Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Next Step: Reinvesting our money!

1 Feb

Reposted from: http://www.nationofchange.org/occupy-next-step-reinvesting-our-money-1326551491

The Great Recession has shed a harsh light on American economic practices. Greg Palast, Matt TaibbiGlen Greenwald and other investigative reporters and analysts have repeatedly shown how large institutions’ financial practices undermined the national economy and impoverished local communities.

But one of the bright spots of last year was the return to progressive political action to hold financial institutions accountable. Not all of this action has been in the streets. Some of the most constructive attempts at change have taken place in local agencies where progressive political leaders have used their powers creatively.

One such local activist is Abel Guillen, a bright, energetic education leader in his second term as Trustee of California’s Peralta Community Colleges. These colleges — Laney, Merritt, Berkeley and Alameda Colleges — serve the large East Bay Alameda County working class population in the San Francisco East Bay (Alameda County). The schools are stepping stones for immigrant and blue collar families to achieve employment and improve their standards of living.

Guillen himself, the son of a baker and a cook, the first in his family to graduate from college, grew up in a neighborhood where few people even considered college. He persevered through University of California, Berkeley, to earn his bachelor’s degree, then a master’s degree in public administration. For the last 10 years he has used these skills to give back to his community. Working as the vice president of a public school finance firm, he has helped raise over 2.5 billion dollars to build and modernize public schools and community colleges.

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But as he worked on funding, he saw taxpayers dollars and student fees in the college system being railroaded out of the district into investment schemes that jeopardized the schools and enriched the few at the expense of the many.

So Abel Guillen fought back. On Nov. 25, he introduced — and the Peralta Community College District passed unanimously — a resolution for the local reinvestment of its student fees and community tax dollars that will move its funds from large, for-profit banks to community-based financial institutions. Guillen noted that these goals were in line with the most constructive aspects of the popular Occupy Movement, but removed from the destructive vandalism of fringe groups that trashed store fronts and disruptions that harassed workers.

“This practical action will redirect our college funds and spending power into community-based financial institutions and serve the interests of our students and the East Bay residents who make up the 99 percent,” said Guillen. The Peralta Colleges serve more than 45,000 students and have an annual budget of $140 million dollars.

Guillen’s resolution emulated the spirit of National Bank Transfer Day, the consumer action which paralleled and to some extent over-lapped Occupy Wall Street. For Transfer Day, consumers were urged to move their accounts from commercial banks to not-for-profit credit unions. Some in the Occupy movement did not think this action went far enough. But the Credit Union National Association reported that 650,000 people opened new accounts by the target date of Nov. 5. Some 80 percent of credit unions increased their new accounts as a result.

This movement gave concrete, constructive action to many who could not or would not join the movement in the streets and to those who wanted to take more than the symbolic act of demonstrating. Abel Guillen himself is seeking to take the next step… declaring himself a candidate for the California State Assembly. “There is much work to do,” promised Guillen. “We are the generation to carry this all forward!”

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Occupy Vancouver’s Spokes Council Model

10 Jan

Occupy Vancouver Spokes Council Model
Passed by the General Assembly Dec 22nd 2011
(A Living Document)
Updated Jan 09th 2012

Brief History of the Spokes Council:
The spokes council model is a structure for democratic process that has been used for many years. It has been employed by many organizations and struggles including the Zapatistas, Chaipas, the Women’s Movement, Anti-Nuclear Movement, and Global Justice Movement. It is also currently being used by Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland.

How does the Spokes Council work?
The spokes council works like the spokes of a wheel. It is designed to allow for large group participation and small group discussion to work together with consensus. Each committee, caucus, or outside organization consenses on a representative, a rotating spokesperson or ‘spoke’ who meets in the middle with the other spokes for form the council. The committees, caucuses or outside organizations sit directly behind the spoke for direct consultation on decisions being made.

Committees
Committees are groups that contribute to Occupy Vancouver’s operations regularly. They are open to everyone and can only exclude people for constant disruption or violating General Assembly Agreements.

Caucus
A Caucus is a self determined group of people who share a common experience of marginalization by society at large.

Outside Organization
Outside Organizations are organizations that have given public support to Occupy Vancouver and wish to collaborate with our efforts.

Spoke
A spoke is a rotating, agreed-upon representative of a committee, caucus or outside organization. Spokes are considered a neutral spokes person, not the unilateral decision maker for the group. They should be thought of as a facilitator rather than temporary leaders.

General Assembly and the Spokes Council
The General Assembly will continue to happen with the Spokes Council operating with a mandate from the General Assembly. The Spokes Council will oversee committee work and logistical matters leaving the General Assembly open to more broad visioning, goal setting, and more open ended political discussion.

