The Future and Direction of Occupy

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The Future and Direction of Occupy

AGENDA thus far early consensus maybe to skip 1.

1. What's Uppermost on Your Mind Right Now? What do you NEED to say?

(sometimes if people feel heard right at the beginning, then meetings go
smoother) ... break out at the beginning?

2. What would the GOAL of an occupation be?

3. How does an occupation further our objectives/passed resolutions?

Links to resources, resolutions, maps notes etc

OB Declaration:
OB Statement of Autonomy:
All Resolutions:

Recent resolutions:
Recent Resolutions
• Occupy Boston Announces New General Assembly Schedule
• The General Assembly agrees to fund May First Coalition, InReach WG and approves changes in GA location, process and a special presentation
• General Assembly Endorses Rally for Union of Adjunct Faculty
• General Assembly Supports an Alternative Decision Making Process ? Consensus
• OB Joins With National Lawyers Guild in Congratulating the Legal Working Group
• General Assembly to Move Back Outside
• Donations Will Be Collected for Family of Fallen Occupy Boston Activist
• Occupy Boston Contributes Resources for General Strike Actions
• .00

General Background

We put up a wiki page to act as a "directory" for the various planning efforts:

Direct Background

Next there is the Roadmap effort:

People might want to note the link to "Strategic Planning" basics/educational resources.

On the Roadmap wiki page is the list of items that came from our Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats discussion.

Note that there are two sets of notes:
- pre-disruption:
- post-disruption: occupyboston/FSU on youtube and @OccupyBostonFSU on twitter also, at 7pm, WED.
FSU teaching-learning everywhere EDUCATION is a weapon of Mass CONSTRUCTION

1st 3 or 4 replies via email (Community_Forum or SAA)

Personal; replies:
--- one vote for using a forum format and for tolerance of all opinions --- Jimi

--- with all due respect, the last thing I would do, tomorrow night is start with the ice-breaker you propose . . . too many people have had their feelings hurt and to allow everyone to unleash, whatever s/he/they feel the need to say, without a means of processing led by highly skilled facilitators, I believe is a recipe for disaster. … Greg

--- Simply discuss what to do, feelings are not actions. My focus would be on OB being visible, having improved communication, and having a place to make signs, hold meetings, and have community internet access with a physical bulletin board. … Deb S B

--- No touchy feelee. Outputs and focus! Critical conversation please! We need to figure out shit! Please! Thanks, Rita

--- --- I'd like to add to the agenda, "apologizing to Jamarhl" --- Terra

--- Most need to say:
I miss the synergy (magic, socializing intelligence) of an encampment
Communication is key to our effectiveness, and is strained, unorganized and separated by the technology divide, socioeconomic and ageism (or people who are barley used to the old e-tools and the new social networking) ... as well as racial, and the ubiquitous, American (western-Roman) power-over paradigm.

Goal: To mix, create, and multiply our efforts thorough sharing real time/space and to allow our collective wisdom to be witnessed by many.
Goal 2. To be a role model, (the judge upheld our 1st amendment right to be a model community (and to have tents)) … eden occupyboston/FSU on youtube and @OccupyBostonFSU on twitter also, at 7pm, WED.
FSU teaching-learning everywhere EDUCATION is a weapon of Mass CONSTRUCTION

Nelson's email

I'll be the first to admit that there's a huge question mark hovering over Occupy Boston. At the time, I hadn't fully come to grasp the true, revolutionary potential that the occupy camps possessed. What we had down at Dewey Sq. was truly something wonderful. Dewey Sq. was a liberated/communal space where we fed each other, clothed each other, taught ourselves solidarity as well as how to look after each other/mutual aid, taught ourselves how to make decisions horizontally and without hierarchy. It was a space that for many of us (myself included) we were exposed to and learned about anti-oppression and privilege and patriarchy, etc. Our camp was a home away from home to some, but most importantly, it was a convergence space for activists from all around boston & the burbs to finally unite under an umbrella and really get to work doing some great things for the people. The camp was also a space for us to dream and plan and scheme, and a place for many of us to attempt to build our version of a better society in the shell of the old.

Hell yeah Dewey Sq. was a toxic cocktail of bad apples, dealers, delinquents, as well as all the baggage that comes with them, but it was a space that put many of us face to face with the worst victims of our society. Unfortunately, most of the time our camp was a den of oppression & racism and violence and not so all-inclusiveness. However, at its heart the occupy camps offered something that most of us had never tasted before, a true sense of camaraderie and bonds of friendship that'll last us the rest of our lives. A large number of lifelong friendships were forged over the fires at Dewey Sq.

I'm convinced that if we had more time to really work on teaching each other about anti-oppression/etc, that we could've really transformed our camp into something really beautiful. In the days prior to our second raid I was so ready to pack up Dewey Sq. and move on to the next phase of Occupy Boston. I was sick of the drama, violence, and blatant racism & sexism that plagued our camp. There were nightly disturbances, usually involving the usual cast of characters that Anna, John Ford, I and others on the community safety team stayed up most nights to defuse and deescalate. I know and recognize that Boston is an elitist, overly entitled, intellectual, closet-racist city. We have a long way to go to catch up with our comrades in Oakland and other cities, no doubt.

