The Occupy Strategy Lab of Organizing Upgrade is excited to share the thoughts of movement innovator and strategist Max Rameau. With his experience founding the Take Back the Land movement and advancing land-liberation and eviction defense strategies, Max is well positioned to provide some insight into how organizers can and should strategically connect with the Occupy movements. Over the last few months, Max has been engaged in strategic thinking, dialogue and planning with Occupy movements in Miami, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wall Street. This article is part of a series in which Max explores the potential for movement building within the Occupy movements. Forthcoming pieces will address the Basis of Unity (between #Occupy and Liberate) and a proposal for a 2012 Spring Offensive.
Approximately 50,000 people turned out to mass actions held during the Oakland General Strike on November 2nd, called by the General Assembly of Occupy Oakland at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant plaza, and supported by dozens of community based organizations, unions, and activist groups. The actions shut down every major bank in downtown Oakland, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase, and then shut down the port, and in the process built solidarity beyond anything we have seen in the SF Bay Area since the days of the movement against the US war on Vietnam.
One significant aspect of the relationship between community organizing and Occupy movement in New York City is the synergy between Occupy Wall Street and several community organizations that have been organizing around revenue issues for the past year. This piece is a dialogue between organizers from two of the organizations – Community Voices Heard and VOCAL New York (formerly known as New York City AIDS Housing Network / NYCAHN) – that have been active in that revenue organizing. This organizing around revenue issues – which included a civil disobedience action at the Capitol on March 1, 2011, a Wisconsin-inspired overnight occupation of the New York State Capitol in late March and the May 12th Mobilization on Wall Street – has put CVH and VOCAL in closer relationship with larger community organizations and labor unions on the one hand and, on the other, with many of the direct action activists who helped to initiate Occupy Wall Street. Since the occupation began in September, VOCAL and CVH have related to it in several different ways. In this interview, CVH and VOCAL organizers reflect on those experiences and discuss their vision for how those relationships should unfold.
At a time when states and cities are fighting back austerity measures, organizers in Chicago are flipping the script! Instead of asking policy makers to stop making cuts, they are exclaiming ‘Show me the Money’! Taking up the #Occupy moment, Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel sits with OrgUp editor Sushma to discuss a recent victory: an agreement with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to return $60 million in social services for the People.
Presley Obasohan is fighting foreclosure on his home by Bank of America. Mr. Obasohan is underwater on his loan because in Dorchester, MA – the most diverse neighborhood in Boston – building values have sunk to half or less of mortgage loan debt. Presley is trying to save his home for his daughters. He has petitioned and he has pled. He has waited on hold and stood in line. But on Friday, Presely joined the Right to the City Alliance in a mass action of civil disobedience, and was proudly arrested, along with 23 other Boston residents, for siting in at the Boston headquarters of Bank of America.
Cheyenna Weber is an economic justice organizer and writer working to develop the solidarity economy in New York City. Originally from West Virginia, Cheyenna began organizing against mountaintop removal mining in high school and became active in the global justice movement as a lead organizer withthe West Virginia Economic Justice Coalition in college. Her interest in the solidarity economy grew out of a desire to increase community well-being and security as a way to break cycles of violence (whether economic, environmental, emotional, or physical) she witnessed and experienced as a child in Appalachia. Today she is active in the promotion and development of New York City’s solidarity economy through SolidarityNYC, a collective she co-founded in 2009. She is also active in GEO (Grassroots Economic Organizing) Collective, a media collective focused on promoting worker ownership and the solidarity economy; the New Economy Network; and the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network. She lives in Brooklyn.
Erica Smiley, new contributing editor wth Organizing Upgrade, interviewed Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action Field Director, to get her opinion on how labor and other mass organizations should strategically relate to Occupy Wall Street. Peace Action is the largest grassroots peace organization in the US. Judith is currently helping to coordinate the activities of the New Priorities Network, a newly organized national network of community, labor, faith and peace groups who are working to reduce military spending to fund human needs programs. She is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.
Amanda Devecka-Rinear is a lead organizer at National People’s Action on the “Make Wall Street Pay” Campaign. National People’s Action is part of the New Bottom Line. Check her out on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AmandaNPA
Organizing Upgrade also wants to encourage our readers in New York City to join the community-labor march to Wall Street next week (information below), an action called by several organizations that are members of National Peoples Action (the national network which is helping to lead the New Bottom Line campaign referenced in this debate).
I just finished reading Sally Kohn’s piece in the American Prospect titled “Follow No Leader” that outlines her criticism of the Occupy Wall Street (for a good explanation of the action check out this Voices from the Frontline Occupy Wall Street protests). Now, I know Sally to be thoughtful and articulate. I am especially proud of her courage being in the Fox News studios going head to head with the Michelle Malkin’s of the world. That respect made her article even more curious to me. In the article she basically reduces the Occupy Wall Street protests to “making noise for its own sake,” and cites a New York Times writer, Ginia Bellafante, who accuses Occupy Wall Street of “pantomiming (maybe I am dumb, but I had to look that word up to make sure I knew what it meant) progressivism rather than practicing it.” Sally even seems to co-sign the Times writers’ characterization of the protestors as hippies and anarchists.