Conference Panel Topics -- click title to see full panel information:
Speakers: Winnie Wong-panel organizer (OWS Sustainability Working Group), Andrew Faust (Center For Bioregional Living), Lisa DePiano (Mobile Design Lab), Maggie Cheney (Bushwick Campus Farms, Eco Station NY), Dr. Susan Rubin (Better School Food, Post Carbon Institute), Matt Anderson (Director: Fall & Winter)
Abstract: We have assembled a very diverse group of of teachers, activists, community organizers, and green innovators who have broad knowledge in the areas of Sustainable Agriculture, Energy, Green Design, Social Activism, and Permaculture. Together we hope to inspire, engage, and empower participants of this panel to become more informed, and to get involved with occupying their food supply by using their personal energy supply in a more creative and sustainable way. We may also screen a very short film of no more then 8 minutes in duration.
Title: Occupy Outside Metropolis: Small-Town and Rural Occupations
Speakers: Chris Dixon (Institute for Anarchist Studies), Joseph Lapp (Occupy Alaska), Welch Canavan (Occupy Pittsburgh, Some Ideas Collective)
Abstract: Most discussions of the occupy movement have focused on major urban centers such as New York and Oakland. And yet there has been an explosion of occupy activities in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas, where activists are experimenting with new forms of horizontal organizing and engaging unlikely allies. This session brings together people who have been active in occupys in these nonmetropolitan areas. Presenters will discuss the unique difficulties and opportunities they face, and draw lessons from the work they are doing.
Title: Occupying Gender
Speakers: Melanie Butler-panel organizer (CODEPINK, Occupy Wall Street), Suzahn Ebrahimian (Occupy Wall Street), Kathleen Russell (Occupy Wall Street), Manissa McCleave Maharawal (Occupy Wall Street)
Abstract: This panel will discuss how and why Occupy Wall Street has confronted patriarchy, heterosexism, and transphobia as a movement and within the movement itself. The struggle against global capitalism is inherently a struggle against the gender-based structures of privilege and oppression that it is built to maintain. How have individuals and groups within OWS challenged these structures, and to what extent do we continue to replicate them? Organizers from Occupy Wall Street will discuss the interconnections among patriarchal power structures in the corporate, military, media, and domestic spheres, and the need to create “feminist commons:” new systems that look beyond questions of representation and gender-based organizing to address divisions of labor and the value of labor within the movement. Panelists will share a range of personal experiences and perspectives on OWS, from organizing direct actions as a Muslim woman, to confronting privilege within “women’s” groups and the role(s) transgendered people have played in Occupy Wall Street since its inception.
Title: The Rise of American Fascism & the Crisis of the Black Left
Speakers: Nellie Hester Bailey-panel organizer (Occupy Harlem, Harlem Fightback Against War at Home & Abroad), Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report, Executive Editor), Margaret Kimberely (Black Agenda Report Senior Columnist and Editor), Anthony Monteiro (African American Studies at Temple University)
Abstract: A Panel Discussion with Glen Ford (Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report), Dr. Anthony Monteiro (Professor of African American Studies,Temple University), and Margaret Kimberley, (Editor and Senior Columnist, Black Agenda Report). Moderated by Nellie Hester Bailey, Occupy Harlem & Harlem Fightback Against War at Home and Abroad). Three prominent uncompromising Black left intellectuals of our time present an indepth analysis on the US two prone strategy, a regime of national and global repression. The signing of the NDAA bill and the rise of ultra right politics are ominous signs of approaching "thud of boots", the rise of fascism in the United State to crush escalating class conflicts. An imperialist regime for global totalitarianism that attacks the sovereignty of nations and peoples, and the pillaging of their natural resources is now manifested on all continents. But the Black Left remains divided and confused because of its continuous captivation with the US first Black President. What must the Black Left and the Black working class do at this historic moment of rising fascism?