Occupy as a movement is extremely young, yet right now we find ourselves in some sort of a lull, in some ways more than others. Our showing this month at the Anti-NATO actions out in Chicago (many many thanks to National Nurses United for busing us there & back) was impressive to say the least and provided us with a step in the right direction. NNU was able to bus in about 1,000 of us occupiers from all over the country. From NYC, LA , Miami, Portland, etc. We came, we sang and danced, we marched (hell we had actions everyday we were there. We even had a march about an hour after getting off the buses). I feel, that what kept this occupychicago/99 solidarity shindig together was the fact that they had provided us with a convergence center to all gather. It was a "rent-a-camp" if you will, a spot for us to all eat, coordinate, sleep and hang. Hanging and getting to know each other is so key to building strong bonds of solidarity. so is just chilling and shooting the shit, which we did plenty of.

May Day (may 1st) was a great opportunity for occupy to re-assert itself by liberating public space. This did not happen though. I'm not saying we should just pack up and call it quits or abandon the tactic occupying public space. Our comrades in Oakland have "moved" on from occupy, declaring it dead and they have declared themselves the "Oakland Commune". They've written that their "commune" flourished during their camp, but had been "built" years before. So too did our commune, in its own way. Ours flourished at Dewey, although up until now it hasn't been acknowledged or given its name.
( I use here a lot of the same ideas they put forth in their article because they put words to a lot of my ideas and helped articulate them for me. I had been thinking about this idea of a" boston commune" for a while now. What really got me into this whole idea was Occupy Oakland's "Move-In Day, Jan 28th) and their tagline, "If its vacant, take it! "I've discussed this idea in many forms and over many drinks, and I've talked about it ad nausiem to Kostigen & others. This article plus my ideas made me approach Kostigen and see where he was coming from. We bounced ideas of each other, talked and decided to call a public Occupy Boston event for us all to sit down and hash out what the heck we can all do to make this movement really take off in Boston. I'm convinced that "occupy" is it, this is it folks. Its either now or never, if not now, when. I've thrown all my efforts into occupy, I've given up 2 semesters at my university. There has been an explosion of interest into anarchism thanks to occupy (myself included, again), and the anarchist community here in boston was already fairly large pre-occupy.

Look, like I said before, down at Dewey we were creating the society we had all envisioned within the shell of the old. We lived communally, ate communally and made decisions communally. We were showing the people that it is possible to live in a world without capitalism or the state or police. Obviously this newly re-discovered way of living and cooperating and peacefully coexisting scared the shit out of the powers that be. So right around the New Year, when the state and the status quo finally recognized the true power, strong bonds of friendships and the resistance to their authority that was brewing down at the occupy camps. They used their militarized attack force, the police, to eradicate any and all major camps, in almost all major cities. So, without anymore camps for us to practice communal living, mutual aid and all the other revolutionary shit that went down, they effectively beheaded occupy. This left us to our GAs and its potential for failure due to a lack of camp and any real direction/focus. Why have GAs (general assemblies) when there isn't any camp to make decisions for? So, our GA here in Boston, like many others, has shrunk into a mere shadow of what it used to be. Before, our GAs were averaging over 150 people every GA, now we struggle to barely get 20. Our actions and marches are no different, they've gone from thousands of people like we had on Indigenous People's Day (11/10) to us now struggling to get 50 out into the streets. Now I'm not downing or trashing assemblies, be it a general assembly or a popular assembly or whatever. I'm not saying we should stop meeting or having assemblies or marching either. In the future, hopefully there are a lot more assemblies and each neighborhood has there own. Our ability to practice direct, horizontal, participatory democracy is something that all political/social/economic movements should strive to practice and preach.

Those of us who had done any previous political organizing in Boston prior to OWS know how damn hard it was and to what lengths we had to go to get a decent showing and get people out into the streets. To tell you the truth, I had no freaking idea what I was getting myself into when I traveled down to Wall St. on the morning of September 17th, 2011. Now almost 9 months past, 2 raids down and as many days of action under my belt as I've got fingers and toes, I find myself sitting at home, thinking, digesting, trying to figure out what's next.

We could be doing some great shit right now in Boston if we hadn't burned so many bridges with other political groups/movements. We re-affirmed Boston's overt racism with that Occupy the Hood email flame war and then by scaring off many radicals from the local Latino community. The works of Katie G and David and others have succeeded in building bonds with City Life/Vida Urbana, but this doesn't excuse the fact that up until now Occupy Boston has been a mostly white-bread affair.

