An open space for global conversation
The idea that Ben introduced to me of Occupy 2.0 intrigued me. As the government has figured out a way (not a good way) to evict Occupiers from their encampments, it becomes critical to create a new model for "occupying".
Unfortunately, because I have only attended on Occupy Cincinnati gathering, I am not the voice of an experienced Occupier.
And, I am still wondering what Occupy 2.0 might look like? A living organism adapts to its environment or dies.
Watching this video of a flashmob - a well "orchestrated" flashmob - left me wondering if that would be an interesting adaptation for Occupy.
Flashmobs have been showing up for several years now - with what appears to be immunity to governmental or corporate limitations. Rather than showing up "shouting" - what if they began showing up - with song and music - and letting their "signage" show their Occupy-ness as well as "who they are" and what they stand for.
I weary of people buying into mainstream media and political parties depicting this as a group of malcontents and low life.
For the past 5 years, I have been part of Standing Women on Mother's Day for peace, justice, and fair conditions for all children. We have been standing all over the world at the same hour - ringing our bells - holding space in our circle - and reading a poem - a proclamation. Holding signs for what we are standing for. Then, we break into small groups and respond to a powerful question around what we can do to change the world for the future. In Cincinnati, we have converged on the same space each year - in the middle of Hyde Park Square - a parking island in the middle of this upscale shopping area. We are surrounded by trees, benches, and the fountain. We are there for about 45-60 minutes and then we disburse. I had not thought of it until now, but it is a form of a flashmob and occupy. No one has ever asked us to leave. We quietly show up, sing a song, ring the bells - and then leave. BUT many passersby ask what we are doing and then join us. Last year, at our location we had 45. (45 x 1000s of other groups) This is happening all over the world on the same day at 1pm there time. So, it travels like a wave across the globe.
Is there something in this model for Occupy? I offer this as a possibility.
Elaine, flash mobs makes sense to me too, both as an additional way to speak out and also as a possible tactic that keeps #Occupy alive on the ground.
I'm not a legal expert, but I've been involved in free speech fights, so I'll hazard a guess that the supposed legit justification for dismantling the camps in the U.S. might be the Supreme Court decision some years ago that there is a valid distinction between speech and conduct, while the counter might be that the right to speak is unconstitutionally restricted if the camps are removed because an essential element of the message is that we own our own nations, which we demonstrate through encampments on public property. Flash mobs would not be a substitute for this kind statement, but that isn't the only message of Occupy, and one other vital message now, as we move into 2.0, is that the Movement is alive and adaptable, as you say, and has not been and will not be stopped.
"Flash mobs" could also add many "voices", and the numbers turning up for any particular protest might be some indicator of consensus around dissatisfaction and the need for change, although they might not speak so clearly about direction. I wonder if such a message of consensus might also be problematic because there could be a large number of small flash mobs due to the absence of central leadership, such that the message that we are "here to stay" might be muddied by a resulting impression that we have no organized purpose other than to say "no" to the "1%"?
On the other hand, a legitimate expression of consensus for the whole movement seems to me to require that many voices/ideas are heard, and perhaps that core message is well served by a focus on the flash tactic so as to produce a great variety of actions rather than only broadly coordinated/simultaneous actions, especially inasmuch as we don't yet have a demonstrable general consensus.
I see why you draw an analogy to the demonstrations you have been involved in, which are often called "smart mobs" because they are organized. #Occupy flash mobs might be a hybrid of both - perhaps #mobs - in that they would be spontaneous and anarchical (in the sense of voluntary), but would share a general purpose. In this regard, deliberately organizing some kind of #mob campaign might open the door to a co-opting of the Movement by celebrity dissidents. I believe the core meaning and potential of this Movement is personal empowerment, and so perhaps we need to remain vigilant in protecting our individual proxies so as to combine them into a new structure that accomplishes that goal. That's what this discussion is about and, imo, #mobs might be a powerful tool to express that in as far as they remain spontaneous.
(I'll carry or wear a hashtag where I flash!)
I had crafted such a nice reply - but must have closed the window by mistake. :( I will be back. I have to run to a meeting. Thx
The Stand Women thing sounds cool.
I just started a thread about getting things rolling for MLK Day actions. I don;t want to dilute that thread so I will point folks there instead of trying to start the same thread here.
I want to discuss how we can support inclusivity & respect.
I really appreciate your idea, Elaine... it seems to me that part of what the movement is about, is encouraging people to "speak out" in a myriad of creative ways... and that the effort to encourage people giving voice to their hopes, dreams, concerns, passions, is at least a first step, toward "hearing all voices"....
I also really like the idea of using "art" as a way to communicate... and also, how your "Standing Women" group modeled conversation among each other, by breaking into small groups and responding to powerful questions...
this reminds me of something I've often thought of before...how many old-style actions don't tend to promote dialogue.... and how art can be a powerful way of doing so. And, it can also allow us to do so much more with less...
So for example, if 25 people are going to exercise their first amendment rights by holding a demonstration in front of a building... the old way i've often seen, is having 23 of them, marching round and round, holding signs and chanting slogans... with (maybe) one or two people distributing flyers to people in the crowd...
instead, what if the proportions were INVERTED? 3 or 4 or 5 folks, could be doing some performance art to attract a crowd.... (mini-flash mob!) and then had the rest of the 20 people, could be interacting with people in the crowd...not just handing out flyers, but really listening, engaging, offering ideas in a respectful way...
maybe wearing a sign that said... xxx is what I care about, AND, I am willing to listen.... and then following through on that. So I guess my question is, what are some ways to include more art, and also, more interactive-learning-conversations with a broad range of "others", in our activism?