Please use this discussion to offer your suggestions for Core Conversations to be hosted here on the Cafe website and on our Cafe Calls.  We suggest you consider framing a topic in terms of a "powerful question."  This monograph by Eric Vogt, David Isaacs and Juanita Brown, courtesy of The World Cafe, provides some excellent guidelines.

NOTE!!! This discussion is intended to be about the range of topics we might want to focus on ONLY.

It is NOT intended to be the place where we actually HAVE those discussions.  If something that is proposed here grabs you, by all means start a thread about it in Member-Initiated Discussions.  Or, if it's a really big and juicy subject, perhaps you might even want to start a group to discuss it--each group has its own forum, as well as "pages" that can be created and edited together.

Thanks for helping us keep our discussions organized.  And thanks for all the great energy and ideas that you have been posting here so far!

 

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"I see the heart of OWS as a conversation, or an inquiry, not an organ for issuing demands."

Thank you for that, Ben.  Let's have the ends in the means, as Gandhi would have them (so far, so good!).  Life endlessly serves up differences, so.... curiosity and conversation forever!

How about the heart of OWS including the development of emerging conversations leading not to demands, but to deeper understanding and development of evolving inclusive issue campaigns supported by a growing majority of the people thus resulting in policies, programs, and action that leads to the kind of world we want to live in. 

Perhaps this would be something that most of us could support. In this way the ends and the means could co-exist harmoniously together. So, yes, life endlessly serves up differences, so... curiosity and conversation, together with appropriate action, forever. 

Rob Wheeler

Love this, Rob. 

I hope you'll forgive my long-winded reply here...my hope is that conversation, deliberation and action may emerge to reverse the global trend toward plutocracy. This became a focal point issue for me, mostly from watching Bill Moyers on PBS for many years. This became his key issue...and now it's mine. Below are some thoughts I shared with the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) and some other colleagues in the National Issues Forums (NIF) community on plutocracy and the 'Occupy' movement. I hope some of these thoughts are helpful.

This is a time for the dialogue and deliberation community to provide the tools and leadership needed, so citizens can discuss, focus and digest the variety of frustrations and needs being voiced.

First, I want to share the link again to my blog post from April, 2011…‘Our Context Is Plutocracy.’ Back in April, I took some heat for being ‘too partisan’ in my approach to this topic…and my language was ‘not inclusive enough.’ Perhaps these voices were right…but, how else can we frame the fundamental trends in national and global wealth accumulation for public conversations? So…here is the link once again for this blog post:

Our Context Is Plutocracy’ blog post

Let’s fast-forward to now. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ has been characterized as a ‘mob’ by some…while others find themselves wondering what took so long. In our democracy, people get to express themselves, and they get to gather with others as they see fit. Whether you like what they are saying or not…these are our neighbors who are voicing their dissatisfaction with some economic trends and some political ideologies. I disagreed with those who just wanted to dismiss the opinions of Tea Party followers and leaders…and I believe the free expression of public frustrations and needs by ‘Occupy’ followers is essential at this time…in our country and around the world. Only time will tell if these ad hoc groups will fall apart, or coalesce. Here’s more:

The ‘Occupy’ Movement blog post

Craig,

 

Your website is an excellent endeavor to have resposnble converstaion about serious issues in a resposnble and informed way..

http://delibcaideas.org/?p=267

 

Your post ""Our Context is Plutocracy" is key..and your points all excellent..Say we are the 99% and not understanding what olutocracy ( I have adopted citibank's  term "plutonomy..a plutocractic autonomy..because I was so deeply unnerved by their memo maode famous by Michael Moore in Capitalism:A Love Affair.)  When I first strated writing about the plutonomy that Citibank memo was widely available online..I linked to a version at scribd.  No it is very difficult to locate that memo.  Citicorps lawyers went around and had it removed from almost all sites.  They don't want the 99% seeing how the 1% view us especially in that memo they probably didn't want us 1% to see their analysis that  backlash and social unrest could undo the plutonomy but ath that writing citibanks memo to it hi newyroth customers was giving assurance that there was no such backlash on the horizon..it took 5 or 6 more years..but here it is #Occupy..globally and calling themselves the 99% .

 

The point in your blog that we have to explain what plutocracy and plutonomy mean..explain what it means to be in the 99%..what that means as a backdrop to our struggle to collaborabitively con-intelligently reclaim our wolrd, our once free nations.

 

It was wise for us to first be invited to suggest core conversations because it is through unity of ideology..on funadmental principlaes..unity nit just within a local #occupy movement, not just in a nations #Occupy movement but global unity around those principles that we can make our "backlash" not just felt by the plutonomy..but elevated into an energy of global trabsformation.

