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What Mutual Aid Looks Like

Posted 7 months ago on Dec. 30, 2013, 12:30 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: food not bombs, mutual aid, long island

Exponentially growing income inequality has widened the gulf between the haves and have-nots in the United States, leaving too many hungry and disempowered.

A small group of caring individuals in Long Island, NY has taken matters into their own hands and organized a DIY network of food recovery and redistribution "food shares" across their community. This 7 minute video provides a cross-sectional view into 24 hours of their regular operations and details how in that short time frame 50,078 lbs of food was recovered and then shared in Hempstead, NY providing food to 2,500+ people in need.

24hrs with Long Island Food Not Bombs

Thank you, Food not Bombs!


The 1% Are Still Stealing Our Homes

Posted 7 months ago on Dec. 20, 2013, 8:57 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: hedge funds, occupy our homes, housing

Laura Schlegel, a mother and active community member in Portage Park, Chicago, is facing eviction by the Cogsville Group, a private equity firm in New York City. The family is one of thousands of families now renting homes owned by massive private equity firms and hedge funds. Capitalizing on the foreclosure crisis, these Wall Street investors have purchased 200,000 homes across the country -- mostly in cities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.

Laura is struggling with chronic pain due to nerve damage and needs to be close to her doctors in Portage Park. She could be evicted any day, and she has nowhere for her, her son and her dogs to go.

Instead of putting them out on the street, the Cogsville Group should at least offer her and her family a new lease that allows them to stay in the home they previously owned.

Why this is important:

As the banks enjoy record-breaking profits and the 1% steal a bigger share of annual income than ever, the 99% have learned that this so-called economic recovery is nothing more than a big fat lie.

Tens of thousands of people are still being evicted each month through foreclosure, and now private equity firms and hedge funds are executing a massive land grab in cities across the country. In some cities, like Phoenix, there are already Wall Street-owned homes on every single block by the hedge fund Blackstone.

These Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms are pretending to help by renting out these vacant houses -- but we know that they are just trying to make more money off the banks of the 99%. One of these private equity firms has even released a new risky security backed by rental payments -- which is just like the mortgage-backed securities that destroyed the economy in 2008.

The story of Laura and her family show how we must stop this land grab and demand that housing be enshrined as a human right, not a means to make a short-term profit.

Laura, her son and 3 small dogs have lived in their Portage Park home for the last seven years. With the help of a partner, she bought the home in 2006 for nearly $400,000. After the market crashed, they attempted to refinance the mortgage. Following the bank’s instructions, Laura and her partner missed three months of their mortgage payments to qualify for a loan modification. But instead of working with the family, Bank of America put the home in foreclosure, using the highly controversial process of “dual tracking” in which banks simultaneously put families in the process of modifying their loans and put the loan in the foreclosure pipeline.

In Laura’s case -- as with so many other homeowners across the country -- the foreclosure process won.

Her home was sold at an auction and bought back by the government-owned mortgage giant Fannie Mae -- which then allowed a private equity firm, The Cogsville Group, to buy the right to manage her house and collect rent from the family. But when her home flooded this past spring, the company did not help her with clean up, mold remediation or repairs.

In efforts to pressure Cogsville to assume responsibility for its property management, Laura’s partner stopped paying the rent. But instead of negotiating under the circumstances, the family received an eviction notice.

Laura and her family are asking that the eviction be dropped, and that the Cogsville Group offer Laura a new lease with an option to buy.

Help us stop Laura’s eviction -- and send a message to Wall Street that they can no longer exploit our human needs for their short term profits!

Sign this petition to demand that Laura and her family are allowed in their home.

