Occupy4All Meeting Notes, Jan. 23 2012

Occupy for All

1-23-12

Amer’s Deli

Meeting started approx. 7:30
Nathanael, Re, Lindsea, Maggie, Joel, Steven present (Kent showed up midway through meeting)

Facilitator: Nathanael
Notes: Joel, Maggie

7:30 – Maggie smashes Amer’s cup

AGENDA

1.1 Reportback
1.2 Discussion of future activities
1.3 Announcements

Introductions!

Re: I’ve been involved in a lot of different kinds of activism. Worked w/ Occupy Detroit, Lansing. Out of town for a long time, trying to get back into the swing of things.

Lindsea: I study community psych and social change, and I’m interested in activism/social justice work. We just had a dance party for occupy last weekend. Solid community-building thing. I just got an awesome internship at the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice. I have kittens. My internship is “Climate Change and Eartch Care Intern.”

Maggie: I’ve been involved with Occupy For All, and a little with Occupy A2. Fallen off a little bit lately, but working to channel artistic side into art. Working with Edge for Occupy Lansing on graffiti projects.

Joel: From Ann Arbor

Steven: I was involved with some New York occupations, recently moved to Detroit. I’m trying to get a sense of what occupations are going on. I have a little experience with Occupy Wall St. and building occupations in Manhattan. The Oakland occupation, they’re talking about taking things that people need. When we were evicted from Zucotti, it made it a lot more difficult to meet and hold GAs.
Nathanael: So they’ve been occupying other buildings.

Steven: A lot of art galleries were occupied. There had already been some splintering, and there     were some campus occupations.

Nathanael: I’ve sort of been all over. I spent a couple weeks at Occupy Wall St. Since then I’ve done Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsi, U-M, and Occupy for All. To those who’ve never been, Occupy for All evolved to respond to interoccupational needs. We’ve developed a calendar, organized interoccupational summits, done some work with facillitation workshops, traveled to diff occupations, etc. In the future we want to do things with food, continuing to organize.

Reportbacks

Lindsea: At the dance party we had all kinds of creative outlets. The party was at 5900, the Unite Detroit building. There was music, Flint occupiers, a couple of guys from Wu Tang. It was the most like a camp some people had seen in a while. People want to do more things like this. We read the New Declaration of Independence (Emma Goldman).

Maggie: State of the State in Lansing, maybe about 100 people showed up. There was chanting and marching, and a roped-off example “classroom” to demonstrate the effects of education cuts.

Joel: “Nice little protest” is right. It was pretty weak stuff.

Maggie: It was disorganized. I went to school in Madison, and all-day protests worked well there. Maybe planning it like that would have created a bigger impact. It was a nice little protest.

Re: We wanted them to hear us from outside during the State of the State, thus the specific time. It would have been nice if we’d tried to get in, but there were so few of us, and cops posted at every entrance. Andre was arrested for wearing a mask, we called the NLG, but Andre’s friends had to go back to Kzoo that night. As far as we know he wasn’t mirandized, they wouldn’t tell us what his three misdemeanor charges were.

Steven: In NY, there’s a long history of protests and arrests. But when you get into smaller cities, smaller towns, the police are much more involved in governmental functions. It seems like the charges are much harsher in smaller cities.

Re: They can always tack on crap later. They were Lansing cops, right?

Joel: Yeah, but state troopers were the ones at the protest.

Re: Which is strange to me, Lansing cops are usually our friends. When were camping they were in constant communication with us.

Steven: So there was cooperation with the police, where the arrest occurred?

Re: It was at a bar afterwards. There hadn’t been direct cooperation at the event, didn’t seem like there was anything to collaborate with the police on. Anyone go to the MLK march?

Nat: The MLK march was pretty cool. In terms of numbers I heard between 400 and 1000, what was your sense?

Re: I’m bad at that kind of thing.

