October 2011

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I typed this up this morning and I’m going to try to hand out a couple hundred copies at today’s march in Downtown Seattle…mostly as an experiment in helping marchers think strategically.

By Being Here, You Are Building a Movement.
Now, Where Do You Want to Help Steer This Thing?

Some questions to think about:

What does winning look like to you? The Occupy Together movement isn’t perfect, but it’s doing at least one thing well: it’s creating a space to imagine something different, some kind of change. So, what do you want? What’s your ideal? Would you be happy with straightforward reforms and regulation? Or would you like to imagine even bigger, deeper changes?

What skills can you share, what do you want to learn? As a part of this movement, you are more than just a body in a march. You’ve got hundreds of skills and interests that can make the movement stronger. What are you good at? What do you like to do and make? What would it take for you to bring some of those skills here? Whether making music and art or helping to create spreadsheets of meeting schedules, how can you creatively use your abilities to grow this movement? And what do you want to learn from others?

How do you want to use and build your power? Chances are that Wall St. is barely listening, and maybe even laughing at us. Politicians are probably thinking about how they can use us. So it’s up to us to build our own power to win the changes we want. So, what kind of power do you want to build? Are you participating in the general assemblies? Have you joined a working group? How are you sharing your voice about the direction of this movement?

Who are your people, and how can they participate? Movements grow in the simplest of ways: first there’s a few, then a few more, then even more…eventually there’s millions. If this movement keeps growing, then the chances of winning something shoot up. So, who are your close people? What is their relationship to this movement? Who are one or two people who you could bring with you next time? What are their barriers to participation, and what will it take to help them clear those barriers?

What will you do when the occupation ends? Let’s face it. This occupation thing will end eventually, whether from bad weather, or harsh attacks, or conflict and burn out. But the occupations are just a tactic, they aren’t the movement! The movement can continue even after we all go back where we came from. So, what will you do when the occupation ends? Who will you stay in touch with? How will you use the new power and skills that you’re building? How can this spirit of change extend into your neighborhood, workplace, or school? How do we bring this movement out of downtown and more directly into our lives?

There are plenty of people around who want to fill your mouth with their own answers to these questions, but that’s not how democratic movements get made.
If it’s going to win, this movement needs your ideas and action

Thinking Strategically About Occupy Together

So, this Occupy Together movement is definitely a thing. It’s potentially a really big thing. And what’s particularly cool about it is that it’s full of people who are new to activism and organizing.

For those of us who’ve been around for awhile, this presents a challenge. How do we avoid sticking our noses up at the movement’s various mistakes and contradictions, and actually join in and meaningfully support what’s happening?

With my life so over-capacity right now, it’s been hard to think about how to best contribute…but one answer I have is writing. I can at least share some of the ideas and questions that I’m asking to help generate more strategic thinking.

So, get ready for a series of posts trying to think strategically about Occupy Together!

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi