Archive | December, 2011

Day 36 at Occuplaza – Brent Talbot

23 Dec

Pot Luck 2nite at 5!!
Giving up attachments…

Hot water for tea
Cold water that isn’t frozen
Spring water
Hot yoga
Warm meditation
Warm feet
Warm hands
Warm sleep
Warm bathroom
Visa
Money
Buying stuff
Organic produce only
Eating what I’d like
Eating hot meals
Eating when I’d like
Being a vegetarian
Sleeping without clothes
Reading in my big chair
Hanging on my bean bags watching documentaries
Smoking indoor doobies 
Having quiet time
Being lazy
Avoiding commitments
Being scared
Living with fear
Having a civil conversation with my parents
What people say about me
What people think about me
How people perceive my actions
Worrying about anything
Going out for dinner, movies, or plays. 
Not reaching out 
Not fulfilling my destiny
Not fulfilling my purpose
Not living from my Heart based thinking
Lying
& not LOVING EVERYONE EQUALLY!!!

Why I Occupy? Satya Dana

23 Dec

When I look at the state of the world today my heart aches & my eyes fill with tears! This deep sadness comes from many sources !

Whether it Be :
The rape of the earth 
The abuses of human rights
The inequality of the rich and poor
The corruption littered through our political system
The fear mongering & one sided agenda of the media
The lack of freedom we have as citizens
The lack of social programs to help the large numbers of homeless & Addicted & mentally ill among us
The third world conditions many of the reservations in our country
The separation between us “the us & them “ state of mind
The fact that we fund War instead of food, shelter, clothing, and education of all
That we continue to invest in oil and not renewable energy sources

It seems to me that we as a global family especially in the west have our priorities all messed up it doesn’t have to be this way!

For years I have felt very alone with these thoughts & this dull ache in my chest, my tear filled eyes, in my frustration and anger at the state of our world! Why don’t people care about this ……I cursed ….I cannot be the only one who is willing to fight, love & get my hands dirty to change our world …..yet I often felt like I was was alone ! 

Until Oct 15 when I came to the Occupy solidarity rally and joined my voice, my passion, my anger & my love with other kindred spirits known now as Occupy Calgary! In my new friends I have given & received: love, support, work, tears, laughter, a shared purpose & mission! I am so grateful for each one of you!

Often people are confused about the Occupy movement …what do they want? While I cannot speak for the 200 + of Occupy Calgary members or for the thousands of Occupy members world wide ….this is why I occupy! 
I stand strong & proud… heart open…tear filled eyes… fist raised…with all of you my brothers and sisters of Occupy!

For the rest of the 99% until you wake up I will fight for you!!!
-Satya

Statement regarding concerns – Jason Devine, Joanne Costello

17 Dec

This statement was released a few days prior to the camp voluntarily disbanding. It is posted here as a matter of public record.

 

To Allies and Supporters of Occupy Calgary,

On October 15th, we launched what became a historic protest as Calgary joined a global movement of occupations to protest the growing inequality between the haves and the have-nots.

Along with the initial organising meetings up to the 15th, the setting up of the occupation at Olympic Plaza was a vital tactic for sparking discussion and bringing people together to learn new forms of organizing such as the consensus process of the GA.

As the movement progressed, a host of concerns about the structural weaknesses of the movement were raised by a minority of people. The initial and primary concern dealt with the long-term strategic value of the physical occupation. Issues of the inclusivity and the integrity of the consensus process were also raised.

While some activists stepped back from the movement, or completely dropped out, others of us stayed in the spirit of solidarity. Over a month ago, a few of us called for ending the camp to no avail. We were explicit in both our written and in person discussions that we no longer supported the camp because we felt it has lost transitory strategic value. Since then, we have watched with sadness as many of our stated predictions unfolded over time. As weeks passed, we saw support for the movement continue to erode not only within the broader community but among members themselves.