Nat: Yeah, we all marched from WCC to the gates of Snyder’s gated community. Great crowd, saw people from virtually every occupy I’ve been to. Seemed like everybody was there. It really reflected Occupy Michigan, and was cool to see. There was a little bit of speechifying at the gates by some clergy, who left right after and caused confusion, killed the momentum. Initially people wanted to stay until moved, but eventually moved on their own. Aside from organizing awkwardness, good march.

Re: There were some problems with ableism. I mean it was a long march, no denying that. People were helping each other out and that’s cool, but they delivered the letter way before most people could catch up. It seemed like the speakers were wanting much room for autonomy. Everyone’s empowered to do exactly what they want to here. There was some infighting; there were some people who were very much pacifists and non-violent occupy, and then there was BAMN and some recent Iraqi vets calling to hang Snyder.

Steven: That’s the thing about Zuccotti. You had speakers, but they weren’t amplified all over the park. A speaker wouldn’t necessarily be the main affair. It was a little more casual. If speakers have a huge stage, they can be cumbersome. With the people’s mic, when someone wasn’t interesting it wouldn’t be amplified. With megaphones and other equipment, there isn’t the option to kind of stop listening to someone who’s uninteresting or otherwise problematic.

Nat: I went to a rally…there were union folks with a bullhorn, but it only went a certain way. People tend to ignore that, especially when people are shrill and soap-boxy. With the people’s mic, you can cut people off. I remember when there were a couple thousand people there and someone got on the people’s mic with stuff about “I had this vision from God,” and then people stopped repeating. It also makes people focus.

Steven: Potentially the people’s mic can reach a wider area than a megaphone.

Re: MLK march in Detroit, same day as the march on Snyder’s home. I’d never been to one before. I’d been used to radical stuff, and there were a lot of moderates there, so that was different. I was all pumped up for a rally, and it started in a church. There were so many speakers, it seemed like a squandered opportunity to do more. It wasn’t the worst way to begin. There were choirs, and one choir for at-risk youth. The at-risk youth choir seemed like a good idea. The march itself was kind of tame, in part because we came from such a variety of viewpoints, people there for all different reasons. Greatest strength was that it was amazing for networking. All kinds of flyers, newspapers, information being passed around. During the march, instead of shouting slogans I was talking to other people and making new contacts. That’s something that we overlook in marches and rallies sometimes, what an enormous networking opportunity it is.

Nathanael: All-day teach-in, in two diff rooms with a total of six talks and a plenary session. I talked about labor organizing (especially Detroit area), there was one about race/gender (incl. Immigration, the rights of women or queer/trans immigrants, these are the most vulnerable populations when it comes to abuse of immigrants – the policies of the 1%) the french revolution, one about alternatives to capitalism. The alternatives to capitalism had an esoteric academic segment, a historical segment, and a down-to-earth “this is how you do it” segment. Latter one talked about the nitty-gritty getting along with people, learning things from people, etc. After that we did break-out sessions and talked about the future of Occupy.

Re: Whole teach-in was refreshing, but what struck me in the breakout sessions was that I knew everyone in my group, except for one person. We really need to reach out to people who aren’t involved already. We’re turning into a little bit of an echo chamber.

Discussion of Future Activities

Joel: We should talk to people in sportsbars, etc.

Re: I realized I was not talking about politics to my friends who I perceived as more moderate. I slipped up once and discovered a radical friend. Talking to our families is huge. This is largely a youth movement.

Steven: There must be people in Michigan who have done some occupations in the past. Weren’t some of the Black Panthers in Detroit? They have a lot of experience with organizing. Autonomous Collectives?

Joel: I do know of an Afrocentric farm in Detroit.

Steven: In some of the occupations – schools are more complicated because of age differences between professors, different levels of tenure, and their politics are influenced by their job. In my experiences it’s been inter-generational. I would talk to people who were 50 or 30 or whatever, it varied widely. In Oakland, I’m not sure what the age breakdown is, but I would look with Detroit – look for older, more experienced organizers.

