Greetings fellow cafe folks.

I'd like to offer an alternative perspective on OWS. First I'd like to introduce myself-


I'm a native San Diegan, facilitator/process artist (co-host of the 14th annual World Open Space on Open Space in Moscow in '06; co-editor of Russian translations of process arts books and articles, including Open Space Technology: A User's Guide and the mini-hosting guide for World Cafe), .
After having been involved for about two weeks- which included one week of staying at Civic Center Plaza overnight- I decided to no longer take part. 
I blogged about my participation from the very beginning.
And the last two posts go into the reasons why I've ended my participation in the Occupy Process.
I've lived half my life abroad- Iran and Russia (and was eyewitness to the Islamic Revolution (and the Iran-Iraq War and the US hostage crisis) in Iran and collapse of the Soviet Union. 
My own politics are in many ways aligned with those taking part. I was arrested in front of the CIA at age 17 (civil disobedience), at age 18 went public with my intention not to register for the Selective Service, throughout my twenties was a war tax resister. While in Russia, I protested the wars in Chechnya. 
My worry - and that of a few others who share the values but not the strategy of OWS- is that elites are actually interested in seeing OWS continue and grow because little of consequence will come of it. I've seen in my life subtle and not so subtle means of engaging masses- including highly educated people- in movements that actually bear little fruit.
I think this comment by Richard Moore (linked to on my blog) sums up - a lot of my concern (I will add that I don't 100% agree with his perspective but at its core I think his point is a good one) where I'm coming from:
What I am sure of, is that none of the grass-roots initiatives or movements currently on the scene have any hope of changing anything. In fact, activist energy is increasingly being channeled and managed by the very system we are hoping to change. As with Obama, who managed to fool all of the people some the time, and even now is fooling some of the people all of the time. 'Hope you can believe in', if you're dreaming.
But someone like Obama can only channel those who see hope in the political system. More and more people are realizing there is no hope in the political system. So we are getting things like The Zeitgeist Movement and Anonymous, that cater to those who have given up on politics, and give them something to 'join' or 'follow' so they can pretend they're 'doing something'. Here is a relevant posting on Zeitgeist:
The latest of these vehicles of co-option is the Occupy Wall Street movement. This one's really a humdinger. It has all the right slogans, and an appealing internal process. Its success is not surprising, because it is the latest version of a formula that has been thoroughly tested and refined 'on the ground'. We might call it the 'twitter formula', and we've seen it in the 'colored revolutions' that were used to bring about various desired regime changes, and more recently in the 'Arab Spring' movements, that soaked up lots of energy and prevented unwanted regime changes.
Four years ago progressives found hope in Obama. This time around they're finding hope in the Occupy Wall Street movement. In both cases, this 'hope' became available all too easily, was accompanied by all the right mainstream publicity, and offered easy ways to join in and become not only a follower, but an active participant. This is what co-option looks like.


I'm curious how this all lands for you!



p.s. feel free to share with others, but do not include my last name (if you know it).

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Just saw your response to me, Raffi... Apologies for the delay.  The theme I am picking up relates to the degree to which the "movement" chooses to engage in electoral politics or not.  Some suggest that this is the only way it can make a difference.  A good example is this piece by Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker.  He compares OWS to the Tea Party, concluding:

Unlike the Tea Party, which was born when the alien/socialist enemy held all three of Washington’s elected redoubts, Occupy Wall Street inhabits a different political world, one whose most prominent figure, the President, has fallen short of not only many Occupiers’ hopes but also his own—in large part because of the Republicans’ conscienceless exploitation of the perverse veto points of the congressional machine. Yes, O.W.S. has “changed the conversation.” But talk, however necessary, is cheap. Ultimately, inevitably, the route to real change has to run through politics—the politics of America’s broken, god-awful, immutably two-party electoral system, the only one we have. The Tea Partiers know that. Do the Occupiers?