When the city applied for an injunction, we were concerned when respondents did not have legal representation. We again suggested that people consider the potential of strategy of disbanding the camp so as to render an injunction unnecessary. However, some insisted that we would win in court in spite of a lack of evidence that our core arguments differed from those presented to the courts in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. Others expressed concern that they might be held accountable for the false claims of damages being made by the City. We felt that it is was reasonable to support individual respondents in defending themselves against false charges and, therefore, continued to show solidarity even though we were certain that the Charter component of the case would be lost.

Though lacking legal representation and facing continuing organisational problems, people did a remarkable job of presenting their cases to the court. In spite of our legal loss, we are proud for the work done by the legal team and the respondents. Moreover, we are proud of the struggle all of us have undergone during the past 50 days. We have accomplished a great deal and, as a community, we have achieved significant wins.

Yesterday, we received emails to the effect that members of the camp are seeking to appeal the decision and may decide not to comply with the Court’s order on Friday. We heard the same calls to find lawyers and raise funds that were sent out two weeks ago when the City sought its injunction. Given that even the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been searching for a lawyer for Occupy Calgary for weeks and has been unable to secure one, we do not believe that we will find legal representation for an appeal. Moreover, our general sense is that people are unwilling to contribute funds to the case.

This itself is an outgrowth of the downturn in numbers of active members, increasing dissatisfaction, burnout, and people’s growing resistance to continuing to support the camp materially.

The camp holds no strategic value at this point. Indeed, the vast majority feel it has become an impediment to organization. We do not feel that Occupy Calgary as a group should get bogged down in an appeal when we have little to no legal resources. Communities like Vancouver and Toronto have legal teams who may pursue appeals. Should they win at the level of the Supreme Court, the decision will apply to us here in Calgary. Given our relatively fewer resources, we suggest that Calgary not pursue an appeal. Should individuals wish to do this, we personally feel that they should not demand the support of the community.

In regards to arrests, we support such sacrifices when they are of strategic value, i.e. when they move the struggle forward. But, right now, arrests will not increase support for what is left of Occupy Calgary, no matter how satisfying it may feel to those who believe they are taking a moral stand. Those considering arrest should ask themselves seriously: is this being done out of concern for building a mass movement, or because it feels right to oneself?

Legal and strategic decisions are being made this week without consensus, transparency and accountability. This marks further significant erosion of the group in Calgary. For these reasons and those elucidated above, we can personally no longer support those who choose not to comply with the Court’s decision and those who continue to ignore concerns about long-term strategy.

Occupy Calgary was intended to be a people’s movement, a mass movement. Such movements must be built from a broad base. For a movement to flourish, it must be accessible to average workers and their families. People are being asked to sacrifice too much – finances, relationships, and safety. At this stage, the value of the camp to moving social and economic justice forward in Calgary simply does not justify the sacrifices being asked of members and their families. A people’s movement most certainly cannot put members in jeopardy unless there is a strong rationale.

We hope to work with all of you through other avenues of organising, but we cannot support the camp and misguided efforts to defend it. We recognise that we have only touched on some concerns here and hope to engage in a more thorough and broad discussion of these and other issues in the future.

We hope you will hear our words from where they genuinely originate – in concern and care for new and old allies and in our deep respect for the goals and values of the occupy movement.

In Solidarity, 

Jason Devine

Joanne Costello

OCCUPY AUTHORITY – Samantha Withnell

13 Dec

On Tuesday, December 6th, a woman protesting with Occupy Melbourne was forcibly stripped of her tent costume by Victoria Police, and then left on the ground crying, clad only in her bra and underwear.

There is no back story that could ever justify this action. No verbal bullying or annoyance on this woman’s part can validate physical action, and neither can this behaviour be explained away as ‘necessary to get the woman to move from the park’ – or else why would the officers simply dump her there after the fact, exposed for all the public to see? This incident is nothing less than sexual harassment; public humiliation, if not sexual violence. A group of people not wearing police vests would have been charged immediately.

The fact that this act of sexual harassment occurred on the very same day as Canada-wide memorials for the December 6th shootings at l’Ecole Polytechnique in 1989 is painfully ironic. I attended a memorial held at the Rosza Centre on University of Calgary campus Tuesday, where the main theme was hope for future free of violence against women. Yet, within twenty-four hours, we are met with another example of the violence pervading society, and accepted by the authorities we depend on for protection.

