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Everyone knows that I'm a big fan of Van Jones, and it's not just because he's hot. That's not why I chose to participate in 99% Spring, however.

I'm not one of those people who goes around worrying allot about co-option. I assume that if we all have the same goals, it doesn't matter much. [I was looking forward to non-violent training. I like the idea that there might be a more structured option that allows individuals to engage with the 99% movement. I went into this with an open mind.] I didn't think that 99%Spring was out to co-opt Occupy Wall Street.

(Cross posted with modifications from www.nomadnewyork.com)

I was wrong.

The web site doesn't tell you much about what 99%Spring is. The web site promises:

This Spring We Rise!
April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to train ourselves in non-violent action and join together in the work of reclaiming our country. History is calling; it’s time to step up.
So here we were. We were shown a movie of historical progressive movements on a lopsided screen with crappy sound. This happens. Not a big deal. We were educated about Harriet Tubman and the textile mills in Lawrance. The songs that my chorus sings ran through my head as I watched. People began to get restless and leave. It was mostly an older crowd. We were already activists. We already know this stuff. The organizers cut the movie short and we (200 of us) broke out into 4 separate groups.

We all introduced ourselves. Each participant was given 5 minutes to make their 30 second introductions. There were some amazing people in the room. We were then asked to come up with some ideas about direct actions we could take.

"I thought that we were here for training", somebody said. The leader seemed a bit uncomfortable. It turns out that this was the first of what would be six programs (surprise!) and that our task was to come up with some actions. He read through a list of three ideas that the organizers had come up with. One of them was a "move your money day", when large numbers of people would go into banks to move their money. "That's already been done", someone else said. The second and third idea I have forgotten. The leader made it clear that this program has nothing to do with Occupy. We were not there to train for May Day. This further confused people. We weren't sure what we were doing there.

Everything felt wrong.

Participants did come up with a handful of ideas. One dealt with fracking and another with the bonuses that are being handed out by large corporations who don't pay taxes. One older woman was very involved with the occupiers living in the church uptown and was interested in re-housing them. She also brought up the clinic being built by Mt. Sinai and the fact that there was no free clinic associated with it. People were largely unenthusiastic. At the end of this session as we were herded back into the main room, this same woman said to me, "I thought that we were here to be trained in Non-violence for May Day. I thought that we were going to stand between the police and the protesters." I thought that she was really cool.

I was chatting in the back of the room with her, getting her number when the trainers/organizers began to get restless. There were several of us networking. One woman, clearly not ever any kind of occupier, ordered us to go to our seats. When we ignored her, she asked us more politely to take it outside. I decided to leave.

It was largely an older crowd. Many had been to Zucotti but hadn't found a way to get involved.  If you visited Zucotti after the change, it was a difficult place to fit into. In the early days of Zucotti, I knew allot of the people in the park. It was easy to pop in and do something to help out. They were the kindest, most loving people you could have met. It was hard to visit Occupy Wall Street and not fall in love with the place. A good chunk of them disappeared some time around the first threatened eviction in October and when the tents went up.  When the tents went up, the park became insular and intimidating. The "real occupiers" frequently showed contempt for people who didn't sleep in the park. There used to be a guy sitting at the "information" desk on Broadway who was so rude and contemptuous that I saw people who came to visit turn away (I haven't seen him since the eviction).

Yes. 99%Spring really is an attempt to co-opt Occupy Wall Street. There is a huge hunger right now by people who want to get involved but do not know how.

Instead of enhancing an existing movement with experienced activists who very badly want to be involved, 99%Spring is attempting, very badly, to replace that niche and attempting to formalize something that is organic.

This article in Gawker had it right here:

And while it's certainly possible that the 99 Percent Spring will give a structure and strength that only aids Occupy, it's just as likely that they'll drown it out and sanitize it, "mainstreaming" progressive populist outrage by beating it down....
And had it wrong here:
and dragging it back to the spineless middle

And MoveOn will be there, too. Only this time they'll have 100,000 volunteers ready and able to get out the vote in 2012, helping Occupy to astroturf for the same slate of corporate disappointments that sent people screaming into the streets in the first place.

No, they wont. Most of the people present tonight will not be back. There is none of the excitement and the engagement that exists in the Occupy Movement. There is nothing but a lame attempt to steal it. It's like choosing stale bread over bread that's fresh out of the oven.

We were not prepared to come up with ideas for direct action. That's not what we were there for. We came for training. It's time for the Occupy Affiliations, the community neighborhood Occupations to get cracking. I'm going to tell you what the people at this 99%Spring training want: "Give us our non violence training and we will be there on May Day standing between you and the Police".

[Additional note: I was one of the people who initially signed up to be a trainer. I missed the opportunity due to other obligations. The trainers are all volunteers and I'm sure that they mean well. Our trainer was a sweetheart and it is not my intention to slam them.]

