GA Notes Wednesday May 9th.
Facilitator: Jason. Opened with agenda shout-outs:
City Council meeting about the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights: Sharon.
Roughly 15 people from Occupy Long Beach attended the meeting, and several spoke in support of the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. One banker was in attendance with a number of questionable arguments against it. Propose we draft press release and contact the state legislation committee. Also propose arranging an OLB contingent with prepared talking points at next meeting. Erin F. proposed holding a picnic to build support and plan for such an action.
The future of Occupy Long Beach.
This topic was handled as a brainstorming session. What follows is a listing of all of the ideas that came up during this session. These ideas will be refined into proposals over coming GAs.
o Have we lost our focus?
o Should we be focusing more on foreclosures and the banks?
o We’re invisible. Nobody knows who we are.
o Perhaps a move back to Bluff Park for GA would bring more visibility, particularly with active signage to engage the traffic?
o Suggestions for more comprehensive area-by-area flyer distribution on a weekly basis.
o Reach out to youth population, esp. regarding student loans.
o More creative/artistic events, such as meeting on the beach to make signs and artwork? Could get passersby engaged that way.
o Voter registration drive? Block parties?
o Need to be more passionate – wake everyone up with a big event.
o Bring Occupy Los Angeles here, instead of going to them.
o Let’s appreciate how far we’ve come.
o What are the people’s daily lives like? What issues affect them directly?
o Where are the people we need to reach out to located?
o Protests too fractured. Have seen good numbers at major events, but need actions to be more focused.
o Entertainment is lacking from our events. What about poetry readings, potlucks, or talent shows?
o We’re disconnected from the community.
o Occupy has a stigma surrounding it pertaining to the risk of police attention and safety at Occupations.
o We come across as too political and not community-oriented enough.
o It’s hard to reach people you don’t know.
o The overarching issue is the 99% vs. the 1%.
o We can’t pretend we’re not political.
o We need to re-engage the longstanding community groups we’ve worked with before, and help them with their initiatives.
o We need a plan of action, not just actions.
o There’s no need to re-invent the wheel and start from scratch when there are other activists to work with.
o Find areas and venues that are known to draw progressive crowds.
o We had good engagement when the donation table was set up at Bixby Park all day for the donation drive.
o Our planning is too crude.
o Not getting the word out to each other enough.
o Some people are monopolizing events.
o Events are taking shape after they start rather than before.
o Need to connect with the undocumented and the immigration reform movement. 1 million have been deported.
o LAUSD is deliberately destroying education, especially ESL (English as a Second Language).
o Pick an action, plan it, carry it out.
o The Immigrant Rights Coalition has workshops.
o The occupation at Rachel New’s house was problematic.
o We should go to community events and use them as opportunities for outreach, or arrange to work together with other groups that are planning events.
o Why did OWS start? The bailout, etc. Stick to that.
o Could lose people if we get too narrow a focus.
o Need organized training on outreach and how to get people here. Must get to know people.
o Have one morning GA per week?
o All of these issues are connected, so we should focus on the big picture.
o Who are we? Tell our story.
o Getting more OLB T-shirts will make our numbers and solidarity more apparent.
o Stick with Move To Amend. Must overturn Citizens United because it touches everything.
o Show people what they can do to help.
o What do the various progressive movements in the area have in common?
o We need to find/create our own physical and intellectual space.
o The wars!
o More teach-ins.
o The San Onofre plant (the nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo which has been shut down indefinitely with coolant leakage problems).
o Banks support dirty energy.
o Occupy is being held back by economic issues facing protesters themselves.
o Corporations are behind many problems locally, not just nationally.
o Engage people from different ethnic groups around Long Beach.
o Existing community leaders can take us to their people.
o There are maybe six basic points at the foundation of Occupy.
o The Bixby Park donation table was good PR.
o Genetically modified food ballot initiative.
o Hold cleanups at areas other than the beach to show that we care about the whole city.
o Need to be more positive and uplifting and less about blame.
o Voter registration drive held at the beach would take few resources.
o 24-7 occupations more prone to bad PR than daytime occupations.
o Outreach to spiritual community – change their perceptions of Occupy.
o In dialogue with faith community, build common ground on economic justice and helping the poor.
Regarding the City Council meeting, it was remarked that we had a relatively good turnout on short notice. We couldn’t have done that 7 months ago, because now we’ve got greater social media saturation and text alerts. We’ve also made a difference with the “Move your money” initiative (aka Bank Transfer Day).
Downtown Long Beach Associates anti-panhandling brochure:
Brochure included tips for dealing with panhandlers, a notice that “aggressive panhandling” is illegal in Long Beach (near ATMs, parking garages, outdoor dining areas, etc). Photos will be posted on the OLB Facebook page.
TV coverage dominates the dialogue surrounding Occupy. Fake anarchist vandals drew negative attention to Occupy Oakland. V masks funnel profits to the copyright owner, and masks in general facilitate infiltration. Proposal to discourage the use of masks, to be discussed further.
Sonny proposed a blackout on statements to the Press-Telegram, since their coverage has been less than accurate. More information to come.
V proposes more socially-themed actions such as large block parties that will draw people out into their own streets to see and speak with each other. These would ideally be in areas of the city which haven’t seen much Occupy Long Beach presence.
Jason got into grad school at George Washington University in DC, and will be leaving May 20th. Will need new facilitator and multiple going-away parties.
Report on May Day:
Some concern regarding numbers and turnout for May Day, especially organization. Our turnout was small and not as organized as expected, including the unplanned stop in Lincoln Park for food (which led to a half-hour delay arriving at City Hall). Should coordinate in advance with groups wishing to send contingents to Occupy events.
Green Long Beach:
Erin F. is working on an action with Green Long Beach (http://www.greenlb.org/) for the Indie Patchwork fest. For more information: http://www.patchworkshow.com/locations-long-beach.php