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.
Hi Mark ~ As you know from your third world experience, the current global economic structure (capitalism) has already pushed most of the world down and out. We will soon live in a world where 99% are "down and out" and 1% are "up and in" within securely gated communities. The "lack of money" obstacle is an OBVIOUS LIE. When we "print" the world's reserve currency, floating and non-convertible in a global fiat system where our economy is twice as big as China and almost as big as the entire Eurozone (29 countries), where we just rolled out 29 trillion in ultra-low interest loans to banks in only three years - it is completely, obviously, totally the GREATEST LIE ever created and perpetrated by the capitalist class. That human ingenuity has devised myriad niches just to survive is wonderful. But which, if any, of these niches are going to grow big enough to help the millions who have no niche in which they can survive - much less thrive? Will these niches like ESOPs, permaculture/transition, local currency, etc., expand to somehow include the people in the third world? I'm not sure. OCCUPY in USA is just part of a global political revolution that is much bigger. As this revolution expands we see clearly the response of the capitalist class. They are spreading everywhere around the globe the same lie they have told the masses forever, "You guys need to tighten your belts, there isn't any money. Austerity will save us all, just buck up and swallow your medicine. If you think you have better medicine form a nonprofit and try to get the word out - just don't protest and blame us. It's your fault because you spent too much." Well, this November I am not going to vote for anyone who wants to take my money by raising federal taxes or by cutting federal spending. Neither is necessary.
Hi Christopher. If you vote, you are voting for taxes. Your candidates might not want to increase taxes, but they might not win, and even if they win, they'll be outnumbered by the vast majority who want to decrease taxes for the rich and increase taxes on the poor. Delegating fiscal powers to government is apathetic and irresponsible. Your vote is your personal, individual, voluntary consent of the governed, your consent to be governed, not by who you vote for, or even by whoever wins, but by whoever happens to control a majority in government, which happens to be the big corporations that spend billions of dollars funding election campaigns.
For most of my life I didn't earn enough money to owe taxes. I used to joke that if the only two certain things were death and taxes, maybe I'd never die either. Then one year I did happen to earn enough to have to file. I thought my lucky streak was over, but that year the IRS was letting people average their past three years earnings, and since I hadn't had any earnings the previous two years, I still ended up owing nothing.
S. Brian Willson is a peace activist, so he withheld the portion of his taxes that would have paid for war. He fully expected to go to jail and the IRS threatened him many times. Eventually the statute of limitations expired, the government never did anything, and he never had to pay. Other people have gone to jail, either for refusing military service where they could have been required to kill people, or for refusing taxes that would pay for wars that kill people. It's a choice that sometimes people have to make. Some chose to kill people and ended up killing themselves. Many kids enlist in the military as a way to pay for college, and some never come home and never get to go to college anyway.
I'm sorry that you've been unlucky enough to earn enough to owe taxes. Most people in the world were self-sufficient before capitalist imperialism forced them off their lands. Once capitalist imperialism dies, they can reclaim their lands and their sustainable lifestyles. And those of us whose ancestors were conquered and domesticated centuries or thousands of years ago, we are capable of learning how to live sustainably. When most people from the US got to Afghanistan, they looked around and said, "I could never live like that." I looked around and said, "Hmmm. If my ancestors hadn't been able to live like that, I wouldn't be here. I have their genes, so I bet I'm capable of living like that too." And I was! True I had to learn a lot, but there were always plenty of people happy to teach me and I'm always happy to learn.
There's no need for austerity if governments stop redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich, but there is a big difference between government-imposed austerity and voluntary simplicity. The latter is something we can do without having to rely on government. It is also a form of noncompliance, like not voting--a way to withdraw our consent and support from government and take control over our own lives.