So, how do we solve this? How do we move forward? How can we really include ALL parts of the 99%?
Excuse my lengthy rant. occupyboston/FSU on youtube and @OccupyBostonFSU on twitter also, at 7pm, WED.
FSU teaching-learning everywhere EDUCATION is a weapon of Mass CONSTRUCTION

Ideas WG next 3-6 mo, 11 pages
Ideas Working Group - OB in 3--6 Months II - 16 May 2012
Ideas WG Meeting (5/16/2012)
The topic of tonight's Ideas WG meeting was "Where would you like to see Occupy Boston go over the next 3--6 months ... and how do we get there?". Between eight and ten of us gathered in Copley Square to kick around some ideas.
We used a facilitation technique called "talking stick", using a voice recorder as the stick. What follows is a loose transcript of our conversation. (Loose, because it was very windy; at times, wind noise made the speaker inaudible.)
High Points
• Occupy or repurpose closed/abandoned churches
• March to Wall Street.
• More focus, more commitment.
• A more multi-dimensional view on human liberation
• If we're not happy with our political leaders, then it's a great time to replace them.
• Focus on the debt industry (student debt, mortgage debt, etc).
• Make money, inequality, finance, and indebtedness the focus of the next election.
• The 1% is really disciplined. If we're going to take them on, we may need to have a little discipline too.
• Snap actions. Small, fun, and capture people's imagination.
I was thinking earlier, what would I share, and what would I contribute to this conversation. I'd hope that first and foremost that we'd find a way to gather together. There's so much disenfranchisement, for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, are we really willing and wanting to work on this, and to take it to the next place. The working groups with functional jobs are still functioning well. The more issue-oriented groups are floundering. Clarification of things will be really important. And commitment. In three months, I'd like to see us get a big amount of commitment, in a way that people are really willing to buy into.
It seems that many of us are uncomfortable being in a learning position, where we actually sit long enough to learn what's going on around us. There's either a physical antsy-ness, or a mental kind of antsy-ness, or an arrogance. Beyond that, I'd like to see political education, and political analysis. I'd hope that projects would be clearly defined, and that direct actions would continue. I'd like to see more clarification, and lots more commitment. And things that involve people in a way that direct action might not do.
In 3--6 months, I'd like to see us have a really clear anti-oppression statement that's integrated into everything that we do. I want it to be fun again; camaraderie and fun, like we had at Dewey.

We have to have a safe place for everyone. If that means there's a police presence, then there's a police presence, because unfortunately, they're a necessary evil. (long inaudible section.)
One of the unfortunate results of the occupation has been that cities have started to crack down on tent cities of the homeless. I know that's not the most important thing for some occupiers. I've heard (on twitter) that Occupy Wall St. was paying homeless people $25 to protest. For what reason? Because they homeless people are disposable and can be bought?
Someone pointed out an article about a company that hires the homeless, but also supports a ban on camping out at night, so I don't understand what ... (inaudible).

One strategy, for decades, has been to pay unemployed people to walk picket lines.

The whole idea that homeless people are disposable and can be arrested is just gross. An arrest can totally destroy someone's life, or destroy their future, depending on the circumstances.

How can we fold these ideas into what Occupy Boston should do over the next three to six months?

Get more working class Americans involved. In you have more working class, that's good. We have to target towards the voice of the working class, and target something that connects the working class with Occupy.

There are a lot of groups working on a lot of different things. I'd like to see us go back to basics: the banks. Especially with what's happened to JP Morgan Chase in the last week. The foreclosure crisis is related to that.
The Occupy Wall St. Journal had an article about Occupy Oakland. There was a woman who had her home foreclosed; Occupy Oakland helped her move back in. One of the woman's neighbors called the police. There was a long back and fourth between the woman and the police, and the police asked "is Occupy Oakland breaking into the house, or are they helping someone move into the house?" They came to the conclusion that Occupy Oakland was helping someone move into the house, and the police said "that's too political; we don't want to touch it."

(Inaudible section.) Sometimes it's disheartening that we can be so classist and racist. If people want change, they have to be that change. With the warmer weather coming, I don't see a reason why we can't find some other place to occupy. We have to find a way; we have to deal with things. We should be visible, and show the power of change.
We could reach people with consumer-based retail. If consumers aren't very confident, then they aren't spending money. The people that are given a certain pay are the ones most affected by this economy. They're not the managers; they're the salespeople who get shit on the most by the economy. That's just a separate idea about how to reach people. I've been exploring other options, but I'm scared to death of doing anything right now. I need some stability in my life, and I hoped that occupy would have figured something out. But it's always about money, and about visibility. And some people taking over, having their little dramas, and ruining things. I just want to see the movement get back to what it was supposed to be.

The first thing I think when I listen to everyone, I think "great ... I hear concerned people, and those are the people I'm looking at to do something about those issues." Right now, I'm really pissed at the Boston Police department. I just wrote a letter to the (BPPA newsletter?) editor, and I'm going to go in and talk to them. Those are things that I can personally relate to, and can do something about. I'm not good at bringing in other people. We worked so hard on the Open House, trying to bring in new people. We even put an ad in the paper, and only 50--60 people showed up. Only one or two working groups got new people.
I know zilch about some of the other issues, like homelessness. So I look to others to take leadership (or non-leadership) positions on those issues. I try not to worry. I hear lots of worrying. All we can do is to do our best and move forward. I'm all for doing stuff that's off the wall, like the May 1st funeral. I can back people on those things, and push forward where I can.

