activists across the
country due to take part – including from Occupy Wall Street and Occupy
Oakland. [...]

David Osborn, from Occupy Portland, said "non-violent direct action" was
being encouraged, including protests, rallies and sit-ins.

"In different places it's going to look really different," he said. "In
some places it's going to be more of a rally, or a protest outside a
corporation that's involved with Alec, whether that's Bank of America, or
Pfizer, Altria, or whatever. In other places, and certainly here in
Portland, it's going to take more of the form of civil disobedience or
direct action, where people will be doing a sit-in or other creative things
to disrupt business as usual."

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Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by
Mad, Passionate Love -- and Violence: Occupy Heads into the Spring
by Rebecca Solnit

When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can
hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel
over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them -- or if all goes
well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than
despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and
young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured
all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences
hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and
anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady
moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive
marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who
never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found
themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.

All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police
brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are
used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what
we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed
that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that
accompanied it.

This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as
never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the
“We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d
lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or
medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.

And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically
fragile, the marginal, and the homeless -- some of them endlessly needy and
with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power
found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health
resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society
on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.

And then there was the violence.

The Faces of Violence

The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the
state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force on sleepers
in tents, mothers with children, unarmed pedestrians, young women already
penned up, unresisting seated students, poets, professors, pregnant women,
wheelchair-bound occupiers, and octogenarians. It has been a sustained
campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes
of which we haven’t seen in 40 years.

On the part of activists, there were also a few notable incidents of
violence in the hundreds of camps, especially violence against women. The
mainstream media seemed to think this damned the Occupy movement, though it
made the camps, at worst, a whole lot like the rest of the planet, which,
in case you hadn’t noticed, seethes with violence against women. But these
were isolated incidents.

That old line of songster Woody Guthrie is always handy in situations like
this: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” The
police have been going after occupiers with projectile weapons, clubs, and
tear gas, sending some of them to the hospital and leaving more than a few
others traumatized and fearful. That’s the six-gun here.

But it all began with the fountain pens, slashing through peoples’ lives,
through national and international economies, through the global markets.
These were wielded by the banksters, the “vampire squid,” the deregulators
in D.C., the men -- and with the rarest of exceptions they were men -- who
stole the world.

That’s what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale,
the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit
besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided
that service for free to the banks (thereby further impoverishing
themselves as they created new paupers out of old taxpayers).  And the
police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across
the United States.

The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods, including those
sliced and diced derivatives, to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the
many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t
ever lose sight of that.

Oakland’s Beautiful Nonviolence

Now that we’re done remembering the major violence, let’s talk about Occupy
Oakland. A great deal of fuss has been made about two incidents in which
mostly young people affiliated with Occupy Oakland damaged some property
and raised some hell.

The mainstream media and some faraway pundits weighed in on those Bay Area
incidents as though they determined the meaning and future of the
transnational Occupy phenomenon.  Perhaps some of them even hoped,
consciously or otherwise, that harped on enough these might divide or
destroy the movement. So it’s important to recall that the initial impact
of Occupy Oakland was the very opposite of violent, stunningly so, in ways
that were intentionally suppressed.

Occupy Oakland began in early October as a vibrant, multiracial gathering.
A camp was built at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, and thousands received
much-needed meals and healthcare for free from well-organized volunteers.
Sometimes called the Oakland Commune, it was consciously descended from
some of the finer aspects of an earlier movement born in Oakland, the Black
Panthers, whose free breakfast programs should perhaps be as
well-remembered and more admired than their macho posturing.

A compelling and generous-spirited General Assembly took place nightly and
then biweekly in which the most important things on Earth were discussed by
wildly different participants.  Once, for instance, I was in a breakout
discussion group that included Native American, white, Latino, and
able-bodied and disabled Occupiers, and in which I was likely the eldest
participant; another time, a bunch of peacenik grandmothers dominated my

This country is segregated in so many terrible ways -- and then it wasn’t
for those glorious weeks when civil society awoke and fell in love with
itself. Everyone showed up; everyone talked to everyone else; and in little
tastes, in fleeting moments, the old divides no longer divided us and we
felt like we could imagine ourselves as one society. This was the dream of
the promised land -- this land, that is, without its bitter divides. Honey
never tasted sweeter, and power never felt better.

Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime
went down 19% in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. "It
may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively
impacting crime in Oakland," the police chief wrote to the mayor in an
email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little
fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that
it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just
by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.

The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was
abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city.
“You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once
upon a time -- a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave
ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away
violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their
belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many
thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a
stunning display of popular power on November 2nd.

That night, some kids did the smashy-smashy stuff that everyone gets really
excited about.  (They even spray-painted “smashy” on a Rite Aid drugstore
in giant letters.) When we talk about people who spray-paint and break
windows and start bonfires in the street and shove people and scream and
run around, making a demonstration into something way too much like the
punk rock shows of my youth, let’s keep one thing in mind: they didn’t send
anyone to the hospital, drive any seniors from their homes, spread despair
and debt among the young, snatch food and medicine from the desperate, or
destroy the global economy.

That said, they are still a problem.  They are the bait the police take and
the media go to town with.  They create a situation a whole lot of us don’t
like and that drives away many who might otherwise participate or
sympathize. They are, that is, incredibly bad for a movement, and represent
a form of segregation by intimidation.

But don’t confuse the pro-vandalism Occupiers with the vampire squid or the
up-armored robocops who have gone after us almost everywhere.  Though their
means are deeply flawed, their ends are not so different than yours.
There’s no question that they should improve their tactics or maybe just
act tactically, let alone strategically, and there’s no question that a lot
of other people should stop being so apocalyptic about it.

Those who advocate for nonviolence at Occupy should remember that
nonviolence is at best a great spirit of love and generosity, not a prissy
enforcement squad. After all, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who
gets invoked all the time when such issues come up, didn’t go around saying
grumpy things about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

Violence Against the Truth

Of course, a lot of people responding to these incidents in Oakland are
actually responding to fictional versions of them. In such cases, you could
even say that some journalists were doing violence against the truth of
what happened in Oakland on November 2nd and January 28th.

The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, reported on the day’s events this

"Among the most violent incidents that occurred Saturday night was in front
of the YMCA at 23rd Street and Broadway. Police corralled protesters in
front of the building and several dozen protesters stormed into the Y,
apparently to escape from the police, city officials and protesters said.
 Protesters damaged a door and a few fixtures, and frightened those inside
the gym working out, said Robert Wilkins, president of the YMCA of the East

Wilkins was apparently not in the building, and first-person testimony
recounts that a YMCA staff member welcomed the surrounded and battered
protesters, and once inside, some were so terrified they pretended to work
out on exercise machines to blend in.

I wrote this to the journalists who described the incident so peculiarly:
“What was violent about [activists] fleeing police engaging in wholesale
arrests and aggressive behavior? Even the YMCA official who complains about
it adds, ‘The damage appears pretty minimal.’ And you call it violence?
That's sloppy.”

The reporter who responded apologized for what she called her “poor word
choice” and said the piece was meant to convey police violence as well.

When the police are violent against activists, journalists tend to frame it
as though there were violence in some vaguely unascribable sense that
implicates the clobbered as well as the clobberers. In, for example, the
build-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the
mainstream media kept portraying the right of the people peaceably to
assemble as tantamount to terrorism and describing all the terrible things
that the government or the media themselves speculated we might want to do
(but never did).

Some of this was based on the fiction of tremendous activist violence in
Seattle in 1999 that the New York Times in particular devoted itself to
promulgating. That the police smashed up nonviolent demonstrators and
constitutional rights pretty badly in both Seattle and New York didn’t
excite them nearly as much. Don’t forget that before the obsession with
violence arose, the smearing of Occupy was focused on the idea that people
weren’t washing very much, and before that the framework for
marginalization was that Occupy had “no demands.” There’s always something.

