Saturday, December 31, 2011

Occupy Philly, photo year in review

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Poetics of Power

Every narrative is a struggle, not of, not about, for for power!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP ... from Poem to the end of my days

December 26-29
   ...opens     umbrella
   unfolding the rain
    -- who then

   are The People --

   Earth's backstory
   tourists at the end of an ice age

   what we wanted -- they paid for
   without labor
   without possessions -- being themselves

   happy & naked under the stars

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ellen Joy: A Speculative Realist Criticism

"We choose to seek, then, a non-projective, non-hermeneutic criticism that would multiply and thicken a text’s sentient, bottomless reality. This criticism would be better described as a commentary that seeks to open and not close a text’s possible “signatures.” Aesthetics may constitute a domain of illusions, but these illusions posses their own material reality and are co-sentient with us"  Ellen Joy: Notes Toward a Speculative Realist Criticism
Levi Bryant responds on Larval Subjects [...]
Books do not mean something, they do something.
Here then we get the first sense of what it might mean to say that criticism comes after the text. This thesis is not the bland truism that the text must first exist for us to “criticize” it, but rather is the thesis that criticism is a production based on the affectivity of the text. In other words, the question is no longer the question of what the text means with the aim of closing the text, but rather is the question of what the text builds. Criticism here would be aimed at what texts build and allow to be built. And since the building power of any entity is infinite, texts would be radically open."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where do we live?

People build a house together. They use hammers and levels and planes, but they don't pretend they live in their tools. We use abstractions in our conversations, discussions--they are the tools of thought.... but too many believe they live in them, and the house we would live in together never gets built.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Occupy Free University


And a good article in The Nation  Thank you Anarchists!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Pathology of Our Culture

Why do we have so much difficulty discussing questions of value?

That we have yet to come up with a clear code of conduct for meetings? That we can easily entertain ideas about digital discussions and voting, but have no way to examine what it is we desire from this--not what we want to happen or do--as some form of mechanical problem solving, but what we want to happen to us, what we desire from one another in being together, in how and what we want to become?

This is a pathology we've contracted from living in this empire of money & death, our severely damaged capacity for imaginative empathy. It reveals itself in every GA--where at least it's visible, if painful to see (like licking a supporting open wound)--even more evident in FB, in comments to posts and articles, but there likely to be misread as individual bad behavior, not as the universally shared pathology it is.

I was asked, what do you mean by values?

What we really want, and why. Justice is not an abstract idea--it is a desire experienced in the gut. Where does that come from--in you? In me? Talking about values means including--becoming aware of and sharing the individual experiential roots of our ideas about what we are doing and what we want and why.

"We are creatures of desire not of need."  Gaston Bachelard
Society of the Spectacle Guy Debord

Desire Democracy Imagination

I post this out of context--as one post in a discussion on on-line voting and decision making. This is the heart of why I think this is a profoundly wrong way to build a democratic life together.
Decisions that involve our mutual desires are built on, depend on-- our capacity for imaginative empathy--and nothing has been more degraded by our current alienating economic/social/power structure.

Healing cannot happen apart from the challenge of working within diverse, physical assemblies--discovering once again what and who we are, else we cannot know what we desire.

Bob, of course sex is important--and nothing is easier to see, than how this is so. If it's not, that's maybe cause we are so used to 'gender' as a euphemism--and misleading one at that.

When a woman speaks, she speaks not as a generic cipher but out of her social and biological experience as a woman, and is heard as such by men, and by other women. So too, men, queer, trans.... This is sex, is it not?

Let me repeat--decisions that involve our mutual desires are built on, depend on our capacity for imaginative empathy. This is not a technical problem. It cannot be solved by any sort of technological fix. Only out of a profound alienation from our animal lives, from our biologically rooted social imagination, is it even possible to think of building democracy apart from face to face deliberation.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Occupy Communal Housing--an Invitation for Working Group

Please leave comment or email if you would like to come to a meeting


To discuss structures, process & logistics for Occupy Philly 2.0 multiple communal housing network.

WG would be open to all, agree to Occupy values of non-violence, transparency and participatory democratic process. Will discuss working principles for communal living, explore possible locations and move toward setting up actual communal houses. Will be the representative body for Occupy related communal housing in Philly area, and as mediating body between Occ-Com Houses & Occupy Philadelphia. This might serve as an ideal way to experiment with spokescouncil (or other forms) for horizontal democracy between self-governing collectives—a living base for Inter-Occ meta-communities.

These might become Satellite SAFE HOUSES for grass-roots democratic community building, neighborhood outreach; offering meeting spaces, temporary food and shelter for visiting Occupiers, planning centers for direct action--a strategically dispersed network of Occupation Think Tanks, publishing and IT centers—and an evolving experiment in building horizontal power through democratic assemblages.

Vacant, rented, privately or collectively owned buildings, multiple locations in different neighborhoods: South Philly, West Philly, Near Northeast, North Philly as opportunity presents itself.

Each house drawing individuals from a diversity of affinity & working groups rather than a concentration of mostly one set, each representing an Occupation Camp microcosm--so loss of one  or several doesn’t inflict fatal injury to the life of the organism.


Each Occ-Com House, self-governing as functioning spoke of the larger OPEN, INCLUSIVE,  NON-VIOLENT and DEMOCRATIC  Occupy Movement.

Emphasis on STRONG GOOD NEIGHBOR & INTERNAL CODES OF CONDUCT!  We do NOT want to be confused by neighbors with MOVE!    

Long term actions might include acquiring low cost real estate, lots for urban farming, collectives to manage co-ops across the city with a Collective Governing Board

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy Philly Process

Larry takes you through a proposal at an early General Assembly

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011
Imagine a piano ...

     in the middle of a field
     in the middle of Kansas

     it’s about to rain

     ten thousand meadow larks
     at dusk
     a tower built by the WPA

     Coronado heading north, stopped here
     plains Indians first saw horses from this gentle rise

     grateful for work, laborers lay out sandstone blocks

     it’s 1938

     a war is about to begin

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why We Occupy!

Welcome address to Occupy Philly Together Regional Gathering, Saturday December 10, 2011
Video of this address HERE

Movements begin with the telling of untold stories
Nothing about us without us

If I were to sum up in a single pair of simple phrases the essence of what the Occupy Movement has meant to me, it would be these two.
The first is the motto of Media Mobilizing Project—a wonderful volunteer, grass roots organization that was campaigning for social, economic and political change, and using direct democratic process long before Occupy Wall Street If you haven’t heard of them—look them up.

Nothing about us is now widely used by disability advocacy groups of all kinds. In its Latin form, nihil de nobis sine nobis, it has deep historical roots with ethnic and nationalist independence movements in central and eastern Europe going back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. A universal cry of those with no say in their lives.

If we don’t tell our stories, no one can know who we are or what we need.

Maybe because I’m a poet, storyteller and novelist—when I hear the usual complaints that Occupiers haven’t made a clear set of specific demands, that we offer no solutions, that we balk at being absorbed back into a culture that has turned into us aliens in our own country--it sounds strange to me. Incomprehensible! Don’t they understand—it’s not just about the banks, the financial crisis, the stolen elections, the endless wars, our broken political system, the emerging police state—no, not these alone that have brought us together—it’s how the cumulative effect of all of this—of the commercial hologram that chokes and smothers our lives and how all of it has robbed us of our stories— our stories, stories of our own creating!

