Gentrification report proposes bold solutions to stop displacement in OaklandApril 20, 2014
Last week Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC) released a report titled Development Without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area. The 112-page document, prepared in collaboration with the Alameda County Public Health Department, goes beyond describing the public health implications of gentrification to proposing steps that cities like Oakland can take to stop displacement of historic residents.

Six key principles create a framework for the report’s policy recommendations:
Baseline protections for vulnerable residents
Production and preservation of affordable housing
Stabilization of existing communities
Non-market based approaches to housing and community development
Displacement prevention as a regional priority
Planning as a participatory process

“Because gentrification is an issue that crosses various different kinds of aspects, you actually do need a variety of policy strategies,” said Maria Zamudio, San Francisco Housing Rights Organizer with CJJC.  “There is no silver bullet to take on the housing crisis.”
The report classifies neighborhoods by their place on a spectrum of gentrification. “Gentrification in different neighborhoods is in different stages, so the need for policy interventions is different,” she said.
The report lays out proposed policies, including just cause eviction ordinances, proactive code enforcement to make sure current affordable housing stock is maintained, inclusive zoning that mandates affordable housing be part of development projects, and community trainings to encourage resident participation in planning processes. A proposed community health impact analysis of new projects would be designed to help cities like Oakland welcome much-needed development while mitigating displacement.
The report advocates against the market-driven planning process that is the norm in cities throughout the Bay Area. Instead, it suggests, cities should invest in affordable housing through Community Land Trusts and Limited Equity Housing Co-Ops and levy taxes aimed at making real estate speculation less attractive to investors.“Right of first refusal” and “reparation and return” policies would allow residents displaced by habitability issues or urban renewal the opportunity to return to their former homes. A “No Net Loss” policy would “require all affordable units lost through renovation, conversion, or demolition be replaced within the same neighborhood if possible and within the same city at a minimum.” Public data on civic investment and demographic changes by neighborhood would highlight areas of  neglect and displacement where resources are most needed.
“Policy fights need to be organizing opportunities,” said Zamudio, highlighting another recommendation:  to bring affected communities into the process of preventing their own displacement. “Our policies are never going to be visionary enough to take on the problem,” she said, without input from “the most impacted residents of neighborhoods” experiencing gentrification.
Some of the proposals in the report are already being implemented in other cities. San Francisco is listed as a model for a number of the proposals. Yet displacement is, if anything, a bigger problem in that city than in Oakland. “We’re seeing a compounding of impacts,” said Zamudio. “Planning by the city has been in line with changes that the speculative market wants.” She noted that demographic shifts, as working class residents are pushed out, compound the problem by raising the median income and, with it, the threshold for affordable housing. “The income of the city is unbalanced,” she said, which leads to increasing challenges in finding housing affordable to working class residents.
Full article

Gentrification report proposes bold solutions to stop displacement in Oakland
April 20, 2014

Last week Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC) released a report titled Development Without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area. The 112-page document, prepared in collaboration with the Alameda County Public Health Department, goes beyond describing the public health implications of gentrification to proposing steps that cities like Oakland can take to stop displacement of historic residents.

Six key principles create a framework for the report’s policy recommendations:

  1. Baseline protections for vulnerable residents
  2. Production and preservation of affordable housing
  3. Stabilization of existing communities
  4. Non-market based approaches to housing and community development
  5. Displacement prevention as a regional priority
  6. Planning as a participatory process

“Because gentrification is an issue that crosses various different kinds of aspects, you actually do need a variety of policy strategies,” said Maria Zamudio, San Francisco Housing Rights Organizer with CJJC.  “There is no silver bullet to take on the housing crisis.”

The report classifies neighborhoods by their place on a spectrum of gentrification. “Gentrification in different neighborhoods is in different stages, so the need for policy interventions is different,” she said.

The report lays out proposed policies, including just cause eviction ordinances, proactive code enforcement to make sure current affordable housing stock is maintained, inclusive zoning that mandates affordable housing be part of development projects, and community trainings to encourage resident participation in planning processes. A proposed community health impact analysis of new projects would be designed to help cities like Oakland welcome much-needed development while mitigating displacement.

The report advocates against the market-driven planning process that is the norm in cities throughout the Bay Area. Instead, it suggests, cities should invest in affordable housing through Community Land Trusts and Limited Equity Housing Co-Ops and levy taxes aimed at making real estate speculation less attractive to investors.“Right of first refusal” and “reparation and return” policies would allow residents displaced by habitability issues or urban renewal the opportunity to return to their former homes. A “No Net Loss” policy would “require all affordable units lost through renovation, conversion, or demolition be replaced within the same neighborhood if possible and within the same city at a minimum.” Public data on civic investment and demographic changes by neighborhood would highlight areas of  neglect and displacement where resources are most needed.