Nuggets from MoveOn's 99%Spring documents
Occupy Wall Street Activists Respond to the 99 Percent Spring

Originally posted to nomadnewyork.com on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fucking awesome analysis... (12+ / 0-)

    I was at a "training" last night...several of us occupiers did several interventions and confronted the move on "leaders". Top heavy leadership that felt soulless. Everything was spoon fed to us: history, definitions of NVDA versus civil disobedience, how we managed every minute during the "training". Several folks were there who had never participated in protest. They were sincere and appreciative, but obviously had no experience with horizontal leadership.

    It saddens me to hear about the unfriendly attitude of Occupy New York. I get their newsletter, and there does seem to be a lot going on. What do you think?

    •  I think it was temporary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nicolemm

      While the tents were up, the atmosphere changed ALLOT. Now we have great community events where there is allot of outreach. This weekend, there will be a big event in Central Park. Occupy Town Square has been really successful.

      People who work full time or who have a hard time with the anarchistic ga's need an in.

      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

      by resa on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:56:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll vouch for this analysis...recommend this... (12+ / 0-)

    please. We need a discussion around this.

  •  too bad (11+ / 0-)

    I was hoping it would be good training and energize good people. I also thought it would concentrate on training people in community organizing and how to get ones neighbors involved in the movement that Occupy began.

    imo, that's mainly what is needed. Too many activists are content to be around other likeminded activists instead of taking the message out to their communities. The 99% needs to be given an opportunity to be more involved but that takes organizing training.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:40:54 AM PDT

  •  The history in particular is atrocious (6+ / 0-)

    Completely sanitized.  I tried to watch the video and gave up at about 15:40 when they dared profane the IWW.  It was particularly insane of them to cite the Boston Tea Party in a nonviolence training, when it was followed by a brutal war that succeeded.  And to call Harriet Tubman nonviolent is just insane.  Do people really not know what she did during the Civil War?  If she, the IWW, and the Boston Tea Party get to be called nonviolent, everybody better shut the fuck up about broken windows.

  •  Nothing better than a "boots on the ground" (7+ / 0-)

    report, even if it is not good news.

    The left remains disorganized.  The truth of its message remains true.  What shall we do?

    "A Republic, if you can keep it."

    by Publius2008 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:57:05 AM PDT

    •  work WITH Van Jones to co-opt them (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      martini, resa

      with the rest of the Occupy Movement. If the approach was rocky, maybe your fellows in arms could use a little shaking up in a supportive way.

      We need all the bodies we can get out there on the streets.

      2012 Presidential campaign: (Insert Republican anachronism here) ____________.

      by Fe Bongolan on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:02:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Left Remains Small and Is Completely Devoid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      resa

      of a billionaire fighting to make the country more liberal. A number of them support that to an extent but there is none really fighting.

      I don't know where or how we go. Our system and the entire Enlightenment is premised on most of the forces of society sharing a great many more interests than they do any more in this world.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:25:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Get Economical (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe wobblie, resa, nicolemm, AoT

        Build economic enterprises like cooperative businesses that and provide, can pay the bills, and operate prefiguratively (Consensus decision-making process, gift economics where possible, federation with the like-minded, etc).  Think of capitalism itself as damage that must be routed around.  Commonwealth within a few generations- we'll just buy our freedom.

      •  There are no radical billionaires. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        resa

        That is the problem.  Feel good liberalism and incremental change doesn't mean shit in the face of global economic collapse, massive human migration due to food shortage, and an impending global police state.

        Radicalism is the only chance.

        The bourgeoisie had better watch out for me, all throughout this so called nation. We don't want your filthy money, we don't need your innocent bloodshed, we just want to end your world. ~H.R.

        by chipmo on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:37:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So sad then that there still doesn't appear to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rcnewton, resa

    Be a vehicle for many people to fight against the 1%.  Occupy is otherwise occupied with process and simply occupying and it sounds like this may not be much better.

    “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you...” - Maya Angelou

    by stellaluna on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:28:50 AM PDT

    •  certainly not if (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie, chipmo, resa

      "vehicle" means "something you ride in".

    •  Let's make it happen!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stellaluna

      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

      by resa on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:58:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Honestly, Occupy isn't as occupied with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      resa, nicolemm

      process as it might appear here.  I know that's what you see online, but on the ground there are a lot more people concerned with actions, they just don't bother arguing process online.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:35:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope so. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, resa

        And that has been my experience with the ones more local to me. A lot less process and more concern with results.  Interesting they don't have the same concerns you see online with being "co-opted". Instead they seem to welcome any and all help they can get. In fact none of the ones I've talked to seem to have any problem with the President being re-elected. But these smaller and less visible groups don't seem to see Occupy as the grand anarchistic society that some of the others do.  

        “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you...” - Maya Angelou

        by stellaluna on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:16:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it's a lot easier to be worried about (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          resa, stellaluna, nicolemm

          being coopted when you're spending a lot of time online  and can't make it out to actions, which is where I'm at right now.  Not just because you've got more time to worry about this kind of thing but also because you see a lot more of the sort of things that are attempts at cooptation.

