Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More on Occupy Sandy

"The debate in the Occupy movement around “demands,” once so heated at the fall 2011 encampment in Zuccotti Park, has faded amidst so many immediate and concrete demands that Occupy Sandy now confronts daily on the front lines of the relief effort. The Occupy organizers in orange fluorescent vests rushing around the relief hub in a church at 520 Clinton Ave. in Brooklyn, or shoveling out sand from basements in the Rockaways, or going door-to-door and delivering food to elderly residents on the upper floors of the city’s public housing complexes, are part of a maturing resistance movement that is growing deep roots in communities across the city. In some cases, they are even working closely with some of the same people who conducted raids on Occupy’s encampment in the Financial District a year ago."

This is getting good. The Occupy movement is flowing to where it is needed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Random Hacks of Kindness

"The RHoK events start with identifying, defining and refining problems as presented by subject matter experts and local stakeholders. From there, teams come together to develop open source solutions to address these challenges. Participating with RHoK provides a chance to be part of a global movement of technology for social good.
The impact of RHoK cannot be understated. In just two days, developers and volunteers at a previous Toronto event worked together to create a system to engage, promote, and improve First Nation and Aboriginal access to water and sanitation in a project called WaterVoices.
Expectations are high for Vancouver’s first RHoK event. As many as eight non-profits will put forward projects that require technical expertise, from initiatives aimed at ending poverty in Canada to connecting women peace builders. The RHoK Vancouver event is working with local talent who are donating their valuable skills and time, to supporting some very worthy causes. There are still seats available, and developers needed."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Collective Action toolkit from Frog

"Informed by this experience, Sherwin and Fabricant set out to build a book of directives that could lead anyone, anywhere, through the problem-solving process. The team found inspiration in their own office, looking at how Frog had tackled problem solving with its own clients. '“What we’ve seen when we work with startups is that actually, when you start designing, you learn things along the way that change your view of the problem you’re trying to solve.' In other words, the CAT is non-linear. Activities range from Find Issues, Uncover Needs (a guide to doing research in your community) to Lights, Camera, Action! (a guide to putting on skits to pitch solutions to a large group of people). Each activity ends with a return to a core focus: clarifying your goal, again and again, as your project progresses."

I didn't know this was a cultural thing. I figured brain-storming was just a common human method of getting things done.  Huh.

Here's the free kit!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Occupy Sandy first hand

"At the same time, Hurricane Sandy has brought new networks to life and put thousands of people in the streets to rebuild communities with an explicitly political framing. It’s now widely agreed that, despite setbacks, Occupy Sandy’s organizing has put the official agencies to shame. Equity, solidarity and mass participation have been at the center of the effort from the get-go, driven forward by committed organizers with deep politics and foresight. All along the intention has been to see this as an organizing project rather than just a volunteer effort. Still, the question remains of whether those networks in motion now can rise to the occasion and begin to address the underlying crises."

A nice close-to-hand account of how Occupy Sandy is working.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Occupy movement forgives debt

"A new initiative is re-energising the Occupy movement. Called the Rolling Jubilee, it is a plan to use money from donations to buy distressed consumer debt from lenders at a marked down price, just as debt collection agencies normally would. But instead of hounding debtors for payments, it will simply cancel the debts. The hope is that the liberated debtors will themselves contribute to the fund, "rolling" the jubilee forward."

   This is such a brilliant idea!  Habitat for Humanity works like this somewhat.  You build a house with a combination of community input, sweat equity, and Habitat's partial funding, and voila, a home for a lower-income family.  Rolling Jubilee buys debt, pays it off with community input, and hopes those helped thereby contribute as well to keep the system going.  I love it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012 - helping collective action

"Today, thanks to new technology and a rising ethic of global interdependence, that constraint no longer applies. Where other global civil society groups are composed of issue-specific networks of national chapters, each with its own staff, budget, and decision-making structure, Avaaz has a single, global team with a mandate to work on any issue of public concern--allowing campaigns of extraordinary nimbleness, flexibility, focus, and scale.

Avaaz's online community can act like a megaphone to call attention to new issues; a lightning rod to channel broad public concern into a specific, targeted campaign; a fire truck to rush an effective response to a sudden, urgent emergency; and a stem cell that grows into whatever form of advocacy or work is best suited to meet an urgent need. "

Larger non-profits, governments, and others can make collective action easier by forming a helpful environment.  This is happening more and more.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Is the Occupy movement outdoing the Red Cross after Sandy?

The scene at St. Jacobis on Saturday was friendly, orderly chaos.  Unlike other shelters that had stopped collecting donations or were looking for volunteers with special skills such as medical training, Occupy Sandy was ready to take anyone willing to help. A wide range of people pitched in, including a few small children making peanut butter sandwiches, but most volunteers were in their 20s and 30s. A large basement rec room had become a hive of vegetable chopping and clothes bagging. They held orientations throughout the day for new volunteers. One of the orientation leaders, Ian Horst, who has been involved with a local group called Occupy Sunset Park for the past year, says he was “totally blown away by the response” and the sheer numbers of people who showed up and wanted to help. He estimated that he’d given an orientation to 200 people in the previous hour.
By midday, a line stretched all the way down the block of people who’d already attended orientation and were waiting for rides to be dispatched to volunteer. Kiley Edgley and Eric Schneider had been waiting about 20 minutes and were toward the front of the line. Like several people I spoke to, the fact that this effort was being organized by the occupy movement wasn’t a motivating factor—they found out about the opportunity to volunteer online and just wanted to help."

   Here we have a leaderless movement springing up to do one "simple" thing, providing help to those harmed by Hurricane Sandy.  It's people doing what they can at their own rate, where a bit of chaos is ok.  Notice how many people are willing to join in?  I do hope, however, that they are teaching food safety and such things that such an informal organizing might neglect.  The Red Cross has advantage of specialists, being able to pre-position materials and such, but it cannot be denied that ICA (although in this case a bit less Internet), works and helps people.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NY Anonymous supplements new movie on Anonymous

"The documentary recently released by Brian Knappenberger tells the story of Anonymous as we moved out of the virtual world and into the real world, becoming the very well-known phenomenon it is today. With no central narrator, Brian allows the story to be told by anons, academics, journalists, and security professionals with very little mediation. There were three members of NYC Anon / who were featured in the film, as well as some of our friends and allies. There were also some foes, and those who famously share contrasting opinions.
Naturally, it is impossible to tell a 5+ year long story in two hours without leaving out some critical things. Anonymous, being a very complex and multi-faceted beast, could not be a more difficult entity to pin down and describe to people which are alien to our culture. As an outsider, Brian Knappenberger has done an amazing job. But as veteran members of Anonymous’s first real coalescence, we are in a unique position to fill in some gaps."

   This is a useful article that helps explain how Anonymous works a bit more than the movie (which I haven't seen yet) could.  It covers origination and organizational aspects to flesh out what you learn from the film.  Good job!