Occupy Cafe is launching a systematic inquiry into the evolution of the #Occupy movement.  

NOTE: This discussion was part of "Round 1" of our inquiry and is now closed.  Our conversation continues with our "Round 2" thread here.  And help us harvest more from this round here.

The questions below were taken up during a Cafe Call on 11/15.  Participants in that call, as well as subsequent readers of this thread, posted their reflections here and then continued the conversation.

We are now pausing for a "harvesting phase," where we "listen together" and reflect on what has been said.  There is a discussion thread in our "Harvesting" group here, where we can share what we have gleaned.  Please join us in this collective meaning-making process.

Below is the post that initiated this conversation:

I first heard the term "Occupy 2.0" from Walt Roberts a couple of days ago, as he anticipated the dismantling of Occupy Portland where he has been active.  Occupy Cafe is launching an inquiry starting today into the question of what this might look like.  We plan to collectively craft a vision, or set of visions for the future of this movement as an offering of support to all those who have fought so hard thus far.  

To all those brave souls in the encampments: you have already succeeding in radically changing the dialogue in this country and around the world and our thanks and gratitude and admiration go out to you.  What might be possible now?

We begin with this inquiry:

  • What are the most positive things you have experienced emerging from Occupy 1.0?
  • What are the dilemmas/opportunities in the current situation of the Occupy Movement?
  • What question, if answered, might make the greatest difference in the development of an effective response to the clearing of so many #Occupy sites?  


Ben Roberts,

Occupy Cafe Steward

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Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

yes, #occupy must be the face of all..we must see faces representing all, in the faces at every #occupy  matrch, demonstration..the voices of these folk have to be spoken from #occupy as well.

I love Stockholm..can't imagine any there having to protest against.  If we could get as far as Sweden is we'd be doing very well inded.

David: you might want to check out the video of the police evicting the #OWS kitchen: http://media.nycga.net/2011/11/16/eviction-of-occupy-wall-street-ki...

Just now on MSNBC  prominent comentator discussing why the American people have disconnected with Occupy said


(1) "Go down and look  they are not the 99%..they are white kids wearing gap clothes..no blacks, no chinese, no hispanics"

(2) "If they really want to change America what are they doing on Wall Street..why aren't they focusing on Washington, on State Capitols?"

(3) "Americans don't see the connection between what they are expereiencingg as the 99% and what the movement is doing"

( This came on right after my post above on the fact that 87%of the poulation is angry about the income disparity and only 27% support Occupy Wall Street.) 

From yesterday's Occupy 2.0 Conference Call Breakout Sessions


> What are the current opportunities/dilemmas?

> How can we be more attentive to people's needs?  How can we keep the spirit of the encampments and use the momentum to enhance the process and the structure?  We must have a fundamental honoring of each other.  We must built trust in our movement--trust that we all want the same thing.  How can we build this trust and honor our diverse life experiences.  In the process of learning about each other, we can rebuild trust.

> There is an opportunity for us to expand our understanding of "commons" as a public sphere where all voices can join together free from political and economic control.

> What question if answered, might make the biggest difference in the development of an effective response to the clearing of so many occupy sites?

> How can the current occupy movement expand to include everyone--including merging with existing organization?  Occupiers want to make decisions through general assemblies, but not everyone wants to be part of that process.  How can we reconcile these differences?

> If the people want change, they should be commerce and daily life to a grinding halt.  It is possible to have a mass protest... growing out of the original camp protests.  A mass social protest can be more fluid.  The evolution from encampments to mass protest is a revolution. 

> Who are the 99%?

> People are fearful of the movement... fearful of a disruption of their life.  The devil  you know is better than the one that you don't know.

> Corporate personhood manifests itself in ways that we don't know... but technology today can reestablish democracy. Technology can save the day.

> We need a fourth branch of government:  The People.  We fell into this mess because the public fell asleep at the switch. 

> Perhaps we need a national broadcasting system for getting out the Occupy Message.

> Is occupation our constitutional right, or is occupation our constitutional right to assemble for the explicit purpose of petitioning the government for a redress of grievances?

> Are 24-hour encampments the best way to get where we're going?  What's the power of a 24-hour encampment that we can build off of and use?

> What other ways can we be effective without limitation so of occupying public space?