Open Access and Transparency
–          Anyone may attend the Spokes Council
–          Anyone can participate in the council by joining a committee or caucus. Also new and non-affiliated members can participate in the open caucus which has a voice but no say in the Spokes Council consensus process.
–          The Spokes Council will take place in a well publicized space.
–          Minutes will be taken at every Spokes Council and posted online.
–          The Spokes Council will be livestreamed whenever possible.
–          All decisions made by the Spokes Council will be reported back to the General Assembly for questions or concerns.

Proposed Schedule
The Spokes Council will meet on Tuesday at 7pm and Sunday at 1pm every week.

History of this proposal
This proposal is based on the work done at Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland. You can find their models here:
http://www.nycga.net/spokes-council/
http://occupyportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Spokes-Proposal-PDF-FINAL.pdf

These models were used as templates to be built on. We held 5 work groups to gather information about problems people had with the model and work out mechanisms to correct the issues raised. The first work group had over 30 people attend and created a long list of potential issues to be worked out. The subsequent work groups tackled each problem on the list while opening the floor to new issues until there were no more foreseeable problems with the model. Like all documents in Occupy Vancouver, this is a living document, and as such, is open to the process of revision at any time.

Benefits

Access: This model creates greater access for those outside of Occupy Vancouver and within. It has been difficult to find committees and caucuses within the General Assembly. This creates a central location for people to easily find a group they wish to participate in.
Transparency: The Spokes Council enables greater communication of committee work, roles, and responsibilities.
Process: With a clear mandate to make decisions over committee work and logistical matters and because of the efficiency of the model, the Spokes Council will greatly increase our ability to make decisions and follow through on them.
Marginalization: The General Assembly is currently not an empowering model for marginalized people. The ability for marginalized groups to create a caucus and have a spoke on the council will allow for greater participation from marginalized voices.
General Assembly: Taking the logistical and committee work into the Spokes Council frees up the General Assembly to talk more about broad visioning and goal setting while at the same time opening it up for more open ended political discussion. The General Assembly remains the highest decision making body.
Trust: The General Assembly does not give participants much time to interact with one another or build meaningful relationships. A more structured environment for the group members to interact creates even more time to communicate and build relationships through continued interaction. This will do a lot towards building trust within our movement.

Spokes Council Model in Detail

The Spokes Council and the General Assembly

The General Assembly will continue to operate in conjunction with the Spokes Council. The General Assembly will define the goals, vision, character, and spirit of Occupy Vancouver.

The Spokes Council operates with a mandate to oversee committee work and logistical decisions. The Spokes Council must report its actions to the General Assembly to allow for questions and concerns.

Sometimes there will be overlap in decisions made by the General Assembly and Spokes Council. In such a situation a decision made by the General Assembly that directly affects the logistical realm of the Spokes Council should be brought to the Spokes Council for consensus. Likewise decisions made by the Spokes Council that greatly affect the goals of Occupy Vancouver will be brought to the General Assembly for consensus.

Because of the General Assembly’s authority over the Spokes Council, if members of the General Assembly feel that a Spokes Council decision goes against the core values of Occupy Vancouver or General Assembly agreements they can form a work group to discuss the issue to create a veto proposal. The proposal is then brought to the General Assembly and put through the consensus process. If consensus is achieved on the veto, the Spokes Council must cease work on the decision and rework the idea for future General Assembly approval.

It is mandatory that a record keeper be established before the Spokes Council can begin. When the Spokes Council breaks to speak with their groups the spokes are responsible for making sure someone is a record keeper within their respective groups.

Quorum
The Spokes Council will have a quorum of 50% + 1 of all registered voting spokes. This means that the Spokes Council cannot make any decisions unless at least half, plus one, of all registered Spokes that have say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council are in attendance of the Spokes Council.

Role of the Spokes

The Spokes Council is made up of rotating representatives from caucuses, committees, and outside organizations. Spokes are considered neutral spokes person not the decision maker for their groups; they must share the differing views and decisions that their groups have come to consensus on with the Spokes Council. The spoke is a facilitator rather than temporary leader of their group. The spokes must rotate and can be recalled by their group at any time.

The function of the council is not to unilaterally make decisions for the rest of Occupy Vancouver. Issues are brought to the Spokes Council, the council then breaks into their respective groups to discuss the issues and come to consensus. The council then reassembles and reports the diversity of opinion and consensuses reached. A committee or caucus must send a spoke and at least 2 other members to the Spokes Council.

