An open space for global conversation
I would like to use our Monday Vital Conversation Cafe Call as a setting to explore the intersection of these two movements. We might even broaden the scope beyond Transition to include permaculture, climate and other related movements.
If this interests you, please contribute your thoughts here. We could start by identifying initiatives, gatherings and conversations that have already taken place or are in the works, such as the one in the UK that Anna Harris attended (or perhaps even helped to convene?). Based on a "map" of the current terrain, we can then consider what might be possible going forward, and perhaps also how the Cafe can serve to promote such synergies.
Thanks Ben for giving us the opportunity to connect with others of similar mindset. While I did not take part in, or help convene the event in Bath 'Visions of Change' which I quoted, I did help organise a similar smaller event in Hebden Bridge. I wrote an introduction to the event which is published in my blog for February 2012 http://annajoanharris.blogspot.co.uk/2012_03_01_archive.html
I had thought that linking Occupy with Transition could help to revitalise the latter which had been losing energy. Groups that started with enthusiasm had folded, and there was generally little activity.
It was a lively event with a good facilitator. 30 people attended, but very little came of it. It seems that most Occupiers identify with protest and direct action which is certainly what is currently filling the email lists that I receive, eg Squares, Assemblies and InterOccupy.
The link that is missing for me is the focus on self-transformation. If the alternative is represented as just that - an alternative that can be chosen out of many available, which may be morally superior and even sustainable, but has no direct link to me, then I am left feeling I am wandering round in space with nothing to guide or motivate me. But when I connect with what is essential in me, what feels connected to me in a deeper way I find inspiration. Now this depth can get confused with strong feelings such as anger and rage, which feel self righteous and justified responses to injustice. Even more so when shared with a group or crowd. I think that is what is happening at the moment.
Michael Nagler recently wrote in Yes magazine that what for Ghandi was a proccess of 1)self-transformation, 2)construction, 3) protest, Occupy had started at the wrong end.
So for me the practical initiatives of Transition are great but they need to be supported with work on ourselves to find the compassion that truly links us to each other, the earth and all its creatures. To realise, as Barbara Marx Hubbard would put it, that I am the evolutionary impulse in person.
I have also recently started a regular free weekly workshop, trying to bring these things together. It is at Swarthmore Education Centre, Leeds UK. The title is 'Awakening to the new Consciousness - finding your authentic voice.' This was the blurb:
While many of us are aware that the systems we are living with are not serving the interests of the majority of humanity and are actually damaging the foundations of life on this planet, we can feel overwhelmed by helplessness to change direction. Our dependency on these systems in providing our everyday needs, traps us into supporting them. Lulled into a stupor by media, drugs and shopping, we are complicit in our own destruction.
With increasing world-wide communication our concern for the human family and the whole biosphere is emerging. This understanding sees in the breakdowns the possibility of a new consciousness breaking through old habits of thought and patterns of behaviour, to an awareness of ourselves as integral to the web of life. Since we are part of the problem, can we be part of the solution? Can we become agents instead of victims?
It is a small group of 13, so people have time to express their feelings and concerns. I don't know where it will go. I gave a list at the beginning of people and movements that had contributed to my journey, but I think it is more important for there to be space for people to listen to each other. Of course I contribute too.
I think it is too soon to be considering outcomes. We need to tune in to a new way of relating to each other, and we are all learning together. We really don't know how to make this happen, but it is happening anyway. Let's keep talking.
This is beautiful and inspiring work, Anna!
I think we can add the Awakening the Dreamer community/initiative brought to us by the good folks at the Pachamama Alliance to this list of possible partners as well. As I noted above, the workshop I just did of theirs was one catalyst for this idea in the Cafe.
I did an appreciative interview with Gary Horvitz this week, who was one of the original Occupy Cafe stewards. He has recently been forming Resilience Circles in the Bay Area. We talked about the importance of face-to-face connections (f2f), and about the possibilities for weaving f2f and virtual together. I gained some clarity about experiences I have had where this really worked well.
