The Rural Organizing Project has heard the call from human dignity groups and small town occupiers from across the state: you want tools and resources to make the most of this exciting moment! That is why we have developed Resources for Small Town Occupations: tools developed for rural and small town communities to keep the occupy movement alive and vibrant in Oregon! It includes:
- Outreach to the 99%: Sample Op-Ed, LTE and flyer
- Overview on People’s General Assemblies: Part 1: Small Town Guide and Part 2: Tips for General Assemblies
- Tips for incorporating social media – find more people now!
Why this Activity? The Occupy movement is taking the country by storm because our democracy has failed us. The people’s voice is buried under campaign contributions, corporate personhood and the grip Wall Street has on Salem and DC. Fueled by the growing inequity in political power the 99% face in the forms of deportation, foreclosures and unemployment, people are harnessing the power of bold action coupled with democratic decision-making.
This moment isn’t just exciting, its effects are being felt at the core of the banking regime. Bank of America went from announcing a new $5 monthly debit card fee, to reeling under the pressure from the media and political outcry leveraged by the Occupy movement. Now, Chase and Wells Fargo, two of America’s biggest consumer banking competitors, have promised not to levy debit card fees on customers, and Bank of America had no choice but to follow suit. Credit unions across the state are reporting that they are seeing three times more new sign-ups than normal.
As far as we can tell, Oregon has four times more Occupy events than any other state in the country! Dozens of rural and small town Oregon communities are organizing Occupations that are bringing new and aspiring activists and organizers out of the woodwork, hungry for direct action, political strategizing and real change. Rural Oregon is ripe with opportunity.
This movement is about creating conversations that build community, direct action and results. It is still an experiment, but it is a real opportunity to build our own democratic spaces, develop horizontal leadership and address the holes in our social safety nets while we push for a real democratic government.
Occupy Wall Street uses General Assemblies and Spokescouncils to discuss and determine their direction. What can we learn from these models of decision-making? How can we bring these models into our organizing to engage people who are eager to help make change?
We need to hold actions, demonstrations and occupations but we also need to build trust with the rest of the 99% and create space for their stories to be told. If the public is not with us, we cannot win. Outreach and deeper engagement with the 99% who may not show up to our actions is essential. Bold action supported by innovative community outreach methods brings our neighbors into the conversation.
New people are engaging in this moment using social media to find each other and organize. Let’s learn from this and use these systems to enhance our person-to-person organizing strategies.
Let’s ensure that this movement and our organizing is sustainable. Let’s push for new and effective ways of staying relevant and innovative. Most importantly, let’s have some fun!
STEPS TO COMPLETE THIS ACTIVITY
Download Resources for Small Town Occupations! The resources and links discussed below are all available in the kit.
1. Reach out to the 99% in your community:
Start a conversation about the Occupy movement with neighbors, friends and community members. Tools include:
- A sample Op-Ed
- A sample Letter to the Editor: a neighbor-to-neighbor approach to talking about the Occupy movement
- A customizable flyer (Word, pdf) describing the Occupy movement for your community
- Hold a teach-in or roundtable conversation. Clatsop Community College held a roundtable on the Occupy Wall Street Movement that featured several local professors and invited the public. Oregon State University’s Peace Studies Department held a teach-in leading up to the student walk-out and Occupation yesterday (October 31st). Contact ROP for support in putting together a local teach-in or Roundtable that gives our communities the opportunity to discuss for themselves what the Occupy movement is about.
2. Consider why and how to hold a People’s General Assembly:
People’s General Assemblies are real democracy in action. This movement has grown because it is about giving everyone a voice, democratic participation and consensus-based decision making. A People’s General Assembly is a structure that creates space for everyone to be a part of shaping the direction of our actions and organizing. This overview covers why and how to hold a People’s General Assembly in your community, and strategies for adapting the model to small town communities. Download Part 1: Small Town Guide to General Assemblies and Part 2: Tips for Holding a People’s General Assembly.
3. Use innovative community outreach methods:
Occupy events across the country connected with new activists through online social media. People interested in getting involved are using social media to find each other. Don’t get left behind! Incorporate social media like Facebook and Twitter into your organizing now! Is social media new to you? Download this 1 page overview on social media. Contact Jessica@rop.org for support in getting started. The overview includes tools for:
- Post your Occupy event on OccupyTogether.org and Meetup.com
- Many small town Oregon Occupy events started by creating a Facebook group. Start your Facebook group and connect with us at Occupy Rural Oregon!
- Share your successes! Share videos on YouTube and photos on flickr!
- Feeling advanced? Try Twitter and Livestream!
4. Connect with other rural and small town occupations across Oregon. Share strategies, tools, ideas and more!
- Contact ROP to join dozens of small town communities on the Occupy Rural Oregon email listserve, a discussion-based listserve for ideas, strategies and more. Email Jessica@rop.org to join!
- Use the Occupy Rural Oregon Facebook page to share events, articles and ideas.
- By connecting in with other occupations, we are sharing resources and ideas to keep the momentum going, including sharing Move Your Money materials, tying in existing campaigns like Foreclose on Walden, and strategizing on some next steps together. Join the conversation today!