The actions of Victoria police in Australia are not an isolated incident, however. Increase of police tactics using harassment and violence against peaceful protests is a global phenomenon.  From military crackdowns in Tahrir Square, to the myriad of bruised and injured protestors of all ages left by American police forces, to the quickly fading line between soldier and officer, to the increasingly disturbing information slowly leaking out about how far civil rights were violated during the G20 protests in Toronto last year, the sleeping masses have unconsciously allowed our police services to become the tool of tainted governments and the corporations and banks controlling them.

Of course, it would be entirely easy for the public to lynch our police service for their actions, and meet their undeniably difficult situations with hatred and distrust, but this problem goes further than just a few ‘bad examples’. The men and women serving in police departments are human, and they are also the 99%. They are likely just as worried about their pensions and jobs as the rest of us – like most of us, they have a boss, probably even more likely to fire or demote a person for their political affiliations or refusal to obey. If you think acts of police mishandling and brutality are caused by individual evil, you need only investigate the Stanley Milgram shock experiment, the Stanford-Zimbardo prison experiment, or, a more contemporary example, the Abu Graib prison scandal in Iraq.

Here’s a clear example of the weaponization of police handling protests,  provided by Occupy Sacramento:

The officers who evicted Occupy Oakland were not handling a riot situation or a warzone – but their use of ‘less-lethal’ projectiles and military-grade tear gas DIRECTLY CAUSED a riot situation. It directly led to the injury of an Iraq war veteran who had been taking part in the peaceful protest, and still has trouble speaking after brain surgery.

The ultimate questions that come to mind, observing all of these events and legislation giving police and military more domestic power around the world, are these:

If protest movements are becoming more and more peaceful, why are the officers handling them becoming more and more militarized? Is this the visible evidence that our administrations are in fear of popular dissent? Why are people on the street met with increasingly harsh treatment and sentencing, when the bankers and companies who knowingly stole trillions of our money live free from charge? How can ‘civilized’ western nations such as Canada and the United States dare to lecture Libya, Syria or Egypt on their attempts at democracy, when at home we are each day slowly losing those same rights and values that make us democratic?

I think it is due time every community re-evaluate its authority pact with their governments and policing services, and investigate the true necessity of our loss of freedom for some far-off, intangible ‘security’.

If any readers are or personally know someone who lives on that frontline as our police officers, I would love to hear your story, either in support or disagreement with my views.

SOURCES:

http://www.straight.com/article-558041/vancouver/police-thugs-strip-occupy-melbourne-protester-down-her-underwear

Military crackdown in Tahrir Square

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa2Cm9dqUqY

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/how-the-war-on-terror-has-militarized-the-police/248047/

http://www.corbettreport.com/police-state-canada-from-the-mcdonald-commission-to-the-g20/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/14/scott-olsen-first-statement-occupy-oakland

Milgram experiment on obedience to authority, 1961 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/14/scott-olsen-first-statement-occupy-oakland

Stanford prison experiment, 1971 http://psychology.about.com/od/classicpsychologystudies/a/stanford-prison-experiment.htm

Abu Graib prison torture scandal, 2004 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse

A simple explanation – Reposted

13 Dec

A message from Occupy Corner Brook

11 Dec

To All Occupy Groups,
 We would like to first thank all of the people, locally, nationally, and internationally, who have chosen to voice their opinions and work towards a better future. For those who are not familiar with Corner Brook, we are a city of 20 thousand on the West Coast of Newfoundland. In the last two months the members of the Occupy Corner Brook have been working to run events, create publications, (particularly a 17 page local city magazine) and start community discussions on issues of economic inequality and global democracy. As a group in a smaller city we decided from a very early point to use sporadic demonstration, rather than a long term camp, as a means of getting our message out, although we do still lend our full support to the camps in cities around the world. Hearing the recent discussions concerning a “Phase 2” for the Occupy movement, and having witnessed the stories of camp evictions, we felt we should share our experiences, and the methods we have developed, as a movement that has had to learn to function without a camp, and thus without the same benefits of close proximity for making decisions among our membership. In the hope that our knowledge may be of use to movements now moving out of the camp framework, or those hoping to augment a camp structure, we have assembled a list of tools we have found useful:

