Occupy Wall Street Metamorphosizes-- And it's Beautiful and Fun
I spent four of the five days at the Occupy National Gathering and my here's my overall impression;
It was a powerful, visionary, exciting, FUN gathering of representatives from close to 100 different Occupy locales. Marches through Philadelphia, aimed at Comcast and big Banks, in heat reaching mid 90s temperatures, had upwards of 300-500 marchers.
The goals of the gathering, described on the official website were, "for a week of direct actions, movement building and the creation of a vision for a democratic future." There was also a lot of sharing of ideas, tactics, strategies, resources, between occupiers, for example, on how to help people being foreclosed on and thrown out of their houses, or how to take over unoccupied buildings.
The last day focused on a visioning process. Hundreds of the occupy representatives participated in discussions aimed at defining a positive vision for a democratic future. I participated in the process.
This visioning was interesting to me because I've spent many years in the world of positive psychology, long enough so I own the website www.positivepsychology.net. With positive psychology, we take an approach that goes beyond diagnosing and fixing what's broken. We look at how people can be taught and empowered to reach towards optimal functioning, towards ideal ways of being. I felt that the same approach could be applying to visioning for an ideal future from an Occupy perspective.
photo by rob kall
First, the whole group of Occupy #NatGat listened as the coordinators explained the process.
People were broken up into groups of 45. Then, further broken into groups of three who were asked to generate a lists of visions for a democratic future. A scribe for each group of three was to write them down. Next, three groups of three were to come together. First, a new scribe had to be chosen for each group of three. Then, they had to collage the ideas into a single list representing the nine people, and then, the nine had to vote, with twinkle fingers, on the different items.
Next, the lists created by the nine people were worked on by another group of scribes, so the visions of the 45 could be pulled together. This was not always easy work. One group might have had an item-- "get rid of for-profit prisons." Another had, "end all imprisonment." They weren't the same! There were some ideas that each group had come up with that were very similar--- "direct democracy," "horizontal approaches wherever possible," "free healthcare and education." Now, please keep in mind, these are my personal observations and recollections, not the official report that will be issued, soon, by the group that organized the visioning process.
On the last day of the gathering, Elise Luce Kraemer displayed and helped to create the Occupy My Soul Quilt, a beautiful collection of images and words.
Here's a video, taken by Kevin Gosztola, showing some of the discussion in the visioning session.