Occupy Ann Arbor to Participate in Global Teach-In April 25

Get involved NOW to take part in this compelling international dialogue.

Global Teach-InOccupy Ann Arbor is excited to have the opportunity to participate in the Global Teach-In on April 25. If you haven’t  heard about this global dialogue, the Global Teach-In is designed to address the general problems associated with the “Triple Crisis”, i.e. economics, environment, and reliance on unsustainable energy supplies. The backers, conveners, and participants in this event (which include Ann Arbor’s Alan Haber and U.M. SMART fellow Dr. Jonathan M. Feldman, now at Stockholm University) have assembled some remarkably well-conceived ideas for SOLUTIONS to these problems. This is not a “list of complaints”, with which we are all probably all too-familiar. The Global Agenda page of the Teach-In site goes into considerable detail on three main topics. It talks about “Democracy Networks” and how the concentration of  power in large corporations and banks has placed serious constraints on democracy. It talks about Green Jobs and Planning, via a “Green New Deal” that expands investments, manufacturing and infrastructure related to alternative energy and mass transportation.  And it addresses the idea of an “Alternative Financial System” to tackle the problems created by bailing out banks and extending tax breaks to the ultra-rich. The common justification for this “economic exceptionalism” is that it will prevent further economic catastrophes and prevent the imposition of austerity measures on the general populace. The fallacy of this argument is becoming clearer every day; this special treatment of banks and the elite have merely strengthened their ability to continue to manipulate government policy and lowered their accountability. If you want to take part in this amazing event, get on board by attending a Tuesday Direct Action meeting, a Sunday Unity meeting or General Assembly, or simply dropping a line HERE. As of this writing, it looks like we still may need technical support, and the specifics of Ann Arbor’s presentation for this global dialog have yet to be fully defined.

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General Assembly & Imagine Spring Party

Join us this Sunday at Hathaway's Hideaway beginning at 2pm

General Assembly & Imagine Spring PartyIf you’re looking for a way to Occupy your Sunday, we’ve got you covered from 2pm onward. Occupy Ann Arbor will be holding the fifth General Assembly of 2012 at 2pm, at Hathaway’s Hideaway (map HERE). If you’ve never been to a GA before, this is a good way to get involved; among other things, it’s where many of the local workgroups present reportbacks about recent activities. If you’ve already participated in Occupy Ann Arbor, this will be an interesting GA, because it’s the first one where we’ll be taking a shot at generating some key “mission” or “principles” documents. A number of attendees of the last GA committed to creating preliminary drafts to share and begin getting consensus on some basic points. We’re also heading into spring, which promises some actual action for the first time in a while, beginning in mid-April and heading into May. Whether you attend the GA this Sunday or not, you might want to join the Imagine Warming Centers workgroup for the Imagine Spring Party, also at Hathaways, at 5:30pm. Join the Imagine Community for an evening of community building, solidarity and creativity with performances by homed and homeless artists. Food is graciously being provided by Sava and the People’s Food Co-op.

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Tax Day Action!

Join the WCAT meeting March 29 at 6pm

One thing I keep hearing among the occupy community is a desire to involve and involve themselves in other groups and their projects. Well, here’s our chance. At 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, the twenty ninth of March WCAT will be hosting a meeting which several groups (also including, but not limited to: Occupy UM, Move On, and GEO) will be invited to attend and hopefully help plan an action to happen on National Tax Day. We might hold a rally, we might hold some signs, we might shout some slogans. It might be at the intersection between Chase Bank and The Bank of America, two well known tax evaders. Who knows? If you want to help us decide what we plan, be there! Everyone who cares about the fairness of taxes is welcome! We will be meeting in the GEO offices on the third floor of the Michigan Square building (330 E Liberty, right next to the Liberty Plaza. Map HERE). If you enter the front, right corner of the building that is mostly a small glass room with an elevator and take that elevator to the third floor, the GEO room is a short hop in front of you and slightly to your left.

If you have any questions, send email to wry at riseup dot net.

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Spring Into Action – Coalition & Unity Building

Help Occupy Ann Arbor learn its place in the local scene by taking part in our Unity Group meeting

Unity GroupAt our March 18 General Assembly, participants of the assembly committed to inviting members of other local groups to our Unity Group meeting March 25 at Hathaway’s Hideaway to explore possibilities for unity and coalition building as we head into spring. The focus of this idea was originally to explore a show of support for the Advocates for the Library Green, the group supporting the utilization of downtown Ann Arbor’s multistory underground parking garage as a greenspace similar to Boston’s Post Office Square. Any ideas generated will be presented to the Library Green in their meeting immediately afterward at 2pm. However, this is certainly not the ONLY purpose of this invitation; most participants in the Occupy scene in Ann Arbor will probably agree (feel free to correct me in the comments!) that local organizing has been plagued by minor misconceptions between otherwise like-minded participants about “who is running what”. The interesting thing about a spontaneous movement is that, well, things tend to be spontaneous. Attend any given Occupy Ann Arbor meeting or assembly, and although you’ll see certain faces repeatedly, the same weekly meeting may have completely different participants from week to week. This leads to a little confusion or discord on occasion, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a local participant tell me that they stopped attending a particular meeting “when it fell apart”, completely unaware that the meeting they were referring to was more active than ever! This meeting – like almost all Occupy Ann Arbor gatherings – is open to anyone who wishes to get involved, but the groups that participants of the March 18 GA agreed to contact include Occupy UM, Occupy For All, WCAT, Advocates for the Library Green, Inter-Cooperative Council at UM, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the University of Michigan SSU, UM GEO & LEO, UM Professional Nurse Council, the Imagine Community, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. We’re hoping to have at least a few new faces present; maybe one will be yours! If you have questions or suggestions for the meeting, we’ve also dedicated a publicly available forum to the topic.

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Top Down, Bottom Up, or Both?

How can we best recapture the spirit of the camps?

There’s been some interesting discussion lately about what issues Occupy Ann Arbor should be focusing on, and how we should be distributing our efforts.

Some within OAA favor a top-down approach, calling for us to focus all of our efforts on the big banks and other legal enablers of the power of the 1%, which Occupy recognizes as the root of our country’s current cultural and economic crises. Others believe that a bottom-up approach is needed to change our culture and empower the people so that we can stand together against injustice, through projects like homelessness assistance and education.

The reality is that these non-identical approaches–top-down vs. bottom-up–were both perfectly embodied by the Occupy camps. What were the camps, but the most powerful form of protest against the 1% that we could conceive? And what happened at the camps, but personal and cultural transformation?

But now, we no longer have the camps. So we have a purely strategic decision to make. Occupy only has as much power as we the people contribute to it. So do we spend our energy on banks and the 1%, or on the people who are already homeless and oppressed? Do we continue to split our energies between top-down and bottom-up approaches, or must we all rally together behind one project if we wish to make a difference?

These questions are for you to consider, dear reader. Please tell us what you think.

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