I’ve helped run a few businesses, and that’s not a lot, but I can tell you that, for Occupy Calgary, running General Assembly at 3pm is a colossal administrative oversight. Colossal.
That engenders a demographic problem. The only people who can show up to say their piece are:
- under- or un-employed
- homeless (which Calgary long ago disregarded as “transient citizens”)
- those collecting a government dime (EI, disability, etc)
These are an important chunk of the voices that stand at the microphone.
You cannot reasonably expect the majority of those speakers to be highly-educated, articulate, and well-informed. Most people are not, and that’s not a character flaw. That is normal. Normal people have a place in government; they have a place in decisions that affect their well-being.
In large part (especially now), education is a function of economic prosperity. Thing is, we live in a society where money is a social necessity, such that we have more trouble seeing the value in people who have less of it. Occupy has shown that it’s willing to work with that sad problem, even if it can’t solve it.
This takes me to another, highly relevant point: most of the actual campers were homeless, and were, without question, in need. This is not surprising.
Let me repeat that.
This is not surprising.
We offered free company, food, water, shelter and amenities to passers by.Those in need will heed that call, particularly those that are not welcomed, elsewhere. It’s certainly not that they don’t have something to complain about (regardless of whether you view them as deserving or not).
To the idea that Occupiers are naive, uneducated, or just plain dumb
If the counter-arguments and disputes my educated, intelligent colleagues have had is anything to go by, we all are, because, as “smart” people, we’re expected to know better – to see these patterns for what they obviously are. I expect (however unfairly) that people who attack Occupy this way to recognize the blatant classism, hypocrisy, condescension, and fallacious, self-attributional thinking that pervades this kind of statement.
The people most likely to show for GA to be heard are also likely to have less education because they’re more likely to have a lower economic standing, and, ergo, a lot of shit to complain about. That, in some considerable part, we owe to the timing of GA. The reason more people aren’t showing up is because most of us are too busy trying to survive within the economic climate that fueled the Occupy movement in the first place.
And for those of you that might complain that all these people need to do is get jobs, I can reply simply: it’s not that easy. Everyone is scared; there’s a lot less of that surge of neurotransmitters that makes people go “this is a good decision!”.
Or, to put it another way, Republicans spent the first half of the year slamming Obama for high unemployment, and how the people don’t have any jobs. In the latter half of the year, they’ve talked a lot about how Occupiers need to get off of their asses and get jobs.
If you’ve seen those postings of people on Facebook, with their faces obscured by some piece of paper talking down “the 99%”, about how they’re just lazy, not working hard enough, and that they deserve whatever they’ve got, I’ve got a cautionary tale for you.
That’s it, in a nutshell, folks. Moving on.
Cross posted from OccupyVancouverVoice Dec 22, 2011
One of the most powerful slogans to come out of OWS is “You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.” I love this powerful conceptual meme (the phrase apparently comes from Victor Hugo).
It points, for one thing, to the fact that this movement is more than tenting in public parks—it’s about a conceptual shift in the underpinning ideas of our society—a shift that has caught on, and will survive the eviction of the physical encampments. But it does beg the question—what is this idea whose time has come? Answering this question goes some distance towards answering the common criticism of the Occupy Movement: “we don’t understand what you want!”
This is to some extent understandable, as the idea whose time has come is a very big idea, with many facets and consequences. This idea signifies such a fundamental shift in thinking that it is no wonder people might scratch their heads a bit. We have the meme. Let’s start the process of filling in its meaning. As we do so, we will find this idea keeps unfolding deeper and deeper layers.
The idea whose time has come is …
the idea that we can and should CARE for each other and the planet (I’m playing off something Vancouver occupier Tosh Hyodo has said); CARE is at the meeting place of LOVE and RESPONSIBILITY, and as a poet once said, responsibility is the exercise of our ability to respond; when we do so out of love, we are “caring” (as a verb: “to feel concern, be concerned; to take thought for, provide for, look after; to guard and preserve”)—what a different political and economic system it would be if we would truly work from and through this idea! Capitalism is built on self-interest, competition, and a seemingly “valueless” bottom line (profit and growth above all else)—the intersecting economic, ecological, and political crises now shaking capitalism have the same root: greed, the pathological idea of unlimited growth, and the tendency not to see someone else’s problem as our own—the idea whose time has come holds first and foremost that the days of apathy and not caring are over—
the idea that it is up to us to make the changes that need to be made(not some supposedly better informed “expert” or supposedly more qualified “leader”)—we can and must all stop now and figure this out together, pooling the common resource of our collective intelligence—and the idea whose time has come is that we can do this (the “Obama factor”—for all the disillusionment and failed promise of Obama’s presidency, his simple mantras—CHANGE—YES WE CAN—have resonated far beyond his ineffectual and in fact damaging administration)—
the idea that we must fundamentally change how and what we are doing—because the how and the what of the current system have led to a completely dysfunctional, unbalanced, and unsustainable relationship between the economic, environmental, and social spheres (see the diagram below)—this idea also includes the concept, very active in the movement today, that another world truly is possible (and so the idea that we must once again take up the project of utopia and activate our imaginations to envision and build that “other world”)—
the idea that we have a right to a future—that the current system is eroding and in fact robbing us of all our tomorrows in the name of excessive profits and unsustainable life-styles today—that we have to act now, with considerable urgency, to ensure that we have a viable, bearable, and equitable future for all human beings, and indeed a world of balance and health for the entire biosphere.