Everywhere we turn we see what we are supposed to do, what we’re supposed to be, the life-scripts we’re supposed to follow. From our first day in school, told to prepare ourselves for the jobs that will come after graduation--our fathers and teachers and leaders and authorities telling us how this is the very purpose of our education—else how can be buy and own all the stuff we’re told we have to buy and own to be happy—to be safe, to do our part, to be good, to deserve a decent life—unlike the homeless, poor, ravaged souls we now and then catch out of the corner of our eye—just visible enough to scare us straight? This is the story fed to us like a drug. This is our story, they tell us… our story… But who wrote it? Who gave us a role in this empire of money & death?

And we came to a park. A plaza. A parking lot. A campus quad. And we set up tents. And we looked at one another and saw the strangers we had become. Saw ourselves in the faces around us—maybe for the first time, and began to talk, and talk and talk. And hold meetings. And the homeless came to eat with us and didn’t seem so strange anymore. And we argued & fought. And we sang in jail cells and said we loved one another—and it wasn’t just words! And we hugged. We hugged a lot! We set up tents and some of us slept in them and some of us stole time from jobs and classes to return afternoons and evenings, and some of watched this on the internet and looked at our friends and asked—why not us? Why can’t we do this too? And we began to write our own story. A story of building community, of defending ourselves, resisting authorities who wanted us gone, of marching out on the streets and shouting our grievances to the world… and we were doing what we’d never done before—creating the story of our lives, a story that made us proud and strong and unafraid, a story that connected our lives to others across the country and around the world and saw the heroes of history, defenders of the rights of labor, of women, of civil rights and knew ourselves for the first time to be their heirs—and we played drums and we danced for joy, the joy of writing our own story and joining in the great fight for a better world—where everyone can shout out –NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US. They wonder what this is—this living in tents, reclaiming of public commons, experiments in direct democracy, our learning to find what it is WE want without being told by those above us what we SHOULD want and what we SHOULD do and how we SHOULD live—LISTEN! If you want to know why we are here, we tell them—want to know where all our demands begin, want to hear the message we would shape into a new world—listen! Listen, we are telling you here… even as we make it up as we go along. OUR story… everyone’s story.
Change begins with the telling of untold stories
Nothing about us without us!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Occupy Thought! proposal for an Occupy Critical Journal

I would like to see a journal--on-line, multi-lingual, but important to have cheap & easily reproduced and distributed print version (physical copy can be taken & read independent of electric digital wireless infrastructure access)--maybe networks of POD capable sites to reproduce on-line issues (see “Long Term Proposal for (Post encampment) Revolutionary Action”

Occupy Thought!

... on critical theory philosophy political analysis... moving beyond street chants and clever sign sloganeering--though all these would themselves make good subjects for analytical essays--even necessary -- to keep theory engaged with action & action informed by critical thinking.

Multi-disciplinary. Drawing on whatever background writers bring to the effort, but, like Occupation process--thinking form the ground up, working to construct thought from experienced reality, building on what is new and contingent with emerging situations--not forcing the movement into existing ideological boxes; eclectic over orthodoxies. LIke the Occupation camps--embodied, physical, materialist & action oriented rather than idealist and abstract.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Beginning is Near

Soon they will come, the police. The city workers with their trucks. Our city of tents, our fights--all of it will disappear. Scrub away our presence, uproot the trees. Pile up the marble slabs we slept on.

My mind drifts back in time. I am fishing on Lake Michigan with my father in his boat. This is shortly before he will die. My parents had bought a retirement cottage not far from Grand Rapids. The light on the water, that silvered turquoise water, the peaks of the waves glisten in the sun--even the Voice is lulled to somnambulant slumber. I think of my mother--of that last summer, the summer before her final illness, while she is still herself--sitting on the porch--martini hour--watching the sunset over the lake, the jet skiers droning and whining like gigantic mechanized insects, a moment I want to go on forever. A tableaux receding into the distance, like the light of stars that no longer exist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

City of New York, destroyer of libraries: a conversation interrupted

Librarians speak at a table covered with the few books salvaged from the 5,000 volume OWS People's Library--trashed by the City of New York.

Heartbreaking. Many of these books were signed--with notes by authors. If there is a more powerful argument to carry on with this struggle where ever it may take us I don't know what it would be.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparing for Arrest: a few tips

These are practical suggestions to make arrest and short-term incarceration less stressful. For legal advice consult an attorney.

You may not be thinking about civil disobedience, but if you’re near a protest where arrests are possible, even if only a bystander you may be at risk of arrest.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind in no particular order. Please feel free to add suggestions in Comments.

Wear loafers—or shoes without laces—they’ll take them when you get to the station. High boots are a bother to lace and unlace, especially if you’re nervous.

Wear pants that will stay up without a belt (they’ll take that too).

Put tissues or folded squares of toilet paper in your pocket—not likely to have any in your cell.

Wear layers, a sweat shirt, a coat: serve as padding if things get rough. And sitting on a hard steel bench for hours, you’ll be happy to have a cushion under your butt and a pillow for your head.

Summer time—wear what you can bear in the heat—tie a sweat shirt securely around your waist. And don’t wear shorts.

Don’t over hydrate. Avoid coffee and tea for several hours before possible arrest – you may be sitting handcuffed in a police van for hours before they take you out for booking and the only place you’ll have to pee will be in your pants.

NO LOOSE PILLS legal or otherwise. No sharp objects. Nothing that can be possibly be construed as a weapon.

Have a list of all prescription drugs you take to give to the nurse at check-in.

Make sure you give someone away from demonstration a check in time and legal number to call—so if they don’t hear from you after a predetermined time, they can call to trace you as you move through the system.

Write your legal phone # on your arm with a Sharpie. For Occupy Philly: 484 758 0488

Take quarters—your free phone call isn’t free.

Get a good night’s sleep the day before—it may be a couple days before you sleep more than a fitful hour or two here and there.

Once in custody, be reasonably civil and polite as they take you through the process. They hold all the cards, are very busy, and will mostly respond professionally if you don’t provoke them. So don’t provoke them! It could make your stay a lot longer.
And remember your rights. When approached in public by a cop,
You have a right to remain silent. You don't have to answer questions. Good idea to give your name and I.D. if asked, but nothing more. Ask to speak to an attorney.

Ask if you are free to leave. If cop says yes, leave.

If not, ask why you are being detained. They must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Being detained is NOT an arrest. They do NOT have to tell you why you are being arrested. Charges are brought by the D.A. in Philadelphia.

Cops can pat you down, but not search pockets or anything enclosed (backpacks etc). Don't resiste if they do. Say, "I do not consent to this search." Repeat if they continue to search.

When you make your call, give your name, date of birth, where you are -- if you know. The phone call is NOT PRIVATE. Anything you say can and will be used against you. The same goes for conversations with cell mates.

Learn to meditate. There is no better way to pass the hours.

Remember the company you are keeping: Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Eugene Debbs, Margarete Sanger, William Penn, Emma Goldman.... 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This is not the End of Occupy Philly...