“Policy fights need to be organizing opportunities,” said Zamudio, highlighting another recommendation:  to bring affected communities into the process of preventing their own displacement. “Our policies are never going to be visionary enough to take on the problem,” she said, without input from “the most impacted residents of neighborhoods” experiencing gentrification.

Some of the proposals in the report are already being implemented in other cities. San Francisco is listed as a model for a number of the proposals. Yet displacement is, if anything, a bigger problem in that city than in Oakland. “We’re seeing a compounding of impacts,” said Zamudio. “Planning by the city has been in line with changes that the speculative market wants.” She noted that demographic shifts, as working class residents are pushed out, compound the problem by raising the median income and, with it, the threshold for affordable housing. “The income of the city is unbalanced,” she said, which leads to increasing challenges in finding housing affordable to working class residents.

Full article

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america-wakiewakie:

Oakland Spent $74 Million Settling 417 Police Brutality Lawsuits | Oakland Police Beat

A Catholic priest who said an officer put him in a chokehold and slammed his head into a glass door. A woman who said she shouldn’t have been handcuffed when officers arrested her.
A father who claimed officers beat him in the hallway outside of his child’s hospital room until his head was bloody. A bank robber who was shot by officers after a high-speed chase. A man whose head was slammed into something so hard that the bones in his face broke.
In each situation the Oakland Police Department was sued. And in each one, the City of Oakland chose to settle out of court rather than take the case to trial.
A review of Oakland City Attorney lawsuit data and hundreds of federal and state court cases has found that since 1990, Oakland has spent $74 million dollars to settle at least 417 lawsuits accusing its police officers of brutality, misconduct and other civil rights violations.


Oakland spends more on civil-rights police lawsuits than nearly any other California law enforcement agency, with multimillion-dollar settlements coming directly out of funds that could go to libraries, police and fire services or road repair.
Supporters of the Oakland Police Department say that high number is a reflection of the city’s willingness to settle at any cost. But Oakland Police Beat’s analysis found that the City of Oakland has successfully defended itself against many lawsuits it considers to be unfounded.
Our investigation found that more than 500 officers were named in those lawsuits. At least 72 of those officers were named in three or more of the suits. Settlement amounts per lawsuits range from $100 to the nearly $11 million paid out following the so-called Riders scandal, where more than 100 plaintiffs accused officers of beating, kidnapping and planting evidence on suspects.
Historically, the number of OPD-related lawsuits filed against the city varies from year to year. But over the last three years the number of cases settled dropped, leaving some — like Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — cautiously hopeful that long-sought-after reforms are beginning to impact the Oakland Police Department.
(Pictured: An Occupy Oakland protester is arrested in the early morning hours of Thurs, November 3, 2011 in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Lawsuits alleging excessive force by OPD officers during the demonstrations have cost the city more than $6 million in settlements. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage)
(Read Full Text)

america-wakiewakie:

Oakland Spent $74 Million Settling 417 Police Brutality Lawsuits | Oakland Police Beat

A Catholic priest who said an officer put him in a chokehold and slammed his head into a glass door. A woman who said she shouldn’t have been handcuffed when officers arrested her.

A father who claimed officers beat him in the hallway outside of his child’s hospital room until his head was bloody. A bank robber who was shot by officers after a high-speed chase. A man whose head was slammed into something so hard that the bones in his face broke.

In each situation the Oakland Police Department was sued. And in each one, the City of Oakland chose to settle out of court rather than take the case to trial.

A review of Oakland City Attorney lawsuit data and hundreds of federal and state court cases has found that since 1990, Oakland has spent $74 million dollars to settle at least 417 lawsuits accusing its police officers of brutality, misconduct and other civil rights violations.

Oakland spends more on civil-rights police lawsuits than nearly any other California law enforcement agency, with multimillion-dollar settlements coming directly out of funds that could go to libraries, police and fire services or road repair.

Supporters of the Oakland Police Department say that high number is a reflection of the city’s willingness to settle at any cost. But Oakland Police Beat’s analysis found that the City of Oakland has successfully defended itself against many lawsuits it considers to be unfounded.