I see that you have spoken of the Occupy "process" above, as opposed to a movement, and like me, you see the value in its ability to both build community (providing an experiential model of a world where our voices are heard and we work together with our neighbors) and especially to inspire conversation.  Those who believe that electoral politics is the only answer miss the larger need for systemic change, in my view, and the way in which the Occupations inspire us to believe that there is another way we can organize ourselves on this planet.

I believe in the power of conversation--of talk that is NOT cheap but in fact precious due to its being "highly energized and relevant" (Juanita Brown's words).  Yes, we need containers.  We need process.  Those things can be (co)created.  What cannot be conjured up easily is the raw life force flowing through this movement (which is why I think it deserves the term).

Ben Roberts


Thanks for clarifying. I'm curious if  what you are saying can be reflected as

"Yes we need a powerful ongoing conversation and a good container and a good process and sustained with raw life force."

One overall interpretation  of the Occupy Process would be to say it has sparked a conversation(s) and there is  much that needs to be attended to create a good container and good process. Without those elements, I find that it is difficult to me and others to really plug in.

 It was Juanita who told me about Occupy Cafe. And I ask myself why am I here. I think this seems like a largely supportive place to discern how can I engage with this Process at this point in a meaningful way.

The day I decided to go on hiatus in terms of meaningful involvement (I judge showing up in a virtual space as a much less weighty kind of involvement) was the day I'd planned to offer a short Open Space Technology meeting on strengthening my local occupation. Part of me wants and is still drawn by the idea of offering the process arts in some shape or form locally. I don't yet have that clarity...

Part of me wonders about offering some kind of highly participatory event independent of (but perhaps in collaboration with) my local Occupation...Don't know.

 Curious how this lands for you and others.

To be fair,

this blog post on Occupy LA's website, offers a highly encouraging first person account of OLSX (Occupy London Stock Exchange.)



Occupy San Diego as a site, being in the occupation physically, doesn't sound like my cup of tea either and I wouldn't have stayed there under those conditions.

Also, I must say I share the concern that the physical presence of #occupy must include behavior and community that shows some embodimenet of  a higher and better value.  If the physical presence of #occupy doesn't witness a higher and nobler vision, you are right, it will lose momentum and credibility and perhaps not even be remembered.



Continuing the theme of challenges with the Occupy Process,

I'd like to share this personal perspective from someone at Occupy LA. And this one, too. And this one as well.

On the face of it, it can seem discouraging to read about all these problems. But perhaps, a first step is just identifying the difficulties?

Dear Raffi, nice to reconnect.  I'm supervising interns these days and teaching a little. One guy is doing AVP basic next week.  We have a little momentum in Colorado, mostly because prisons cost so much so there's some examining the long sentences and the parole process etc.

I read some of your San Diego stuff and your note above.    What we decided in Boulder was to NOT occupy a space, rather we do a noon-6pm occupation, it gets COLD here!  Partly there was an energy to rush in, pop up tents, and see what happened, but the noon-6 proposal carried the day basically to see if we really had the people to do anything bigger.

What we've found is that we have an awesome GA process, no one is burned out from dealing with basic needs, and there's energy for marches, and for 'occupying' our local governments processes.  We have a Fracking demo this tuesday.

You may want to stay with the GA process and direct actions and bail on the rest.  Nobody got into this to have all our energy turned into street level service.  

I'm working on a process for inter-GA consensus, please take a look at  and read over the flow chart and the process proposal.  

I appreciate your dedication to Open Process and look forward to doing some of that.  I have a Sunday PM conference call that is growing in participation and I'd like you to get familiar with Maestro Conference administration and help me make that call powerful.  Lots of little Occupies show up.

If you get this soon,

call in tonight, register here:

we'll be live 6pm-8pm your time

peace and love







Thanks to Richard Moore for pointing out this article in the UK Observer:


Here's the risk: Occupy ends up doing the bidding of the global elite.


Some of the argumentation is faulty, but nevertheless it makes some important points...


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