I’ve heard a lot of discontent about how Occupation conversations, meetings & assemblies are consumed with what some call minutia, the details of working out process, housekeeping, defending our camp from our anxious uncertainty about what the city has in store for us—uncertainty, I might add, which is tactically generated by the city to divide and distract us. We would be better, some tell us, to get on with the business of confronting the problems that brought us here: economic inequality, the corruption of the electoral system, demonization of immigrant minorities, persistent & systemic racism and homophobia. It’s a long list. I’d like to address these points, and end with a word about where we might go from here.

By coming together as an encampment, some holding down our Occupation by living here in front of City Hall, many more spending as much time on site as their jobs allow & working every hour they can spare to the movement, we find ourselves involved in an experiment essentially different from protests & actions we may have experienced in the past—an experiment in living, where every decision effects our lives together with an immediacy quite unlike signing MoveOn petitions, holding signs for few hours, or chanting slogans on a march—even when those actions might involve civil disobedience and arrests. It’s the difference of knowing it will be over in a few hours or days and we’ll be going home again soon enough, to wake in the morning with the same sense of anger, frustration and alienation—knowing that nothing has really changed. Here—even for those not sleeping in tents, it becomes more home than home, more real than the strange alien world we have to return to—of cubicles and commuter drives, of surreal TV ads, sound-bite news, celebrity gossip & sports--every window of every store you pass shouting at you BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS! even as you wonder how you will make it to the end of another month without going deeper in debt.

It’s easy to miss what’s closest to us. Like how revolutionary this is—what we’re doing here—in the very minutia that feels like distraction from our real purpose, from the truly important stuff—as though dealing one on one with our own entrenched habits, the mistrusts and stereotypes drilled into us to keep us divided and servile—weaning ourselves from our belief in ‘leaders,’ as though confronting how racism, our awakening from these things--blindness to the structural exclusion of the disabled, from the unexamined assumptions that drive male domination, finding that the way we make decisions is not indifferent in its effects, but perpetuates the very things we would change—so we have to learn how to it in another way, how to work together in a way that changes us at the same time we seek to change others out there in the world we’ve temporarily almost (but not quite) left behind—there is nothing trivial in any of this! This is the work—the indispensible foundation building necessary if we are to go on and tackle the doyans of entrenched power.

No, we haven’t come up with a clear and definitive list of demands. We haven’t found solutions to the complex interrelated networks of problems that plague us. We haven’t ended war or poverty or figured out a lasting way to care for those here with us—without housing, proper medical care, social services, who lack support for addiction emotional & mental disabilities. But we are here with them—as no one else has done, where the invisible dehumanizing walls have eroded--are impossible to maintain, experiencing for many of us—for the first time—the reality of a shared world where all such divisions are artificial—and it’s not been easy. We’re learning to to acknowledge that those we called in the beginning, ‘the homeless,’ as though living without a roof were an identity, and not a situation, an unfortunate condition, are our fellow Occupiers, our brothers and sisters in the same all encompassing human movement.

Add to that the skills we’ve only begun to learn—conflict resolution, cop watching, de-escalation, non-violence training—and the never finished work of making a truly democratic decision making process. Never mind that some find that too much, too different from the way things work ‘out there,’ who just don’t get it. Not everyone will progress at the same rate, and we have to recognize that resistance to being pulled backwards may generate divisions—sadly necessary if we are to continue to move forward. There is a difference between slowing down to help someone catch up, and allowing our movement to be destroyed by fearful collaborationists, who may be cajoled into believing that it’s possible to negotiate with Power to give up its privileges, or will do so once they see the reason and fairness of our cause.

From a nearsighted view, we see all the petty squabbles, personal conflicts, factional clashes—like pressing our faces up to a magnifying mirror and staring at all the dirty pores on our noses—but back away, stand in the sunlight, and look at one another—and we will see the beauty of a new face, of a hundred new faces, of a thousand… 7 billion strong in the making.

This is a beginning. Even as the time comes, as it will, when they destroy our tent city, carry many of us away in resistance, this is a beginning, not an end. We can take the lessons we’ve learned, a new way of seeing the world, a better understanding of ourselves and move past this phase. Let them destroy the encampments—they are but a husk, a chrysalis of the winged rainbow colored angels of revolution even now beginning to take flight.

There are collectives we will need to create, organizations to be built with our new-found skills.
In destroying our camps they will be breaking open wasps nests. The problems that brought us together will still be there, and we will be here finding new ways to network and challenge and to build, wave after wave of this tsunami, a movement that will sweep away and transform the world.

It's time to begin looking beyond the encampment phase of the revolution. They've served their purpose. Let the serious organizing begin.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cops with Smilley Faces

Do those cops ever look in a mirror and see how absolutely ridiculous they look in those silly Darth Vader Halloween outfits?

Will someone please photoshop an image of one of those oh so scarey police lines--with smilley faces on all the face masks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

When the Father Figure Frowns...

The 99% mantra works as an invitation to the Big Tent, but as a facade of unity it is dangerously misleading.

There are many of the 99%, not just the police, who will fight us, who will try to destroy us, many who simply don't understand how to transition from a hierarchical culture, who use intimidation to grasp for attention & power and work to undermine and betray the movement... sometimes with the best intentions. Others who are too intimidated by the prospect of disapprobation by authority figures whose smiles and vague promises make them forget whose interests they serve, forget that no matter how 'nice' a mayor or police chief might be, they are inexorably bound up in an essentially undemocratic power structure that exists primarily for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

Lets not be overly distressed that when Authority begins to frown, many will scuttle to what they believe to be safety, many will turn their backs on us, others will seek to push us toward a defensive authoritarian response to the perceived threat.

What we have done is already part of history and they cannot destroy what has begun here--not from above, not from within.

Mayor Nutter said in his news conference that Occupy Philly had changed. That the "leaders" had changed. What he meant was, there is no select few who stand apart from the people and pretend to speak for us in our stead, who can be manipulated, cajoled, used for their own ends.

Lets not be fooled. His complaint acknowledges that we're making a difference. That's why they will eventually try to destroy us--no matter where we move.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Spirit Stick tells me when Occupy Philly refuses to do what I KNOW is the The Right Thing.

Jacob, Jacob… there’s no magic way to transform an idea into reality. No matter how passionately you believe in it--it takes work. Working with people, and working with people takes time, and just because things don't change in a brilliant flash doesn't mean nothing is happening, or that no else is working for what is right.

If you have good ideas and your vision of what we need is reasonable, and no else is convinced—ask yourself, are you as wise and reasonable in your understanding of human relationships and what it takes to bring about change in a complex social and interpersonal network?

Nothing happens by proclaiming it from on high, or lecturing others, or insisting on your own way. Not by any single voice, or by a dedicated group does change happen. It takes work, and more work and more work still--talking to people, educating, reasoning, listening... that part too. Listening. Don’t ever forget—listening! When a person senses they're being listened to, they can feel safe to begin taking small step out of their sealed world, begin to change their ideas, their behavior, shed the fixations--the illusions ALL of us carry around and believe to be the real world.

