Tuesday, February 18, 2014
InterOccupy: A People's Digital Toolkit Or "A Committee Of Friends"
As the Occupy movement has progressed over the past few years I have been the most impressed with our foundation building. Most movements take several years to develop the kind of coordination and coalition building that we accomplished in a matter of months with most of this made possible by the Internet. Social media has got to be the best organizing tool ever devised by humanity. In just a few short weeks tents were being raised in public parks and streets were being taken all around the world. Occupy Wall Street became Occupy Everywhere within a matter of months. Why? Because we have been able to communicate and collaborate on a mass scale almost instantaneously. As a result, our ideas have spread like wildfire. However, connection is not always the X factor in successful coordination: there must also be an infrastructure.
In my experience, InterOccupy has been the most consistent and prolific so far. Early on in the movement we were not satisfied with communicating in messages on walls. We wanted to hear the voice and passion of our sisters and brothers around the world. To that end a group out of Occupy Wall Street's Movement Building Working Group put together a conference call to attempt to get occupations from Seattle to Kalamazoo to Atlanta to Toronto to talk to each other. it worked. That first Monday night call there were more than 200+ Occupiers fresh from their newly formed General Assemblies who came on the call to hear how things were working elsewhere and offer any advice they'd gleaned. These conversations were so long and fruitful that they became a weekly staple.
Then we realized the potential. If we applied the principles of the movement (i.e. transparency, openness, and democracy) to these services then we could create a virtual organizing space in which we could organize statewide, regional, national, and international actions and campaigns. In the months that followed the movement had used this system to organize the November 17th national day of action, the west coast port shutdown, the National Gathering, the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, and most important to date—IMO—Occupy Sandy.
But those of us who have been involved since those first couple of conference calls realized the potential of building this network so we sought to develop it. First, we came up with the Committee of Correspondence network. On October 20th, 2011 the Messaging working group of Occupy Philly sent a communiqué to the rest of the movement. In the words of Nate Kleinmen, one of the penmen of the document, it essentially expressed, "that we should try to organize ourselves nationally as we do locally." Therefore, just as we sought to abide by our principles on our calls we also wanted to appropriate our ideas in our organization. Therefore, working groups were formed all over the country that were dedicated to inter-occupy communication. We ended up forming bonds that will last the rest of our lives. The Committee of Friends may even be a more accurate title for the network.
We have used this network well. Inter-occupational campaigns are far more common these days. Even local on-the-ground disaster recovery became a national affair. What once was a group of loosely connected allies has evolved into an international network of activists committed to the same goals with the same principles. In short, we have built an underground network for a revolution. All that's left is to utilize it.
From listservs to wikis to online forums and calls, InterOccupy has packaged a tool kit that can plan coordinated national actions or mass gatherings from the bottom up... for free. If we are going to win the battle of titans then we are going to have to unify in purpose and in spirit for to fight the battle with the enemies weapon is to lose the war in principle. Thankfully, InterOccupy has developed and continues to develop an Occupy created, owned, and cooperatively operated social network which the world can use to organize itself into a People's Revolution. The time has come for the people to take the power back. I'll meet you online to discuss how to do it.