          When I was actually occupying, and hopefully I will get to again soon, I basically laughed off all the people who were trying to coopt.  This one had me most worried and I know there are a number of people in local groups who were frustrated because these folks just moved in and used the language.

          I'm rather disappointed that these trainings weren't more in depth and inspiring because I would rather have to deal with a group trying to coopt than have to deal with a bunch of dispirited people who thought they were getting direct action training.  I'm hoping to get started organizing direct action and other trainings done by people who have experience with this stuff and have been working with occupy.  I think the idea here was great even if I disagree with the implementation.

          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:27:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is a good idea (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, stellaluna, nicolemm

            and it's really necessary. I'm also trying to organize some direct action training. There is some, but it's largely during the week, during working hours.

            There are quite a few people who need an in to the movement. Unfortunately, so far this doesn't look like this is it. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they will get some focus that actually helps Occupy.

            "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

            by resa on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:50:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We should keep in touch and try to (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              resa, stellaluna

              make this happen.  The big problem is getting the word out without having support from mailing lists like moveon and all of them have.  Of course, seeing people's disappointment with these trainings maybe they'll help out.

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:57:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes! (0+ / 0-)

                Occupy Wall Street does have a newsletter "Occupy Your Mailbox" that comes out every week listing events.

                "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                by resa on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 04:26:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm in contact with a lot of those folks (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  resa

                  from the original occupation.  I'll start getting in touch and see if we can work on throwing together an idea.  I'll message you my email so we can keep up on this stuff.  You're in New York, right?

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 04:30:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  That's Been My Assessment of Jones Since Word (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nicolemm, chipmo, resa

    one. I think he's a contemporary Democratic compassionate conservative, and it sounds like this project is another conservative populist push.

    Reality has been so far off the table here in this country that there's very little talent pool that can lead any type of organization who's not steeped in the rightwing thinking of both parties over these past 2 decades. But every way forward or upward violates some of those core rightwing policies that can't be doubted even by most individuals who want change.

    Occupy should carry on doing what it does best, which is something I believe and support even though I'm convinced it can't take the country the full distance to where we need to go. There's no other movement that has a better idea of how to proceed at this point.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:37:00 AM PDT

  •  I've Been Impressed..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    resa, AoT

    I'm a linear person.  I like organization.  My training is on Sunday in Olympia.  I've had several email reminders, & a 9 am phone call this morning.  Very sharp, so far.

    I'm not the slightest bit worried about being coopted.  The Occupy Movement was topic #1 for several months, then it went dormant to last out the bad weather.

    We need a shot in the arm.  We need national prominence again.  In other words, we need to adapt, morph, keep plugging.  Who cares who is at the front of the parade?

    In Olympia, Washington state Occupy has sort of dribbled off to homeless programs.  My interest is political, political power & political prominence.

    I'm up for Sunday.

    •  What, as if homelessness isn't political? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie, cai, chipmo, resa

      Or is it just not sexy, with a big budget?

      •  I think the worry is that it *only* focusses on (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        resa

        one issue and loses a broader focus.  It's pretty obvious to you and me how homelessness relates to the larger movement, but most people need a constant reminder and not just admonitions of how they are missing the bigger picture.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:19:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I felt the same way that you did (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina

      before I went to the workshop. I hope that yours goes better.

      I really am not worried about co-option in this case. As far as a shot in the arm? Things are happening. People are occupying Wall Street right now. A huge meeting is planned for Saturday.

      We are not dormant.

      It would be hard for you to convince me that homelessness is not important.

      Every community has it's own issues. Every community is free to organize around the issues that effect it most.

      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

      by resa on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:01:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  uh oh (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosmic debris, cai, rcnewton, resa, AoT

    I'm signed up for a Sunday training, at least partly in curiosity, I may not camp out but I still have connections to Occupiers, if it's this bad I'll be prepared to bail out early

    -7.75, -6.05 And these wars; they can't be won Does anyone know or care how they begun?-Matt Bellamy

    by nicolemm on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:23:45 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this assessment (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cai, chipmo, resa, LaEscapee, nicolemm, AoT

    I'm signed up for a training on Saturday and was going to supplement my background as an activist and intermittent participant in Occupy. I will see how it goes here. I'm esp interested since passive resistence could be criminalized in AZ. Authenticity smells like something clean, AstroTurf smells like something else and my nose will know the difference.

    'Cause the fire in the street, Ain't like the fire in the heart/ And in the eyes of all these people, Don't you know that this could start, On any street in any town ~ FZ

    by cosmic debris on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:20:39 PM PDT

  •  MoveOn's endgame (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    resa, joe wobblie, nicolemm, AoT, scorpiorising

    Just got this in an e-mail from them

    make sure the election is a referendum on taxing the 1%—and that it goes our direction.
    •  Well, there you have it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      I don't mind that referendum, but I don't need to go to Non Violence training for it.

      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

      by resa on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:51:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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