An open space for global conversation
We turn our C2012 focus to Occupy Cafe itself for this conversation.
We are engaging in an iteration of this inquiry process around ways that Occupy Cafe can evolve to better serve and expand the movement and perhaps even to more fully embody our own brand of "Occupying."
Collecting answers to the following questions is one way to start:
Please share your answers here on our forum.
Here's a bit of "divination" for today's call, courtesy of the fabulous new Group Works "Pattern Language" card deck:
"Restorative justice" has been showing up as a regular theme in the Cafe lately. Here is an extension of the theme into the realm of community and comversation...
The Restorative Community
Restoration comes from the choice to value possibility and relatedness over problems, self-interest, and the rest of the stuck community’s agenda. It hinges on the accountability chosen by citizens and their willingness to connect with each other around promises they make to each other. Restoration is created by the kinds of conversations we initiate with each other. These conversations are the leverage point for an alternative future. The core question that underlies each conversation is “What can we create together?” Shifting the context from retribution to restoration will occur through language that moves in the following directions: from problems to possibility; from fear and fault to gifts, generosity, and abundance; from law and oversight to social fabric and chosen accountability; from corporation and systems to associational life; and from leaders to citizens.
Peter Block: Community the Structure of Belonging, p.47
My three best experiences with Occupy Cafe are when I was temporarily allowed to host a topic, when I encountered a brilliant person who has since been banned, and when one of the stewards started a discussion on a topic that I would not otherwise have been allowed to comment about in a hosted discussion.
My three wishes for OC are:
1. That there would be more acceptance of a diversity of tactics.
2. That there would be more focus on the global struggle against capitalism.
3. That OC stop blaming the victim by internalizing everything, abandon magical thinking, and recognize that there is real oppression and ongoing genocides that are not being modified by having positive thoughts.
And here's a bit more from Peter Block on "restorative community," echoing a number of themes we touched on in our conversation today:
Restorative community is created when we allow ourselves to use the
language of healing and relatedness and belonging without embarrassment.
It recognizes that taking responsibility for one’s own part in creating the
present situation is the critical act of courage and engagement, which is
the axis around which the future rotates. The essence of restorative community
building is not economic prosperity or the political discourse or the
capacity of leadership; it is citizens’ willingness to own up to their contribution,
to be humble, to choose accountability, and to have faith in their own
capacity to make authentic promises to create the alternative future.
This means that the essential aspect of the restoration of community
is a context in which each citizen chooses to be accountable rather than
Accountability is the willingness to care for the whole, and it flows out
of the kind of conversations we have about the new story we want to take
our identity from. It means we have conversations of what we can do to
create the future. Entitlement is a conversation about what others can or
need to do to create the future for us.
Restoration begins when we think of community as a possibility, a declaration
of the future that we choose to live into. This idea of a communal
possibility is distinct from what we commonly call an individual possibility.
Community is something more than a collection of individual longings,
desires, or possibilities. The communal possibility has its own landscape,
and its own dynamics, requirements, and points of leverage. In the individualistic
world we live in, we can congregate a large collection of self-actualized
people and still not hold the idea or experience of community.
The communal possibility rotates on the question “What can we create
together?” This emerges from the social space we create when we are together.
It is shaped by the nature of the culture within which we operate
but is not controlled by it. This question of what we can create together
is at the intersection of possibility and accountability. Possibility without
accountability results in a wishful thinking. Accountability without possibility
creates despair, for even if we know we are creating the world we
exist in, we cannot imagine its being any different from the past that got
Community: the Structure of Belonging, p.48
Accountability is the willingness to care for the whole, and it flows out of the kind of conversations we have about the new story we want to take our identity from. It means we have conversations of what we can do to create the future. Entitlement is a conversation about what others can or need to do to create the future for us.
Of course. Accountability means taking responsibility ourselves for what needs to be done, as contrasted with entitlement which delegates our responsibilities to others.
Restorative community is created when we allow ourselves to use the language of healing and relatedness and belonging without embarrassment. It recognizes that taking responsibility for one’s own part in creating the present situation is the critical act of courage and engagement, which is the axis around which the future rotates.
I disagree with the first sentence in that paragraph. Restorative community isn't about what language we use. It is explained in the second sentence that restorative community requires taking responsibility for one's own part in creating the present situation. For example, did we do anything to empower oppressors or war criminals? If so, can we take responsibility to having done so and decide not to do it again? Not to merely try to choose the least evil of oppressors and war criminals, but to refuse to empower any oppressors and war criminals at all. To take the responsibility to do what needs to be done without asking oppressors and war criminals to do it for us or beg them to be less evil or more benevolent. Can be be responsible enough to stop participating in a system of oppression and war crimes, and focus instead of creating constructive systems? Because to try to do both, to try to create new systems while still empowering and authorizing the system that is currently stifling, silencing, and brutalizing those who seek new systems, is self-defeating.
We do have to embrace possibility so as to avoid despair, and to focus on what we can create together. We cannot create anything by demanding entitlements and asking others to shoulder our responsibilities. We cannot create a better world by delegating our responsibilities to people who are benefiting from the current system and would lose status and power if there was a better world. A communal possibility cannot be created by delegating our power to individuals, particularly not to individuals seeking power instead of seeking alternatives to the inevitable corruption of hierarchical power.