You may speak eloquently for a cause you know and understand by experience. Others have different experiences; center their ideas of what we need in different places. We only learn to understand and take up the cause of others as we come to trust that others are trying to understand and care for us. Say that now the other way around. Others will learn to understand your deepest concerns and take up your cause, only as they come to believe that you are there for them, taking their back, standing up for them.

You are not a marcher facing Bull Conner on the bridge in Selma--people here do care, want to understand, want to make this a place for all... ask yourself, do you? Really? Or are you, without meaning to, trying to force your ideas the way the powerful in the world we are here to change force those weaker than themselves to do their will? Others can take up your cause as you in turn take up theirs. That's how it works. And as mutuality grows, so too understanding and action--the work we all must do for one another to make our fine models of a better world actually happen.

The absence of trust is a sign--either that others really don't care, don't want to help, don't want to make room for the marginalized and excluded—for your cause--in which case, making demands is useless... or of an inability or unwillingness to engage others as partners, not as antagonists thwarting our own needs and wishes.

Never forget, we’re engaged in a great experiment, and experiments arrive at success through many failures. The experiment begins with you, with unlearning the ways of the world of power and learning how to work and learn from others, to find together our common need, our common goal.

Peace and Solidarity,
Sprit Stick

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Northeast Regional Occupation Conference

Philly_OccupyTogether WG is planing & helping to organize local & regional Occupation conferences to workshop and discuss implications, strategy & logistics of expanding Occupations beyond the local level. Here is the webpage & email for POT (woot! ) Please check this out and come be a part of a growing movement.
BREAKING NEWS! Come to Philly & meet with OWS on the NYC to D.C. march, 11/13-14.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Call for Civil Disobediance against Privitizing our Democratic Commons

If Occupation Philly moved early, we could come back, small wave after wave, in non-violent actions of civil disobedience--clearly targeted at the abomination of a 30 year lease, privatizing yet another democratic commons--and do so without endangering the Occupation itself.

Additional benefits--SUPPORTING the construction of access for the disabled 30 years late--at the transit convergence of 15th, Broad & Market.

I have heard the Sierra Club would help design a new Green layout for tents, and help us with our urgent need to adequately winterize to survive till spring.

The Occupation would be able to devote itself to the larger political and economic issues facing, not just our nation, but the world, without exhausting ourselves in a fruitless skirmish with a city government which has shown greater willingness to work with us than any major city in the country.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy the World!

Alexandre Machado de Sant'Anna Carvalho, M.D., MPH
2009 Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship
Dear all:

We are indeed moving towards a new paradigm of action, relationships and association. A new politik for society. We are beyond #OccupyWallSt right now. We became the #Occupy Movement. This poetic-political idea of becoming what we are yet to imagine is extremely powerful: it is the rediscovery of human agency, of that fire that makes us humans to begin with, in the service of hope. Not only hope, but why not, unashamed stubbornness. A courage that says i will stand my ground despite your riot gear; you take me down motherfucker, 40,000 more will rise. We are rising together in a spirit of solidarity that says, first and foremost, "Fuck the Cynics". Aye. Agreed! Fuck the cynics. Political agency as a way of life. PermaRevolution. Make it fun and creative, please! Make me dance and smile while we are at it, taking down the streets.

Let's lay down our old mental habits. A movement moves forward unstoppably when people who are the movement move beyond old frames of thought. #Occupywallst, OWS, is not enough anymore. The whole world is not only watching, it is rising. Not for NY, not for Oakland, not for Atlanta, but for their children and above all their dignity. That absolute realization that we are human, and simple for that fact, we all deserve to live. Enough of surviving in the margins of a foreclosed future. We are the 99% - we are the #Occupy Movement! :We are marching for a new system of reference, we are going where injustice is, we are taking it now to institutions - schools, hospitals, army barracks, museums, courts, buildings, markets, everything and everywhere, together! not marching for the people but WITH the people.

[In a leaderless movement, ideas lead.]

This is a radical difference, that makes all the difference.

We are beyond #OccupyWallSt!

We are... #Occupy.

Plain and simple.


like poetry. Occupy.Vacant what is rotten. Occupy the space - physical, virtual, emotional, aesthetical, philosophical, sexual, liberate the oppressed territory and then occupy it with an orgasm of life.

In a leaderless movement, ideas lead.

Vacant.Yourself. Occupy.Yourself.
Vacant.Together. Occupy.Together.

This we are doing is direct participatory democracy and much more: it's also cultural, technical, environmental, socio-economic, spiritual motion. Because we are constantly revolving everything around us, we are a revolution of consciousness.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupation Philly: Glossary & Working Groups

Not alphabetical. Working Groups as self-described & posted at City Hall

Not in alphabetical order

Working Group (WG
Another name for a committee. Autonoumously generated. Anyone can start one. Represents only itself.

General Assembly (GA)
Discussion & decision making body of the whole. Decisions made by G.A. represent Occupy Philadelphia

Bottom Liner
Those in a GA, through regular participation & availability, able to serve as Principle Contacts

Coordinating Committee (CoCo)
Vets & sends proposals to Facilitation, which puts them on agenda for GA & discussion. OPEN TO ALL. Voting limited to those representing WG.
Stage manages agenda for GA. Experienced facilitators available to help guide meetings in WG’s and elsewhere if needed.
The guidelines agreed to manage decision making. Not fixed. Open to revision & change by the GA.
Current Process for decision making (10/27/11).

1) Facilitator asks for QUALIFYING QUESTIONS  (what is this about? What does it entail?) STACK is taken for those who want to speak

2) Facilitator asks for CONCERNS. STACK is taken for those who want to speak

3)FRIENDLY AMENDMENTS. Suggested changes subordinate to Proposal itself. STACK is taken4)Non-Binding STRAW POLL by show of hands, first of FRIENDLY AMENDMENTS,  then of PROPOSAL 5)Binding vote. Super majority (currently defined as 2/3rd) required for approval or rejection,

6) If there is no clear majority for either FRIENDLY AMENDMENT or PROPOSAL,  discussion may be continued with additional CLARIFYING QUESTIONS, & CONCERNS, and/or BREAK OUT into small groups for discussion.

7) Begin again with Concerns...

Proposal Item brought to GA (or WG) for general approval or rejection
Qualifying Question    See PROCESS
Concerns See PROCESS
Straw Poll                  See PROCESS
Super Majority           See PROCESS
Hand Signals              Gestures to speed decision making and discussions and take pulse
                                                of group.  Currently in use with Occupy Philadelphia:                                                 ‘applause/approval: hands-up, wiggle fingers. Disapprove: point                                                  fingers down, wiggle. Speak louder! Point upward. Move it along,                                                  you’ve made your point, rolling motion with hands in opposite                                                  directions.
People’s MIC             When amplification not used,  speaker uses short phrases (4 words                                            are optimum) & whole group repeats to create human                                            amplification
Stack                           Facilitation role. Takes names of those who want to speak
Progressive Stack         Favor those who have not spoken, women, people of color—                                                                       anyone who might otherwise be marginalized by domination by a few

