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Five Ways to Re-Occupy in 2012

MJ Lee,
… POLITICO asked cultural critics, advertising and messaging gurus, activists and others for their ideas about how Occupy can stay relevant.


“Revolutions always start at universities.”

That’s the observation of Kalle Lasn, editor of the anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, who believes the Occupy movement needs to go back to a step that it skipped and focus on energizing students around the county and the world.

… Lasn says there already have been rumblings that the occupations of parks and public squares will be replaced by the occupation of university econ departments in 2012. He believes students should revolt against the outdated “Econ 101” foundation that has propped up economics curricula at universities for decades.

“We want to grab the old-school practitioners, grab them by the neck and throw them out, and hopefully a new generation of economists will rise up,” Lasn said. “We’re looking for bioeconomists, psychoeconomists, barefoot economists – people who go out into real places in the world and solve problems of people who are suffering.”


Anything “corporate” may seem counterintuitive to the figure-it-out-as-we-go approach of Occupy, but the bottom line is that a little bit of organization can go a long way, experts say.

“They can become something like – cultivate supporters, develop a very clear, defined agenda, keep a grassroots flavor by crowd sourcing, and get some powerful allies to back you,” said Dan Tisch of Argyle Communications, a public relations firm. “Nobody has a copyright on Occupy, so I think there is a space there for somebody who wants to be creative to grab it and build it.”


… David Sauvage, who has produced commercials about Occupy and works closely with the movement, says one of the biggest challenges is simply “communicating our message to the masses of people who don’t know what on earth we’re doing,” and that video can be key to remedying this problem.


Some say Occupy should remain on the streets, staying relevant and making headlines with an ongoing campaign of outrageous acts.

While Tisch refrained from endorsing any specific attention-grabbing tactic, the PR guru said that virtually anything edgy that attracts media attention is fair game, whether it’s giving out “corporate greed awards,” occupying the roof of a government building and hanging a banner down the side of it – as Greenpeace activists did in 2009 on the opening day of a climate change summit in Ottawa – or chasing around politicians.


Todd Gitlin, an expert on social movements and a 1960’s political activist, believes the solution for Occupy could lie in Congress.

The Columbia University professor argues that Occupiers are constituents first and protesters second, and says Occupy must lobby Congress to pass legislation addressing the movement’s concerns.
(29 December 2011)

Occupy Geeks Are Building a Facebook for the 99%

Sean Captain, Threat Level Blog / Wired
I don’t want to say we’re making our own Facebook. But, we’re making our own Facebook,” said Ed Knutson, a web and mobile app developer who joined a team of activist-geeks redesigning social networking for the era of global protest.

Protesters volunteering for the internet and information boards of the Occupy Wall Street protest work and broadcast from their media center in Zuccotti Plaza on Oct. 2, 2011. (Photo: Bryan Derballa for They hope the technology they are developing can go well beyond Occupy Wall Street to help establish more distributed social networks, better online business collaboration and perhaps even add to the long-dreamed-of semantic web — an internet made not of messy text, but one unified by underlying meta-data that computers can easily parse.

… The idea of an open alternative to corporate-owned social networking sites isn’t novel — efforts to build less centralized, open source alternatives to Facebook and Twitter have been in the works for years, with the best known examples being Diaspora and Identica.

But those developments aren’t specifically focused on protest movements. And the Occupy movement’s surprising rise in the U.S. has added new impetus to the desire for open source versions of the software that is playing an increasingly important role in mobilizing and connecting social movements, as well as broadcasting their efforts to the world.

One challenge that all of the new efforts face is a very difficult one for non-centralized services: ensuring that members are trustworthy.
(29 December 2011)

Ron Paul Praises Occupy Wall Street

John McCormack, Weekly Standard
While campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul praised the Occupy Wall Street movement, comparing it to the Tea Party movement. “In many ways, I identify with both groups,” Paul said. Both groups are fed up with problems in Washington and “the two-party-system,” Paul said while speaking at an insurance company in Des Moines.

… Although “some people like to paint Occupy left and the Tea Party people right,” Paul said, “I think it makes my point. There’s a lot of people unhappy, and they’re not so happy with the two-party system because we have had people go in and out of office, congress changes, the presidency changes, they run on one thing, they do something else. Nothing ever changes.”

… Here’s a transcript of Paul’s full remarks on Occupy Wall Street:
(29 December 2011)
Robert Scheer of the liberal-left Nation has a positive take on Ron Paul: Marginalizing Ron Paul.

I can’t help feeling a sympathy for conservatives like Ron Paul and Roscoe Bartlett. They are the kind of small-town Republican I grew up with and respected. On a number of issues, I think Ron Paul is better than the Democrats (civil liberties, foreign wars, transparency in government). What do EB readers think?