Since Dewey Square, there's no single space where we can all gather, recreate, and eat dinner together. I think we should occupy some properties, and give them back to the people. Last night, I Googled "empty churches in the Boston area", looking for churches that were closed down, mostly by the Catholic church. There were at least fifty of them in the Boston area.
Some churches have an ethic and and social responsibility. We wouldn't ask for the church to hand over the title, but we could ask them for the use of their property, while they decide what to do with it. We'd tell the church that we'd be holding meetings and gatherings, and feeding people, and giving people a place to stay. We could have workshops there, the radio station, and the TV station. Anyone could drop in, and find a dozen occupy people just hanging out, carrying on conversations.
If we found the right place, we could hold all of the occupy meetings there. That could save money, and make meeting locations more predictable.

I believe it is legally permissible to film policemen during the course of their duty. (transcriber: Yes, see BPD vs. Glick.) What about filming on private property? Does anyone have any knowledge or advice in that area?

I want to add to the church idea. Doing social service and social outreach would help gel that idea with the Catholic church. And I think you can sleep in churches. They cringe on some social issues, so we'd have to tread carefully in that area.

Finding a way to go forward, and coherence are the biggest things we have to work on. It would be a tremendous loss if we decentralized. Together, we can capture the interest of a wide swath of people, and help pull them together.
We can't make people come together. I'd like us to come together around some core set of values, but I don't know if we'll have enough coherence to come together around a single action or campaign. So what are the other things we could do to come together. Once is having a space -- that's how we came together in the first place. We can also find common actors (actions?) that galvanize us, that we'd all want to work on.
My favorite wild idea of the moment -- organize something serious around the first anniversary of the Wall Street occupation. I think it would be great to gather all of the local occupys, and march down to Wall Street. Like the way that Ghandi did the salt march, where people came out of all the villages, and thousands joined him. It would be a huge job to organize, and we'd probably have to march in shifts (because people have lives). I'm not totally committed to this specific idea, but I am committed to a big idea that would grab people. I'd hope that regular people would join us, because we'd be doing it for the 99%. It would be a concrete organizing thing.
I think we've been developing a thread of things that fall under the heading of anti-oppression, rather than just being focused on banks. I'd to find a way to make that network more coherent, and use it as a way to bring us together. I'd like us to be more dimensional, rather than narrowly-focused on economic issues. A vision of human liberation that includes more than re-dividing resources.

(inaudible section) During the great depression, we had the Bonus Army that marched on Washington DC. Instead of Washington DC, we could make the destination New York, and even the financial district in New York City.

We have to make jobs, and pay someone to do them. We have to count on the government to do that. Corporations won't, because they don't want to lose their capital. Too many jobs are private, and maybe we have to change that.

I went to a Citizen's United forum last night. One of the speakers said something that stuck with me. If you're not happy with your leaders, then now is an excellent time to replace them.

With the election coming, I think there's tremendous pressure to see the 99% as for Obama, and to subvert other issues. We need to look for things that keep us from being lumped into the Obama campaign.
I'm really focused on student debt. Mortgages and student debt could be a huge focus. Someone just told me about Occupy the Graduation. At graduation, students are taking their caps, and writing the amount of their debt. If you look at it from above, you see all of the money that the graduating students owe.
They're now collecting college debt from people on social security. That was very striking to me.

I'm on a fixed income, and they take $200/month out of that, to pay for a 30 or 40-year old student loan. So I get $1100 a month instead of $1300/month.

I have about $80,000 in student loan debt, only have a certificate, and can't get a steady job with that. Employers aren't hiring, or they're only hiring from within. The employers aren't giving people a chance to work.

Student loan debt is owed to a bank. There are issues about housing and unemployment. Debt forgiveness is a common theme here. We need to remind both parties to keep their eye on the ball. I know that occupiers don't favor electoral politics, but we can still put pressure on candidates.

If you declare bankruptcy, you can get rid of a lot of debt ... but not student loans. Student loans stay with you through bankruptcy. Today, college is almost a necessity; and during the last few years, college costs have risen very quickly. There's no way for most people to pay tuition without taking out loans. Between student loans and mortgages, you have to wonder if someone is trying to turn us all into indentured servants.

Homeless youth tend to be a higher percentage of LGBT. Homeless people are more likely to be minorities. This whole thing is targeted specifically towards these groups.

I'm going to say this with as much love as I possibly can. What's happening right now (in this meeting) is one of the major frustrations for me. If we are to move forward, from my perspective and experience, then we have to find a way to be more focused, more intentional, more disciplined and committed. In most working groups, this culture of "stack" causes us to raise a bunch of points that aren't connected to each other. It's very difficult to circle back, finish a point, and stay on topic. It's hard to access people and mobilize resources. If we're going to survive, we have to get more deliberate, more focused, and really hunker down.
We called a meeting to talk about where occupy Boston should be in the next three to six months, but we really haven't stayed on topic, and there hasn't been a thread of cohesiveness, even in the conversations. That's not bad or wrong, but it breaks down when you're trying to build something that can sustain itself. I don't think we can afford to do this anymore. Stack is part of what creates that. It's not that the issues aren't important, but when do we ever flush out all these ideas, and mobilize for action.

