Posts tagged ‘activism’

January 30, 2012

Solidarity with Farmers Against Monsanto

By the OWS Food Justice Working Group


On January 31, family farmers will take part in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.  The judge has agreed to hear oral arguments in this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward.

The OWS Food Justice working group, along with Food Democracy Now, will peacefully assemble at 9am in Foley Square to support the farmers.  As their action, they are adopting SASI’s artistic intervention, and will be holding up signs depicting a timeline of Monsanto’s sordid history.  Please join and stand in solidarity against Monsanto.  The hearing starts at 10am and will last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

January 16, 2012

Learning from our Elders

By Prita Lal

On Sunday, November 20, 2011, a group of veteran civil rights activists from the “Council of Elders” Organizing Committee hosted Intergenerational Days at Occupy Wall Street and in other Occupy cities around the country. In NYC, the day included an interfaith worship service at Liberty Square followed by a panel discussion at Judson Memorial Church. The event was organized and hosted by the People of Color Caucus and the Anti-racism Allies working groups.

The Council of Elders is an independent group of leaders from the farm worker, sanctuary, civil and human rights movements that shook the nation’s conscience with public protests during the 20th century. This intergenerational dialogue brought together hundreds of activists, organizers, educators, and community members to discuss questions, challenges, and lessons that can be gained from the civil rights era to the current Occupy movements happening worldwide. As an excerpt from the statement of solidarity by the Council of Elders states:

“We see Occupy Wall Street as a continuation, a deepening and expansion of the determination of the diverse peoples of our nation to transform our country into a more democratic, equitable, just, and compassionate society.”

November 1, 2011

Occupy Wall Street is Transforming its Participants, Our Country, and Democracy

By Manissa McCleave Maharawal

Originally published on AlterNet

Monday night at a bar in Brooklyn my friend Alex and I looked through pictures on his phone of the “early days” of Occupy Wall Street. He had pictures of the General Assembly from Day 5 and we laughed together about how empty it looked, how ramshackle and tenuous almost, how we could still see the pavement and there was still space between the people. We had just biked back from Occupy Wall Street and we were commenting, again, on how different the space seems every time we are down there. This time I had been surprised to see tents everywhere, something I hadn’t seen before and honestly between the tents, the problems with the drumming in the past week and the debate about moving to a spokes-council structure it felt like the movement was in a moment in which it was trying to deal with its own internal dynamics. Growing pains almost.

It makes sense for a movement like Occupy Wall Street to be having growing pains right now. It is still a surprise to most people, those inside the movement and those observing, whether in solidarity or not, that it is still there and that it is growing. It is still a surprise that in places like Occupy Oakland, where their tents were torn down in the middle of the night and they were tear gassed the next evening, they came back the next day in even stronger numbers and called for a general strike. It has become clear in the past month that the political discourse has shifted and it has become clear in the past month that this thing isn’t going away. But some mornings I still wake up surprised about it all.

October 20, 2011

Reflections on Organizing Towards Collective Liberation at Occupy NOLA

By Lydia Pelot-Hobbs

Over the past few weeks, I have been invigorated and moved by the energy surrounding Occupy Wall Street and it’s offshoots across the nation. Yet, at the same time I’ve been faced with the tensions being articulated by so many folks on the Left: how can this energy be connected to and further long-standing organizing work for social and economic justice?

Here at Occupy NOLA, I have been excited about the potential of making these bridges through the project of the anti-racism working group.  In less than two weeks, this working group has been developing a collective analysis and strategy that I think has the possibility of contributing towards long-term movement building.

From Difficult Moments to Moments of Promise

This is not to say this work has been easy. Many of these conversations are painful and difficult. At the second General Assembly (GA), a debate emerged regarding the use of the livestream at the GA. Since the initial planning meeting, Occupy NOLA had been posting photos and videos on Facebook without those in attendance’s permission. Myself alongside several others from the anti-racism working group raised the concern that having the entire area video taped led to the space not being safe or secure for a variety of folks: immigrants, trans folks, queer folks, etc. and offered the proposal that 1/3 of the space not be included in the livestream.

October 19, 2011

Sites Speak Louder Than Words: The Symbolic Language of Our Targets

By Samuel Stein

Occupy Wall Street is growing.  What started on September 17th as an encampment of hundreds in one small park has turned global.  On October 15th, demonstrations were held in 1,500 cities in 82 countries.  In New York City, our numbers are growing, and momentum is building to expand to more sites around the city.  As a formally leaderless movement without explicit demands, we are defined primarily by the spaces we create.  What do our choices of venues say about our politics, our critique and our vision?  The choice of our next sites will communicate more to the world than any simple list of demands ever could.

We began our movement in Liberty Plaza, a “Privately Owned Public Space.”  The park was created through a mechanism added to the New York City zoning code in 1961.  The 1961 revisions were full of new ways to shape development in the city, prefaced on the idea that zoning could be used to shape the city’s social as well as spatial patterns.  One of these planning innovations, the “density bonus,” allows developers to build higher than would otherwise be permitted if they create an open space for public use.  The spaces could be inside a building’s lobby, or outside on land owned by the developer.  While some of these plazas supported active street life, many were poorly designed and underutilized, and became empty caverns among skyscrapers.  Left urbanists have largely written off the program as a giveaway to developers and a retrenchment of the state as planner and provider of open spaces.

Occupy Wall Street’s reclamation of Liberty Plaza turns this logic on its head.  What was once seen as a boon to real estate capital is now a thorn in its side.  Our presence signals to the city and to real estate capital that social movements will use any and all spaces available to the public, regardless of its formal ownership.  Claiming a privately owned public space as our initial home base created a posture for the movement that was critical of both capital and the state, and especially hostile to its collusion.