Working Groups (Committees)
Direct Actions                                     Coordinates Marches and Rallies
Food                                                    Accepts Food donations/ prepares meals
Comfort                                              Accepts & distributes tents, blankets, clothes…
Medical                                               Provides basic medical support
Donations & Resources                      Accepts & distributes donations & resources
TECH                                                  I.T. support
Facilitation                                          Organizes GA/ provides facilitation service. Meets daily at                                                              6 PM. Open to all
Environmental                                     Present focus—Stop Fracking/ Tar Sand/ Mt Top Removal
Homeless Outreach                             Support citizens without homes
Outreach & Solidarity                         Works with different WGs – intra Occupy Philly
Media                                                  Press dept (seeking camera personalities)
Information                                         Provides schedule of events & general information
Communication                                   Improves inter WG communications & public relations
Legal                                                   Legal support
Arts                                                     Crafts signs –Occupatioin Art/Poetry
Education & Training                        
Coordinating Committee (CoCo)       Receives reports from WGs & selects proposals for GA.                                                                   ALL WELCOME. Meets daily, 5 PM
Festival, Events
Safer Spaces                                        Develop community norms so we all feel safe
Friends Center                                    Coordinates Oph with FC
Occupy Housing                                 Harvey’s Homeless Tour
Sharing Our Community                     Translating real democracy to our government
Move Your Money                             Promotes moving money from banks to Credit Unions
Music Collective
Philly Occupy Together                      Cross-Occupational/Regional/National/International                                                                         expansion of Occupation movement


Messaging                                           Surveys, develops talking points

Violence/ non-Violence

Violence begets hierarchy (the biggest thug wins).
Organized violence REQUIRES hierarchy. (The War Lord becomes King)
Violence and democracy cannot long endure together.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Letter to a Frustrated Occupier

What's our mission here? What is this all about? Why aren't there clear statements telling what we're doing? Why is everything all bogged down in "process?" And what is this about, anyway--this "process" stuff!?!

The 'mission' is what we decide it is...not a script handed down from above or written ahead of time that we then dutifully follow. That's what all this bothersome 'process' is about... an orderly way to arrive at general consensus. First in a working group (or 2 or 3)... where you--and anyone else, can contribute ideas.

Then if you have something you believe the whole Occupation should endorse or do, come up with a proposal.

Then bring that to the Coordinating Committee (which is just reps from other Working Groups who want to attend--not a fixed member thingee)... there, vet the idea and be sure there's someone who understands it well enough to decribe and explain it at the G.A., & when there is... it's sent to Facilitation (who meet back to back with CoCo, & who put it on the agenda and get a team together to facilitate the G.A.)

Everything about the process can fit on two pages (compare that with Roberts Rules of Order ! & every single point of process has gone through the G.A., beginning with the 1000 who decided to Occupy City Hall on Oct. 4... & every single point can be reviewed and changed by the G.A.

Opponents of democracy like to say that letting peeps decide is 'mobacracy'.. that have to have bosses and leaders to tell peeps to keep in line and what to do. Gotta have some kinda order to get stuff done, to not turn into a mob, to keep headstrong lone-rangers from hi-jacking the process. I'm old enough to remember when the Weathermen hi-jacked SDS & SNIC... and people died because of that when they set off bombs...this is a serious undertaking... don't underestimate the ways it can go wrong. Respect for the process WE have chosen together is respect for one another, and respect for democracy.

We need your voice, your ideas, your passion! Help us prove the Patriarchy wrong! Let's make democracy work!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Camped at City Hall

October 24, 2011
Camped at City Hall, sea birds
     … hover under iron
     pilings, stone blocks massive labor’s
     hands calloused, nails ragged washed
     under water drawn from distant rains
     rivers – waiting supper in a row house kitchen

     buried now, or lost, or burned -- workers – ashes scattered
     built this – the masons, stone-cutters
     glaziers, carvers
     of lions heads/ Justice
     above our tents
     tattoo of rain

     wait out the night
     & know -- that history huddles here – in the cold
     listen –
                 listen to their cries --
     white wings by morning light
     open to the sun

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Let's ackowledge our own vulnurability...

This is an email I sent to the Facilitation List. It pertains to the whole community. We have a commitment to transparency & I see no reason to hide our growing pains. I trust we will address and overcome them, &--they may help others.

We have--with almost 500 tents, close to or more than 1000 people living on the plaza. Counting those who come and pass through, thousands more. This is a potent and volatile force. It's not entirely overreaction that so many police are monitoring what happens here. Not one of us know where they might go, what they (we ?) might choose to do with our newly felt power.

I'm old enough to remember when the Weathermen hi-jacked SDS, taking advantage of their tolerant democratic process. People died because of that. The wide ranging progressive movement they had been building was lost--ended with the end of the Vietnam war.

We--I mean, everyone on this list, knows this is serious business. That where this energy takes us ... could be lost, soaked up into the broken electoral process... or blow up into violent fragmentary explosions of rage & violence.

But not everyone out there appreciates this. We saw tonight someone with a personal agenda, with nothing but contempt for democratic process, nearly high-jack the G.A, single handedly--and seriously embarrass what so many have so carefully and selflessly helped to craft. His interests didn't happen to go beyond using our Commons for his idea of a multimedia rock festival. But if one person--running lead to bring in a bunch of bands and performers, can come that close to disrupting, and disrespecting our democratic process--we have got to give some serious thought to what might happen if a few more savvy minds bent on using the movement for more dangerous adventures should decide to intrude.

This many people... means we aren't playing games, this isn't a one-shot protest. Lives are potentially at stake--ours, and those our power-in-numbers might unleash.

If it had only been about music versus one night's GA, what happened tonight wouldn't have bothered me that much... I came home, lay my head down on my arms and wept.

This was really disturbing.

We need--despite the 'festival' tomorrow, to hold that fac training, and more important than ever--figure out how we can restore the noon GA so it functions to include our Tent City... or we are in deep trouble.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Working Group

6:00 PM, Friends Center, 1501 Cherry. First meeting of Occupy World, cross-occupation working group--building strategies and structure to create an international web of occupations.

Tentative Agenda!
Thursday October 20, 2011

Remember—we have ONE HOUR before GA! Let’s have someone remind us of time…
Introductions. Each of us state in single sentence if possible, what we imagine this Working Group to be.   
Ask if everyone is familiar with Occupation facilitation and decision making process—how proposals are selected for GA. If some here are not—briefly go over process.
Present some possible working ideas—see the following:
1)      Messaging Letter as brought to and endorsed by GA. Called for ‘regional assembly’ but Absent plans for implementation or structure.

            They are compiling list of Occupations and contacts. Should coordinate with them            & update them on our meetings and decisions, along with other pertinent       WG’(Tech) -- request they do same with us.

2)      Need someone to volunteer (from this group or outside), to begin gathering info on what other Occupations have done or plan, to set up WG’s with objectives in line with ours

3)      Do we see a need to encourage meta-discussions, and the means to implement them—with goal of imagining models for the transition from local to regional/national/cross national representative assemblies, encouraging critical thought as to how such proportional changes might effect the underlying commitment to democratic process?

            We might, for instance, set up on-line forums for such meta-concerns, which          could in turn lead to physical conferences. As the indispensible nutrient for     decision making in local assemblies are the on-going face-2-face discussions,            conversations and WG decisions, so too, these conversations need to take place on   an expanded scale to ground larger structures in an open, inclusive democratic       process.    