Here's a little video about where cell phones come from:
Blood Mobile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ8ZCX4NGHY
Most of us who don't have cell phones already know about this, and those who do probably aren't interested. But however necessary a person may believe that their cell phone is, they're likely to be wrong. How many times do they tell a caller that they'll call them back later? How much of the day do they lack access to a computer for email or online chats and messaging? (Personally, I rely on email and tend to avoid chats and messaging because they can take up hours of my time unproductively.) Haw many calls are saved to voice mail for later, or are text messages that could be done as efficiently with email? A lot of it seems to be the sense of self-importance that having a cell phone seems to bring. But for really important events, people tend to turn off their cell phones so they won't be interrupted or disturbed. And a lot of what is done by cell phone could be done just as easily by landline. I'm sure there are people who judge others by the model cell phone they have, the model car they drive, the cost of their clothes, etc., but that kind of materialism easily leads to exalting evil people and undervaluing good people.
I know one person who cut off all contact with me because I said that if I ever decided that I wanted a cell phone, I'd go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and kill somebody myself rather than letting some corporation do it for me. If I want something bad enough to kill for, why shouldn't I do my own killing? The person who stopped talking to me thought I was totally insane. I'm not denying it. What passes for sanity in this culture requires a lot of denial and I can't seem to muster up enough denial to pass.
Mark I am moved by your authenticity and the depth of your story. I find myself being "careful" in how I convey my thoughts on Occupy Cafe in fear of judgement or falling short of people's expectations. Your story gives me courage to share what's on my heart and I just have to stop concerning myself with how others will interpret/percieve/judge my musings. It baffles me that I care so much about what others think about my thoughts. Even writing this post, I find myself writing a sentence, then deleting it and rewording it to "get it right". But in reality, anything we say is right as long as I'm not harming others or impeding progress.
I fight off the feelings that I'm but a whisper on the Cafe because I don't have a lot of time to engage in these conversations. I feel like I'm always trying to catch up with the others who have the time, vocabulary and ability to articulate their thoughts on a string of words. I find myself welling up with feelings and it's difficult to write down in an order that makes any sense. But I'm gonna give it the old college try and trust everything will be OK.
The truth is, I have a special gift (a.k.a. disability) my eyes see all the words on a page so I don't read in a line...I absorb all the words at once. In college I listened to books like Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements by Bill Moyer and Mary Lou Finley (My advisor at Antioch University in Seattle). This gift combined with listening the class discussions allowed me to take as many as 22 credits a term, graduated with honors with 3 certificates and a double major in less than 3 years. Yet...I feel like I'm lagging behind because I don't have the time to engage/participate in all these extraordinary conversations.
I'm grateful to have an hour (while my car is being fixed) to sit at the library in Astoria (where I hitch hiked to get here) to gain insight into the power of on-line conversation.
To me poverty is a state of mind. It's not a condition imposed on me because my income level is below the poverty limit set by the federal government. Being raised in the military my father had high expectations for his children. As I reflect on my past, I realize what a unique opportunity I had growing up on military bases with people who shared the same values, standards, rituals and traditions. I realized when writing a paper in college about my work in the world (Community Weaving), that I was attempting to replicate my experience of "community" on a much broader scale. After gaining some life experience and finding out that doing what you love in the world doesn't pay a lot, I realized it was more important to me to pursue my passion and follow my calling than "make money". I was scrutinized by my friends, family and children for not getting a "real job". There were times I supplemented the little I made from Community Weaving and joined the working class...running stock brokerage firms, casting for TV/films and serving as personal assistants to corporate executives. Needless to say these positions created a lot of stress and chaos in life. Based on the conversations I've read (absorbed) this far, I sense the yearning for belonging to a place (a movement) that allows one to live and do what they love and not worry about the essentials (food, clothing, shelter).
After my children left the nest a Good Neighbor invited me to stay with her in Plymouth, MA. While there I studied the healthy characteristics of intentional communities. My work revealed the necessity of people starting to pool and share resources, share housing, find new modes of transportion, store food and water and be connected to a village. I see how the world is changing and that people don't have the skills to trust what is happening around them. They rely on something outside themselves to fix their problems. I see people connecting with each other on-line to the point that they are "addicted" to socializing, but they aren't connected to a grass roots social support system in their back yard where they can access anything they need on their own behalf.