I'm frustrated as well, and I've stopped attending working group meetings that are unproductive. There has to be some fruit of our labor. We should be seeing some sort of progress. I think we should do fewer events, which are more organized and more focused, bringing in as many communities as possible. There should be a sense of occasion to them. When you begin something, you need to have an end goal in mind.
Different people do have different issues, and we should spend time figuring out where those issues intersect. That takes time, but I see people walking away in frustration. I also feel like we're at a shedding of skin point. A lot of the work is hard, and mundane, and slow. We have changed the conversation in this country, and it's easy to forget that. The ability to influence is important.
Going into the election season, I think we should be louder, and more focused on issues.

I don't think we should be frustrated with this meeting. I have a different way of looking at it. We're at a point where it will be easier for some of us to continue; those who are willing to take the good with the bad, and hang in there for the long haul. In the ideas group, we should be able to throw things around. I don't think this group should consolidate on decisions, because there aren't that many of us. We can come up with things, and leave them for someone else to resolve. I'm excited about hearing other people's ideas.
I'm nervous about the idea of discipline. There's an activist group I've been working with for years. We never had fights, no rifts; we all got along, and we shared a really complete politics. That isn't true here. On the other hand, we have a much broader range of people, in a very good way. I don't know if we'll get super coherent or super focused, or agree on a coherent analysis. We may need a way of being together that doesn't involve all of those things.

The key word here is austerity. In economic-speak, it's what the republicans like to do -- to cut spending in areas that can't afford the spending cuts. This is why France elected a socialist president. They elected the wrong people, who modeled their finances after the American lie. Wall St. deceived Europe, and I'm sure Europe deceived itself. Not everything is going to be cured and fixed in four years. We should talk about how long a presidency should be. Our presidents spend close to two years campaigning.
The whole sub-prime mortgage disaster hit the fan before Obama took oath, and we have to remember that. People don't want to remember that, because there's a deep seated racism. We should give Obama another chance.

It's an election year. Although many people don't want to touch electoral politics, we can still use the election as a way to get focused. Occupy's anti-politics should address some issues.
Dewey square was a project where there were a lot of different groups, but there was a common piece of territory. The election could provide a common project, where different working groups approach it in their own way. We make the election a focus on money, inequality, finance, indebtedness. I think there's coherence here -- there's nothing right about the way our financial system works. This could make us more visible, and help us with recruitment.

I agree with some of the points made about focus. At times, we are very reactive. There's a demonstration tomorrow; everyone show up. I'd like to pick really specific things, plan them out, and execute them well. Actions should be focused on very specific things.
I'm new to this activism stuff -- I've only been doing it for a few months, and I still stumble around. So, every once in a while, I pick up a book. In one of the books I read recently, the term "militant non-violence" kept coming up. It took me a really long time to get my head around what militant non-violence meant. Maybe it's another word for "discipline" (with a little bit of militancy).

I'd like to back up, and talk about discipline. The word has a lot of negative connotations. There's a wonderful, important, essential part of this movement that can be explained as a "cloud energy". It's creative, uncensored, and from the heart. That's what we tap for that kind of militant non-violent thing. There's also a time to sit down, focus, create a plan, stick to it, and monitor ourselves. Discipline isn't the word I'm looking for. More committed focus, intention, and sticking with it.

The 1% is disciplined about everything they do. If you're planning to fight them, there has to be some unity and follow-through. Think of media -- there's pre-production, production, post-production, and promotion. Lots of pieces. If you can work on getting all of those pieces in place, you'll produce a better product than just pointing your camera and posting a couple of pictures. Part of being an organizer is being a team player. Organized, focused, committed, productive -- those are all components of discipline. Anything worth doing is going to be hard. People get frustrated, but that means that this is important to them.

Someone said that about Dewey Square. He thought that things were one the verge of busting out and being wonderful. Then we all woke up and realized that it was going to be marathon rather than a 50-yard dash. That can be hard for a community that's really focused on individualism.
At Dewey Square, the whole point was to show the world a different way of living. Right now, we aren't showing the world as much, because they're not watching. We should take lessons from other progressive movements, that have found ways to organize and structure themselves for the long march. I hope this is quicker than a 15-year project, but it might not be.

As I'm listening to all of this, I have the feeling that we're doing a lot of really subtle dumping on people. I'm only willing to talk about me, what I'm doing, and the people that I'm working with. I worry that we do ourselves a disservice about thinking about potential problems, hypothetical situations, and what-ifs. We're not those other groups. We're this rag-tag motley crew, and we'll never be disciplined. That's not us. Our strength is in our randomness. Take things as they come, a day or two at a time. That's really weird and uncomfortable, but that's where we're headed. I'm just going to participate in the actions that I'm working on, and push ahead.
You know the horse in Animal Farm? Boxer, the dumb one. I just keep pushing myself, saying "I will try harder".

