One Year Later – How About a Friendly Reportback, Occupy Ann Arbor?

Although there seems to be no actual group calling itself Occupy Ann Arbor, a lot of us are still quite active and networked. Were you there at the beginning? Care to share what you've been up to?

I’ll probably never forget the summer of 2011. A few friends of mine in New York participated on the fringes of the diverse group of people that had organized Bloombergville, so when the original “September 17 – Bring Tent” image started making its rounds in August, I was pretty fired up. I had been expressing my angst about Wall St since 2008, and I might in fact have been a “Tea Partier”, if it hadn’t been for the rapid GOPoliticization of that energy in early 2009. Anyway, as the declared “Occupy Wall Street” date arrived, I was astounded to see that people really DID show up, and stuck around that weekend. I told friends that if people were there in numbers on the second weekend, I would have to pack my bag and join them. This was in fact logistically impossible for me; to be honest, I didn’t expect the Zucotti Park crowd to tough it out. So when the second weekend DID roll around, I thought to myself: “Well, what can we do HERE?” So I quickly registered this domain, since Russian domain scammers/brokers were scarfing up “occupy” themed domains like mad. I figured I would at least “protect” it until a group formed. Then I started poking around the web to see if anyone else locally was getting inspired.

Sure enough, a UM student named Whitney Jasmine Miller had started a Facebook group a day or two before, and a few hundred people had already joined. Within a week, nearly 300 people met on the UM Diag. The excitement was palpable. The first “official” GA of a group calling itself “Occupy Ann Arbor” was about a week later. Unfortunately, people never showed up in those numbers again, and in fact attendance and participation in anything called Occupy Ann Arbor dwindled steadily over a few months. I and a handful of others took a stab at re-energizing things in January, but after a couple months of slowly growing attendance, things abruptly came to a standstill again in April of this year. A lot of local participants have speculated about why an Occupy Ann Arbor failed to come together. The consensus seems to be (feel free to disagree or append in the comments) that it was a combination of things. One being that a lot of motivated local occupiers saw fit to focus energy elsewhere, especially Detroit. Other factors included a rift between those who chose to camp in Liberty Plaza, and those who didn’t, a tendency to fuss over process to to the detriment of progress, and perhaps a bit too much armchair activism driven by the fact that Ann Arbor is in fact often insulated from the worst of bad economic times.

Whatever the reasons, some positive things did in fact result. As well as some productive work by the Imagine Warming Centers community and groups like the Washtenaw Foreclosure Defense Team, some really powerful networking occurred. My personal focus once it was evident that “Occupy Ann Arbor” wasn’t going to manifest any time soon has shifted to working with a handful of people across the country who are focused on long term strategies and a more political approach, and working with an international group that is promoting the idea of “Social Credit”.

Although there doesn’t seem to be an actual “Occupy Ann Arbor”, I know a lot of us are here in spirit, and the world is a different place because of what people like us have been doing all around the world for the past year, in different ways and with varying intensity.

I have no position that entitles me to ask for a “reportback”, but as the person who manages this website, pays for hosting, and renews the domain, I felt it might be interesting to hear from locals about what they’re doing NOW, and what they have planned for the future. So thought I’d offer the opportunity.

Feel free to share in the comments, or if you were an early participant and would like to present a full article, contact me, andI’ll do my best to help you get it posted here on the site.

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Web Team On Hiatus

Other Workgroups Still Active Though

Web Media GroupThe web team (that’s just me now, for the record) will not be updating this site for a while. While there are various Occupy Ann Arbor workgroups and other Occupy-inspired groups active in the area, like Imagine Warming Centers, Occupy UM, Occupy Ypsi, and the WCAT-driven Foreclosure Defense Team, the recently rebirthed Occupy Ann Arbor has had rather thin attendance of late. No GA’s or actions are on the schedule, and the moderators of the forums have taken leave, so the forums have been temporarily taken off line, until a skilled moderator steps up to take over. If you’re a local Occupy supporter who would like to take a lead in re-organizing something called “Occupy Ann Arbor”, drop a line.  They say the third time’s a charm. In the meantime, a lot of folks appear to have admin rights on the Facebook Cause and Group pages, so you may find current information about local actions there.

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The Global Teach-in: Building a Better Future

Ann Arbor takes part in a global dialogue April 25

Wind TurbinesConcerned with the future of our country? Our planet?  So are the many people who will be participating in The Global Teach-in on Wednesday, April 25.  Beginning at noon Eastern Daylight Time, a variety of fascinating speakers  from around the globe will connect via the internet, addressing democracy, economy, environment, health care, and peace.  Specific topics range from alternative methods of organizing banking, to the student debt crisis, to building a green economy, to fighting against outsourcing, to many more.
If you live in or near one of the 20 cities in 7 countries in 4 continents that will be linked to the simultaneous broadcast and teleconferencing, you can participate in group viewings and discussions.  If you don’t, you can watch and listen to the livestream.
In Ann Arbor, we are convening at the Rackham Amphitheater, 915 E. Washington Street (map HERE), on the University of Michigan campus, at 11am.  During the day, face-to-face meetings will be interspersed with viewing the broadcast, and we will end with a discussion of how we may pursue some of the avenues presented by the speakers locally.  Our local version of the teach-in is sponsored by the U of M Social Work Allies for Immigrant Rights and endorsed by Occupy Ann Arbor.

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Take Part in the Global Teach-In April 25

All local occupy groups and supporters welcome and encouraged to get involved!

Global Teach InIt looks like things are coming together for the Global Teach-In scheduled for April 25, which is sponsored by Social Work Allies for Immigrant Rights, and being organized primarily by internationally recognized local activist Alan Haber. The Global Teach-In Ann Arbor page is now live on the GlobalTeachIn.com website, and there is a live test this Wednesday of the web-based system that will connect it all. A handful of Occupy Ann Arbor participants are involved so far, but it should be understood that this is not specifically an Occupy Ann Arbor event; any and all local occupy groups or individuals are encouraged to get on board. This is an amazing global event, with an intelligent and achievable theme at its core. And a great chance for those in Ann Arbor to make connections with like-minded individuals all over the world. At this point, the best way to get connected would probably be by contacting Alan Haber directly(megiddo@umich.edu), or if you want to work with Occupy Ann Arbor to support this event, attend this Tuesday’s Direct Action meeting. There is no OAA workgroup dedicated specifically to this event, so be aware that you will be bringing as much to the meeting as the meeting is bringing to you! Aside from a possible need for technical support, there will still be a need to promote the event over the coming week via social networks, press, flyering, and word of mouth. If you want a quick overview of the Global Teach-In, we recently covered it HERE with a summary and other useful links.

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Next General Assembly – April 15 [UPDATE: VENUE CHANGE]

Help plan for the Global Teach-In and Spring actions

Occupy Ann Arbor GA[UPDATE: Due to miscommunication within the group, it was not made clear that Hathaway's is not available at the time posted here. At least one person will be present at 2pm to update those who didn't get word in time, and perhaps have an informal meeting.] The next Occupy Ann Arbor General Assembly is this Sunday at 2pm, at Hathaway’s Hideaway. Map HERE. Likely topics include the April 25 Global Teach-In, May Day actions, plans for upcoming GA’s (weather permitting, we may move them to a more public space) and coalition building as we head into Spring and Summer. The agenda is currently fairly flexible, and facilitation is open as well. If you’re a registered forum user, the GA thread is here. We hope to see a healthy turnout Sunday, although the time is set and space is reserved at the Rackham Building, we still may need support for the Global Teach-In

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