I continue to live below the poverty line, all my needs are met. I'm able to do what I love (Community Weaving) while working as a checker in a grocery store and having friends and neighbors who actually care about me. In fact, I have neighbors all around the world that care about me. I've hosted over 30 families in my home who were in transition (a.k.a. homeless) and now with Couchsurfing I'm hosting Gypsies in my 28' condo on wheels in my driveway. We share stories about surviving the great transition. My sweetheart is a hunter and avid outdoorsman. My neighbor has a green thumb and I'm a great cook and community organizer. Not an Occupy Organizer of non-violent actions, but an organizer of community. Please don't misunderstand...we need Occupy Organizers, but that's not the part I'm supposed to play.
I was led to Occupy Cafe after Rebuild the American Dream (Van Jones initiative) recognized the potential in Community Weaving. I know engaging the Good Neighbors in our network through conversation will change their lives and connect them to some of the great minds who can support and encourage them through the transition (a.k.a. David Korten calls it the great turning). I feel strongly if we blend our passions for weaving community through carepooling and dialogue, then something even more extraordinary will happen. What that is I don't even want to guess because my mind will minimize the potential.
More will be revealed. Until next time...
Cheryl, you're an inspiration. I think it is counterproductive to try to work out specific plans--we can't always know exactly what will happen in transition, but we can gain skills and weave community so that we can trust and rely on ourselves and others to respond in ways that benefit everyone no matter what happens. How terrible it must be for those who are stuck in a stressful rat race to live a lifestyle that subtracts years from their lives and makes the time they do have less enjoyable.
Check out Free Dialup.org and see if they offer free dial-up internet access in your area. I gave up my broadband service because I couldn't afford it. Dial-up is a little slower, but the price is right (free). With an unlimited local landline calling plan and a small netbook or used computer with a dial-up modem, you can be online any time you want. The internet can lead to addictive socializing, or it can be a tool for organizing.
Thank you for caring enough about us to share.
I'm happy I get to see you two connect so.
While this thread began around the idea of simply doing a Cafe Call, I would like to test the waters for something more ambitious. A small group of people would need to join me on a "core team" to collaboratively design and implement this work. Depending on the scale, it might take one or two months to plan and two to four weeks to implement. We can play with the concept here on this thread and see if such a core group might "want to emerge."
We have been working on a process we are calling Connect 2012, that uses an Appreciative Inquiry framework to collaboratively explore a "change agenda" in depth. I would love to see us use that process for something like a two-to-four week long dive into this "Occupy Sustainability/New Economy" territory. The process could include in-person gatherings of varying sizes, discussions online and Cafe Calls. It would focus on a set of "affirmative topics" within the general context of a "change agenda" framed around "Occupy Sustainability/New Economy."
How might we frame a change agenda for the inquiry that would have practical and strategic value for the participants and for the initiatives they are drawn from? Here's my current stab:
The "Connect 2012: Occupy New Economy" inquiry will gather participants from various existing initiatives that seek to hasten the shift from our currently unsustainable and destructive economic structures towards new frameworks for economic organization that are socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling.* The purpose will be to build stronger connections between people involved in such initiatives, explore possible synergies and collaborative potential in their work, and enhance Occupy Cafe's ability to serve as a hub for this community of change agents.
Within the change agenda, we would need to identify specific affirmative topics on which to focus. Some possibilities include:
Other affirmative topic thoughts, or framing for a change agenda that might inspire you?
*Thanks to The Pachamama Alliance's Awakening the Dreamer symposium for this three part formulation.
I met yesterday with Terry Halwes, who is very active in Transition here in CT, and Sue VanderZee who is part of the ATD facilitators community in our state. I "represented" the Occupy movement. Our purpose was to discuss the possibility of one or more gatherings that brought people from these three "hubs" together. As we have here, the question of the "possibility" that might form the core of an invitation to people in these communities seemed to be the key "missing." At the same time, there was a shared sense of enthusiasm and of the basic "rightness" of this convening, as an act of "Link Leadership."
