January 30, 2012
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
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.”
read more »
October 20, 2011
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.
read more »
October 19, 2011
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.
read more »