Nathanael: As a population, in Michigan we’re very alienated. We have to drive to get anywhere. A lot of us are working, involved in our own lives, consumers, not used to being with people/having difficult discussions with people we disagree with. There’s so many things, and a lot of it’s just geography. This state is suburbanized. Not as many common spaces. We’re – a lot of us haven’t organized. We’re not used to organizing. Labor has been either co-opted and transformed (in the past 50 years) to something that isn’t viable. People in Ann Arbor don’t know what’s going on in Detroit and vice versa. It’s been a challenge just simply getting connected. We’re stuck within the same old patterns.

Steven: What’s the UAW doing in terms of Occupy Detroit? I saw some UAW signs in some protest in New York, so someone wanted to. One thing I noticed about Cairo was that without the working class, it wouldn’t have happened. They’re still struggling, but without the working class they don’t have the ability to use production for their own means. In Oakland they tried to work with the unions, and got them onboard for the first port shutdown (maybe behind-the-scenes support for the second). The UAW is still probably a major union. The working class is important

BREAK

Natty: UAW’s involvement in DTW

Steven: can send photos of the protest; would like to see if UAW has any interest in what we’re doing

Natty: there have been solidarity rallies, but don’t know the extent of the involvement; UAW posters etc at rallies, but again, level of involvement is unknown; groups will bring to DA actions already planned; AFL-CIO are working on some social unionism, which is the action of doing and providing community needs, they have an office where they do community organizing; at wall street it was a complicated relationship, solidarity rallies, when Zuccotti was going to be evicted that the unions brought a lot of numbers

Steven: there was this day of action and at the end of it we were going to occupy major hubs in transit system; MTA (service that runs the subways) agreed to support these kind of gatherings (not really occupations, but conversions) they gave support; I don’t think it was anything like oOkland, where they were working with a very organized union with union leadership that’s been co-opted; if we go to the UAW will say fine, as long as their members get jobs, and once we get jobs’s we’re done; that’s why there should be a focus on more than just jobs; jobs, 9-5 is fine, but should not be the sole goal, replace current system; in NY there were a lot of anarchists as well; Teacher’s union is also important to get involved

Natty: occupy is ambivalent about unions; they want jobs predicated on preserving the middle class, but is it even possible to have a middle class anymore, do we want a middle class? Felt like the people’s mic was a way of avoiding co-optation by unions (who use megaphones) people’s mic prevents co-optation

Steven: if we have a union rep, or an elected official that gives a speech, you don’t get to hear the voice of the “unofficial” people or union members; that’s very important, to speak to many people, to hear from many people because they may not agree with leadership; some of the occupations that had open negotiations with city officials were subsequently co-opted, or the city officials wouldn’t go along with demands, so non-negotiating is important tactic to note; Oakland, no negotiations with city officials, no police or invitations/negotiations with police (contentious issue in New York) there were instances of violence against gender etc, and in those cases its a great opportunity to find ways to have more options; get bigger tents etc, these things are happening over time, that’s one issue – it’s contentious, on the one hand you don’t want police in the community, but on the other hand we don’t want people to feel bad in that way; issue of occupations – do you invite police or not? You want to be sure not to censor anybody; look at oakland and they came out with no police, and with occupations of buidlings – no police, no media coverage (corporate media) and in those cases you have to have discussions of what media you want to have and what photos etc to put out;

Natty: one thing i’m curious about is what people want out of occupy right now; we’re at a juncture, especially in MI; we all have things we are passionate about, and certain visions, what are they and how do we ave them come to fruition? How do we work with our circumstances?

Re: i’ve been talking to a lot of people about this, trying to gauge where people are on this; it has been such an all inclusive movement, some people think we need to keep working within the system, or vote democrat; some people say if we want meaningful revolution, we have to determine what that is, the different levels of participation; civil disobediance. don’t know how to gauge if ppl are iwlling to partake in CD; Occupy Lansing – TARU was always around (Dept of Homeland Security)

Steven: TARU – ass’td with FBI, HHS, record ppl on camera at protests, try and develop face recognition. They probably have so much footage, how are they going to even do that?