Our investigation found that more than 500 officers were named in those lawsuits. At least 72 of those officers were named in three or more of the suits. Settlement amounts per lawsuits range from $100 to the nearly $11 million paid out following the so-called Riders scandal, where more than 100 plaintiffs accused officers of beating, kidnapping and planting evidence on suspects.

Historically, the number of OPD-related lawsuits filed against the city varies from year to year. But over the last three years the number of cases settled dropped, leaving some — like Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — cautiously hopeful that long-sought-after reforms are beginning to impact the Oakland Police Department.

(Pictured: An Occupy Oakland protester is arrested in the early morning hours of Thurs, November 3, 2011 in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Lawsuits alleging excessive force by OPD officers during the demonstrations have cost the city more than $6 million in settlements. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage)

(Read Full Text)

Oakland emails give another glimpse into the Google-Military-Surveillance complexMarch 11, 2014
On February 18, several hundred privacy, labor, civil rights activists and Black Bloc anarchists packed Oakland’s city hall. They were there to protest the construction of a citywide surveillance center that would turn a firehouse in downtown Oakland into a high-tech intelligence hub straight outta Mission Impossible.
It was a rowdy crowd, and there was a heavy police presence. Some people carried “State Surveillance No!” signs. A few had their faces covered in rags, and taunted and provoked city officials by jamming smartphones in their faces and snapping photos.
Main item on the agenda that night: The “Domain Awareness Center” (DAC) — a federally funded project that, if built as planned, would link up real time audio and video feeds from thousands of sensors across the city — including CCTV cameras in public schools and public housing projects, as well as Oakland Police Department mobile license plate scanners — into one high-tech control hub, where analysts could pipe the data through face recognition software, surveil the city by location and enrich its intelligence with data coming in from local, state and federal government and law enforcement agencies.
During the meeting, city officials argued that the DAC would help police deal with Oakland’s violent crime and invoked 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, saying that a streamlined intelligence system would help protect residents in the event of natural disaster or terrorist attack.
Their explanation was met with hisses, boos, outbursts and constant interruption from the packed gallery, and the city council struggled to retain order, repeatedly threatening to clear the room.
The anger wasn’t just the standard objection to surveillance — or at least it was, but it had been intensified by a set of documents, obtained through a public records request by privacy activists, that showed city officials were more interested in using DAC’s surveillance capabilities to monitor political protests rather than fighting crime. The evidence was abundant and overwhelming: in email after email, Oakland officials had discussed the DAC usefulness for keeping tabs on activists, monitoring non-violent political protests and minimize port disruption due to union/labor strikes.
In particular, officials wanted to use the surveillance center to monitor Occupy Wall Street-style activists, and prevent union organizing and labor strikes that might shut down the Port of Oakland.
This revelation was particularly troubling in Oakland — a city with a large marginalized black population, a strong union presence and a long, ugly history of police brutality aimed at minority groups and political activists. Police conduct is so atrocious that the department now operates under federal oversight.
Ultimately, the information contained in the document helped anti-DAC activists convince Oakland’s city council to somewhat limit the scope and size of the surveillance center. It was a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless.
But buried deep in the thousands of pages of planning documents, invoices and correspondence was something that the activists either seemed to have missed or weren’t concerned by. A handful of emails revealing that representatives from Oakland had met with executives from Google to discuss a partnership between the tech giant and the DAC.
The emails showed that Google, the largest and most powerful megacorp in Surveillance Valley, was among several other military/defense contractors vying for a piece of DAC’s $10.9-million surveillance contracting action.
Full article

Oakland emails give another glimpse into the Google-Military-Surveillance complex
March 11, 2014

On February 18, several hundred privacy, labor, civil rights activists and Black Bloc anarchists packed Oakland’s city hall. They were there to protest the construction of a citywide surveillance center that would turn a firehouse in downtown Oakland into a high-tech intelligence hub straight outta Mission Impossible.

It was a rowdy crowd, and there was a heavy police presence. Some people carried “State Surveillance No!” signs. A few had their faces covered in rags, and taunted and provoked city officials by jamming smartphones in their faces and snapping photos.

Main item on the agenda that night: The “Domain Awareness Center” (DAC) — a federally funded project that, if built as planned, would link up real time audio and video feeds from thousands of sensors across the city — including CCTV cameras in public schools and public housing projects, as well as Oakland Police Department mobile license plate scanners — into one high-tech control hub, where analysts could pipe the data through face recognition software, surveil the city by location and enrich its intelligence with data coming in from local, state and federal government and law enforcement agencies.