Page 2: Agenda 10/20 Occupy Global

4)      Cross-national, cross-occupation information service to relay key events, actions, ideas & decisions made around the world. For this, we need Translation Teams in cooperation with Tech.

5)      Ask for volunteer to take notes, and post to list

6)      Move to open discussion/ brain-storming.

7)      Last of all-- Make such decisions as we agree are needed for THIS MEETING.
            That would include at minimum: Setting time & place for AT LEAST next             meeting… perhaps deferring decision for regularly scheduled meetings till we see         if more peeps join us
             Someone to volunteer to bring report to TONIGHT’S GA
            These are only my suggestions. As in all matters, I defer final decisions to the wisdom of
            of the collective. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reply to a letter of concern from someone who has left Occupy Philadelphia

If you want to know who the people are who are camping, talk to them. Ask them.

This is not a protest. This is a deliberative, decision making, community building body. Protests and actions and demands may flow out of those decisions. They will change over time as needs and concerns change--that's why the Occupations can't be pinned down to this or that specific statement. And that's one reason why, in 4 short weeks, they've become a world-wide movement. This would never have happened had they been narrowly targeted 'protests.'

As a community, music, art, dance--and drum circles that announce our presence--are no less a part of the movement than specific demands for change. You want real action? We are feeding hundreds of homeless men and women every day, and working to find them places to live. Does that not count as real action?

We can no longer pick out this or that concern or problem and expect to bring about meaningful change, not when they are linked in a complex economic and political power structure that can never be altered from within--hence, we reclaim Commons as outside space to begin a larger, overall challenge to entrenched power.

We do not need a 'permit' to occupy what is ours. No one grants the people rights. The rights belong to the people. It is up to us to claim and seize them from those who pose as our caretakers and benefactors, while working only for the benefit of the few and the servitude of the many.

The police may well crush this movement. I suspect it may come to that. But our roots sink more deeply every day and if they crush us in one place or many, those roots will spring up and grow into another wave and another.

We need faith in ourselves, in the power of our decision making bodies and our creative spirit--faith to overcome our fears, for fear is the only effective weapon they have. Not their pepper gas or billy clubs or jails--not even the power to kill--none of this can stop us if we cast off the inhibiting shackles of fear.

Come back to City Hall, Paul. We need you. We need your creative love, your art, your voice, your beautiful self. As you need us. We will be there for you--all of us, in love, brotherhood, solidarity--and belief in freedom for all human kind.

Jacob Spirit Stick

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Philadelphia, Occupy the World!

When I first posted on this movement, Zuccotti Park had only been occupied for less than a week, main-stream media was pretending it didn't exist. There are now more than 1500 occupations; it's become a global movement impossible for press or politicians to ignore. Here's Huff Post's review, with many links and videos, on Occupation, one month old.

Much of the info and the links in my earlier posts are already out of date--and stands now as a small part of what may be the best documented movement in history.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Poem Tree pics!

Poem Tree Images thanks to Lillian Dunn!

Occupy Philly: Philly & New York

Richard, of OHTARZIE, responded a comment I left. Here’s my reply, highlighting what may be some features specially characteristic of the Philly Occupation.

>Richard wrote:

What you describe is very different from what I see here and what I hear about from other cities. i am not simply speculating that there are Obamaphiles here. There just are. Nevertheless, what I see and hear is certainly more radical than anything Americans have done since the 60s. There is no question of that. I think you may be onto something with self-generating momentum to greater radicalism. It could be that everyone’s heading toward the same place but at different speeds.

I am curious, are they using the Horizontal leadership meeting facilitation stuff in Philly? Have been wondering if that’s been embraced all over. Would also like a little more details over what is specifically radical about the Philly group and what is their general movement bent: anarchism? socialism? Are they inclined to agitate for policy changes like tax hikes on the rich? Criminal investigations of the banksters?<

The only apologists I’ve heard for Obama have been from a few Afro-Americans, who want to give him some slack for being asked to do an impossible job, but even there–his Wall Street cabal comes up. Over all I’d say he’s held in about as much esteem as Jr. Bush.

Philly has it’s wealthy enclaves and suburbs, it’s hipsters and yuppy micro-brew beer bars,, but is overwhelmingly a working class city with a long festering discontent with the political establishment, local state & national. Mayor Nutter is a pro-business Democrat who’s in deep trouble with the unions–a potent factor in his kid glove treatment so far–the unions love us. TWU (public transit) is paying for 2 PortaPoties–and have their ear close enough to the temper of peeps here to have one of them wheelchair accessible.

While there seem to be a significant number of the occupiers in NY from around the country–Philly is overwhelmingly local, with many of us regulars commuting daily from neighborhoods, making for a strong organic outreach that helps spread the word and draw in new people (We had 310 tents as of yesterday’s morning count–hard to say how many overnighters–some tents have 4 or 5 peeps, some are one person mountain tents–but has to be over 600 and could be as many as 1000–which makes our actual occupation quite a bit larger than NY). And neighborhood support in Philly means labor unions & working class–a strongly disaffected demographic that doesn’t blink at radical, militant proposals. The young tattooed mufti-pierced kids here (they're kids to me! I’m 70 years old!)… don’t look like that cause they have corporate management jobs in mind for their futures). I’d guess that might be true in NY as well. I can’t offer any statistical verification, but in conversations I’ve had–they are always from working, low middle class, municipal service families. They don’t have now and don’t envision having any sense of entitlement or stake in what they see as the established order. This is not movement of future young Democrats!

We use pretty much the same process model as OWS. Working Groups (committees–about 40 now in Philly) send reps to the Coordinating Council (CoCo), if they want to bring proposals they’d like to present to the GA. CoCo votes on those they feel are ready. Basically–if the purposal is clear, the WG is well able to explain and defend them, they are put on the agenda for the WG. CoCo meets two hours before the GA. They take the proposals to Facilitation, whose sole purpose is to step back from advocacy and guide the meeting through the agenda, and see that Process is observed. It takes a team of 6 to 8 facilitators. We make an effort (so far pretty successful), to have different faces up front for every meeting, and bring new people in every GA. Both Fac and Coco are open to anyone to participate fully. WG’s also bring brief reports (& appeals for Occupants to join) to every GA.

Transparency is a huge issue–peeps come from outside with near paranoic fear of hidden power in any form whatsoever. City wants to meet with us–GA has rejected proposal after proposal for how to do this, from a liaison committee with legal team, to a select group to “listen” & explain to them our process.. why we take so long to make decisions (clash of horizontal and hierarchical power cultures) … seems to have come down to–they can either just be part of the GA, observing process like everyone else–or agree to a meeting preferably livestreamed, or at minimum, with a video posted and available immediately after. The more we learn to trust one another, seems the less trust we have for THEM.

As for the general bent–there’s a handful of very genial anarchists, fully committed to democratic process. They all of them came before the GA, introduced themselves–this, to reassure everyone and defend themselves after one or two trolls attacked them on the web, accusing them of all sorts of nonsense. Everything else you can imagine. It’s a VERY big tent. Ending corporate personhood would prolly get unanimous support–strong recognition of linkage–that we can’t isolate cause from cause. Everything is related. One reason why no specific set of demands or manifesto has come out of this. This will take time… we’ve been at this less than two weeks, and have managed to build a community, 300 + tents, feed 1500 peeps a day, including several hundred homeless–many of whom are part of the camp (they lived around City Hall before we came)... all from the ground up. If there are 'leaders' here in any traditional sense, I couldn't tell you who they are. I don’t think anyone can say where this will go or what its limits may be. We’re really breaking new ground. .