This article originally appeared on Occupy Our Homes


Principle Seven of Activism – Edge Leads The Pack: Invert the Ladder of Engagement

Posted 7 months ago on Dec. 14, 2013, 11:46 p.m. EST by MicahWhite
Tags: Authenticity, ladder of engagement, direct action, Minoritarianism

The dominant paradigm of activism is the ladder of engagement. In this model, there are a series of rungs leading from the most insignificant actions to the most "revolutionary," and the goal of organizers is to lead people upwards through these escalating rungs. This makes sense on a commonsense level but it has a nasty unintended consequence.

When taken to its logical conclusion, the ladder of engagement encourages organizers to pitch asks to the lowest rung on the assumption that the majority will feel more comfortable starting with clicking a link or social network sharing.

This is a fatal assumption.

The majority can sniff out the difference between an authentic ask that is truly dangerous and might get their voices heard and an inauthentic ask that is safe and meaningless. The ladder of engagement is upside down. We are judged by what we ask of people. Thus, we must only ask The People to do actions that would genuinely improve the world despite the risks.

Rather than the ladder of engagement, I live by the minoritarian principle, in which, the edge leads the pack. This principle means that when trying to shift the direction of the majority, pitch action ideas from the edges of politics. Authenticity goes hand-in-hand with edginess. The campaign ideas that work are the ones that thrill us into asking “Would I do that?”

Would I camp on Wall Street if it meant an end to the financial stranglehold over our democracies?

Would I uproot my family and move to Nehalem if it meant liberty, equality, community for all?

Would I blow the whistle for the greater good no matter the cost to myself?

The majority does not follow its center; it undulates towards its inspirational edges.

The corollary of this principle is that our political imagination must be in constant flux as it incorporates emergent tactics. This principle is minoritarian in the sense of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari because it places a greater emphasis on cultivating (or cool-hunting) tactics that are being developed by political minorities.

The edge, Left or Right, is where we find the best tactics to transpose into our struggle.

This is why—and here I am speaking to Chris Hedges, a great orator of our movement—it is necessary to respect the partisans of the Black Bloc or any other fighting force that shares our principles but insists on a different tactical approach.

It is oftentimes these tactical approaches that need to be merely tweaked and applied to a new context for their potential to take off. The street level anarchists were the source of most of the tactical innovations following the collapse of the mainstream antiwar movement in 2003. The so-called “cancer of Occupy,” as Hedges unjustly called them, deserve more credit for their role in sparking Occupy Wall Street.

For one, I very closely watched the student occupations of 2009 that swept universities in London, New York City, Berkeley, and dozens more. These protests used the tactic of occupation: students would takeover campus space for political reasons. In the UK this began as a way to force universities to take a public stand against the Israeli war against Gaza.

As the tactic spread to the United States, it lost its focus around demands and the popular slogan of the time—“Demand Nothing! Occupy Everything!”—emerged. I was present at the Sproul occupation at the University of California Berkeley and watching the students trapped in a classroom and shouting impossible to hear words to the crowd below is when I had the first idea to apply the tactic of occupation to public space. I remember thinking that the students should be occupying the grassy parks rather than the cloistered classroom.

By reminding ourselves that the edge leads the pack then we are often able to see the potential of a new idea well before it has matured.

Micah White is a board member of the Occupy Solidarity Network. His website is http://micahmwhite.com.


Banks Cannot Gamble On Your Future (As Much As They Would Like To)

Posted 7 months ago on Dec. 14, 2013, 5:25 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: occupy the sec, volcker rule, direct action

What if you could change the rules on Wall Street without bribing regulators or buying off politicians?

Well, we did it. We passed the Volcker Rule

Occupy the SEC, a working group of Occupy Wall Street, submitted critical public comment to SEC officials and followed up like crazy.

"We met with each regulator after they wrote the rule, and we worked with other interest groups collaboratively through the process," says Occupy's Eric Taylor

"To get ideas, we had a weekly conference call where we talked about things with a couple other groups," added member Akshat Tewary.

Making change. From the streets and in the halls of power.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/11/the-volcker-rule-cites-the-occupy-movement-284-times/

via our friends, US Uncut


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