Natty: one idea circulating in my head for the past 20 hours or so has been having guerrilla meetings; occupy places that should be commons, or are commons that have been disrupted: classrooms, Michigan union etc; meet a place, then decide to have a meeting somewhere (Starbucks but not buy anything, or bring your own coffee) – “safe” level of civil disobedience; with MI we haven’t begun to utilize space in a manner to renovate our thoughts. The dance party was like a camp without a camp – it was a space, everyone came to contribute (made posters, cleaned up space; art supply table; BYOB bar; supplies and ladders, musicians) it was a camp where everyone contributed what they had – short time commons and magic happens! Seems like in A2 we’ve only tried to occupy authorize places prior – reserve a place, or buy something. Set up a people’s library in the student union; hack into University databases and give people access to public resources – little actions that subvert business as usual in terms of how we use space.
Re: good way of acclimating people to the idea of civil disobedience

Natty: don’t reserve a place for a meeting; don’t use a business as a business – Starbucks is a commons taken away from us. In order to participate in a space, we always have to have a monetary contribution. Need to create a space and reclaim the commons. We in ann arbor faltered because we didn’t think about how we used space, or how it was essential to occupations

Re: Los of energy spent on camps that may have been better spent elsewhere, but it did have that factor, that addition of communal space

Steven: space makes out reach so much easier; ppl can come in and out as they please, but then you can get complaints etc; having a location open to everyone except police because that way we can self-police you don’t want to be caught by police; media is a big thing, if in a space not a park, but a building, you have the opportunity to decide what media you want to disseminate; one of the reasons for that is if you have someone who has a pending legal case or immigration status issues, you don’t want photos taken – a park can be to exposing on some level

Kent: thinks we’re too spread out, not just in space but in priorities as well; if you get stung by one bee, not so bad, by a hundred? you’re dead; as occupation in A2, MI, US… we all have issues and they’re all valid, but what do we as a collective have as a priority? If all of us narrow our focus, we will see results and acton and resolution and attraction; one of the biggest issues people have is, what are we doing? While we can recognize the common thread through all our issues, the “common man” doesn’t

Steven: OWS, there is no occupation right now, but there were discussions about making demands (and OWS doesn’t speak for all occupies, obviously) but that there are no demands that we can make ourselves, so why are we asking an authority that we recognize as illegitimate to solve our problems? Oakland was meeting their own demands, providing food and shelter

Kent: I agree totally, everybody keeps asking what we want from them – we shouldn’t answer them, we should show them. Oakland as a unit shut down the ports together; the problem is that we are so separated still, things take a longer time; same could be said for government regulations – because people were interested in various things, not the immideiate threat, we can’t get anything enacted (NDAA bill for example)

Steven: yes, agreed on NDAA action; what specific action to be taken against that, there was a contingent not interested in getting involved with recognizing that the branch of govn’t has authority over us; I sympathize with some of this, so much of what happened in NY is that we’re done with representatives speaking in our place and we’re not having it, and so because of that, and because so many people thought that the government is illegitimate that there was an antipathy towards it

Kent: agree completely, its a vision we all share, but we’ll regret it when we’re all sitting in Guantanamo (note taker’s note: Saul Alinsky!). We’re all hoping that when they use that power, we’ll know about it, but we probably won’t. We have to recognize our current system, not necessarily work out within it, but realize it’s all there and not live in fantasy lives. All our issues have a rightful place of protest, but we need to agree that the immediate threat needs to be resolved – prioritizing does not making somethings less important, just a plan of attack; anonymous took down websites and made themselves known as one attack

Steven: certain exclusivity to anonymous; seemingly easy task that gets the most traction, sitting in the street can cause a ruckus, and you don’t even have to know all the computer skills. In terms of participation, how do we know how they make decisions?