I think we should be working more with all of the other occupys, and learning from what they've done. All of the talk about working with different community groups is missing one very important aspect -- how many difficulties there are in that process. Some community groups have to take things in front of their board of directors, or they're working on grants, or trying to make sure that their own agenda is protected. That makes it harder. We've talked about working with different groups, but we haven't done a serious analysis of how things have worked.
We don't learn from what we've done, and how we could have done it better.

I think debriefing is absolutely necessary, to acknowledge when we get stuff right, and when we get stuff wrong. Everyone in occupy should be totally cool with having people look at their work, and give constructive criticism.

People are driven by different things. (inaudible) Some people understand unity of purpose, and don't feel threatened or territorial. You can't control that. Some groups resent the fact that we're so fluid, because we don't have to go through lots of channels of authority. But we might have to create some of those channels, for tax liability and such.
The energy behind occupy is probably what got people freaked out, or intimidated. If we can keep that energy in mind, there's a lot that can be done with it.

We have autonomy and spontaneity. A lot of community groups don't have the luxury of that spontaneity. (inaudible).

We do snap actions well -- quick and dirty small actions. The ironic march was a great example, or what Queer DA did with Victoria's Secret. We could do lots of smaller things like that, to draw attention to bigger issues. They're small, not hard to plan, fun, and really capture people's imagination.

We could do a quick and dirty action with Bank of America. People gripe about how Bank of America doesn't pay their taxes. You can figure out how much B of A should have paid, and break that down into some number of dollars per taxpayer. Organize a bunch of people to go into B of A customer service, and ask for their share of that money back.

I went to City Life meeting. A guy was priming the pump for an action. He had a handout about the CEO of State Street. Some of the statistics were absolutely mind blowing. If the bank was taxed at a 35% flat rate, they would have owed billions. But they got a tax refund of $781 million. That's just mind blowing. We could bring attention to these numbers, and call them into question.

Question: is there anything that could happen which would make you say "Occupy has done its job"?

Bring down one of the big banks -- like Citibank or Bank of America. And nationalize them.

There's a credit union in Washington State. So many people were taking their money out of big banks, and putting it into this credit union, that they had to close shop for a couple of days, in order to build the capacity to service all of these people.

Some groups have made a lot of noise at shareholders meeting. In one case, the CEO couldn't speak, because he was so overwhelmed. (inaudible.)

Bank of America -- that could happen this year. They're really shaky. Another "take your money out of Bank of America" campaign might help push them over.

I can't imagine stopping unless there's a worldwide revolution. Why would we stop? I understand the idea to focus on one bank, but they're all bad.