One model for this weaving uses a three step flow
I can see this being done with lots of distributed f2f gatherings, perhaps using existing channels like Resilience Circles, Transition groups etc. In other words, initially there are a number of small, local convenings f2f of people drawn from the various movements/initiatives we seek to connect with one another. Then we build on that together virtually (as one global group) to design another round of, larger (local) f2f convenings that are the real payoff. Does this concept inspire anyone else as much as it does me?!
(from Ben Roberts)
I like your idea of small f2f groups weaving into more virtual meetings leading to more f2f groups, and so on. The two ways of relating complement each other, both bring different essential elements.
I have just been looking at the European Charter of the Commons http://www.commonssense.it/emend/european-charter-of-the-commons-en...
which is I think a powerful document, and has the potential to bring together many different sectors of society to support it. I don't know whether you have anything similar being initiated in the US, but I think it could form the basis of discussions.
'Our approach to the commons is both about reclaiming access to fundamental resources as well as guaranteeing the democratic process that governs their distribution. Resources that are fundamental to human life include both natural commons such as water, food, energy and the atmosphere, as well as man made commons, like technology, health, the internet and culture. Reclaiming the commons also requires a reshaping of the democratic process as it stands today, offering an alternative to the model that has prevailed under state and market models. Governing the commons demands a shift of power from the centraliaed state and free market to local communities, placing the power to satisfy the long term needs of these communities as well as those of future generations back into the hands of community membera through bottom up, local and direct democracy.'
A recent series of seminars was held at the School of Commoning, London http://www.schoolofcommoning.com/content/overview-seminar-series
where James Quilligan gave an illuminating introductory address - reprinted on my blog http://annajoanharris.blogspot.co.uk/
Thank you, Anna. Reclaiming The Commons could be an inquiry all by itself, or it could be woven into this conversation. Certainly any group that is engaged in such work belongs in the gathering we are imagining. I think there is also a huge project in educating people about the concept of the Commons itself, and its implications for what George Soros refers to as "free market fundamentalism."
I'm inspired by this new five part series Alternet is running on The Rise of the New Economy Movement [sorry-had the wrong link in there at first and have now fixed it]. Indeed, maybe this conversation wants to be reframed as "Occupy sustainability" or "Occupy the new Economy." An excerpt from the Alternet piece:
Just beneath the surface of traditional media attention, something vital has been gathering force and is about to explode into public consciousness. The “New Economy Movement” is a far-ranging coming together of organizations, projects, activists, theorists and ordinary citizens committed to rebuilding the American political-economic system from the ground up.
The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the “99 percent” in an ecologically sustainable and participatory community-building fashion. The name of the game is practical work in the here and now—and a hands-on process that is also informed by big picture theory and in-depth knowledge.
One idea that just re-emerged in our internal OC conversations (as part of planning our C2012: Occupy THIS Cafe! inquiry, or OTC for short) is of having the Cafe itself become an experiment in New Economy processes.
Can we co-create an OC Marketplace where goods and services are exchanged and we can help people make a living as Change Agents? Or perhaps we could partner with a similar initiative that is already underway. I'm reminded for example, of Gradidos, which OC Steward Rob Wheeler has talked about here in the past.
And Part 2 of the Alternet series--There is a Way! Beyond the Big Bad Corporation-- is now out as well.
Maybe this doesn't sound heartening but it should. The corporate model we have today hasn't always been around and it doesn't need to remain the dominant way we do business. There is no reason we should be swabbing the decks of a sinking ship -- alternatives already exist and they are flourishing.
"What's underway is an ownership revolution. It's about broadening economic power from the few to the many and about changing the mindset from social indifference to social benefit," Kelly writes. "We're schooled to fear this shift, to think there are only two choices for the design of an economy: capitalism and communism, private ownership and state ownership. But the alternatives being grown today defy those dusty 19th-century categories. They represent a new option of private ownership for the common good. This economic revolution is different from a political one. It's not about tearing down but about building up. It's about reconstructing the foundation of ownership on which the economy rests."