Here's one thing that came out of our meeting yesterday that seemed very powerful to me… We were considering and comparing the three “hubs” of ATD, Transition and Occupy. We thought about what their strengths were, and Sue identified an inspiring complementarity. ATD had the Vision and the heart-centered, galvanizing call to action. Transition has the practical tools and plans for what we need to do, and Occupy has energy and youth, some racial diversity, plus a visceral and tangible sense of the urgency and reality of what we are dealing with. Connect them all together and … ?
So (again!) I ask us all to consider: what possibility might we explore in these gatherings that has the potential to transform all of these various hubs and that is inspiring to you?
What about a Cafe Call where we discuss this together? How many of you could do that on a Tuesday during our 4-6pm (US Eastern) Connect2012 time slot? How many of you would be willing to convene a group of 3-6 people on your own to discuss this question and then share your answers here?
In your exchange here with Chris about Alternative Communities, these words jumped out at me: "it is we that must learn to engage where they live......and become part of the community". In a joint meeting of the Outreach and Visioning WorkingGroups held in SF yesterday, this same strategy was proposed - as a way to address the dual goals of rebuilding our Occupy community and beginning to embody the vision that we have collectively articulated in our written/oral statements. In SanFrancisico, those still present are also experiencing the desperation, exhaustion and cynicism that you speak about in the "possibility" post today. Wondering where
crowds went who flocked to the camps last fall, we realized that the "idea" of Occupy was still very much alive and well -- but the tangible "organization" of Occupy is illusive. We can't expect critical mass to continue to show up to a March or a Meeting without some more meaningful way to engage and without the potential that their engagement will contribute to meeting their needs and those of their tribes and communities.
Hence, we have decided to take the step to visit groups, already engaged in alternatives, to survey them about their needs and desires. I see the potential in this, for beginning to build a network of 'Links' all of whom may be able to identify a shared set of common goals/vision. In some ways, this work would validate Sue's idea of Occupy's role in providing the energy, urgency and reality to this exciting new effort you outline above......... and
at the same time, could serve as a hub in SanFranicisco.
I will attend next Tuesday's Connect2012 call and in the meantime begin to gather a local group to discuss both
the Link concept and what I would call 'Live the Vision' initiative - for lack a of a better term.
Thanks Ben, for the setting this context for this conversation.
"Link Leadership" has come up many times as a key function for the Cafe, and this is directly in line with what you suggest here, Phil. I also agree completely that this starts with an assessment of what is in motion now, both within Occupy and beyond, that is related to the possibility of such communities emerging. The answer, I believe, is A LOT!
I like and agree with what Phil says.
Rather than going into communities to serve them, which is reminiscent of the failed NGO, missionary, and do-gooder models, it seems more friendly to ask people what movements they're already involved in within their communities, and learn how to do similar things in our own communities. It is usually a mistake to try to provide leadership to groups that originated and have spent decades working on the concepts we only learned recently. The less affluent the community, and the more under attack it is, the more likely it is to have real community in forms that the larger and better off segments of society are no longer familiar with.
Most of the alternative communities in San Diego showed up to Occupy to see how they could help and support the movement. But San Diego Occupy was quickly co-opted by political organizers and began to focus on petitioning government and registering voters instead of creating direct democracy and building alternative communities. Many clearly focused people have hung in and are trying to resuscitate the movement here, I don't think it can ever get back to where it was in the beginning, because Homeland Security is determined to use violence to prevent that from happening and the Nonviolent Communications people will try to block any creative and effective defense.
Less affluent communities have always been under attack from the state, so they have a common enemy. More affluent communities do not, and to the extent that they identify with the enemy (the state), they are the enemy. Because they are constantly under attack, less affluent communities already have the energy, urgency, reality, and community. Because they only come under attack when they choose to make themselves targets, more affluent communities lack these qualities.
I apologize for my lengthy posts, but this stuff is complicated.