The idea whose time has come? What hurts you hurts me, and what heals you heals me. It’s time to let the healing begin.
Alberta is definitely THE HEART OF THE BEAST. Great poverty is created by great wealth – follow the money to find out who is mentally ill with their greed. Alberta has more psychopaths causing more hardships then what is being reported – although it’s in our faces if we choose to face the truth.
The insane have this belief the homeless are lazy, ignorant and just want a free ride – the rich will always project their insane reality onto their victims. it appears to me that the rich are the truly lazy one’s as they earn their living off the labour of others. It is the rich who are lazy and ignorant – this global collapse was created by very educated people, if you want to get ignorant get an education.
Reality is much different then a sick mind can comprehend. A sick mind believes our Alberta Police protect victims and prosecute criminals but in reality while I walked into our Calgary police station and described the crimes I was the victim of – but I worded it asking the question “if I did this or that would it be a crime”. Apparently they told me I couldn’t do the actions of my abusive ex husband as they would be breaking serious laws – which is what I wanted them to admit. But when I said “Great I’d like to report a crime” the Calgary police told me “i can’t walk into a police station and report a crime, I have to make a phone call”. Apparently you can’t phone in a police complaint, nor can you walk into a Calgary police station and report a crime. Once I learned there are no acting police in Alberta I went outside and had myself a little cry only to have two Calgary police tell me – “look at you, nobody is going to belief a word you say”. So apparently there is a look one must have in order for our police to believe you. I can go on years worth of stories about our justice system and all it’s flaws but this is not about focusing on the problems but rather the solutions.
- Our education needs new content to teach – huge opportunities.
- our education needs a completely new system design – one that we all have opportunities in – huge opportunity for change
- our justice system admits it’s not perfect – those imperfections allow psychopaths to kill others and get away with it – it’s time we make changes within our Global justice systems – huge opportunity
- our media manipulates us all – huge opportunity for change
- politically – there is no way our system can solve social problems – they are focused on earning profits for the few and not the whole – huge opportunity for change
- economically we have a system designed to fail, things must be throw away in order to consume and keep this insane train running – massive opportunity for change
- our medical systems have lost it’s ability to heal – our medical systems is the heart of humanities mental illness. No longer is the focus on stopping and preventing illness – our medical systems encourages us all to keep doing the wrong thing – live that unhealthy life style but here is a pill a few can get rich off as you die. Our medical system cannot recognize causes – it cannot point the finger at a CEO and order him a doctor – there is no way of stopping a corporation from polluting and killing thousands of people. We are getting sick from the types of labour we ware forced to do and no doctor will make that claim because we all have to work to feed ourselves. We are getting sick from the products we are forced to consume due to our markets being controlled by large monopolies who pay to make laws to say the unsafe is safe. Our medical system is completely dysfunctional and in need of major changes – huge opportunities.
This occupy movement is not gaining the respect it needs because nobody is talking about solutions – we are way to focused on all the problems – who is talking about what a fixed system looks like? How does the perfect system work for us all Globally? When we are ready to get down to business and talk solutions then respect will be gained – who can handle that conversation yet? Einstein said it best ” you cannot solve the problems using the same mind that created it” – we need a completely new mind set to understand our needed solutions. We all have to admit we are wrong about something – who is willing to admit they are wrong yet? If you can see all the changes needed and what it would take to create a perfect system – then even all Occupy Wall Street protestors have to admit they are wrong about something. Only when we are all Globally ready to admit we are wrong can we comprehend what is right.
If anyone is out there willing to talk about solutions, I’d love to share my experiences and research – time to get to work as there are so many opportunities available right now.
Pot Luck 2nite at 5!!
Giving up attachments…
Hot water for tea
Cold water that isn’t frozen
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
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
& not LOVING EVERYONE EQUALLY!!!
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!!!
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.
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.
Military crackdown in Tahrir Square
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
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