Tag Archive | Occupy 2.0

We are a hot internet meme

My story, which i completely made up, is that during the time Occupy was raging across the land, millions of protest pictures went up on line.  Including this one:

sabrina occupy

Now a few years later, people are going back and looking through those images and finding ones which they think are compelling and reposting them.

And while it did not garner much attention when it was first posted, when Evolvefest reposted this image on March 28th, the interwebs got pretty excited about it.  It has been shared over 8,000 times in the last 5 days.  Twin Oaks is also getting people asking to join visitor periods because of it.

Though i am nominally in the transformational festival business, i had not heard of Evolvefest.  Which is an annual event in NJ (not northern Nova Scotia as originally reported).  Their Facebook page throws up literally dozens of images every day, but it is rare for their 90K FB friends to get as excited about an image as they did about this one.

For me what is important here is that effects of the Occupy movement are still lingering, largely invisible to the mainstream media which has moved on to the next hot topic.

Transition Winter

It is balmy.  I am walking around in a t-shirt and i am sweating.  It is going to get warmer. Records are being broken, la de da.

Were it October it would look like this - Yellowstone Park

Were it October it would look like this – Yellowstone Park.

It is the kind of weather which makes people think climate change is perhaps a fine thing, at least in the short term.  It is also a state which is important enough to deserve a name.  When i thought about uncharacteristically war weather and what it was called i remembered “Indian summer”.  A term i assume is racist in origin.

I would call this transition winter.  Something is changing, likely it is the climate.  Though as Alexis is fond of pointing out, “the weather is not the climate.”  And just as we ditched the term “Global Warming” for “Climate Change” we can expect that not only will we have uncharacteristically warm winters, we are looking at more “super storms.”

You can get bummed out by climate change and this will almost certainly do no good.  Or you can look at it as an organizing opportunity. For days like today, the plan is simple – go out and enjoy the day [As i write there is a particularly iconic frisbee game going with lots of people in shorts and t-shirts.]

The weather is changing for a reason

The weather is changing for a reason.

For the harsh side of transition winter, we can prepare to outperform the Red Cross.  The idea is to use the opportunities of climate change to build new self-reliant (and hopefully ecological impact mitigating) local groups.  This is another thing the Occupy spirit could grow up to be.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Diversity of Tactics means Violence

The most vexing and important question for the next generation of Occupy is what do we think about violence as a part of protest.

There is a philosophical framing of this argument as the acceptance or rejection of the strategy of a diversity of tactics.    The unofficial spokes persons for the black block are the CrimethInc Kids who have a tight case for the activist right to violence

What is violence? Who gets to define it? Does it have a place in the pursuit of liberation? These age-old questions have returned to the fore during the Occupy movement. But this discussion never takes place on a level playing field; while some delegitimize violence, the language of legitimacy itself paves the way for the authorities to employ it.

can we explode our way into peacefulness?

The case against violence in the context of Occupy’s daughter movements is one of parasitism and culture.  The black block attends events in which the principal organizers have declared that the philosophy of the event is a non-violent one.  The event maybe family friendly, it might even be a permitted protest (something i would not recommend, but happens).  So hundreds or perhaps even thousands of people show up expecting to have a certain type of experience.  They come planning to express their political descent with a certain  personal risk.

The black block is often seeking confrontation with the police.  They are generally a small fraction of these larger events.  By fighting with the police, they are basically using the other protesters who signed on to a different set of agreements as there shields and foils.  Children might get tear gassed, grannies might get beat up by the cops, pacifists might end up in jail unexpectedly.

Can we disagree and still be friends?

Can we disagree and still be friends?

Of course if the black block wants to organize an action where the agenda of fighting with the police is explicate and is known to the participants, i have no problem with this.  i might not choose to attend, or might choose to support it in some indirect way (i’ve done plenty of fighting with the police, i am currently retired from this sport), but i would not feel like a larger group of non-violent protesters was being used.

The real problem with the black block at Occupy and other non-violent identified events is that they damage  the movement.  It is often a stretch for people to come out and protest, they are taking personal risks to do this type of activity.   Generally movements succeed by being persistent, by growing and by being clever in their tactics.  If a minority of protesters, violating the spirit of the events agreements causes other protesters not to return to future events, they are setting the cause backwards.

clowns and cops

who is fooling who?

Occupy 2.0 San Francisco Style

As soon as i called David upon arrival in San Francisco, he invited me to come work on the banner he was painting.  The last time i saw David he was working on a banner (and giant puppet) also.  We needed a new one for re-occupying a house a local man had been evicted from.

The banner David, Amy and i made the evening before it was posted.

When i arrived David introduced me to Amy who was helping complete the banner painting.  After chatted with Amy, i again was surprised by the power of Occupy.  Amy had never done direct action before Occupy.  She felt there were barriers to radical political work, like you needed to have read Marx.  She also did not feel like the door was really open for her involvement, until Occupy came along.  All doors were open, we were rolling our own – her proactive nature enabled her to feel more than invited.  So powerful and early was this invite that she is one of the founders of Occupy SF Direct Action.  And most interestingly, she actually works for an investment firm, for which she has to take a different name (Amy is an alias) as to not loose her job.  We talked about how Occupy has brought together different classes across the country though this has been far from easy, it has been critical for activists to touch the world of homeless or displaced people.

Dexter retakes his house with help from neighbors, unions and Occupy

When i get to the action, there are perhaps 50 people listening to different speakers and we marched and chanted the few blocks to Dexter’s old house.  It had been foreclosed on by Wells Fargo and Dexter was evicted.  Today we took it back.  The doors were forced and everyone was invited in.

There were speeches from the balcony, with union folks, the local arch bishop and folks from Occupy SF direct action.  And Dexter himself leading out the shout “An injury to one is an injury to all.”  One organizer turned to me and said “This is direct action.”  Indeed, very direct.  And Wells Fargo which foreclosed on this property has a problem.  Dexter has a number of piece of paper saying this is his place.  Wells Fargo got control of this house from a collapsing bank with terrible records (using bail out money), it is unclear they will prevail in court.  When the police were called about the re-occupation, they said they were not coming to 1335 Quasada, it was a civil (not criminal) matter.  Dexter may well get to keep his house.

Getting everyone involved in banners for the next action

Political actions, even sexy re-occupations are often dull for many of the participants.  David is quick to put protestors to work paint banners for the next occupation   The crew above includes Dexter’s kids who were thrilled with the local support in getting their house back.  Occupy SF brought food and there was a big old barbeque in Dexter;s back yard protected from the rain.  People were happy and the entire event had a festive atmosphere.

Oh and we changed the locks, so Wells Fargo cant get in anymore.  Dexter and his kids have new keys.  Welcome to Occupy 2.0 – a full service protest movement.

In the last few years 7 homes have been re-occupied this way in San Francisco and most are still occupied by their original owners.