An open space for global conversation
Andrew Rose - Occupy Boulder Andrew participates at Occupy Boulder as a facilitator and with facilitator training. He has much to share with regard to OB becoming involved at the local level with various initiatives that serve and protect the surrounding communities. Andrew also participates with the national communication group, InterOccupy.org. He has had a long-standing commitment to social activism. He helped start and is the Program Director of the Boulder Emotional Wellness Center in Boulder, CO. He also works with men in healing issues around healing oppressive behavior. He also counsels families, teens and children in private practice.
Andrew has been participating on our calls here at Occupy Cafe. In a recent conversation, he spoke passionately about protecting his community against corporate exploitation, particularly saving the fresh water supplies from the environmentally catastrophic practice of fracking for natural gas. We're very pleased to have Andrew's vibrant, solution oriented and inspirational voice in our conversation field.
Questions for consideration from Andrew:
1. What are local concerns in your city, county, and state that your Occupy group can organize around? How do you connect those concerns to corporate-government collusion or systemic disadvantage for the poor?
2. Race, class, gender, etc; How is conditioned internalized oppression reproduced in your group? How are processes of decision making, information sharing, resource sharing, outreach, meeting spaces influenced by the culture of the gatekeepers? Who can pay attention to this without fear of 'killing the messenger' dynamics? Who is responsible for keeping these concerns on the table?
3. Revolution and Reform: How are different styles and visions of outcomes relating in your groups? What needs to happen for listening and respecting these differences?
Andy spoke about how Occupiers are experiencing the treatment that the most marginalized among us are subject to on a daily basis, whether it's the homeless, people stuck in the machinery of the courts, subject to racism, etc. I see tremendous value in our becoming more broadly aware of the level of pain and oppression that is so prevalent not only in the US but around the world.
At the same time, I also think that we can nourish the feeling of hope that this movement has inspired. People are choosing to be accountable for the changes we need and committing themselves to action, rather than passively playing the role of consumer. We have, as Peter Block calls out, been behaving like consumers in a political sense, "buying" politicians with our votes and then expecting them to provide for our needs. If they don't we think our role is simply to buy a different model.
Block calls us to step into the role of "citizen" instead. Here is what he has to say about what this means:
The idea of what it means to be a citizen is too important and needs to
be taken back to its more profound value. Citizenship is a state of being.
It is a choice for activism and care. A citizen is one who is willing to do the
- Hold oneself accountable for the well-being of the larger collective of which we are a part.
- Choose to own and exercise power rather than defer or delegate it to others.
- Enter into a collective possibility that gives hospitable and restorative community its own sense of being.
- Acknowledge that community grows out of the possibility of citizens.
- Community is built not by specialized expertise, or great leadership, or improved services; it is built by great citizens.
- Attend to the gifts and capacities of all others, and act to bring the gifts of those on the margin into the center.
Community: The Structure of Belonging, p.65
When did Block write that book? Before or after Bowling Alone? Does he acknowledge M. Scott Peck's work vis a vis community and civility?
Just getting my bearings....
David, Block's book came out in 2008. It's perhaps one of the most significant books I've read in the last few years...I don't remember him acknowledging Peck's work, but I'm pretty sure if he doesn't acknowledge that work that he's familiar with it....
I've ordered it.
Andy is a mental health specialist who explained the downward spiral in self esteem and the ability to grab a rope of opportunity when one is homeless. The authorities enforce real or ficticious laws to prevent the homeless from sleeping in public spaces and they refuse to designate public spaces where they can sleep.
While we all dupe ourselves by falsely representing we are the 99% who care, we are more like the 8 or 14% who care, and the 1 or 2 % willing to actually take action rather then just consider the problem at some point in our day.
As Andy indicated the solution is a two tracked one: 1) challenge existing laws or change them to permit the homeless to at least occupy designated public space and 2) raise public awareness of the plight of the homeless and the destructive effects of the way they are being treated by their municipalities.
In my mind, raising awareness without preparing specific solutions to solve the problem of which you are heightening awareness serves little purpose. This situation does not need problem finders, it needs problem solvers. The public needs solutions it can digest, support or criticize. Only then can we discover whether or not our national value system has sunk so low that a majority of the people prefer to ignore the homeless rather then support a solution.
I would like to see a small contingent of specialists in homelessness and attorneys in municipal and constitutional law, from across the land, get together electronically to write a single, concise draft municipal code requiring local government to designate space for the homeless to sleep. The draft would then be circulated to occupations across the land for comment and approval. Once finalized, each occupation would identify a team to initiate a media blitz - letters to the editor, articles, and radio and TV talk shows - to explain the destructive spiral of homelessness, present and defend the recommended municipal code, and state the date it would be presented to the city council to begin the process of council debate.
The second track would need a another team to study and refine the minimal cost of preparing shelter where the homeless could sleep and receive minimal essential nutrition. The team would then identify and recommend the specific sources of funds to be reallocated within the municipal budget or the amount, and source of a new tax for a specific period to be levied to fund the shelter. Again, a bill would be crafted to present the plan of the specific requirements and funding sources to local government for action.