We can focus on democratic and republican conventions. Those are more traditional targets for demonstrations. (inaudible.) Do something for the DNC and the RNC
Ideas Working Group - OB in 3--6 Months - 2 May 2012
Ideas WG Discussion: OB in Three to Six Months - 2 May 2012
Tonight's Ideas meeting took place at South Station. Our topic was: What would you like to see Occupy Boston do over the next 3--6 months?
We had two physical attendees and three virtual attendees. (The virtual attendees were folks who couldn't make the meeting, but sent in their ideas via email).
The Virtual Participants
(Note: all three virtual participants mention banks.)
What I would like to see Occupy Boston do in the next 3-6 months
1. develop a common knowledge base re Wall Street economics and the practical steps Occupy can do to make financial institutions more transparent and function for the public good.
2. develop an action plan around the above..both direct action and maybe wider organizational strategy involving other groups.
(Bank Working Group is having initial teach-in first half of GA on May 12 as a step towards this and I have just discovered OW has a great effort in this direction so they have been invited as well)
We need to be doing more direct actions as a whole community and they should be, in my opinion, direct actions with the goal of actually and concretely disrupting business as usual. No more marches or rallies unless they have a specified goal of blocking a specific business activity to which we object: so keeping a bank from doing its business, stopping or impeding a foreclosure sale or an eviction, deportation hearings, blocking or impeding business transactions of targeted corporations, Gov't entities.
We should brainstorm a list of corrupting entities, prioritize them by degree/magnitude of offense, identify the activities they do in the normal course of business and block one or more of those.
Over and over and over again.
We could form new small groups by who wants to block whose bad "business" processes.
If we do this, we can have clear messaging and we will have the support of various sectors of the 99%.
I think this is what the country is waiting for.
We can also, simultaneously, be engaged in exploring and promoting new processes & institutions: new alternative banking, etc.
Occupying the MBTA is of prime importance and also outreach and recruitment.
I hope we are still having Open House ?
We need to start talking about banks more.
Justin's agenda needs massive discussion night for all OB to come to.
A retreat for all OB-Thompson Island ? Two days of talk. And fun.
I realize this is stuff I wanna bring up at GA...hmmm...
The Physical Participants
This is a loose transcript of Joe and Steve's discussion about what Occupy Boston could do over the next 3--6 months, done over coffee and Diet Mountain Dew.
The Occupy MBTA campaign was our most engaging campaign, and it's still going on. I'd like to see that serve as a model for other campaigns, where we start with very big, lofty objectives, but begin with very simple, concrete actions. Where we set the other end is entirely up to our imagination. We dream big.
I'd like to see us revive outreach. Part of this comes from the May day event in East Boston, Everett and Chelsea. There were a lot of groups there, and the collaboration was really cool. If you have more groups involved, then you can do bigger actions.
Working with local groups, you can do things that are important to people who live down the block, in Arlington, JP, or where ever -- in addition to working on ways to change the world.
I like the thing from the last GA; the idea that we need to translate our rhetoric into "human". We can learn something from unions. I heard Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO president) talking on the radio the other day. I never hear him talk in language that's going to go over anybody's head. But he's talking about real economic issues. There's something about his style that we can pick up on. We're regular Joe Occupiers.
There's another reason I was thinking about outreach. I went to an Occupy Arlington GA last Sunday, and we talked about an action they had done for the Alewife watershed. There's a woman who's done a lot of activism for that area, and she was a little upset that this new group came in and did a demonstration without reaching out to her. I got the sense that she felt excluded. One of the things that came out of that General Assembly, at least for Occupy Arlington: when ever we plan a direct action, we should try to find outside groups to work with, and then work with them.
I read an article in this internet journal, called the Independent. It dealt with the fact that many occupiers were concerned about being co-opted by the 99% movement. The article turned it around to say "let's just invite them to come in. They can fill out our ranks as much as we can fill out theirs".
Many groups that have been doing progressive work for a long time. We have a community forum where we invite people in and talk to them. I think we could turn it around; invite outside groups to the community forum, and have them talk to us. There are groups that would come in, give a good talk, hand out literature, and then be gratified that we showed them that respect. We don't have to give up anything in order to learn from others.
The environmental issue might make a good connection with folks who are not particularly radical. Your typical American has been sold on the environment, and I think it makes sense to think about that. Environmental issues are already a part of people's conscience.
The environment could be framed as a 99% vs 1% issue. I don't think the Koch Brothers (say) care about clean air so much.
The term "environmental racism" really made me realize that. We have to make sure people understand that corporations aren't dumping industrial waste in upper and middle class neighborhoods. They're dumping it in poor areas. You air's worse, your water's worse, and you have fewer trees. The same thing happens when you, say, throw out an old cell phone. It ends up in a big heap in some other country. Most of our electronic garbage ends up being dumped somewhere else.
It's possible to use the market to punish companies that do bad stuff. We shouldn't be afraid to pick up that club and use it. We have a long-term objective for a society that prioritizes humans over profits. Living wages would put more dough into people's pockets, and that would only make them more powerful, and more independent. I don't know if we need a big summit or a big pow-wow to talk about this stuff. Just a forum where everyone could kick in their own two cents -- what's a specific campaign that Occupy could pick up.
I thought that Ridgely and Linda had good ideas. Ridgely mentions Wall Street and the banks; Linda is interested in actions that focus on very specific objectives.
There were folks talking about Bank of America. They're already a little wobbly, so why not wobble them a little more. If they're already caving, then I think it would be totally legitimate to push harder. If everyone in the 99% started making a go at Bank of America, then I think they'd wobble like hell. It's totally legal not to consume a product. All you have to do is ask people "aren't you just so damn sick of Bank of America?"
I was talking with Matt last night, after the funeral procession. He'd like to see more street theater, and more theatrics in protests. The theatrics take more work and require more preparation, but this could make the protests more engaging. I'm trying to think about the kinds of street theater we could do outside Bank of America. (Hmm ... Snidely Whiplash, anyone?)
Someone, maybe Noah, had an idea for an action. Ask people to go into Bank of America, close their accounts, and take out all of their money. When they come out of the bank, ask them how good it feels.
When you open an account, banks used to give you something like a toaster. When people close their accounts, we could give them ... like, some toast. Anything to turn it into a ritual.
I don't think that anyone should be nervous about having a joke at the expense of Bank of America. How about a bunch of people dressed up as Death, standing outside Bank of America?
Anti-tax groups have targeted corporations, and presented them with tax bills. Take the normal corporate tax rate, subtract what the corporation actually paid, and hand them a bill for the difference.
Wait, here's an idea. Figure out how big of a tax bill to send to Bank of America, and then divide that by the number of people who paid taxes. That's how much Bank of America owes every American. Maybe it's something like $100.00. Have a bunch of people go into Bank of America one at a time, and demand their hundred dollars. Plus, a specific number could really drive home the point that Bank of America is getting away with murder.
Now, have a look at Jen's ideas. She also mentions banks; everyone on the virtual stack mentioned the topic of banks. Nobody will have any sentimentality about banks. And, that's how the whole Occupy movement got started.
(Discussion drifts off topic, to Mass. Gubernatorial elections, Chairman Meow, Vermin Supreme, and the Pirate Party.)
For the last few months, Occupy Boston has been spread pretty thin. I'd like to see us do is to take up fewer campaigns, but put a lot more effort into each individual campaign.
The MBTA campaign pulled that off. It was mostly a small group of core people, but they busted their tails, and they were really clever about what they were doing. They got a huge amount done, just by sheer focus. The found an issue where the system created a venue for them. The election might provide a similar kind of opportunity. There will be debates, political conventions, and plenty of opportunity for people to make a fuss. Especially if we find a pet issue to push.
We could have our own convention, or jamboree. Bring occupiers together, and do Occupier stuff.
What about pushing for a state-run bank? North Dakota is the only state in the country that has one of those. A state-run bank could be a nice alternative to private, evil capitalist banks. They could loan money to small enterprises, and branch out from there. For most of history, banks were easy to run, because they stuck to basic, low-risk ventures.
Now banks take a lot of dumb-ass risks, and they've gotten so damn complicated. Even government organizations have gotten into the game. The MBTA gambled money on credit default swaps, and lost around fifty million bucks in the process. A state-run bank that didn't take dumb-ass risks should be easy to run.
It's an election year, so folks will be more interested in politics than usual. Even if we don't endorse candidates, we should try to find ways that allow the interest in politics to give us an audience. Maybe like what Occupy groups did for the New Hampshire primary.
We could do a lot with sustainable community projects. Little enterprises, more sustainable consumption habits, and that sort of things. We could change the world one community at a time -- Charlestown, East Boston, JP, and so fourth.
There's plenty of good things to do this year. occupyboston/FSU on youtube and @OccupyBostonFSU on twitter also, at 7pm, WED.
FSU teaching-learning everywhere EDUCATION is a weapon of Mass CONSTRUCTION

