Netroots New York, and the Occupy Wall Street unconference held in cooperation with it, made for one of the most productive and exciting weekends I've ever had.
The timing for it right before the holidays couldn't have been better either. Coming just a month after the eviction of Zuccotti Park, it was an ideal time to assess the 99 percent movement and plan for next steps.
This was why I was so proud to help organize a series of events that looked at both what was going on in Wisconsin as a model for #Occupy, as well as how the activists behind the efforts could better coordinate!
It's been a whirlwind since, with reverberations stemming from the conference in Wisconsin and New York alike. And now, with over 1 million Wisconsinites having taken action to recall 'Governor 1% Walker', I thought it would be especially worthwhile to chronicle some of the lessons learned and connections fostered from the weekend.
To start, below is video of the opening of Netroots New York, including the plenary panels on both Occupy Wall Street and Wisconsin:
The day began with an introduction from progressive stalwart New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera. Afterwards, Allison Kilkenny moderated a panel entitled OWS: How it happened, Why it sticks, What's next?, alongside influential Occupy organizers Nelini Stamp, Jesse LaGreca, Jasiri X, and Biola JiJi.
Watching the video again, I found the focus on the transition to Occupy Our Homes to be particularly fascinating. It has proven to be highly prescient in light of the machinations on foreclosure fraud emanating from the State of the Union, amidst Occupy themes coloring the speech throughout.
I moderated the following panel, Wisconsin: The real Story and Can It Happen Here?. It consisted of Wisconsin blogger Bluecheddar, Jenni Dye, and John Quinlan, and the panel was deftly introduced by Justin Krebs at about the 38 minute mark.
One of big themes we discussed was about how the spirit of the occupation has lived on through the ‘Solidarity Sing Along’, in which at least 50-100 grassroots activists have met in the Capitol every weekday since last March to take part. Similarly to an occupation, it has provided a continuous presence for dissent, as well as a hub to make plans and coordinate.
These connections were further explored at the OWS unconference. We organized a #NY2WI in person and online interactive discussion, culminating with a collective desire to try and bring a version of the Solidarity Sing Along to New York! You can check out some of the video we streamed from it below:
The mass accreditation and national focus on the Sing Along helped inspire the ‘Solidarity Sing Along Standoff’ that occurred just the day after, in which Wisconsin protesters specifically began flouting the restrictions on protest in the Capitol that Walker initiated to stymie them in particular.
Even more analysis was needed as to what happened and where we go from here, and likewise, panel participants got together in Wisconsin on John Quinlan’s radio show (with myself taking part from afar) to further explore these connections. We were also joined by Wisconsin Occupy activist Jenna Pope, who was able to relay her experience from taking part in New York’s ‘Madison Moment’ when she came to visit as OWS was first getting off the ground.
Much more could be said about all of these videos, as the larger lessons for how to coordinate and further inspire each other couldn’t be more important to synthesize---in both Wisconsin and New York.
As 1% rhetoric is justifiably employed against the corporate-controlled Walker with increasing frequency, it becomes that much more clear how important it was to open this space for discussion as we progressively act hand in hand. In that vein, let’s give another rousing round of props to Charles Lenchner and Elana Levin from Organizing 2.0 for making the weekend happen!