  1. Weekly meetings, with secondary meetings throughout the week for committees dealing with specific issues, which any and all members, as well as the public, can attend. (We have a current “Core” Membership of 37 people, with about a hundred interested citizens who follow our Facebook posts) In our experience regular face to face meetings are essential for group co-ordination.
  2. The Creation of a local – open source – monthly community publication, dealing with local, national, and international news, as well as providing a means of publication for local art and literature and specifically asking for the submission of opinion, artwork, literature, and articles from the general public. In our case this is a magazine called the 4 O’clock Whistle (For an online copy and a downloadable PDF check out http://cornerbrooker.com/2011/12/occupy-corner-brook-launches-new-zine/). We did this, and distributed 200 copies to the public, with only 34 members at the time and a single bakesale to raise funds, (approx. $223 for 200 copies) so what might be possible on a larger scale is exciting to say the least.
  3. The maintaining of a consensus structure, with no central leadership or strictly decided roles. We have found this works as well in our situation as within a camp structure. With regard the implementation of a national “Phase 2” we strongly recommend that this remain the means of making decisions.
  4. The avoidance of any set platform. Our group has chosen to deal with issues as they arise, focussing on key movement values, rather than having a set platform. This has kept us from becoming “cornered in” by certain issues, and we have had no problems so far maintaining a united voice despite diverse opinions on different issues. Further, for us as an organization wishing to represent the 99%, we feel we must go beyond simply being a political movement, and instead must become an organization dedicated to the egalitarian-democratic representation of the 99% in the long term.
  5. The use of sporadic demonstrations, public events and forums, and letter writing campaigns, while at the same time championing the achievements of Occupy camps and supporting upcoming plans for reoccupations. As well, we have been encouraging the expansion of what it means to occupy (retaking one’s own mind for instance).
  6. The creation of an local internet communications infrastructure, with info on the international movement. While this does not provide a substitute for face to face meetings it does provide us with a means of keeping ourselves, and those interested among the public, up to date with current issues, as well as providing us with places to edit articles and news releases as a group. We hope to launch a website of our own in the near future, (and are currently using a wiki for editing etc.) but for the moment please feel welcome to visit our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Occupy-Corner-Brook/292114010818015 As a side note we would like to work with any other groups who are starting their own publications locally, or nationally/internationally, in order to share ideas and knowledge, and anyone who wishes to print off copies of our magazine for distribution or general use is welcome to do so. These are of course suggestions, and we realize that there are many unique situations and perspectives among Occupy as a whole. If anyone has suggestions or wants to add to what we have said here it is greatly welcomed, and we would be interested to hear about the experiences and history of other Occupy groups. We wish you all good luck in your endeavors, and look forward to the future.

In Solidarity, Occupy Corner Brook

I am Occu-puck: The hypocrisy and denial of the Calgarian people – Mandi Schrader

10 Dec

My apologies to anyone offended by the use of the word hypocrisy in the title. As soon as this was posted a bunch of people said to me, “YOU are a hypocrite!” And they are quite right, I am. It’s a tendency we all share and part of human nature. But we can learn from our mistakes and become better people, a better city and a better country, and that’s what I’m trying to say in this post. 

 

The other day I noticed that this blog had received 100 hits linked from a discussion forum on the Calgary Flames fan site Calgary Puck. I thought “weird” and visited the forum to find out why.

Unsurprisingly the thread where the link was posted contained the usual unoriginal statements we have all heard in criticism of Occupy Calgary. I joined the discussion for a brief time and eventually left in disgust. The disgust was not based on the site members’ criticism of me personally or even of Occupy, but the suggestion repeated by several members that the sculpture gifted to the city be melted down and made into various items. A group of people claiming to respect hard work and skill suggesting that we destroy the product of someone else’s hard work and skill disgusted me and I let them know it.