Title: The MUTUAL / ALT BANKING SECTOR - A Roundtable Discussion of Potential & Existing Alternative Banking Models
Speakers: Jason Sinopoli-panel organizer, Chris Lindstrom (Slow Money), Douglas Rushkoff, Julieta Aranda (e-flux time/bank), Tianna Kennedy (Catskills Time), Carne Ross (invited,OWS Alt Banking Group)
Abstract: There are many reasons to start your own bank. As much as possible, we ask this conversation to remain practical. People starting their own banks will come to share their experiences, discuss what mutual banks, public banks, time banks, and peer-to-peer banks have to offer, and why you may want to join one, or start your own. Moderated by CHRIS LINDSTROM, with author DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, farmer TIANNA KENNEDY & ANNA MOSCHVAKIS (of CATSKILLS TIME), artists JULIETA ARANDA & ANTON VIDOKLE (of E-FLUX TIME/BANK), and representatives of #OWS ALT BANKING GROUP. - "It starts, like Occupy Wall Street, as a consensus-ruled direct democracy. The only true method of organizing the alternative world of Mutuality is thru voluntary non-state free institutions such as co-ops, mutual banking & insurance... sustainable economic ventures (i.e. non-caitalist businesses) like independent farms and craft ateliers willing to federate with the commons..." - Peter Lamborn Wilson, "Occupy Wall Street, Act Two" --- "The ideal bank would be democratically owned and controlled by its customers and employees. Like many credit unions, all depositors would get an equal say, regardless of the size of their accounts. It would be non-profit, building in a competitive advantage over the for-profit banks... Any small-scale bank we establish say in New York would have be to be replicable by others elsewhere." - Carne Ross (#OWS)
Abstract: Social movements in the recent past have founded schools and universities to carry the flame of the movement in a structural context. In the first few weeks of the occupation at Zuccotti Park, a few activists did the same thing: set out to create a new university. The group has subsequently created a new institutional framework based on emergent communities of inquiry, pedagogies of emancipation, and curricula for radical knowledges. The purpose has been to create an alternative to the corporatized university using OWS practices of consensus-building. This panel will present the framework for this new university, and facilitate a discussion about the possibilities of higher education for and by the 99%.
Title: Movement Building in the Current Political Moment—Learning from the US and World Social Forum Process
Speakers: Walda Katz-Fishman-panel organizer (Howard University, US Social Forum National Planning Committee, & Occupy DC), Jackie Smith (University of Pittsburgh), Jerome Scott (League of Revolutionaries for a New America), Rose Brewer (University of Minnesota)
Abstract: Can the ten year history of World Social Forum activism contribute to the work of Occupy Wall Street? What lessons have been learned about building diverse coalitions and connecting local concerns with global analyses? Are there models of leadership and organizing that should be identified and explored as new activists and leaders engage in struggles to transform global capitalism? Panelists draw from experience working in both the US and World Social Forums and in Occupy Wall Street activism to identify some key lessons, strategies, and ideas for connecting these important streams of political activism.
Sponsoring Journal: Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)
Speakers: Bill Koehnlein-panel organizer (Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, TOPLAB), Marie-Claire Picher (Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, TOPLAB), Kayhan Irani (Artivista, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, TOPLAB), Reg Flowers (Falconworks Artists Group), Janet Gerson (Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, TOPLAB), Elia Gurna (Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, TOPLAB, Occupy Albany), Reka Polonyi (Occupy Wall Street Performance Guild, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratorym, TOPLAB)
Abstract: Theater of the Oppressed (TO) is a methodology and set of techniques that has its origins in the popular education movement that developed in Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s. It was founded by the late Augusto Boal (1931-2009) in the early 1970s and since then has been used around the world by activists and organizers fighting against oppression in all its forms as a tool to help mobilize communities in struggle. In the United States context, TO has been successfully applied in immigrant rights organizing, in anti-racism education, in community leadership training, and in many other projects and endeavors that are striving for social justice and radical change. Most recently, people involved in Occupy Wall Street collaborated with the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) to apply TO techniques within that project; this collaboration is ongoing. In this panel, the presenters--all long-time TO practitioners--will talk about how they and the communities and constituencies with whom they have worked applied TO techniques to build solidarity, a sense of community, and a greater level of engagement with people who are actively working for social transformation.
Sponsoring Journal: Radical Philosophy Association/Radical Philosophy Review
Speakers: Chad Kautzer-panel organizer (CU Denver, Occupy Denver, Radical Philosophy Assoc.), Linda Martín Alcoff (CUNY Graduate Center), Hannah Appel (Columbia University, OWS Think Tank), John P. Pittman (John Jay College)
Abstract: Theory often follows practice in the Occupy movement, as new forms of organization and political association give rise to new political possibilities and self-understandings in need of articulation. This panel brings together three philosophers and an anthropologist to discuss the reconfigurations of subjectivity, right, property, political representation, and economic imagination within the movement.