Dissenting voices in a committee or caucus that feel their voice is not being represented by their spoke are encouraged by the Spokes Council that try and resolve the issue within their group. If differing or dissenting opinions are not being represented in the Spokes Council, the members of the spoke’s group can show a point of process and the Spokes Council is responsible for addressing the issue. If a group feels so strongly that the spoke is misrepresenting the group’s views, the group can ‘mic check’ to interrupt the spokes council and recall their spoke.

Note: It was recommended that a comment box be created for dissenting views to be recorded.

Definition of Groups in the Spokes Council

Committees are groups that contribute to the operations of Occupy Vancouver regularly. They are open to everyone and can only exclude people for constant disruption or violation of General Assembly agreements. Each committee is responsible for one aspect of Occupy Vancouver’s day to day logistical operations; for example, Media Committee, Direct Action Committee, Legal Committee etc… Committee’s spokes have a say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council.

Caucuses are self determined groups of people that share a common experience of marginalization from society at large. These caucuses have a say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council to create space for greater participation from marginalized voices in our decision making process.
Both committees and caucuses must have at least 4 members and be registered with the Spokes Council to be allowed a spoke on the council. There is no maximum to the number of people allowed on a committee or caucus.

Outside organizations are organizations that have given public support for Occupy Vancouver and wish to collaborate with Occupy Vancouver’s efforts. They do not have a say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council except in decisions that directly affect them. Their spoke does not have to rotate and they do not have to attend a Spokes Council if they do not wish to. They also have to register with the Spokes Council to have the right to a spoke.
Both committees and outside organizations must have a mandate approved by the Spokes Council or General Assembly.

Open caucus is a caucus that is always available for anyone to join and participate in. This caucus is primarily aimed at allowing non-affiliated and new members of occupy to see how the process works and allow their voices to be heard. This caucus has no say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council but has a spoke and the ability to have its opinions voiced.

Livestream spoke is a representative from the Livestream Committee that is charged with representing the views and ideas of those on the Occupy Vancouver Livestream (www.livestream.com/occupyvan). This spoke will have no say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council until an appropriate mechanism is in place to allow for a fair consensus of the livestream to be reached. They are only there to give voice to the opinions of those on livestream.

Moderated seat of dissent is a seat on the spokes council that is reserved for a moderator whose sole purpose is to voice any dissenting views that feels their voice is not being represented by their spoke. Any member of a caucus or committee who feels their opinion is not being properly represented by their spoke can approach this moderator anytime during the Spokes Council. This moderator does not have a say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council.

Mandates
All mandates brought to the Spokes Council for approval must be written, typed, or in digital form and be brought from a Committee meeting.

Basic Agenda
–          Open
–          Spokes’ rounds
–          Basis of Unity read un-mic checked
–          Role of spoke is explained
–          Registrations of new Caucuses, Committees, and Outside Organizations
–          Follow up on old proposals the Spokes Council came to consensus on at the last meeting.
–          Body of the meeting*
–          Close

*The body of the meeting was left open. This was to give the Spokes Council and the facilitation team the freedom to choose how to facilitate the meeting and how long to discuss specific agenda items.
An example of the body of the meeting would look like this:
–          Old proposal that was postponed at the last meeting open for discussion
–          First new proposal for discussion
–          Second new proposal
–          Committee announcements

Meeting times
The Spokes Council will meet on Tuesday at 7pm and Sunday at 1pm every week.  Once a month there will be a Spokes Council meeting that all registered committees must attend, or be required to submit a report explaining their nonattendance.

*************Modifications to the Spokes Council Model**************
All modifications to the spokes council model will be posted bellow as well as changed within the model in italics. This information will also be posted on the http://www.occupyvancouver.com webpage under the committees tab under Spokes Council. (updated by Richard Porteous)

Mandates
All mandates brought to the Spokes Council for approval must be written, typed, or in digital form and be brought from a Committee meeting.

Passed on Dec 8th 2012 by the Spokes Council (updated by Richard Porteous)
Quorum
The Spokes Council will have a quorum of 50% + 1 of all registered voting spokes. This means that the Spokes Council cannot make any decisions unless at least half, plus one, of all registered Spokes that have say in the consensus process of the Spokes Council are in attendance of the Spokes Council.

*Passed on Dec 8th 2012 by the Spokes Council (updated by Richard Porteous)

Occupy Our Food

7 Jan

Published on Thursday, December 29, 2011 by The Nation

Text by Peter Rothberg / Video by Anthony Lappe

On this past December 4, food activists from across the country joined the Occupy Wall Street Farmers March for “a celebration of community power to regain control over the most basic element to human well-being: food.”

The rally began at La Plaza Cultural Community Gardens where urban and rural farmers talked about the growing problems with the industrial food system and the solutions based in organic, sustainable and community based agricultural production. This was followed by a three-mile march from the East Village of Manhattan to Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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

Occupy Our Food

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