Even if your heart is full of love and your mind is full of generosity and humility, if you delegate your responsibilites to oppressors, polluters, and war criminals, you are harming me, my grandchildren, and the planet.
It is the refusal of Occupy Cafe to come to terms with this reality that causes me to think it is just another soporific, lulling people into continuing to avoid their true responsibilities and condoning those who delegate their responsibilities to irresponsible and unaccountable others, rather than a creative community supporting those who take responsibility for their actions.
I would much rather that people sit around singing Hari Krishna or Kumbaya than that they go out and kill other people, but if they have delegated their responsibility to an oppressive economic and political system that can only continue to exist by means of mass murder, so that they could sit around and sing lovely songs, I think they are the problem rather than the solution.
Which is it, Ben? Do we take responsibilty or do we continue to delegate responsibility? It can't be both.
I am not sure if this is the right place to post the resources you asked me to post, so let me know if I need to do something different.
The book I mentioned is Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality by Sylvia Clute.
The series of conversations on Restorative Justice and Beyond are found at malirowanpresents.com
Another interesting book on the topic is The Mystic Heart of Justice by Denise Breton ad Stephen Lehman
Perfect! Thanks, Maya, for posting this and for your participation in today's call.
My two best experiences with OC so far have been the interview process, which allowed me an opportunity to focus my own thinking about what's important to me, and also, getting to know a few people with whom I share important concepts. We didn't, maybe don't, share particular concepts, but do hold strong, together, on several core concepts of change. Specifically, non-violence as a platform to inform ALL our communication and activities and gives us a place to begin the conversation in a way that contributes to life instead of alienating ... anyone. Also, the idea of creating a new future from a heart space instead of head space. After all, our heart's are the true intelligence of our species and inform our minds, not the other way around.
Three wishes I have for OC are:
1) That it become the center for informing the 99% in ways to communicate that include all voices; that each of us stay present to not specifically those most vocal, not specifically those that make the most sense, not specifically the easiest ones to hear, but ALL voices at the table. Often the greatest ideas come from the least appealing voice in the circle which is often, unheard.
2) That Occupy members around the world find value in what's offered by OC; that the tools developed and offered here allow people to do solid work transforming our world in the ways that work best for them individually.
3) OC offers different levels of education/information for people challenged to embrace certain concepts. Nurturing, if you will, each of us to embrace a more inclusive level of thinking than we're currently aware.
I'm quite exhausted following people and ideas that require any level of exclusivity to participate. I believe it's the way we've come to be where we are, which is PERFECT for birthing our upcoming world.
Love this, Scott! Can you say something about how we might design "OC 2.0" to better achieve these aims? Or also to more fully manifest the OC Culture we discussed on yesterday's call, which had these components:
Building on your last comment about being "quite exhausted" (right on!), perhaps we can add to the list above something along these lines as well:
Basic ideas/vision some of us have for the evolution of Occupy Cafe:
There's a very interesting article here:
Did the White House Direct the Police Crackdown on Occupy?
Despite heavy redactions, it is clear that the attacks on Occupy were federally coordinated and were approved by the highest levels of government, which includes the highest levels of the Democratic Party.
The goal of co-opting Occupy and ensuring a continuation of politics as usual, would have to include eliminating any possible resistance to police brutality and limiting reactions to passive submission, directing efforts away from effective nonviolent strategies and tactics towards ineffective belly-button meditation and electoral politics, and locating problems within individuals rather than within our capitalist imperialist society.
Towards this end, fundraising is necessary in order to launder the corporate money that the Democrats will use to co-opt Occupy, and charismatic leaders will be brought in to distract from efforts towards a democratic or leaderless process. There also need to be efforts to get the 99% to identity with the 1%, as in replacing, "We are the 99%," with "We are also the 1%."
It is all so predictable, and so horribly reminiscent of capitalist imperialist strategies to derail democracy movements in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
I've kept a copy of this comment, and if it is deemed inappropriate and deleted, I'll post it on my own little website with a link to this discussion.
I'm truly and honestly curious, Mark: given how badly off-track you say we are here at OC in your statement above (and others you have made as well), what draws you to our conversations? What makes being here a valuable experience for you?
I ask these questions in all sincerity, so please don't read between the lines some kind of effort to push you away. On the contrary. I find your contributions to be generative in the sense that, even as I feel angry, frustrated or even hurt at times as I read them, they prompt me and others to think about what to do when someone shows up expressing disdain for us.
It's all the more challenging and interesting because I agree with much of what you say about the problems that exist in the world. I share, for example, your horror and anger at the depredations of war and our complicity in them, and appreciate the eloquence and passion with which you call out for an end to this nightmare. As Anna put it the other day, we are on the same side here. The challenge, and the opportunity for learning something of value, it seems to me, is in our discovering how to manifest that connection. Is there something we can create together, based not on mandate, argument and persuasion, but on our common desire for a future distinct from the past?