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

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6 Responses to “A message from Occupy Corner Brook”

  1. Jan Bacon December 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Occupy Corner Brook appears to be a fine act for other Occupies to follow. I want to say ‘thanks Mandi’, for all you do here. (And to Mike for being such an honest commentor with so much to contribute that is positive).

    I am really just a lurker, spending much more time reading than I should. I find you young people to be thoughtful and articulate and I watch with much respect as you try to sort out truth from fiction, valid warnings from wild conspiracy theories. Daily my eyes are opened to new injustices and inequalities. I am one of the conditioned ones needing education and I depend on this blog and the Facebook group to keep me informed.

    I tried to honour and support the campers as best I could. I believe the tents were the beginning for many needed conversations. I braved the cold for some of those GA’s and late night meetings. I loved the gift of the ‘Heart of the Beast’ while at the same time deploring the silence presented to the media. Such a waste of a good educational opportunity to turn your backs on the media and tell them they had their chance and blew it. I think the ‘statement’ turned out to be a waste of paper without the power of voices behind it and I think the people of Calgary came away from that with a big “huh?”

    I am looking forward to new initiatives to right wrongs and fight injustice here in our city and in concert with Occupy around the world. The momentum needs to continue, although in our home, I feel a slight pause for the needs of the Christmas season is beginning to be felt. I am after all a Grandma :)

    (hugs) all round, jan

    • idnami December 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      I am SO impressed with Occupy Corner Brook. I tiny city in Newfoundland that I’ve never hear of before has got its act together in a way that makes me envious and even more determined!
      Jan, you are awesome and no one could ever question your support. Some individual actions have been unsupportable and no one could blame you for drawing a line.
      Thank you for everything YOU do. I love you, Grandma Occupy!

  2. Mike Honcho December 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Awesome Mandi. Glad your going to keep up with this. Your the first voice that got me to rethink my Occupy position. Initially, I thought “this whole camp thing is bogus” but this blog got me to thinking that there were issues much more important than the camp and those were the issues I could really agree on, and yet still disagreee with the camp. So, you’re making a difference despite what others here may post.

    Yeah, I saw you quoted on the Jen Gerson article. I thought you and to a lesser extent Joanne and Jason Devine came off looking like pretty reasonable people trying to make a difference. I looked all over the Internet for the so called “open letter” done by Joanne and Jason but never found it. Is there a site they posted it on or was it just to the media?

    Keep posting. I might not agree with 100% of what you say but I appreciate you trying to make a difference in a positive way.

    • idnami December 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      Jason Devine askedme to post the letter and I told him lets give it a few days since its a bit of a sore spot right at the moment. It’ll be up shortly.

  3. Mike Honcho December 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    It’ll be interesting to see where Occupy goes. I’ve seen a lot of comments which say “We’re not going anywhere” and I applaud that but I think the comment should be “I’m not going anywhere” because I’m sure that doesn’t apply to the 250+ people that were on the Facebook site or the likely 50+ people that were a little more actively involved. Vancouver being a good example of that where a large movement turned into only perhaps a couple dozen people blocking the ports. Mandi’s done her part to keep this site relevant and ongoing but some of the other more familiar faces in the group haven’t posted here from day one. As well, other than Mandi, I’ve seen a few post from AFish, Mike_yyc, etc. but hardly anything from anyone else. I don’t know how you keep a movement alive if you don’t find a means to communicate with the people you’re trying to influence? Mandi’s doing her part but where’s everyone else?

    Anyways, a few questions that Occupy supporters can answer for me hopefully. I don’t want this just to be Mandi answering back cause she always does that and I think it’s time for some others to “step up”.

    a) Jen Gerson I thought wrote a very good piece on the Herald as a post-mortem on the movement in terms of the tent phase. Any one have an opinion on that piece?