Title: Developing an Occupy Wall Street Vision for the Future
Speakers: Gregory Wilpert-panel organizer, Chris Spannos (New York Times Examiner (NYTX), Michael Albert (ZNet), Yotam Marom (OWS/OFS), Nelini Stamp
Abstract: This panel will discuss (1) what has been the actual process for developing a longer-term vision for the OWS movement, (2) what might need to happen for this process to move forward in a way that strengthens the movement, (3) what general elements might/ought be a part of this longer-term vision.
Sponsoring Journal: International Socialist Review
Speakers: Anthony Arnove-panel organizer (International Socialist Review ), Lance Selfa (International Socialist Organization), Arun Gupta (Occupy USA Today), Amy Muldoon (Communication Workers of America Local 1106)
Abstract: In this session, leftists engaged with the Occupy struggles debate the Democrats’ effort to relate to — or coopt — the Occupy movement. Many Democratic Party officials talk as if Occupy has made the 2012 election more favorable to them, but are the Democrats a party of the 1% or of the 99%? The Democrats want to capture Occupy's energy, but they are still pocketing Wall Street money. Is this an inevitable necessity of translating Occupy’s demands into practical politics and legislation and a sign of the movement having success? Or is this about Democrats riding Occupy’s wave to rekindle hope among disappointed workers, Blacks, women, and other oppressed groups, who they hope will vote for "change” while they continue business as usual? Does Occupy offer a different model of extra-electoral power? Or does it have to have an “inside-outside” strategy to achieve its goals?
Sponsoring Journal: Cultural Logic
Speakers: Michael Joseph Roberto-panel organizer (North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University), Victor Wallis (Socialism and Democracy, managing editor), David Walters (Marxist Internet Archive), Andrew Kliman (Pace University, Marxist Humanist Initiative), Jeff Noonan (University of Windsor), Gregory Meyerson (North Carolina A&T State University), Elaine Bernard (Harvard Law School), The Rev. Nelson Johnson (Beloved Community Center, Greensboro NC), Barbara Foley (Rutgers University), Joe Ramsey (Cultural Logic-editor, Occupy Boston)
Abstract: The current, structural crisis of U.S. (and global) capitalism that gave birth to a nationwide Occupy movement also marks a moment of transition that holds the potential for the formation of a mass, democratic-socialist party. In opposing finance capital and its class allies, occupiers everywhere are developing a seminal and diverse movement for radical democracy, gender and racial equality, ecological sustainability and decency in everyday life. All this makes fertile ground for the genesis of a democratic-socialist party that can help to realize the myriad demands and aspirations of the movement throughout the U.S. Barring a sudden collapse of the whole system, occupiers must at some point consider what one of our participants, Victor Wallis, once stated: “The key to defending gains and blocking reversals is to gain at least a share of power over the society as a whole.” We will utilize a recently published essay in Cultural Logic, “Moment of Transition: Structural Crisis and The Case for A Democratic-Socialist Party” (by Roberto, Meyerson, Noonan and Essex), considering five major points: (1) The terminal character of the current crisis (2) a scientifically-based energy policy (3) decommodification of food and limits of local power (4) the concept of life value, and (5) Marx’s and Engels’ views on party building.
Sponsoring Journal: Counterpunch
Speakers: Michael Leonardi-panel organizer (Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy/Occupy Toledo/Beyond Nuclear/Stop the Spread of Radiation), Kevin Kamps (Beyond Nuclear)
Abstract: This panel will explore the ongoing crisis in post Fukushima Japan and the intensification of the International and National struggles against Nuclear Power both in the United States and Japan and elsewhere around the world. We will explore the ongoing developments of the post Fukushima reality with a keen focus on Action and how this action has and can continue to be a growing part of the Occupy Movement. We will discuss the role of Capital in centralizing Energy production into the Nuclear Juggernut. Tomoi Zeimer will present the work that she is involved with particular focus on the spread of the Fukushima Radiation and the social movements that have been addressing this disaster on an international level. Tomoi is a Japanese woman currently living in Harlem that has been instrumental in bringing the Nuclear issue to Occupy Wall Street. Kevin Kamps is the radioactive waste watch dog for Beyond Nuclear and is at the forefront of struggles against nuclear power plants across the country. He will update us on some of the key struggles happening around Nuclear Power Plants in the United States today. Michael Leonardi holds dual citizenship in Italy and the United States. He will share some lessons from his participation in the mass movement to ban Nuclear Power in Italy and focus on the Occupy model created in Toledo, Ohio to target Nukes, Fracking, Coal, and Tar Sands. He was instrumental in organizing the first official Occupy action targeting the NRC in Monroe, Michigan.