Kent: considering what they do, they have to remain secretive. We don’t all have to go after something in the same manner, but the topic must be attacked by all; once we “resolve” something, or see a goal fulfilled then we can move on to the next one. That way people will jump on the bandwagon and support us; the things occupy suffers from the same thing that govern’t suffers from – so many special interest groups, and while they’re all valid, but they stop the machine – stops us from progressing. people’s issues shouldn’t be assumed to be less because it’s lower on the list – once we get something done, there will be greater and greater support. Also enjoys the idea o fspace, alternative lifestyle, foods, timebanks etc; need to appeal to all groups – radicals by taking spaces, non-radicals doing time bank potluck issues; once govn’t collapses, if it does, we have a model that’ll take over – we’ve already been living the model

Re: exactly, ppl talking about institutional -isms, people saying we need to address so many different things, and some things aren’t being recognized etc; free classes (trying to do stuff with free schooll in ann arbor)

Kent: why dont’ we have full force of all the occupies promoting that, it would make up for 6 weeks of promoting it alone; small scale example of what we can do

Natty: having a GA would be a great revitalization of that

Steven: Occupy Detroit GA Tuesday; Wednesday Egyptain march/rally; some of the conversations once we start going and working with different groups we’ll be able to hear what their issues are and translating it into an issue that means more to you etc

Natty: that’s an important thing for you (Kent)

Kent: Occupy Flint is resolving homelessness! Go to FL will be like, where the hell is flint? But if it’s OCCUPY MOVEMENT solving homelessness, that’s different; united message they couldn’t forget it, don’t yell, don’t have separate goals; all chanting the same thing – powerful; we can ignore a million different voices, but a million voices in unison cannot be ignored; all of us are doing important and good thigns, but we need something big to happen – we need something big to happen as a movement, especially coming out of winter. WE NEED SOMETHING BIG COMING OUT OF WINTER!

Steven: spontaneous things that happen that calls attn to a particular issue, and starts effecting daily operations, even not a big single aciton, but if we have people who are trying to occupy their congressional offices etc, very sporadic instances of protest, it does add up over time; potential of maybe not affecting day-to-day basis; huge national events (Iraq war protests) – got very little attention, no media attention day after day; scattered protests that are more continuous might have a more lasting effect

Natty: seems like a couple things are going on – we need ppl to work on a whole host of things, but also pool resources and doo big mass actions; we’ve had a few successful ones – foreclosure day of action; we’ve had successes, Occupy Congress that brought attention to things. There has to be a way to better communicate so that we have a gage of what’s significant and where to do mass actions – shit’s gonna come up, and we need to have resources and call an emergency GA and promote the hell out of it, twitter bomb things etc; Obama is in town in Friday – OUM might be hosting an emergency GA – but only OUM knows about it, so how do we spread that information out? Need to be able to spread this through the networks – which are being formed.

Kent: one of the reasons to start Occupy Michigan listserv – I can’t check all those emails – just post what’s going on to that listserv and boom, we’re connected; we’re all doing good things – too often people say what they’re doing isn’t as important as what we’re doing

Steven: University’s, institutional problems

Kent: I didn’t respect that OUM needed to create a foundation for themselves before reaching out to others, so I got frustrated when that idea was blocked. But we have to realize that we’re all in this together, and all on the same side, so everyone has pure motivations. So if we’re not doing anything this day, why not supply bodies to this action? It blows when someone puts a lot of effort into an action and 5 people show up

Re: this is really ahrd to reach consensus on what’s most important. Always terrified of alienating people by back-burning their issues, but keeping priorities is important

Natty: have DA groups vetting actions, in some manner, so perhaps have a group of people monitoring who’s coming to MI and plan thigns

Kent: exactly, wanted O4A would do that – occupations are so busy with all their stuff, but we’re gong to tell everyone else what you’re doing to help share information so we don’t get stuck within ourselves. Absolutely agree with re – people can keep working on what they want, but drop our activity, rock this particular action and not promote our activity for that day, and then go back

Re: right, variety of voices, but a united front

Kent: memorable message that resonates with other people – need to resonate outside of occupy; better media coverage also

Steven: OWS message has been against representation of itself via the media; some discussions that the media will find an excuse to write something bad about us; they don’t send their best investigative reporters out there to find out what’s going on; occupation in New School building by union square had some good articles written about it; sometimes the alternative media might grab someone’s attention