> We need to create more opportunities for people to speak without it being a public debate--we need to listen respectfully to other people's point of view.

The occupations are important because they demonstrate through the direct action our right to claim and live on the earth.

The Occupations, The Commons, Fear and Tūrangawaewae


By Alanna Hartzok, co-director, Earth Rights Institute



Police attacks on the Occupations are the current manifestation of the violent suppression of the peoples rights to the planet’s land and natural resources. This harshly exploitative power relationship stems directly from the amalgam of church/state that was the Holy Roman Empire. The fundamentals have never shifted towards justice. The basic person/planet ethic of HRE is "dominium" - legalization of land acquired by conquest and plunder. As long as the few rather than the many “own” the planet, there will be brutality and unending war.


I perceive that a not yet fully conscious reason why the Occupations are so fundamentally powerful is that this action takes and holds land as a commons. Pitching a tent and sleeping on land is a direct threat to the powers that be, because in our system the only ways to acquire land are through inheritance, purchase (with mortgage debt) or rent (to a landlord who has inherited land or purchased land via mortgage debt.)  In our system there is NO INHERENT RIGHT to land as a birthright.


By the simple act of direct land occupation, the Occupation movement is first and foremost a land rights movement. The painful awareness of the abnegation of our fundamental rights to land is deep in the subconscious mind of the many. For millennia, reigning powers have unleashed violence and death upon  myriads of assertions of land rights by the landless. These psychic scars in the collective mindfield are laden with fear and trepidation.


The Occupations broke the fear barrier. But if people are “permitted” to stake claim to little city parks here and there, their next step might be to stake claim and hold more and more urban and rural land. The call of the Russian Revolution was Land and Liberty and the French Revolution was triggered by the revolt of the landless serfs. Yet the land problem has not been solved but rather festers and erupts, an unhealed world wound, the source of our weltschmerz, the pain of the world we-the-many are feeling right now.


If the powers that be were to “permit” people to stake direct land rights claims, for free and indefinitely, and the land rights movements expanded, soon people would be building their own "free" villages and communities. They would discover that they do not need "jobs" to survive. This is the greatest threat to the powers that be. For without sufficient numbers in a “labor pool" competing with each other to drive down wages, the “job creators” would have to pay the highest wages possible or else people would choose to self-employ on land, cutting deeply into the unearned profits of the 1%.


The very first environmental political party, precursor to the German Greens, was the New Zealand Values Party. Their platform contained a key policy based on the Maori land ethic of “tūrangawaewae.” Tūrangawaewae is one of the most powerful Māori concepts. Literally tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially connected and empowered. “They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home.”[1]


The Occupations are standing on tūrangawaewae. And as you read this, the Occupiers are once again being thrown off the Commons.





[1] See: Tūrangawaewae as foundation  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/papatuanuku-the-land/5



Alanna, friends, and all,

Thank you Alanna for this incredibly insightful piece. I understand that in one of the breakout groups on our Occupy 2.0 call yesterday they began to talk about the Commons and our natural inherent right to those gifts of nature that belong equitably and fully to all of us. I would suggest that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (ratified or acceded to by all UN Member States) along with the UN Charter guarantee to us these very same rights, in that they say that Everyone is entitled to Life, Liberty, and Security; jobs, livelihoods sufficient to provide adequately for their families, education, healthcare, food and shelter; and civil and political rights. In addition Article 28 of the Universal Declaration states that Everyone is entitled to a Social and International Order that is sufficient to provide and respect all of these rights. 

And we all know that we will not and cannot have access to these rights unless and until we have secured the right to equitable ownership and use of land, natural resources and the other commons or gifts of nature. As you say in the title of your wonderful book, "The Earth Belongs to Everyone". 

In addition the Preamble of the Universal Declaration states that it is the responsibility of every individual and every organ of society to take progressive measures, both national and international, to secure these very same rights. And the US Constitution says that all International Treaties that the US ratifies, thus including the Universal Declaration and UN Charter, are the supreme law of the land. 

Thus it is our moral and legal obligation to do all that we can to ensure that all peoples have access to life, liberty, security; food, shelter, healthcare, education, and right livelihood; and full civil and political rights including to land and natural resources upon which all of these other rights depend. And thus it is our right and obligation to participate in the Occupy Movement and to reclaim our right to the Commons, the earth, and the gifts of mother nature. 