Speakers: Mark Bray-panel oprganizer (Rutgers University, Occupy Wall Street), Shen Tong, Rudy Amanda Hurtado Garcés (Palen(k)e Universitario, Universidad del Cauca), Sabu Kohso, Preeti Kaur Paul
Abstract: For decades the global south has born the brunt of the shift toward neo-liberalism, but, since the financial crisis of 2008, austerity measures have been implemented in regions such as Europe, North America and Japan. How has this shift influenced perspectives on global capitalism? How do methods of resistance translate across economic, cultural, and territorial borders? What can the Occupy movement learn from ongoing struggles in countries like Colombia and India and what are the implications for China? Bringing together organizers from Asia, Latin America, and Europe, we will discuss the common goals and challenges of a thriving international movement for democracy and economic justice in the context expanding neo-liberalism.
Speakers: Christine Schweidler (DataCenter, OccupyResearch), Hector R. Cordero-Guzman (City University of New York), Martha Fuentes-Bautista (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Sasha Costanza-Chock (Assistant Professor of Civic Media, MIT, OccupyResearch), Yvonne Yen Liu (Applied Research Center)
Abstract: This panel focuses on theoretical and practical developments around social movement research and research justice in the context of the Occupy Movement. Knowledge can be used to build and maintain, as well as to upset, power. Scholars and activists on the Left are working with the 99% to develop participatory research and include a broader base in the process of forming research questions, choosing methods, developing research tools, gathering, analyzing, and disseminating results. People are doing occupy research to: * understand engagement with the movement, who is participating in Occupy, who is not participating, and why; * challenge race, class, gender, sexuality, age, disability and other inequalities reproduced in the occupy movement; * share ideas, strategies, and tactics; * spread research skills, tools, and methods more broadly throughout the 99% Panelists include scholars, movement researchers, and activists working with and as Occupiers around the country and transnationally to develop research projects including: surveys of visitors to occupywallst.org and occupytogether.org; a general survey in multiple locations and across borders; analysis of occupy as a racial project (see occupyresearch.net for more info). Panelists will discuss their research processes and methods, findings to date, plans for the future and the critical role of this work.
Speakers: Eliot Katz (LOGOS, Occupy Wall Street poetry collective)
Abstract: The Occupy Wall Street poetry collective has been organizing “poetry assemblies” in Zuccotti Park and at selected OWS rallies. These assemblies have developed in a format intended to match the democratic and horizontal nature of the larger OWS movement. Poets put their names into a hat at the beginning of each assembly, and the order of readers is drawn at random. Each poet gets 3 minutes to read. Poets can choose to read either with their own voice alone, or with the amplification of the “people’s mic.” We believe these poetry assemblies have inspired writers and activists already working with OWS, and that they have helped bring new people into the movement. For the Left Forum, the OWS poetry collective proposes to organize an hour-long poetry assembly. We will solidify specifics in the coming weeks, but as an initial sketch, we would suggest doing this poetry assembly during a break in the panels, rather than as a traditional panel--perhaps either during a lunch break or in the evening on Friday or Saturday after the last plenary has ended. We would work with the Forum organizers to identify the best space. If the weather is good, it might be nice to do the event in the courtyard or on the Pace steps; otherwise we would need a good indoor public space. Some of our OWS poetry collective members would attend the conference and read as part of the assembly, and two would co-facilitate it. We would also invite all other interested Left Forum attendees to participate.
Speakers: Howard Engelskirchen-panel organizer (Occupy Albany Legal Group), Tabatha Abu El-Haj
Abstract: It is always the case that people in motion upset existing frameworks of legal understanding. Contemporary legal regulation of the right of the people to peaceably assemble has been profoundly challenged by the Occupy movement. The Occupy encampments have exposed the narrowness of contemporary juridical thinking about this right and made clear that legal rules used to demolish the encampments are inadequate to secure the vital space for democracy and public deliberation Occupy activists claim. This panel will explore the conflict presented by the Occupy Movement’s struggle over public space:
• by surveying the history of the right to peaceably assemble,
• by exploring the implications of this for the relations of a democratically active people to its government,
• by reviewing municipal response to Occupy encampments and by engaging activist debates over whether claims on physical space are essential to the movement,
• by considering whether alternatives exist to established interpretations of the constitutional right to assemble, and
• by asking whether a heightened consciousness of these issues by lawyers and activists matters to sustaining the vibrant and inclusive practices of participatory democracy established by the Occupy Movement.
