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Tag "Occupy Wall Street"

[ originally published at OccupyWallStreet.net ]

Day_14_Occupy_Wall_Street_September_30_2011_Shankbone-800px
(photo: Friday, Day 14 of Occupy Wall Street – photos from the camp in Zuccotti Park and the march against police brutality, walking to One Police Plaza, headquarters of the NYPD. CC BY 3.0 David Shankbone )

There has been a flurry of discussion around process in OWS of late. This can only be a good thing. Atrophy and complacency are the death of movements. Any viable experiment in freedom is pretty much going to have to constantly re-examine itself, see what’s working and what isn’t—partly because situations keep changing, partly because we’re trying to invent a culture of democracy in a society where almost no one really has any experience in democratic decision-making, and most have been told for most of their lives that it would be impossible, and partly just because it’s all an experiment, and it’s in the nature of experiments that sometimes they don’t work.

A lot of this debate has centered around the role of consensus. This is healthy too, because there seem to be a lot of misconceptions floating around about what consensus is and is supposed to be about. Some of these misconceptions are so basic, though, I must admit I find them a bit startling.

Just one telling example. Justine Tunney recently wrote a piece called “Occupiers: Stop Using Consensus!” that begins by describing it as “the idea that a group must strictly adhere to a protocol where all decisions are unanimous”—and then goes on to claim that OWS used such a process, with disastrous results. This is bizarre. OWS never used absolute consensus. On the very first meeting on August 2, 2011 we established we’d use a form of modified consensus with a fallback to a two-thirds vote. Anyway, the description is wrong even if we had been using absolute consensus (an approach nowadays rarely used in groups of over 20 or 30 people), since consensus is not a system of unanimous voting, it’s a system where any participant has the right to veto a proposal which they consider either to violate some fundamental principle, or which they object to so fundamentally that proceeding would cause them to quit the group. If we can have people who have been involved with OWS from the very beginning who still don’t know that much, but think consensus is some kind of “strict” unanimous voting system, we’ve got a major problem. How could anyone have worked with OWS that long and still remained apparently completely unaware of the basic principles under which we were supposed to be operating?

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Occupy Wall Street Journal - January, 2013  Hurricane Sandy (Front)

A limited edition of The Occupy Wall Street Journal by vizKult is one of many zines being donated to The Way the Lights Went Out: A Hurricane Sandy Zine Benefit for The Ali Forney Center, a New York based organization which provides housing to homeless LGBT youth. Some of  Ali Forney Center’s facilities were damaged when Hurricane Sandy touched down in the New York City area on October 29th, 2012. More info about the benefit below.

The Occupy Wall Street Journal - (back) Arts & Kulture section with Alternative Economies

The back-page of new edition of The Occupy Wall Street Journal is a call to invigorate Alternative Economies in the face of rebuilding of communities affected by Sandy. The issue also puts a shout out to all the art related groups doing alternative economies work, including Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies  subgroup and their new guide What Do We Do Now? to be distributed in 2013.

The Way the Lights Went Out: A Hurricane Sandy Zine Benefit (Facebook Invite)
Zine Reading and Sale Benefit
Wednesday January 9, 7pm
Blue Stockings Bookstore
172 Allen Street, NYC

READERS:
Kate Angell (My Feminist Friends, A Thousand Times Yes)
Jamie Varriale Vélez (Sinvergüenza)
Jenna Freedman (Lower East Side Librarian, Barnard Zine Library)
James Aviaz (Everything is Fucked, Everything is OK)

ZINE DONORS:
Stranger Danger Zine Distro, Kathleen McIntyre (The Worst), Lauren Denitzio (Get it Together), Kate Wadkins (International Girl Gang Underground), For the Birds Collective, Kate Angell, Amber Dearest (Fight Boredom Distro, The Triumph of our Tired Eyes), Maranda Elizabeth (Telegram), PonyBoy Press, Aimee Lusty (Booklyn, Pen15 Press), Amanda Stefanski, Jami Sailor (Your Secretary), Jordan Alam (The Cowation), Alycia Sellie (Brooklyn College Zine Library), Cindy Crabb (Doris), Natty Koper & Sivan Sabach (Bangarang This), Chella Quint (Adventures in Menstruating), Shawn Smith (Black Lesbians in the 70s Zine), Elvis Bakaitis (Homos in Herstory), Sarah Rose (Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric, Once Upon a Distro), Maud Pryor (Marmalade Umlaut), vizKult.

Facebook Invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/138515892968167

PS. Another group devastated by Hurricane Sandy was the immigrant community of New York, who in some cases did not qualify for aid despite being valuable members of our communities. Sandy Relief for Immigrants, a online donation page has be made by La Union, OWS Making Worlds and others, please spread the word and donate here.

[from Art & the Commons]

Time for Alternative Economies? artandthecommons.org

“A solidarity economy does not arise from thinkers or ideas; it is the outcome of the concrete historical struggle of the human being to live and to develop as an individual and a collective.”

Marco Arruda
Brazilian Solidarity Economy Network
World Social Forum in 2004 (via solidaritynyc.org)

Is OWS ready for alternative economies? Coupled with solidarity networks, alternative economies is a way of seeing capitalism not as a totalizing external force but something that we are all enmeshed, something that we continue to give strength via our daily existence within this city. These alternatives, plural, are what provides us with the tools to dismantling the web that holds us hostage.