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

A good post on OHTARZIE, acutely observed impressions and measured and thoughtful critique of Occupy Wall Street.

I left the following thoughts in a comment.
Seeing less of the managerial face up-front here in Philly. This sprang up so fast–tents covering Dillworth Plaza, which is 4x the size of Zuccotti Park–that more truly marginalized peeps have stepped up out of dire need–far too exhausting for any elite to hang in there without major help from the ranks… so necessity comes to the aid of ideology.

I want to see the international connection grow as fast as possible–it’s our only hope. I don’t mean just ad-hoc digital communications–plenty of that already. I mean, building a movement that can maintain itself OUTSIDE the established order, resist being co-opted and absorbed into the fucking bad joke of electoral politics. We’ve begun organizing an Occupy Internationale here with that in mind. .

I’m not wildly optomistic about what’s going to happen to us… power don’t give up power willingly… but feeling deep down it don’t matter what happens to us. This will live past us.

Thoughtful observation and critique like your post here is needed and welcome!
Peace & Solidarity!
–Jacob Spirit Stick

Occupy Philadelphia: Power doesn't surrender power willingly

The GA's go late... 2 really difficult meetings in a row--really long, I mean. I take morning off now--feeling my years. Need to pace myself to recover. The City making-nice like the wolf at the door of the 3 pigs--they want to 'talk.' The GA says, you want to talk, come to the GA! This is called Freedom of Assembly--deal with it!

I never thought I'd be in a group this large more militant than me!

I know the big crush is coming--not just here, I mean the BIG crush. There are hundreds of Occupations now in Europe--who knows how many world wide. Demonstrations for decades now have been easily distracted, corralled & contained or ignored. This is not going away and not being ignored anymore. Power don't surrender power willingly. At some point it's going to be about filling all the prisons and stadiums and detainment camps as fast as they can build them... Fred only knows what comes after that.

When I said I'd give my life for this, it wasn't out of blind optimism. If I were taking bets--that's how I'd wager where this will go, dead or in prison. I need to take mornings to put my things in order.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Plans for International Occupation

We would like to see an Occupy Philadelphia Working Group to
1)      Begin plans to establish a regular, trans-Occupation WG
2)      …to set up communications & Tech infrastructure
3)      …to plan for   Regional
            Occupation conferences to discuss Meta issues
                        … and begin the process of how to formulate
                        Cooperative  Plans of Action
                        we can bring back to our local sites.
We are already an international movement.

It’s time to take the next step

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Broadside Release, Damask Press...

From Book One of my Poem to the End of My Days: Chronic Chronos Kairos Broadside, with chapbook sampler to follow. Damask Press

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: small changes...
A couple of us had a chance, pre-dawn conversation with Chief of Police Ramsey Friday morning. This was standing in Front of City Hall--he'd come out to take a look at the Occupation. He was genuinely open--not that kind of 'official friendlyness' that's all about maintaining distance. Told us he'd call the head of Sanatation and ask if they might be able to send a truck to do a trash pick up once a day.

Yesterday we were were told, there'd be pick-up every day, at 8 AM, Noon, 4 & 8 PM. ... and the beginning of every shift in every police precinct in the city began yesterday with a reading of the 1st Amendment.


Occupy Wall Street: Log

We have LIVESREAM feed now.
Day 4? I lose track of time. Home to do laundry. Can sleep out till Wednesday when rain predicted. Need someone to donate an arctic sleeping bag and one-peep tent. My cushion and quilted blankets have been fine, this mild weather.

Too busy with Food Station to go on any of the Marches. The Family Area--with children. Do a daily Kid March around City Hall

Food Station has become the de facto feeding place for City Hall plaza pre-Occupation residents.

I think I'm going to set my schedule to the 6:00 pre-breakfast Snack table set up, and fill-ins other times for food. Want to spend more time with the Art group and sit in on morning facilitator meet & training

So many wonderful conversations... they go 24 hours a day...


Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Philly: Daily log

Thursday, 10/6/2011
Up at 5:15. Pack my shopping cart with cushion for sleeping, sign boards… on Dillworth Plaza at 7 AM. Police—a strong but discreet presence. Not quite invisible, but ‘show of force’ not in the plan. Entrances to City Hall courtyard closed. Glassy towers gleaming in morning sun. Sky absolutely clear. In the 50’s. Weather report: be in the 70’s by afternoon. Waiting for peeps in the Food working group.
TV news trucks more visible than cops.

5 PM … took a brief nap on the cushion I brought. Helicopters overhead. Drums, People talking, talking. People talking everywhere. Face to face. Not on face book. Not typing up petitions for MoveOn….
11:45 PM
Last meeting after breakdown—food put away as best we could manage, boxes stacked on tables. Worry about rats. This morning we had bread, two small jars of peanut butter, apples—not a lot more. Tonight—three 6 foot tables loaded with boxes of produce, canned goods, bread.. most of it dropped off corner of Chestnut and Broad—people stopping, unloading from their cars. Discuss plans for tomorrow. Friends Center offering generous use of kitchen—have to keep to available hours. Turns for breakfast lunch… food teams become servant-class if we don’t give each other relief to attend meetings, circulate, talk to people, go to GA’s, become part of the community conversation. Exhaused. 19 hour day. More a part of food group at end of day, less facilitation etc… numb, numb & sleep walking, deliriously happy and ready for sleep

5:45 AM. Slept on my matt. 2 quilted blankets—to sleep with noise of late night traffic, sirens, voices, voices everywhere, people talking… gradually grows quieter, fades seamlessly into sleep where my dreams seem no different—hear “MIC CHECK! … mic CHECK”… in my
Sleep. Aware even in sleep how quiet, how strangely it becomes. Open my eyes and see shadow sleepers wrapped in blankets. Reasonably warm
--- -
City comes to life, perfectly symmetrical, waking as to falling into sleep. First busses que on Broad. A street vender backs in his cart across the street. I fold my blankets, take my medications, rinse my mouth with bottled water. Pull on the heavy sweater I got from an Ecuadorian street vendor years ago… for ten bucks.
Walk the rounds. Shadow tents. Shadow sleepers. Here and there someone awake. We meet and talk, recount the night. A young woman, one of our food crew…something about her—wonder if she’s from Mennonite background?...sleeping on two chairs by our food tables… a single blanket. She looks cold. I take one of my quilted blankets and cover her up.
The conversations begin again… the city permit. Couldn’t decide at the evening GA. Do we want to ask for it? Do we go without? Are we being co-opted by their being nice? What does the city get out of this? Tales of the night. Mayor Nutter came out and talked with people around 1:30 this morning. Couple of us talk with Police Chief Ramsey. I mention my concern for pedestrians and workers who can’t pass through City Hall. “If we promise to stay out of the Courtyard would you open it up? Say’s they’ve had people complain about that. He appreciates our concern, will take that into consideration. We talk about sanitation. He says he’ll ask the head of City Santiation if they can schedule a truck to do a pick-up once a day.