Because the Occupy movement has acted in ways that have outrun existing legal frameworks, it is vital that as lawyers and activists we examine critically the assumptions that shape our understanding of these.
Title: Dialectics of Occupation and Revolution: Women Challenge Arab Spring; Occupy Wall Street; and the Need for Marxist-Humanist Philosophy
Sponsoring Journal: News & Letters
Speakers: Terry Moon-panel organizer (News and Letters Committees), Susan Stellar (Detroit Agricultural Network), Gerry Emmett (Occupy Chicago)
Abstract: This panel will explore the conference theme from three vantage points informed by revolutions and Marxist-Humanist philosophy: 1. It will take up the challenge that women in Egypt, Yemen, and Iran pose to the Arab Spring, emphasizing the need to deepen revolution; 2. It will investigate both how theory and philosophy are implicit in the Occupy Wall Street Movement and yet need to be made explicit and developed; and 3. It will discuss how the writings on the Middle East of Marxist-Humanist philosopher Raya Dunayevskaya, speak to moving the revolutions forward.
Speakers: Marina Sitrin-panel organizer (CUNY, OWS), Mohamad Ezzeldin, Marisa Holmes, Luis Moreno-Cabllud
Abstract: This panel will be a discussion amongst movement participants and thinkers on the character and forms of organization these movements take, from the use of public space to the construction of horizontal assemblies and new social relationships. Panelists will take turns asking questions of one another, sharing and learning from each other’s movements and experiences. Last the panelists will open a conversation on where the movements are or could be going.
Speakers: Joshua Stephens-panel organizer (Inst. for Anarchist Studies, Occupy Brooklyn)
Abstract: Many of the initial encampments established by the occupy movement have been evicted, and yet the movement persists. Just two months from OWS's inauguration, its signature horizontal format and direct action orientation was being mapped onto struggles from racist policing, to forclosure resistance, to workplace democracy and self-management. In many places, the practice of General Assemblies recalls the emergence of neighborhood assemblies in late 2001 Buenos Aires, and offers glimpses of what popular, parallel institutions might look like. This panel will explore how new spaces -- physical and otherwise -- are becoming the terrain of struggle, and what challenges and successes have emerged in this new phase.
Sponsoring Journal: Institute for Anarchist Studies
Speakers: Cindy Milstein-panel organizer (Institute for Anarchist Studies), Carwil
James, George Machado (OWS Direct Action and Facilitation Working Groups)
Abstract: Much has been made of the occupy movement's "no leaders" ethic, the challenges and rewards of acclimating newcomers to the practice of direct democracy, and the gritty, unpredictable complexity that results when often wildly disparate people act in concert. Despite slogans and declarations, real questions loom about how or whether this prefigures the world we seek to create. And as the movement grows, drawing new participants who take on and innovate practices of direct democracy, it warrants asking how this models the cultivation of initiative and leaders in a horizontal body. This panel will explore these themes, reflecting on the successes, failures, and prospects of direct democracy on the ground.
Abstract: This panel seeks to inform who we are, what we are doing, and how our experiences might be useful to other Occupy movements around the country. Occupy Greensboro is diverse and growing. It has a fixed meeting place, a community bookstore and café located in an historic working class neighborhood. Our efforts often reflect the history and social character of Greensboro, known nationally and internationally for its place in the struggle for civil rights, economic justice and social progress. Newcomers are appearing at every GA meeting. We have a plethora of working groups studying a range of issues and conditions in the city – unemployment, foreclosures, civil liberties, etc – while engaging in sustained struggles around them. In the process, we are becoming more appreciative of ourselves as individuals; as one occupier says, we are discovering our “whole selves” in GA meetings, losing our fears and inhibitions, coming out honestly about who we are, what we think, what we want and, most importantly, how we feel. This emphasis – making matters of heart equal to those of the mind – has helped us to cultivate a healthy social space in GA, which empowers us in our community work. As another occupier put it, we are becoming “a hive of souls” more united in a sense of purpose and conviction, and cultivating the one quality for which there is no substitute – trust.
Title: The History of Social Movements and the Future of the Occupy Movements
Speakers: Jeremy Brecher-panel organizer (Labor Network for Sustainability), Marina Sitrin (CUNY/OWS), Mark Bray (Rutgers University Department of History/OWS)
Abstract: What lessons, positive and negative, can the Occupy Movements draw from past anti-slavery, labor, unemployed, anarchist, socialist, and other movements?