Along with many other things that I am doing, including helping to organize the Occupy Cafe, I am one of the organizers of the Commons Action for the United Nations. We are attempting to engrain the Commons Approach to Sustainable Development in all UN processes and activities. There has been some mention lately about linking the Occupations with the effort to create a Sustainable Society and World, perhaps through the Rio+20 Earth Summit Conference and Process. I think that this is a great idea; and I hope that the Occupy Cafe (or at least some of our participants) will decide to play a major role in helping to do so. 

I am attaching a paper that I helped to draft that the Commons Action for the UN (CAUN) submitted to the Rio+20 Conference Secretariat containing our recommendations for the Rio+20 Outcome Document or Agreement. Actually, I am including 3 papers. The above; a submission that I drafted on behalf of the Global Ecovillage Network (which I also represent at the UN); and the Declaration from the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference that civil society organized and held (in partnership with the UN) in Bonn Germany in September. This last document includes excellent recommendations for what civil society and the NGO community would like to have accomplished through the Rio+20 Conference. 

These papers could provide a good start towards agreeing on the kinds of things that Occupy a Sustainable Earth organizers might try to address and achieve through the Rio+20 process. 

Thanks, Rob Wheeler

robwheeler22   @  gmail.com

Skype: robineagle333


Whoops, somehow it didn't include the Global Ecovillage Network Rio+20 Paper. Let's try again.

Thanks, Rob


Where is Alanna's piece? Can't find it.  Interested in the part about the commons which I have referenced in other posts here as well.

There is a well established and already working way to go right around the issue of the commons and still create common wealth from all natural resources.  It's called a sovereign wealth fund.

An example with distributions annually to every person   is the Alska Permamnent Fund..  Alaska is also practically tax free because of how it extracts and distrubutes revenue from oil.

This is a very simple, well established system. Three states already have them ( although only Alaska has th public dividend) It is, as has been suggested here, a side by side solution.  It doesn't require totally changing or fixing the whole broken mess into efffect a failry immediate  and very powerful improvement specifically addressed to the core issue here....income inequality.


it seems we keep losing sight that the 1% 99% refers primarily to income inequality..at least in the eys of the 87% of americans who are upset and want solutions.


I personally Ilike the idea of getting a check from the government every year for my fair share of natural resource revenues instead of paying taxes. (same amount for evry person) I like the idea that my heads start kids could have a check at maturity  for their 18 year accumuation of their share of dividends reinvested and compounded and could pursue a college education without incurring a  crippling debt.

It is very well established and much in use in relation to commodities revenues all over the wolrd.  Any state can implement one.  Plenty of models to choose from.  Doesn't require waiting for federal action but we can press for that too for all federal revenues from natural resources.

(currently hosting a converstaion on this at TED and previously posted the link)

Lindsay - Yes, so now I find your comment on sovereign wealth funds. Yes, the Alaska Permanent Fund is a good model of collecting resource rent from natural resource wealth and sharing it equally with everyone, with no or low taxes on work. A previous article I wrote about this is here: http://www.earthrights.net/docs/alaska.html

and Karl Widerquist is putting together an APF anthology for Palmer/McMillan, an academic book publishing house.

We can establish these types of funds from the local to the global level to achieve a "holistic, integrated local to global green tax shift." http://www.earthrights.net/docs/greentax.html and short piece here: http://www.earthrights.net/docs/brochure.pdf (centerfold)


(apologies for earlier mis spelling of your name)


Thanks for the links..I will follow up and read them.



Excuse me, but if the oil companies weren't externalizing a good deal of the cost of the use of the fossil fuel they extract from Alaska, there would be no dividend. It's more like hush money, an annual bribe IMO.

Gary - Even if the enviro costs were internalized, there would remain the surplus profit oif economic rent as unearned income that could be captured for dividends. While APF is in many ways a good model, and pretty much the only one of resource rent funded citizen dividends, it would be better to have the oil rent directed to renewable energy technology development, and capture the rent of surface land (land value tax) for purposes of dividends. This is a sufficient amount as land rent is estimated to be at least one third of GDP. I am uploading a chart from Australia that indicates this.



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