 

The language we are developing already is the language of an army ready to dismantle the plutonomy.."hairball convergence", "financial thrivability"..we need a new common vocabulary for our mission a common understanding of what each word in our new dictionary means and how we make that our common touchstone, globally for all of our observations on what's wrong  and all our desires for better ways. ways that are sustaianble and thrivable. 

How about a practical discussion of how to replace our current capitalist economic structure with a new alternate economy?

A gift economy like that in use by OWS works well for a small, property-less entity. However, at some point OWS may wish to turn its hand to economic enfranchisement of the disenfranchised - the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, and also those who would love to bail out of corporate jobs, were there a healthy alternative. Scaling up an alternative economy will require resources, and some form of financial investment - hopefully not capitalist, but cooperative.

Perhaps a movement-wide development of an alternative currency in the mode of 'Ithaca Dollars' - a time/dollar system -   could kick off an alternative economy.  One promising alternative to the capitalist business model is the Mondragon Cooperative model - worker owned, flat heirarchy, profits retained in the cooperative community. 

Another step: at some point existing large scale enterprises will need to be weaned from reliance on capital, and Wall Street profit-taking.  I'd like to see discussions on how to convert, for instance, hospitals from the for-profit capitalist model to a not-for-profit community cooperative model.

To truly transform our current economic system will require not only building of new forms of social activity like OWS, but the conversion of existing entities (businesses, social institutions) to a more humane economic form. What stages might such transformations include? How do you deconstruct a corporation and rebuild it to a humane pattern, while at the same time allowing it to continue with its core competencies?

Or - is it inevitable that corporations must be 'destroyed' before a new economic structure can arise?

Pfizer brings us many good and useful medicines. Yet 'Big Pharma' is one of the most rapacious profit-taking machines on the planet.  Can we curb and transform a Pfizer *without* bringing a halt to the production of medicines so many rely on?

What does that transformation look like? How might alternative currencies play into such a transformation? What businesses can be easily converted to, or replaced by a cooperative model?  How fast can cooperatives scale up?  Can entities like Big Pharma be replaced by a cooperative model?

--Just a few questions to ponder!

Karen and friends,

A friend of mine in Germany has created a model for a great global Alternative Currency based on Gradidos and VitaMoney. He has set up a website where people can go to begin using Gradidos (thanks) and VitaMoney right now. I believe that thousands are already participating. You can even form small groups of friends that want to support each other in shifting to a new, sustainably based currency that is owned by all of us together rather than by the FED (Federal Reserve Board in the US) and big banks. You can find out all about it by going to: http://gradido.net/en/Academy

I have already written to some of the organizers at OWS in New York about this. But they had already started exploring some more locally based options (trading scheming). I will contact them again however. I am hoping that many in the Occupy Movement will join the effort to spread the Gradidos/VitaMoney plan. It is the best I have ever seen as it includes mechanisms to provide a basic income for everyone; appreciation and compensation for those voluntarily contributing to community and social wellbeing; financial support for shifting to a sustainably based society; etc. 

If any one from the OWS movement wants to promote and support this through the Occupy Cafe process and Occupy Movement, please let me know. I am sure that some of the key people at Gradidos will help us do so. Thanks, Rob Wheeler  robwheeler22  @  gmail.com  skype: robineagle333

By the way, I totally support everything else Karen is talking about. Thanks and Way to Go Karen. Yes, the Mondragon enterprises is an excellent model for cooperatively owned and run businesses. We definitely  need to have full on discussions about what an economic transformation would loook like. We need to ensure corporate social responsibility. I do not believe they have to be destroyed however; but instead restructured and revitalized. Indeed there are many models and examples already underway for how this could be done. Getting rid of corporate personhood is key to changing everything, along with changing our tax policies and primarily beginning to tax the use and ownership of land and natural resources (95% of which are now owned by 5% all around the world). And we should be reaching out to and involving the Commons Movement as well. 

We actually have a Commons Action for the UN group that I am a part of that is spreading Commons responses to our economic, social and environmental challenges at the UN and hopefully thoughout UN related processes. 

So, yes, let's have these conversations about the needed economic transformations, while also taking direct and political action to change how things are being done. 

Michelle, very cool that you are here and I share your orientation to the issue of questions and your draw on the well of Peter Block. I see Occupy cafe as an opportunity to explore the values at the core of this movement and to see where we can align and how many can be included way before creating some legislative agenda. Doing that in the most creative and
inviting and alive way is item #1. Generating conversation does not mean, however, that we can't arrive at and articulate the principles of a different way of living and make those public in due time. 