Joe's comment

I agree that opening the door to endless touchy-feely, personal, and subjective comments could be very unproductive.

That said, I also believe that thoughtful public and collective summation and reflection on past practice and experience is crucial if our movement is to move forward in a way that learns from its mistakes (and its successes) and does not merely repeat the same ones over and over again.

So I would propose a time-capped (30 minute? 45 minute? 1 hour?) discussion of (something like) "Where we have been and where we are and why? And what that means for us going forward..." With individual comments capped at 2 minutes, and new voices privileged, so that we can hear as many (brief) perspectives as possible.

We could use break out groups with delegated report-backers to streamline the process.

Imho, a major problem with Occupy has often been that discussion of tactics (immediate aciton) is prioritized over strategy (big picture), and also that precision of procedure is prioritized over clarify in politics.

So, yeah, up to but no more than 1 hour on "What we have learned from our past practice, and what that means for us going forward."

Looking forward to seeing you all tonight. occupyboston/FSU on youtube and @OccupyBostonFSU on twitter also, at 7pm, WED.
FSU teaching-learning everywhere EDUCATION is a weapon of Mass CONSTRUCTION

What do you want to be thanked for?


My idea is to say that the 1st 10 min is to ask for what You want to be thanked for .. it is ultimate touchy feeley, it is theater and even knowing that it works!!!

I'm open to starting with that, even as pre meeting .. I'll do my best to be there by 6pm and speak w. anyone else who wants to 'plan' offer support and then take Nelson's lead.

really gotta go, now IS, e

Quoting Aria Littlhous :

> I agree with Joseph's suggestion and it is very different from my
> suggestion. Some people WILL spend the whole meeting waiting for their
> moment to hold the stage/vent--better to plan for the inevitable than hope
> it won't happen. In other words, let them hijack, once that's out of the
> way, get started. Yes, it is touchy feelie, and understanding the role
> emotions play in meetings can make those meetings better. Again, the point
> is NOT to mediate, solve, or discuss, just to listen. Some people may just
> pass, or as Eden said, express gratitude. Good luck! (Eden, as far as I
> know no one--other than Nelson and the other conveners? is taking the
> lead).
> I limited the just felt like the right thing to do.
> On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 11:56 AM, Joseph Ramsey wrote:
>> I agree that opening the door to endless touchy-feely, personal, and
>> subjective comments could be very unproductive.
>> That said, I also believe that thoughtful public and collective summation
>> and reflection on past practice and experience is crucial if our movement
>> is to move forward in a way that learns from its mistakes (and its
>> successes) and does not merely repeat the same ones over and over again.
>> So I would propose a time-capped (30 minute? 45 minute? 1 hour?)
>> discussion of (something like) "Where we have been and where we are and
>> why? And what that means for us going forward..." With individual
>> comments capped at 2 minutes, and new voices privileged, so that we can
>> hear as many (brief) perspectives as possible.
>> We could use break out groups with delegated report-backers to streamline
>> the process.
>> Imho, a major problem with Occupy has often been that discussion of
>> tactics (immediate aciton) is prioritized over strategy (big picture), and
>> also that precision of procedure is prioritized over clarify in politics.
>> So, yeah, up to but no more than 1 hour on "What we have learned from our
>> past practice, and what that means for us going forward."
>> Looking forward to seeing you all tonight.
>> -Joe Ramsey occupyboston/FSU on youtube and @OccupyBostonFSU on twitter also, at 7pm, WED.
FSU teaching-learning everywhere EDUCATION is a weapon of Mass CONSTRUCTION