During the meeting, city officials argued that the DAC would help police deal with Oakland’s violent crime and invoked 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, saying that a streamlined intelligence system would help protect residents in the event of natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Their explanation was met with hisses, boos, outbursts and constant interruption from the packed gallery, and the city council struggled to retain order, repeatedly threatening to clear the room.

The anger wasn’t just the standard objection to surveillance — or at least it was, but it had been intensified by a set of documents, obtained through a public records request by privacy activists, that showed city officials were more interested in using DAC’s surveillance capabilities to monitor political protests rather than fighting crime. The evidence was abundant and overwhelming: in email after email, Oakland officials had discussed the DAC usefulness for keeping tabs on activists, monitoring non-violent political protests and minimize port disruption due to union/labor strikes.

In particular, officials wanted to use the surveillance center to monitor Occupy Wall Street-style activists, and prevent union organizing and labor strikes that might shut down the Port of Oakland.

This revelation was particularly troubling in Oakland — a city with a large marginalized black population, a strong union presence and a long, ugly history of police brutality aimed at minority groups and political activists. Police conduct is so atrocious that the department now operates under federal oversight.

Ultimately, the information contained in the document helped anti-DAC activists convince Oakland’s city council to somewhat limit the scope and size of the surveillance center. It was a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless.

But buried deep in the thousands of pages of planning documents, invoices and correspondence was something that the activists either seemed to have missed or weren’t concerned by. A handful of emails revealing that representatives from Oakland had met with executives from Google to discuss a partnership between the tech giant and the DAC.

The emails showed that Google, the largest and most powerful megacorp in Surveillance Valley, was among several other military/defense contractors vying for a piece of DAC’s $10.9-million surveillance contracting action.

Full article

Anti-street harassment campaign “Stop Telling Women to Smile” hits Oakland
March 8, 2014

In 2012, Brooklyn illustrator/painter Tatyana Fazlalizadeh started “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” a series of large-scale posters, featuring portraits of women with instructive anti-harassment captions, that she wheatpasted in public places. To further help spread the message, Fazlalizadeh has taken her series on the road, creating city-specific posters, installing them across the country and abroad, and asking for help from local women who want to be involved in her campaign. 

Locally, the “Stop Telling Women to Smile” exhibit will show at Betti Ono Gallery in Oakland, where last month, Fazlalizadeh was an artist-in-residence and led workshops and discussions about gender-based street harassment. The resulting show, which opened March 7, will feature new works created during the workshops, along with posters from previous city campaigns. 

Fazlalizadeh will not be at Friday’s opening, but if you’re interested in meeting the artist, she’ll be back at the gallery on March 20 to lead a panel discussion on women and street art. ”Stop Telling Women to Smile” runs through April 17. 

Source

Power to the People: Remembering the Black Panther Party
October 25, 2013

Forty-seven years ago this month the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in Oakland, California. For almost 16 years the Party represented one of the most influential radical, progressive organizations in the history of the U.S.
"This country is a nation of thieves. It stole everything it has, beginning with Black people. The U.S. cannot justify its existence as the policeman of the world any longer…I don’t want to be part of that system. We must question whether or not we want this country to continue being the wealthiest country in the world at the price of raping everybody else," said Stokely Carmichael, Honorary Prime Minister of the BPP.
It all began with two college students; Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. They both worked at the North Oakland Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Center, where they also served on the advisory board. To combat police brutality, the advisory board obtained 5,000 signatures in support of the City Council’s setting up a police review board to handle complaints. Seale was taking classes at Oakland City College, while Newton attended both San Francisco Law School and City College. Both institutions were active in the North Oakland Center.
With their numerous connections, Newton and Seale decided to start their own organization. “Inspired by the success of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, in Mississippi, and Carmichael’s calls for separate Black political organizing, they wrote their initial platform statement, the Ten-Point Program. With the help of Huey’s brother, Melvin, they decided on a uniform of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets, black berets and openly displayed loaded shotguns. (In his studies, Newton had discovered a California law that allowed carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun, as long as it was publicly displayed and pointed at no one.)
What were some of the broader historical factors that led to the founding of the Black Panther Party in 1966? The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) emerged in 1960 as the organizational consolidation of the spontaneous sit-in movement that had begun in Greensboro, North Carolina, when four Black students sat in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter, which refused to serve them. Less than a month after the celebrated March on Washington, in 1963, four Black children died in a bombing at a Birmingham, Alabama church. During the ‘long hot summer’ of 1964, there was unprecedented racial violence in the cities and against hundreds of volunteers who had gone to Mississippi to work on voter registration drives and other projects. On March 7, 1965 (what was to become known as ’Bloody Sunday”) state troopers and Dallas county deputies beat and gassed demonstrators marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.
This period sparked a reconsideration of non-violence as a tactic in the movement. Bob Moses, a leading SNCC activist in Mississippi, captured the essence of the ideological struggle:
“We don’t agree with it, in a sense. The majority of the students are not sympathetic to the idea that they have to love the White people that they are struggling against. But there are a few who have a very religious orientation. And there’s a constant dialogue at meetings about non-violence and the meaning of it. For most of the members it is a question of being able to have a method of attack rather than to be always on the defensive.”