Occupiers have been trying for 2 months to shine a light on human rights violations in the name of profit. We have been criticized for damaging a public park, flouting bylaws etc in the name of a better world for all humans.

Let’s take a moment to consider the Red Mile phenomenon of 2004 where over 50,000 people participated in a celebration which actually did cause huge disruption and expense to the city. Hockey fans occupied 17 avenue for over a month. Police resources were largely dedicated to one area of the city. Girls flashed their boobs in public. The road was eventually blocked as partiers showed no respect for vehicular traffic. You couldn’t even walk down the street without getting bumped and jostled by fanatical, red painted maniacs. You could hear the sound of chanting and yelling from 10 blocks away and I’m sure residents of lower Mount Royal got no sleep the entire time.

Yet Calgarians are actually proud of this, despite the drunken idiocy, public nudity and disrespect for people just trying to get to work. This event was commended because it was peaceful. So peaceful many people were afraid to go anywhere near it. Some people claimed that their use of Olympic Plaza was disrupted by the tents pitched in one corner not even blocking footpaths. I say, gimmie a break.

During hockey season there are few places I can go without encountering blaring TVs and screaming fans. Yet if complain of my inability to enjoy my favorite hangouts because of hockey, I am told shut up. Deal with it. Get into the spirit!

Hockey is a time honoured Canadian tradition and despite my dislike of the sport I can respect that.  I suggest we need a new Canadian tradition: resolute determination to uphold human rights. I suggest that instead of cultivating a reputation for being cute, backward hockey lovers we work to become world leaders in finding solutions to poverty and inequality. We are a great country and already well on our way. Let’s make it a priority at the citizen level.

Heart of the Beast

9 Dec

If you think this beautiful and heartfelt gift from Occupy Calgary to the people of Calgary should be allowed to stay put, please sign this petition.

“Heart of the Beast” by artist D.H. is presented to the people of Calgary as a lasting monument to the suffering of all humankind and to our unceasing desire to overcome. Dec 9, 2011.

One woman occupies Christmas

8 Dec

The following letter was written by a woman in her mid 50s who works a well paid job downtown. She has stopped by the camp fairly often on her way to work. When told that we have a blog and a newsletter she asked that we post this here. Thanks Karen.

November 20,2011

Dear CEO,
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

As Christmas is approaching,I have considered the situation of the Occupy Movement. It seems to me that the best thing I can do to support the cause from the comfort of my warm home is to boycott frivolous products.The true meaning of Christmas is something greater than exchanging gift cards. Beginning this year,I will not be exchanging gifts with my family,friends.neighbours and co workers that I have formerly purchased for in your store. I will simply bake cookies,similar to what my grandmother and her ancestors may have done.My mother also grew up in a time of abundance and environmental waste,so I have no real modeling for this lifestyle.

It seems to me that the Occupy Movement is about wants and needs. While my needs are taken care of in the present,I need to continue preparing for my future. More importantly the people in Africa NEED food. Therefore I will be giving myself some savings,and I will be helping those who are truly in need.

Fourth quarter profits are very important to most retail businesses,mostly driven by Christmas gifts. I wish you the best with your business and personal future,however,I am no longer in good conscience,willing to support bloated CEO compensation or spend money on stuff I do not need.

Wishing you the best for a happy holiday season

Karen

What is it we are fighting for again? Support small business!

7 Dec

This explains today’s situation in easy-to-understand terms.  Too bad the “youth” occupying Wall Street lack the intelligence to understand this simple, logical truth.  Our system works for anyone willing to work. It works better when we get the government off our backs!

Reference: A letter from the Boss:

To All My Valued Employees,
There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a Back Story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I’m sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don’t see is the BACK STORY:

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70′s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, someday, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden — the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations… you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bailout all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don’t understand. To stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut with promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It’s quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I’ll fire you and your coworkers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about….

Signed, THE BOSS

 
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