Keep in mind as well that Oakland’s police department is on the brink of
federal receivership for not having made real amends for old and
well-documented problems of violence, corruption, and mismanagement, and
that it was the police department, not the Occupy Oakland demonstrators,
which used tear gas, clubs, smoke grenades, and rubber bullets on January
28th. It’s true that a small group vandalized City Hall after the
considerable police violence, but that’s hardly what the plans were at the
outset of the day.

The action on January 28th that resulted in 400 arrests and a media
conflagration was called Move-In Day. There was a handmade patchwork banner
that proclaimed “Another Oakland Is Possible” and a children’s contingent
with pennants, balloons, and strollers. Occupy Oakland was seeking to take
over an abandoned building so that it could reestablish the community, the
food programs, and the medical clinic it had set up last fall. It may not
have been well planned or well executed, but it was idealistic.

Despite this, many people who had no firsthand contact with Occupy Oakland
inveighed against it or even against the whole Occupy movement. If only
that intensity of fury were to be directed at the root cause of it all, the
colossal economic violence that surrounds us.

All of which is to say, for anyone who hadn’t noticed, that the honeymoon
is over.

Now for the Real Work

The honeymoon is, of course, the period when you’re so in love you don’t
notice differences that will eventually have to be worked out one way or
another. Most relationships begin as though you were coasting downhill.
 Then come the flatlands, followed by the hills where you’re going to have
to pedal hard, if you don’t just abandon the bike.

Occupy might just be the name we’ve put on a great groundswell of popular
outrage and a rebirth of civil society too deep, too broad, to be a
movement. A movement is an ocean wave: this is the whole tide turning from
Cairo to Moscow to Athens to Santiago to Chicago. Nevertheless, the
American swell in this tide involves a delicate alliance between liberals
and radicals, people who want to reform the government and campaign for
particular gains, and people who wish the government didn’t exist and
mostly want to work outside the system.  If the radicals should frighten
the liberals as little as possible, surely the liberals have an equal
obligation to get fiercer and more willing to confront -- and to remember
that nonviolence, even in its purest form, is not the same as being nice.

Surely the only possible answer to the tired question of where Occupy
should go from here (as though a few public figures got to decide) is:
everywhere. I keep being asked what Occupy should do next, but it’s already
doing it. It is everywhere.

In many cities, outside the limelight, people are still occupying public
space in tents and holding General Assemblies.  February 20th, for
instance, was a national day of Occupy solidarity with prisoners; Occupiers
are organizing on many fronts and planning for May Day, and a great many
foreclosure defenses from Nashville to San Francisco have kept people in
their homes and made banks renegotiate. Campus activism is reinvigorated,
and creative and fierce discussions about college costs and student debt
are underway, as is a deeper conversation about economics and ethics that
rejects conventional wisdom about what is fair and possible.

Occupy is one catalyst or facet of the populist will you can see in a host
of recent victories. The campaign against corporate personhood seems to be
gaining momentum.  A popular environmental campaign made President Obama
reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada, despite immense
Republican and corporate pressure. In response to widespread outrage, the
Susan B. Komen Foundation reversed its decision to defund cancer detection
at Planned Parenthood.  Online campaigns have forced Apple to address its
hideous labor issues, and the ever-heroic Coalition of Immokalee Workers at
last brought Trader Joes into line with its fair wages for farmworkers

These genuine gains come thanks to relatively modest exercises of popular
power.  They should act as reminders that we do have power and that its
exercise can be popular. Some of last fall’s exhilarating conversations
have faltered, but the great conversation that is civil society awake and
arisen hasn’t stopped.

What happens now depends on vigorous participation, including yours, in
thinking aloud together about who we are, what we want, and how we get
there, and then acting upon it. Go occupy the possibilities and don’t stop
pedaling. And remember, it started with mad, passionate love.

© 2012 TomDispatch
Rebecca Solnit is an activist and the author of many books, including:
Wanderlust: A History of Walking, The Battle of The Story of the Battle in
Seattle (with her brother David), and Storming The Gates of Paradise:
Landscapes for Politics. Her most recent book is, A Paradise Built in Hell,
is now available. She is a contributing editor to Harper's Magazine

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