Kent: the SOPA issue – that was a united front when we protested it on Wednesday; and now the bills gone! Even if people have to still work on their special issues, they can still take a small united step – you can’t just not participate because it damages both groups; we shouldn’t compete amongst ourselves

Natty: we need feelers, we need to be aware and know what’s going on; if Snyder is speaking somewhere, or Mary Sue Coleman, why aren’t we following them? There are plenty of issues that we aren’t doing, because we’re not broadcasting everything; we can’t be expected to go onto every site and pay attention to it all

Kent: yes! Why don’t we just get buses? People don’t have rides or finances or knowledge of things – it’s information and resources and the lack of them that we’re suffering from it; we’re lacking trust – I believe you’re doing the right thing

Natty: people don’t always want to do activity always; we’re still wanting to fit it into our schedule, even if we have legit reasons to do it part-time, we aren’t doing it in a concentrated manner – it’s not a lot of people doing stuff a lot of time; not a constant flow of activity. If we could all occupy the student union and made it a commons we’d get shit done

Steven: 24 hour access is great, that way you don’t have to take things in and out;

Kent: yes! If we all contributed a dollar, we could get an office space, but then the trust issues arise again;
Steven: abandonded places – no one owns it, so just take it; that could work and don’t have to pay rent

Kent: taking buildings, would be ultimate goal, but we don’t have enough people doing willing to do that yet

Steven: that’s why GAs are important

Natty: positive steps that we can take to occupy spaces during the day; acclimate people to taking commons; doing things through systemic channels, starts asking questions, what do we have to do to make a public space? it’s working together? it’s a shame that we don’t have a GA to report back on it; we can use GAs to mobilize the hell out of it

Kent: yes, but we also have to use it to back people and actions; they need to say we need help, and we all need to say “okay!”

Steven: if you ask permission then you give them legitimacy; if you don’t ask then you don’t have that issue. You just take it. If you petition you lose a little spontaneity; the reason Zuccotti was big was because we only had a few people but then it snowballed. it’s much more difficult when you have a huge police force and you have thousands of people and you have to enter the space; you cna’t trickle in, or they pick you off

Kent: yes, NY fostered that situation. Based on liberty plaza, A2 can’t engage in that. The only reason the camp is still there is because it’s not a threat – there was a potential for it to be a threat; but it never became a trahte

ANNOUNCEMENTS – ALL ON OCCUPY FOR ALL CALENDAR ON WORDPRESS SITE
Natty: Occupy Ypsi GA is 3 on saturday, no location yet; 1:00 at Cafe Ollie for a pre-meeting and walk over to the GA
Re: tomorrow at 5, cafe ambrosia – foreclosure discussion

1515 broadway in DTW – 6pm to prevent it from being foreclosed upon on the 25th and 26th – two day activity

25th 4:30 in DTW Egyptian revolution march and rally in solidarity – anniversary of Egypt revolution

DTW GA tuesday

Re is always organizing for transportation

Warming centers – 8:30 am on fridays at st andrew’s church; imaginewarmingcenters.org

Natty: tomororw at 6 in amer’s deli is OAA DA group – primary focus is working on rebuilding OAA; forums.occupyannarbor.org; they’ve been talking about solidarity day/event at camp; facilitation training at 6 Thursday; talking about reviving GA, finding permanent location for GA
OUM GAs are the following sunday (held every other sunday) – location TBD
Reading group 2PM at ambrosia on sunday – reading David Graeber (facebook event) -”sunday reading group” on calendar, up on various occupy walls
on the 4th in Kalamazoo is interoccupational summit – Occupy Bell’s brewery!
Washtenaw CAT every thursday at 7 in geo center – right west of liberty plaza
next monday will be another O4A meeting, 7PM at Amer’s Deli

Saturday the 18th is Lansing Summit! No more Thursday summits, they don’t work

Roses Good Company – google it, event going on

Student Socialist Union – usually every Tuesday 8pm 4th floor of MI union, but this week at 7PM they are meeting at Vale Co-Op to discuss the “Communist Manifesto”

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