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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Creating millions of jobs and real prosperity through transitioning to a Sustainable America

Transitioning as rapidly as possible to a fully Sustainable America and world is essential for the very survival and well being of humanity, along with a major opportunity for creating much needed jobs and real prosperity. I would thus like to help put together and coordinate a call that focuses on how we can develop a campaign to create such a sustainable America and world and how we can provide jobs for everyone that wants and needs one as a part of making such a transition. 

A couple of the questions for the calls could thus be: What kind of jobs could we create and are needed in order to transition to a sustainable America and/or world? Second, how could we fund the development of these jobs? Third, what can we do to advocate for and/or begin to create and/or get others to create such jobs? Fourth, how can we do this as a part of the Occupy Movement and processes? Fifth, what is the relationship between transitioning to a sustainable future and the rest of the Occupy agenda, demands, and intentions?

This is probably enough for now. 

Rob Wheeler

robwheeler22  @

Yes, right with you..we need to move to a sustainable america and each nation has to move to a point of sustainability.  My question/.concern is whether it is even possible for any one nation to control its own destiny.  The 1%, the plutonomy  is a global force.  It's control globally literally has taken control of governmnets world wide.  A recent article  referred to it as a surrender of sovereignty. I am wondering whether we have to think and mobilize, globally before we can fully reclaim our soverignty and move as individual nations, members of a global community, towards sustainability.  

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 definitely appreciate Michele's suggestions and list of questions. I think they would be most valuable too. And I am not much interested in "demands" either. However I do think that developing an effective and collaborative educational advocacy and action campaign could be very valuable and useful. It could include specific proposals that we would want congress to act upon along with actions that we could all take to advance the same agenda, in both our individual and community or civil lives. 


While making demands may be divisive and old hat, there are certainly programs and laws that are needed at the local, national, and state level that could be developed and supported in a non-confrontational inclusive manner that would help us solve many of our primary challenges. Unfortunately, we the people (and the organizations we participate in and support) have never been all that good at developing effective collaborative campaigns to get these passed. The occupy movement could provide an excellent opportunity for beginning to do so. 


Indeed creating an economic system that reflects our values, hopes, and dreams, along with the kind of world we want to live in, will most likely require legislative action along with individual and collective choices and actions by many if not all of us. 


Thanks, Rob Wheeler

Great points, Rob.  True "yes and" thinking!  We need powerful questions....and also use some clear and important demands.  Thanks. 

"And to me, it comes down to the one question: What do we value?"

I think that's very close to the one question, which I understand to include the word principles.  Values vary from person to person, from perspective to perspective, but principles, like natural laws, are timeless and universal.  Fairness is a principle.  Inclusion is a principle.  The Constitution of the USA, outstanding product of an era unlike ours, is based on principles.

I've come to think of #Occupy as recognition that values ran away from principles and as assertion that it's time for principles to take their proper place above values.

I greatly appreciate the questions you picked up from Peter Block.  They recall Quakers' queries.

I am new to this forum. I have been waiting for months to hear these questions I have also been asking.

Thank you! I have a good bit of catching up to do here....

The "demands" question is fascinating.  I like it as a core conversation, actually, since "what do they want?" appears to be the first thing everyone seems to want to know about the movement, at least in the US (abroad, someone suggested that the first question being asked is "what took you so long?!"

When I went down to OWS yesterday, I was told that the group appeared to be moving away from the idea of a set list.  I like that myself.  Not that there isn't plenty of talk about what needs to change.  But "demands" aren't very democratic and this movement is all about direct democracy.  Here is a repost of something I wrote on our forum thread on recommended readings that touches on the "demands question:"

I loved both of the pieces below, which tie OWS to the largest possible sphere of action and make the case that a focus on developing a specific list of demands misses the deeper potential of the movement:

Charles Eisenstein: No Demand is Big Enough

George Lakoff: A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street

From Eisenstein:

Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for its lack of clear demands, but how do we issue demands, when what we really want is nothing less than the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible? No demand is big enough. We could make lists of demands for new public policies: tax the wealthy, raise the minimum wage, protect the environment, end the wars, regulate the banks. While we know these are positive steps, they aren't quite what motivated people to occupy Wall Street. What needs attention is something deeper: the power structures, ideologies, and institutions that prevented these steps from being taken years ago; indeed, that made these steps even necessary. Our leaders are beholden to impersonal forces, such as that of money, that compel them to do what no sane human being would choose. Disconnected from the actual effects of their policies, they live in a world of insincerity and pretense. It is time to bring a countervailing force to bear, and not just a force but a call. Our message is, "Stop pretending. You know what to do. Start doing it." Occupy Wall Street is about exposing the truth. We can trust its power. When a policeman pepper sprays helpless women, we don't beat him up and scare him into not doing it again; we show the world. Much worse than pepper spray is being perpetrated on our planet in service of money. Let us allow nothing happening on earth to be hidden

Meanwhile Lakoff writes:

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed.

It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow. Without a change of moral focus, the conservative worldview that has brought us to the present disastrous and dangerous moment will continue to prevail.


This conversation inspired a blog post called Occupy Your Dining Room: Hosting the Revolution.  Would love to know your thoughts - especially you, Ben.  I think there's a role for Occupy Cafe in there.

I also  agree with Michelle that this is the time to ask the right questions before we leap to thinking we have solutions and fixes.

I think a core question is "what is sustainable capitalism"?

It is unsustainable capitalism that created this global gap between the 1% and the 99%.  The disnefranchised 99% are the outfall of an as yet unchecked, unhranessed global  unsustainable capitalism.

Central Banks, Banks, Financial Markets, Utilities, Energy Companies, Multi National and even local coprorations are all affected with  a public interest..their actions have effects on working conditions, the earth's atmosphere, the earth's oceans.  We have totally abandoned our soverignty as oter nations have as well to the  unrestrained pursuit of profit  whether it serves life or not, whether it serves the whole or just the 1%, whether it compromises global resources and food security to a point of non-recovery.

Lindsay Newland Bowker

Member NYS Banking Board 1986-1997 ( Consumer advocate)

A slim volume with some ideas about the notion of "sustainable capitalism": What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism. The authors are Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster. It's published by Monthly Review Press. The title of the book could easily be changed to "What Every PERSON Needs to Know About Capitalism". I imagine that you will find it to be a compelling and worthwhile read.

Thank you David.. I will check that out and what do you think?  Do you think conversation about what sustainable capitalism would look like is core to this conversation on OWS?  David Brooks and Al Gore started a good conversation in a july 2010 OP ED iece in the Wall Street journal.


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