A man from the Medical team says we need to have an education meeting on dealing with cold. Can live 30 days with food, he says—3 days without water. 3 hours loss of body heat enough to kill you.
Man comes by with two boxes of Dunkin Munchkins. It’s getting light. I open them and put them out on the breakfast & Snack tables.

The day begins…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Philly--this is the day!

6:45 AM Thursday, October 6, 2011
Up working for an hour. Occupation begins little more than 2 hours. Be on site by 8:00 to meet with food Working Group. Ditch my Bowler hat and can-top wrist band and neck bling. Evidently was on TV yesterday—and pics in paper. With press there in force they’ll be looking for identifiable images to label as ‘leaders.’ WE HAVE NO LEADERS… no matter how often you tell them they don’t get it.

1000 people came to the general assemble at Arch Street Methodist Church. Filled to standing room. The long difficult meeting night before—with only 60 in attendance… how could this work?

It worked.

Went through a potentially divisive agenda and made decision after decision—by consensus, chose City Hall for occupation, Thursday October 6 (today)… ONE day for all the logistics involved. Broke into Working Groups (committees) outside after. Meeting was over half hour early… ended by singing Solidarity Forever.

Turning point, when deadlocked between Love Park, Rittenhouse Square and City Hall, asked for a break—every turn to your neighbor and talk about this for ten minutes, give voice to what you think—and they gave voice, oh they gave voice, a sound like a great rush of wind, like a waterfall, the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard, strangers deciding together, searching for that wisdom that is greater than any one of us. It was beautiful, beautiful…

40 minutes to eat and be out the door. A personal grocery cart with poster boards tarps an upholstered cot mattress put out for pick-up outside the shop on Passyunk. Have blocks of too but will have to have someone with car to pick them up.

People gathering at 4 points to walk to City Hall. We have Dilworth Plaza north to south.

Nibbles from the Powers, making nice, making use… this will be the beginning of a more difficult challenge, more trying than pepper gas or jail cells. Philly not New York. “I’m the 99% too” Mayor Nutter is reported to have said…

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


1000 people worked through an agenda, by consensus, and broke a half hour early!

Occupation Philadelphia begins Thursday, October 6, 9:00
Philadelphia City Hall! (I hope) tomorrow

Occupy Philly... on the verge: Nothing About us Without Us!

Robins October 3, Monday, 2011

12 sitting around a table… I'm thinking... oh good. It will be easy, with only a few of us... 5 more come in, and 10… and we move the tables aside and sit in a circle. More come in, until there's between 50 and 60. Hard to count because there were a few who left, then came back, then more came. No. This won't be easy.

A long meeting. Second half we began to find the flow. We decided on an agenda, preliminary procedure… but I should, and will...wait for the minutes to be released, for decisions to be presented at tomorrow’s GA

This is not about me.

Three hour meeting... all planning for tomorrow. Hard work. Really hard work Had a strange and interesting meeting and wonderful conversation after--a man from Okinawa who somehow singled me out. Leads me to the Westbury, offers to buy me a drink. I don't turn him down.

He doesn't understand—no. Not true. He understands, profoundly understands… but from a very different idea of how we bring about change. He doesn't believe or trust the bottom up process.. where are the wise men? he wants to know, who formulate the ideas and pass them down and lead the people?

I'm an American... that other kind of American, who never stopped believing, like Thomas Payne--that no leader, no matter how wise, can know what people need and want--without them. I love the slogan that came out of a group of people with 'mental' illness... and spread to all disabled... or whatever they chose to describe themselves...ourselves...


... Can't think of a better capsule phrase for what I believe.


Tomorrow, we're gonna chose a site and time. No way! he said! You're not ready! They don't know what they're doing! They're too young! ... We're never ready, I said... but the only way to be ready, is act from where we are and learn as we go from our mistakes. That's the REAL American way

... shit... I'm even regaining some pride in being an American!

This movement is fucking amazing!

Power to the Revolution!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Occupy Philly: First Meeting, 9/30/11

Occupy Together Field Manuel

The first Philly meeting turned into an ad hoc General Assembly with all the tension and underlying threat of disruptive chaos one might expect from a gathering of some 400 people with no time get to know one another, no time to build trust and a sense of a common purpose—even if that purpose might be yet to be discovered.

Began with a sobering report from the legal team—they have our backs (everyone in this movement should be damn grateful and happy they do--they have a superb record of support for free speech in a town that often doesn’t hold much stock in the 1st Amendment… how many years did Lynn Abraham press her heavy hand over the courts here?)-- but we’ll be the ones risking bloodied heads and jail time while we wait for them to perform their legal magic to get us out of the slammer.

It was kind of all downhill from there—depending on which way you take that—the laws of gravity on our side (easy going… ), or a non-stop slide to the pit of no return. I don’t say that out of discouragement—democracy is damn hard work, and not a form of labor most of us have any experience with. The real thing is more than pulling a level in a voting booth, or doing circle jerks in legislative chambers to produce endless iterations of the same old same old. Everyone in that room had at least begun to catch on to that—how the crumbs of reform tossed by Good Cop Democrats do nothing but appease discontent so the Bad Cop Republicans can steal most of us blind, and throw as many of rest of us as they can in prison for laws they pass--cause, like prohibition, they know damn well we’ll break them. Shit, when you got nowhere else to go with your life and ten minutes watching the Corporate news is like a siren call to end it all & be done with it—a toke on a weed seems like a fucking Plan!

But knowing how to shape an egalitarian society, even in microcosm—the real deal I mean—it’s not gonna be easy going—not coming from where we do in the Land of the Wage Slave Sound Bite and the Savior who never quite turns out to be what we thought he was on the campaign trail. Cause an egalitarian society—arriving at consensus where everyone has a voice, where no one gets left behind or shoved outside the circles of power so the simple majority can get on with the business of trampling the rights of the minority, and the even smaller minority can steal us blind and… but we been through that one. You know the dope.

There are powerful residual habits we’re going to have to unlearn, and it’s going to feel like pulling teeth—in the old days I mean—before Novocain—when they did it with pliers and a shot of white lightning. We’re going to have to trust one another, trust that we can do this, that together we have the genus, the creative power that surpasses even the brightest individual—cause no individual can know what it is we want as a people, can know how it is we want to live together—since living together is our only fucking choice. And since it is, we better do it with love. And respect. And cooperation. And all those virtues the power hungry (or is it power-starved?) wage slaves and servants of those who think they own us and the earth and everything in on and under it—all those virtues they like to make fun of, like they’re signs of weakness.

They’re not signs of weakness. They’re our strength. Together—that’s our mighty river, our tsunami of change and regeneration that’s gonna turn this bruised damaged dysfunctional master-slave world over and bring us a new day, new life—not fucking hope… the real thing.

So let’s hang in there. Let’s resist doing it the old way—doing it their way. The revolution is born in every decision and every action created out a spirit of cooperation and commitment to consensus--and that is the heritage we are here on this planet to claim for our children, and our children’s children.


Philadelphia Weekly report on this meeting