Networks of resistance is key to these alternative systems, but for the most part 2012 has felt as if we were floating in the city, un-rooted in the reality of daily life. Sandy changed that, for many the pain was tangible, visceral, touching all senses -and so maybe this disaster marks a turning point for the movement of marches, signs, and spectacles, a movement that passed in our streets in 2011-2012 but never entered our homes until now.

Any dialogue regarding alternative economies should be open to everyone, inside and outside of the OWS, so that we can collectively create these alternatives, re-affirm our commitments to them, and to begin to build the networks that will sustain them. Until that happens, it will be activism as usual, atomized and fleeting -a benefit to you know who… Then and now the question is, can we work openly to make this dialog happen?

 

-artandthecommons.org

 

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of interest…   in relation to this alternative economies dialogue , a meeting has been called tonight at 16 Beaver that might be of interest to some of you:

Friday — 12.14.12 — Occupying Life in New York — On Radical Meshworks
of Mutual Aid in Apo-capitalist Times

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99% Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (still)

“I’m not interested in your creative commons bs (which those of us who actually work in media refers to as amateur licensing)” -99 Percent Films/Audrey Ewell

What’s wrong with this picture? 99 Percent Films calling Creative Commons bullshit and amateurish? And then threatening to sue an Occupy Mash-up Artist for using parts of their trailer in a remix video.  (see email exchange here: Occupy Film Threatens Lawsuit [pastbin])

Somehow this doesn’t surprise me. Since being involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement for the past 365+ days  I’ve noticed two camps, those who practice the change they want to see, and those who brand themselves and act otherwise. I’ve even seen commons focused websites enclosed with Copyright…I’ve seen groups raise over $80,000 and set up top-down companies where they expect free labor at the bottom… I’ve seen non-profits supporting workers labor rights but at the same time hiring unpaid interns.. .I’ve seen protest groups take money from the organizations they are protesting… the list goes on…

Around December of 2012, an Arts & Culture initiative that would hope to prevent these type of content copyright issues was started but very few groups participated. It was a program that would encourage content sharing within for Occupy Wall Street groups called Share OWS. Although it went through several rounds of revisions in working group meetings, very few people signed up or even wanted to help with the project. To this day, what would seem like an obvious thing -that the whole Occupy Wall Street movement is a commons to be shared and maintained by all participants – I still don’t know what people where thinking. Did they think occupy was immune to enclosure?  u at the epicenter of capitalism, Wall Street NYC, commoning is a job, it doesn’t just happen.

[The following is a Arts & Labor Alternative Economies report back on the NYC Community Garden Coalition Occupy The Land! Unconference 2012. Expanded here with more photos and reviewed in "Gardening Art Grows into Activism In The Age of Occupy" by Martha Schwendener, Village Voice, Jun 13 2012]

596 Acres workshop at Southside Community Garden

596 Acres workshop at Southside Community Garden

596 Acres workshop at Southside Community Garden

This year the NYC Community Garden Coalition invited the working groups of Occupy Wall Street to help organize their first city-wde Community Garden Unconference. A member of Arts & Labor Alternative EconomiesMaking Worlds Commons Coalition  stepped up to organize a schedule of events for the Occupy the Land! Unconference, June 1-3.

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People who occupy - a video by Kristyan Geyr, October 2011

Back in October 2011, about 20 days into the the occupation down on Wall Street, The Arts & Culture working group and Loft in The Red Zone of the NYC General Assembly held a pop-up exhibition called “No Comment” in the heart of Wall Street. This is a video shot by Kristyan Geyr, an artist who flew over from Berlin to capture the moment. I link to this video because it gives more emotional space to the interviewees, a space where different emotions can surface without having to compete with the noise and visuals around them. People start to be real again, breaking the cartoon-like distortion that tv news clips have on the occupiers.

PostScript:
I found this link to the still images of occupiers taken by Kristyan Geyr during this period.. See anyone familiar?

Geographies of Anarchy, video recording

Geographies of Anarchy, panelist:Stephanie Wakefield, Steven Duncombe, Alberto Toscano

I keep thinking back on the summer leading up to Occupy Wall Street events. First, A Line In Nature, the foraging reading group that was meeting up to discuss, lastly, rituals in nature, with the idea that we would possibly do some camping in urban parks  not necessarily as a direct way of confront capitalism in the manner in which OWS has attempted, but to rediscover life in an urban environment, maybe as an alternative to the architecture of capitalism. It would be an action to call upon a history that has been forgotten, or a future that is begging to become a reality.

Secondly, I keep thinking back to “The Anarchist Turn“, a forum held at the New School that spring. More specifically I kept thinking about one particular panel called “The Geographies of Anarchy”. On this panel, moderated by Chiara Bottici was the views of Stephanie Wakefield, Steven Duncombe, Alberto Toscano. I have notes that I can dig up later, but for now I found the video archive for that forum online at the website for Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies. I was mostly interested in the attempt to define the space of Anarchy in relation to the occupation; how does it exist symbolically/politically, or otherwise?  How does this affect or is affected by the literal anarchistic gesture in physical space, in terms of the space of direct action, and other physical forms in which it may exist? and finally how does the space of anarchy exist within ourselves, in our own imagination and interpretations, and dreams?

In any case there are other videos from The Anarchist Turn if “Geographies of Anarchy” is not your thing.