    b) Personally, I thought the last message given by Tavis Ford on behalf of the group was weak. I have the same issues as J. Gerson wrote above, nothing about income inequality, corporate influence, banking reforms, etc. other than a quick one sentence yet you write a whole paragraph on your so called “silencing”. You have the media around (and you can claim they are all bias but hey, you called the press conference) and you deliver this weak statement essentially bringing up no key issues which started the movement to begin with and then you walk away to someone show you’ve been “silenced”. Really poor. Yet, I see a bunch of people patting him on the back on Facebook for such a great statement? Really. Come on people, it’s not a crime to be critical. I’m missing something here because I thought it was self-serving and equivalent to the boy who takes his ball home because he isn’t happy with the rules. In my opinion, he came off (and perhaps the movement came off) looking like a petulant child and the message was all about “me” and what “we’ve done” and very little about the real issues.

    c) Heart of the Beast. Nice touch. Hope they find a place for it.

    d) The invasion of privacy for the Morgan’s was wayyyy over the line. Hat’s off to some occupiers, like Alex Bennie, who recognized that later on and apologized though I’m sure Alex wasn’t involved. But, this operation would have taken a people to find the address, people to transport to the home, people to set up the tent, and people to discuss this plan with. Did nobody stand up and say “this is a bad idea”? And please, don’t ask for “proof” that it was some Occupiers, “proof” hasn’t been a real strong deterrent for either side making accusations. Everyone here has families or people they care about who have nothing to do with there personal causes and to violate the security by showing up at the house, that’s ridiculous. Ask Jason Devine how it feels to lose that sense of security by having folks show up at your house.

    e) What happens to the “tent folks”. To me, it was evident that there was a schism forming between the “tenters” and those that did not “tent”. Can this be repaired or is there just too many hard feelings on either side of have an effective working relationship?

    Hope the original message continues and the radicals on both sides can fall off and we can have some real discussion on this blog. Hope you continue the blog, Mandi, whether that we under your own umbrella or Occupy. My personal hope would it would be under a different umbrella as the ill will felt toward the campers will be hard for some in this city to overcome.

    • idnami December 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Mike.

      I have been begging the facebook people for a long time now to come devote some of their time to chatting over here because its the only place we can engage everyone freely.

      This is what you get when you throw a goup of people together don’t know each other personally into a non systemized dynamic with no core leadership. They do whatever they feel inclined to do. Facebook is adictive. I don’t get it really since there are 400 facebook subscribers which is almost double the current membership in the group.

      I am actually quoted in the Jen Gerson article. I did an interview with her on friday. I think her assessment is fairly accurate. Tavis and crew had a golden opportunity to actually speak the message of Occupy to the people but what they did WAS petulant. Not to mention a major violation of our agreement to find consensus on any official message from the group, which did not happen.

      I’m furious at Tavis for the egocentric way he has handled this whole thing. I’d say so to him personally but he has consitently refused to reply to any message from me. I saw the way he maneuvered himself into percieved leadership of the camp and it upset me deeply. He is the reason the opportunity for fair representation of all participants in the Calgary movement was denied us. He insisted that key decisions could only be made at meetings which many of us could not attend and when I attempted to establish an online GA process he threw a giant fit and blocked it. Had those of us who were busy working or looking after kids or just staying warm actually been allowed to have a voice this whole thing might have turned out a lot differently. Frankly it just turned into the same secretive, elitist bs we were supposed to be fighting.

      So for that same reason I’m pretty sure no one who wasn’t part of the camp had any prior knowledge of the prank played on the Morgans and I’ve recommended that anyone who does have information take it to the cops. We do not need that. Whoever did it was an idiot and just did that much more to make people like me look bad along with them.

      I’m hoping now that the camp is done with that we can get on with doing something legitimate. What has happened with the Calgary chapter of the movement is unfortunate but I’m still standing in solidarity with the national and global movement for change. I’ve been working to develop my national contacts and learn from those groups like Kelowna and Corner Brook who are actually working with their communities instead of against them. I’m strongly onsidering renaming the blog Occupied Canada Free Press and going national with it. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes but I’ve laid enough important ground work that I think it’s worth a go.

      I really think that the solid, intelligent remnants of the Occupations of each city can band together and become stronger and something that can effect real change in our country and the world. But more than anything else I’m supporting OWS because if they can succeed in getting justice done on Wall Street that will be a global victory. We really are in trouble Mike, ALL of us, if they can’t.

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