An open space for global conversation
So many terrific and provocative pieces are being written and recorded about #Occupy. Please Use this discussion to post your favorites. We can then convene conversations around specific ones that spark general interest, both here in the Occupy Cafe Forum and during our Cafe Calls.
I'm definitely not suggesting anyone should be silent. I do believe in asking hard questions. And I think it is worth asking who stands to benefit from OWS.
I personally spent a fair amount of time at my site before ending my involvement...
Hope this makes sense.
Greg Palast's new book :
"Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Predators. A tale of oil, sex, shoes, radiation and investigative reporting"
will be released Nov 14th.
The first chapter is now free to download. Go to: http://www.gregpalast.com/vulturespicnic/ & click excerpt.
Greg is one of our most cutting edge, skilled & daring journalist, & what a sense of humor.
I'm brand new to occupy cafe. So awesome this network!
I saw this bit from some Process Work friends and thought it is a good addition.
> An inside look at Occupy Portland's struggle with mental health problems
> Jenny Westberg, Portland Mental Health Examiner
> November 4, 2011 -
> Nat Holder, of Occupy Portland’s Safety Team, has a request.
> “What we’d like,” said Holder, “is for someone to come onsite and do
> training” to help them deal with problems of mental health and
> Holder is one of the points of contact for the team, which is onsite
> every day at Occupy Portland's campground at Lownsdale and Chapman
> squares in downtown Portland. The Safety Team has primary
> responsibility for resolving crisis situations.
> In a phone interview Monday, Holder talked about the kinds of
> situations the team encounters and their efforts to respond. He
> emphasized he was speaking only from his own perspective, not on
> behalf of Occupy Portland in any official way. But what he shared
> offers a unique view of some of the challenges of day-to-day life for
> the hundreds of people who have filled two city blocks in downtown
> Portland since October 6.
> Unexpected Influx
> Mental health problems came front and center for Occupy Portland early
> on. Large numbers of Portland’s homeless population were drawn to the
> site by the temporary moratorium on enforcing anti-camping laws,
> Occupy’s open-gate policy, and four free meals a day.
> The surge of homeless people was unexpected, Holder said. “We had no idea.”
> They’ve brought positive contributions, not just problems. “Some
> people have been homeless and have been involved [in Occupy Portland]
> from the beginning," he said. "Others come into our camp, perhaps just
> looking for a place to stay, but they end up getting involved in the
> committees and really doing work."
> Still, people coming off the street often struggle with mental illness
> and addiction. Most crisis situations Holder has seen result from
> people being intoxicated.
> Although Occupy Portland has a policy against onsite drug and alcohol
> use, Holder said they haven’t been able to enforce it. The open gates
> mean they can’t prevent people from using off-site and returning drunk
> or high.
> Defusing Crisis
> Mental health situations aren’t always critical. For example, Holder
> said, “a person might decide to reorganize the clothing area. Or they
> have an idea to move everything around in the coffee café.”
> In a case like this, he said, “we’ll have member of the team sit with
> them. We try to minimize the amount of damage, but also join them in
> their effort to be helpful.”
> Other situations are more severe.
> “If a person has pushed over a table, or there’s serious damage or
> violence to another person, we use minimal force to get them off the
> park. If that doesn’t work, we will call the police,” said Holder.
> “We don’t tolerate violence.”
> Holder said a serious crisis might happen once every two or three days
> -- “more than we’d like” – but mental health problems are a daily
> Dealing With Extremes
> Holder, who is a student at the Process Work Institute in Northwest
> Portland and provides individual therapy at River’s Way Clinic, said
> his process work training has been crucial in understanding and
> resolving mental health crises for Occupy Portland.
> He’s learned “extreme states are valid. And just because a person’s
> behavior might seem illogical to an outside observer, to the person
> going through it, their actions are completely logical."
> Also, Holder said, "there’s a meaning to it. That needs to be
> validated. Disregarding the meaning for that person isolates them in
> their own world. When we join them, often they feel their needs are
> being met without having to resort to violence, and we’re doing that
> successfully in the vast majority of situations.”
> Occupy Portland has emergency medical and wellness services, but they
> do not dispense prescription drugs or have a medical doctor onsite,
> and Holder said sometimes a person needs resources they just don't
> Right now, he said, what they need is for someone to come to the Plaza
> Blocks and provide training on mental health problems, substance abuse
> and additional ways to deal with crisis.
> Can you help? If you can organize a training, or you know someone else
> who can, contact Nat Holder at email@example.com.
A number of books that offer a lot of ideas- all of it grounded in actual practical experience- for the way forward.
Tao of Democracy. Tom Atlee.
Community: The Structure of Belonging. Peter Block. (freely downloadable booklet with main ideas of the book available here)
Practice of Peace by Harrison Owen (chapter one and preface here)
one of the top reviewers for Amazon considers this one of the most important books every written in the English language.
Power and Love: a theory and Practice of Social Change. Adam Kahane.
on an approach to self and collective holistic health and self-management; a powerful conceptual framework necessary to move forward.
talks about how it is imperative to address harmful and destructive behavior at occupations in a firm and compassionate way...
Organizational consultant Birgitt Williams, my primary process arts mentor/teacher has written two interesting posts on her blog recently that might be of interest. To get a sense of the perspective she is operating from, I recommend reading a few pages from her e-book, Genuine Contact Way that tell you about her journey:
see pp. 23-27 of this book- for the excerpt.
