|Progessive Calendar 02.21.12 /2||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|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 --------1 of 9-------- 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 movement. 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 http://pfundonline.org 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. --------2 of 9-------- From: patty pattypax [at] earthlink.net via justcomm.org 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 ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) 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. --------3 of 9-------- From:Richard Kotlarz richkotlarz [at] gmail.com 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 Facilitators: Richard Kotlarz: richkotlarz [at] gmail.com, 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 Europe. Steven Gorg: steve [at] stevegorg.com, 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 achieved. 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 culture. 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 financiers.” 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 from? • 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 consultation. 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 continue. 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 --------4 of 9-------- 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 - www.kfai.org Share this event on Facebook and Twitter KFAI, Fresh Air Radio, 90.3 Mpls, 106.7 St. Paul, Listen on web www.kfai.org --------5 of 9-------- 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 Festival. 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] gmail.com, check the Face Book page “Climate Action Needed Now” or call 612-965-8284. --------6 of 9-------- From: Welfare Rights Committee welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com 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 individuals. 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 in The STATE OFFICE BUILDING. (100 MLK Blvd.) 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 closed. 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] house.mn Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/389400244410198/ --------7 of 9-------- 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 direction. 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 else. 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 law. 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 financiers. 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." --------8 of 9-------- Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by TomDispatch.com 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 group. 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 way: "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 Bay.” 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 campaign. 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 --------9 of 9-------- INVESTIGATE THE RICH -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shove Trove
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