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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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