The two blog posts (excerpt below):
In thinking about this current Occupy movement and the pockets of social unrest, I think back to a time when I was still living in Canada, a country that I love very much. The history of the country is that it was first colonized by the French and by the English, a war between France and England had a profound negative effect on the colonies, and there are still strong feelings of upset. Although Canada claims to be a bilingual country, French and English, this doesn’t hold true. Yes, products must be labeled in both official languages, schoolchildren in the dominant English speaking Canada attend classes in French, and yet historically the French-speaking province of Quebec has had to take some strong measures to preserve the French language and culture in their Province and in parts of the Country. I have looked up my notes from that time and share a summary with you of what happened in early 1996. I wish that someone would organize something similar now. I feel it would be more sustainable than this Occupy movement. We cannot create a line between what we did to assist in a divisive situation to the results that the country did not break up. However, to this day, I believe that the work we did then was what resulted in a country remaining whole…still with problems, but with the opportunity as a country to solve them instead of having divided.
...This takes me to the most important point of my note. The most dangerous point comes when the protests are done if there is nothing sufficient in place to create the new world that is desired. The most important thing that I can think of doing at this time aside from spending more and more of my day in compassion and unconditional love, is to teach others how to lead participatory meetings that use circles such as Open Space Technology, Whole Person Process Facilitation, and Circle Work...
Now this is inspiring--
Here is a short video on the Greek debt crisis, offering shocking information that I have not seen in the news. on the harmful decisions taken by the Greek national political leadership that put the country in its current position.
Really worth watching!
I don't like the tone of this short video - a commentary on the sense of entitlement of OWS ....
But, I think if one listens with Big Ears I think he is making some important points and asking some important questions.
"Occupy the Agenda," Nicholas Kristoff's column in today's NY Times (11/20) concisely captures much of the thinking I am hearing about the achievement of the movement thus far: the changing of the national conversation. OWS is bringing far greater awareness to the core issues of vast economic inequality, loss of upward mobility and money in politics. Kristoff also weighs in on the Occupy 2.0 question, arguing the case for moving beyond encampments as the primary venue for protest/action.
...The high ground that the protesters seized is not an archipelago of parks in America, but the national agenda. The movement has planted economic inequality on the nation’s consciousness, and it will be difficult for any mayor or police force to dislodge it.
A reporter for Politico found that use of the words “income inequality” quintupled in a news database after the Occupy protests began. That’s a significant achievement, for this is an issue that goes to our country’s values and our opportunities for growth — and yet we in the news business have rarely given it the attention it deserves.
The statistic that takes my breath away is this: The top 1 percent of Americans possess a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute....
The solution to these inequities and injustices is not so much setting up tents at bits of real estate here or there, but a relentless focus on the costs of inequality. So as we move into an election year, I’m hoping that the movement will continue to morph into: Occupy the Agenda.
(Posted by Ben Roberts)
Just read this excellent blog post by Steve "Swami Beyondananda" Bhaerman: It's Time for the 99% to Occupy the Occupy Movement. Steve will be a conversation starter on one of our upcoming Monday Cafe Calls. Here's an excerpt:
...Occupy has heartened disheartened Americans, so it’s understandable how one could get preoccupied with the Occupy movement and not consider what a post-occupation strategy might be. Fortunately, the Corporate State is making it “easy” for us to shift the focus from occupying physical space to occupying the conversation so thoroughly that we the people can finally “overgrow” the current corrupt and dysfunctional system.
How have they made it easier? By using massive and brutal force to evict the Occupy encampments, first in New York and then elsewhere. Making New York’s Mayor Bloomberg the “villain” as Keith Olbermann does here is tempting from a symbolic standpoint. But it misses the bigger point – that these evictions were orchestrated at the national level. According to this article in Business Insider 18 mayors of large cities were instructed in a conference call how to use their police to remove the demonstrators. It is quite telling that all of the mayors – regardless of their political affiliation – went along with the scheme. Why? Because under the current circumstances where there is no unified moral leadership coming from the public sphere, they had no choice.
The scenes of these evictions – intentionally blacked out by our free (oops, I mean “paid for”) press – tells us all we need to know about who is being protected by our protective forces. A militarized police – helicopters and all – is being used against not just the demonstrators, but against the First Amendment – and ultimately against all Americans...
It’s time for us to stop banging our heads against police batons, and emerge to a new level of power.
It’s time to use the ace-in-the-hole … the dormant yet powerful moral authority of the 99%. It’s time for the 99% to “occupy” the Occupy movement.
OK. But how?
By first of all, convening conversations across America, and inviting anyone who identifies with the 99% to participate. A recent Fox News poll indicates that 67% consider themselves part of the 99%, and that’s not a bad start. In fact, let’s invite the other 33% as well, and even the 1% — provided they speak as individual citizens rather than controllers of the conversation.
Imagine what it would be like to really find out what the 99% of us feel, think – and have in common. What if 80% or even 90% of us supported just one idea, just one rule of governance? What if – for the first time – a unified voice of We The People said, “We the People of America stand for THIS” (however “this” is articulated) and that voice spoke with such collective authority that our legislators had to legislate it – or face certain defeat in 2012?