Occupy Our Food

Peter Rothberg, The Nation
… This video by Anthony Lappe offers an inspiring glimpse into this new movement. Check it out and then go to Food Democracy Now, a grassroots community dedicated to building a sustainable food system, to find out how you can help.

(28 December 2011)

Occupations in winter

Justin Elliott, Vanity Fair
Protesters nationwide link up through large-scale conference calls and plan what’s next

Local occupations around the country are linking up through frequent, massive conference calls, tightening what is now an extremely loose national network that operates under the Occupy banner into a more focused force.

The effort, now known as InterOccupy, started out of Occupy Wall Street in New York in mid-October. It has since grown into an elaborate website with multiple weekly phone calls during which occupiers trade ideas, coordinate multistate actions, and plan for the future. Participants at about 150 occupations around the country (and a few internationally) have now participated in the calls, organizers tell me.

“The [weekly] national calls have brought people together, including people who are otherwise isolated in their own occupations,” says Nate Kleinman, an Occupy Philly participant and InterOccupy organizer. “There’s usually a strong particular culture at individual occupations. It’s immensely valuable to have a place once a week where people come together from across the country and share ideas and their hopes for what the movement can accomplish.”
(26 December 2011)

Ten Good Things About a (Not So) Bad Year

Medea Benjamin, CommonDreams
I had the privilege of starting out the year witnessing, firsthand, the unfolding of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square. I saw people who had been muzzled their entire lives, especially women, suddenly discovering their collective voice. Singing, chanting, demanding, creating. And that became the hallmark of the entire year–people the world over becoming empowered and emboldened simply by watching each other. Courage, we learned in 2011, is contagious!

1. The Arab Spring protests were so astounding that even Time magazine recognized “The Protester” as Person of the Year

Sparked by Tunisian vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’sself-immolation to cry out against police corruption in December 2010, the protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa—including Egypt,Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, and Jordan. So far, uprisings have toppled Tunesian President Ben Ali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi–with more shake-ups sure to come. And women have been on the front lines of these protests, highlighted recently by the incredibly brave, unprecedented demo of 10,000 Egyptian women protesting military abuse.

2. Wisconsin caught the Spring Fever, with Madison becoming home to some 100,000 protesters opposing Governor Walker’s threat to destroy collective bargaining and blame the state’s economic woes on public workers. …

3. On September 17 Occupy Wall Street was born in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District. Protesters railed against the banksters and corporate thieves responsible for the economic collapse.

The movement against the greed of the richest 1% spread to over 1,400 cities in the United States and globally, with newly minted activists embracing–with gusto–people’s assemblies, consensus decision-making, the people’s mic, and upsparkles. Speaking in the name of the 99%, the occupiers changed the national debate from deficits to inequality and corporate abuse. Even after facing heightened police brutality, tent city evictions, and extreme winter weather, protesters are undeterred and continue to create bold actions–from port shut-downs to moving money out of big banks. As Occupy Wall Street said, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.” Stay tuned for lots more occupation news in 2012.

4. After 8 long years, U.S. troops were finally withdrawn from Iraq. …

5. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was presented to three terrific women: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist; and Yemeni pro-democracy campaigner Tawakkol Karman.

6. The bloated Pentagon budget is no longer immune from budget cuts. The failure of the super-committee means the Pentagon budget could be cut by a total of $1 trillion over the next decade — which would amount to a 23 percent reduction in the defense budget. The hawks are trying to stop the cuts, but most people are more interested in rebuilding America than fattening the Pentagon. That’s why the U.S. Conference of Mayors, for the first time since the Vietnam war, passed a resolution calling for the end to the hostilities and instead investing at home to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure and develop sustainable energy. 2011 pried open the Pentagon’s lock box. Let’s make the cuts in 2012!

7. Elizabeth Warren is running for Senate and Rep. Barbara Lee continues to inspire. …

8. Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is running for Parliament!

9. Opposition to Keystone pipeline inspired thousands of new activists, together with a rockin’ coalition of environment groups across the U.S. and Canada.

They brought the issue of the climate-killing pipeline right to President Obama’s door, with over 1,200 arrested in front of the White House. The administration heard them and ordered a new review of the project, but the Republican global warming deniers are trying to force Obama’s hand. Whatever way this struggle ends, it has educated millions about the tar sands threat and trained a new generation of environmentalists in more effective, direct action tactics that will surely result in future “wins” for the planet.

10. Following the tragic meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, the growing appetite for nuclear energy has been reversed.
(27 December 2011)
Related: 2011’s Big Wins – Brought to You by Women.