Michelle Holliday said:

I'm glad you raised the point about "powerful questions." I feel frustrated with the continuing call for demands from the Occupy movement.  I don't want to know what their demands are.  That's old thinking to me, divisive by nature.  I want to know what their questions are.  Really powerful questions have the power to unite and to spark new thinking.  Could Occupy Cafe somehow host a conversation to identify the powerful questions that could take this movement to the next level, making it generative and engaging for 100% of us?

For initial inspiration, I just came across a great list of questions from Peter Block: 

* What do we want to create together?

* What's our contribution to the thing we complain most about?

* What do we say yes to that we really don't mean?

* What do we want to say no to that we don't have the courage to?

* What's the promise we're willing to make with no expectation of return?

* What are the gifts we hold that we neither fully acknowledge nor have fully brought into the world?

And to me, it comes down to the one question: What do we value? And how can we create an economic system that reflects that?

I would love to see Occupy Cafe sponsor and host a summit on a New Economy with a substantial series of interactive seminars on all the issues you are raising. The moment is here.

Karen Engelsen said:

How about a practical discussion of how to replace our current capitalist economic structure with a new alternate economy?

A gift economy like that in use by OWS works well for a small, property-less entity. However, at some point OWS may wish to turn its hand to economic enfranchisement of the disenfranchised - the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, and also those who would love to bail out of corporate jobs, were there a healthy alternative. Scaling up an alternative economy will require resources, and some form of financial investment - hopefully not capitalist, but cooperative.

Perhaps a movement-wide development of an alternative currency in the mode of 'Ithaca Dollars' - a time/dollar system -   could kick off an alternative economy.  One promising alternative to the capitalist business model is the Mondragon Cooperative model - worker owned, flat heirarchy, profits retained in the cooperative community. 

Another step: at some point existing large scale enterprises will need to be weaned from reliance on capital, and Wall Street profit-taking.  I'd like to see discussions on how to convert, for instance, hospitals from the for-profit capitalist model to a not-for-profit community cooperative model.

To truly transform our current economic system will require not only building of new forms of social activity like OWS, but the conversion of existing entities (businesses, social institutions) to a more humane economic form. What stages might such transformations include? How do you deconstruct a corporation and rebuild it to a humane pattern, while at the same time allowing it to continue with its core competencies?

Or - is it inevitable that corporations must be 'destroyed' before a new economic structure can arise?

Pfizer brings us many good and useful medicines. Yet 'Big Pharma' is one of the most rapacious profit-taking machines on the planet.  Can we curb and transform a Pfizer *without* bringing a halt to the production of medicines so many rely on?

What does that transformation look like? How might alternative currencies play into such a transformation? What businesses can be easily converted to, or replaced by a cooperative model?  How fast can cooperatives scale up?  Can entities like Big Pharma be replaced by a cooperative model?

--Just a few questions to ponder!

Wow, this is a GREAT idea Gary. Let's all help Occupy Cafe organize, sponsor, and host a summit on transitioning to a New Economy. One of the two principle themes of the Rio+20 Earth Summit Conference (a UN Summit taking place in Rio at the beginning of June 2012) focuses on creating a Green Economy. See: www.uncsd2012.org Creating a Green Economy is just one of the topics that ought to be addressed as a part of transitioning to a New Economy, but just one of many.

 

The other topic for Rio+20 is the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development - this includes developing participatory processes for decision making and creating a sustainable economy and society. Both Rio +20 themes should be fundamental topics of discussion for both Occupy Cafe and creating a participatory, inclusive world that works for everyone.

 

I am participating actively in the Rio +20 preparatory process. The next major meeting is at the UN in New York City on December 15 and 16. We should be prepared to engage with folks participating in that process if we want to organize discussions around creating a New Economy. I can also recruit people from the Gradidos Network (see my reply to Karen's message above or go to: http://gradido.net/en/Academy for more information) and the Commons Action for the UN to help us organize and host a Summit on a New Economy. But we should put out a general invitation to those active on such topics to help us organize it as well. 

 

We will need a few key people with the time and energy to put this together. Any takers? We could start by forming an Occupy Cafe group that wants to explore this further.

 

Thanks again Karen for inspiring this and Gary for your suggestion that we organize a Summit with a substantial series of interactive seminars to discuss all of these topics further. 

 

Rob Wheeler

Rob,

I enjoyed our brief cafe conversation about the economy this morning, and I'm definitely interested in participating in the New Economy Summit core conversation.  I am interested in finding a way to reform the financial system without destroying the economy. Wall Street definitely needs to be regulated so it does not cause a repeat of the Sept 17 2008 fiasco, but if we bring it crashing down, many in the 99% will be severly damaged. 

Ginnie Sam

This is a great discussion...Looking forward the web series....I am envisioning my production right now...

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