The Black Panther Party For Self-Defense’s Ten-Point Program read:
1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black community.
2. We want full employment for our people.
3. We want an end to the robbery by the White man of our Black community.
4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in present-day society.
6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county, city prisons and jails.
9. We want all Black people, when brought to trial, to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from other Black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. And, as our major political objective, a United Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the Black colony in which only Black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate, for the purpose of determining the will of Black people as to their national destiny… (The Ten-Point Platform concludes with an excerpt from the U.S. Declaration of Independence.)
By 1968, the BPP had grown rapidly; transforming itself from a locally-based group to a national one. In 1969, it had over 5,000 members in forty chapters. ‘Survival’ programs were set up to provide immediate relief for local communities to operate in. The most successful of these was the Free Breakfast for Children Program, the brainchild of its chairman, Bobby Seale. “In October, 1968, the BPP newspaper advertised for volunteers to prepare and serve free breakfasts in Berkeley, California. The program spread quickly to churches, community centers, and auditoriums in San Francisco and Oakland. By the end of 1969, breakfasts were being served in nineteen cities under the sponsorship of the national headquarters and twenty-three local affiliates. More than twenty thousand children received full free breakfasts before going to school.”

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Oakland recycling workers walk off job in protest of dangerous work conditionsJuly 30, 2013
Recycling workers are demonstrating at Oakland City Hall in protest of dangerous working conditions and low wages, a union representative said.
Workers for Waste Management and California Waste Solutions walked off the job at 7 a.m. Tuesday at a San Leandro facility and have re-created a recycling process line at Oakland City Hall, International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said.
"It’s the biggest strike by recycling workers in history that I’m aware of," Merrilees said Tuesday.
The recycling workers, according to Merrilees, make less than their counterparts in San Francisco and the South Bay. The union is also protesting dangerous working conditions.
Both companies are working to secure new contracts with the city of Oakland, according to the union. A Waste Management representative was not immediately available for comment this morning.
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Oakland recycling workers walk off job in protest of dangerous work conditions
July 30, 2013

Recycling workers are demonstrating at Oakland City Hall in protest of dangerous working conditions and low wages, a union representative said.

Workers for Waste Management and California Waste Solutions walked off the job at 7 a.m. Tuesday at a San Leandro facility and have re-created a recycling process line at Oakland City Hall, International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said.

"It’s the biggest strike by recycling workers in history that I’m aware of," Merrilees said Tuesday.

The recycling workers, according to Merrilees, make less than their counterparts in San Francisco and the South Bay. The union is also protesting dangerous working conditions.

Both companies are working to secure new contracts with the city of Oakland, according to the union. A Waste Management representative was not immediately available for comment this morning.

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sustainableprosperity
sustainableprosperity:

The Next American Revolution Has Already Begun: An Interview With Gar Alperovitz
Saturday, 08 June 2013 10:08By Gar Smith, The Berkeley Daily Planet | Interview
Gar Alperovitz, currently a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, has been writing books about wealth, democracy and national security for 48 years. In addition to serving in several government posts (including Special Assistant in the US State Department), Alperovitz is a founding principle of The Democracy Collaborative and a boardmember at the New Economics Institute.
What Then Must We Do? (his latest book and his twelfth since 1965) is a breezy, conversational read filled with somber forecasts, hopeful alternative economic strategies and lots of surprising facts and stats (Some examples: If the nation’s personal wealth were divided evenly, a family of four would receive $200,000 a year. The hourly US minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is now $2 less than it was in 1968. The US is such a large country “You can tuck Germany into Montana!”)
What Then Must We Do? (the title is borrowed from Tolstoy) explores a challenging premise: “The coming painful decades may be the prehistory of the next American revolution – and an evolutionary process that transforms the American system, making it both morally meaningful and ecologically sustainable.”
Daniel Ellsberg calls this book possibly “the most important movement-building book of the new century” and Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth, hails it as “the most compelling account yet of how we can move beyond the piecemeal, project–by–project transformation of our political economy to truly systemic change.”
Alperovitz recently took time from his busy schedule to discuss the arguments in his new book and explore the ramifications of social and economic change in an era of pending systemic collapse. 
Gar S: You point out that 400 plutocrats in the US now own more wealth than 180 million other Americans. A scale of inequality that ranks as “medieval.” Shortly before his assassination, Dr. King noted America’s problems could not be solved without “undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” 
Gar A: The concentration of wealth in this country is astonishing. 400 individuals—you could seat them all on a single airplane—own as much wealth as 60 percent of the rest of the country taken together. I was describing this distribution as “medieval” until a medieval historian set me straight: wealth was far more evenly distributed in the Middle Ages. When you ask where power lies in our system, you are asking who owns the productive assets. And that’s the top 1 percent—in fact, the top 1 percent of the 1 percent. It is a feudalistic structure of extreme power. It is anathema to a democracy to have that kind of concentration of wealth. More and more people are beginning to realize the extent and reach of corporate power and the power of those who own the corporations. The Koch brothers get a lot of publicity, but it’s a much wider phenomenon. 
You mentioned Martin Luther King, citing some of the quotes I included in the book. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, and we will be doubtless be hearing a lot about that and Dr. King’s leadership on racial equality and civil rights. I worked with him on neighborhood ownership questions we were looking at in the Senate at the time; and then again, a few years later, when he came out against the Vietnam War. He was also questioning the distribution of wealth, citing the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. At the end, right before he was assassinated, he even began to talk about changing the economic power structure, even occasionally, using the words “democratic socialism.” In this era of difficulty we would do well to remember Dr. King as a visionary who was beginning to step out beyond the cramped consensus to ask far deeper questions about the nature of America and the possibilities for a different future for this country. That is our challenge today. 
Gar S: You argue that it was not politics but circumstance (the Great Depression, followed by WW II) that precipitated the New Deal’s progressive change and the country’s post-war economic prosperity. I was surprised by your assessment that an economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression is no longer likely. Could you explain? 
Gar A: Despite the systemic problems a crisis collapse of the scope and scale of the Great Depression is not likely. Here are a few reasons. First, the size of ongoing government spending stabilizing the economy is much, much larger than it was at the time of the Great Depression. Government spending—the floor under the private economy, if you like—was at 11 percent in 1929, now it is roughly 30 to 35 percent of the economy (depending on the year, and whether we are in recession.) The economy may decline rapidly, but the floor is three times higher than it was during the 1930s. Second, today we have built-in economic “stabilizers”—spending that kicks in to help offset the decline when recessions begin to get underway: unemployment insurance, food stamps, and so on. Then there is the sea change in politics. The American public now holds political leaders responsible for making sure the economy works—or at least does not totally fail. There is a heavy political price for any politician who fails to deal with truly massive economic pain. Perhaps most importantly, when push comes to shove, major corporate leaders also support action to counteract truly major economic contractions. You saw it in 2008 and 2009 when business leaders demanded action—including the stimulus plan. 
So massive and sustained economic collapse of the kind that opened the way for extremely unusual and far-reaching policy change in the Great Depression and New Deal era, though not impossible, is no longer likely. This is not to say great recessions, ongoing economic pain, and high unemployment may not occur for long periods of time. Indeed, that is what we face at present. 
Gar S: The new word for economic performance is no longer “growth” but “stagnation.” One percent of the country controls so much wealth but—unlike the middle class and working poor—the rich don’t spend a significant part of their wealth. 
Gar A: This prospect of stagnation—or “punctuated stagnation,” as I write (there may be small intermittent upticks; plus oil and other commodity price explosions)—is very important to grasp. I believe (along with many observers) that we are entering an era of deepening stagnation and political stalemate. One problem is lack of demand in Keynesian terms, but I think it’s far deeper than that. We are returning to a pattern of stagnation that was common before the Depression collapse, on the one hand, and the extremely unusual conditions that prevailed during the postwar economic boom, on the other. 
A short form of the argument would be this: in the first quarter of the twentieth century, up to World War I, there was decay, decline, and indeed major recession and almost depression. We don’t know what would have happened; World War I intervened, bailing out the economy. Same story with the Great Depression: World War II, not the New Deal, solved the economic problem in the second quarter of the century. In the third quarter of the century the post-war economic boom—brought about partly by savings built up during the war, partly by military spending in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the big military budgets of the Cold War, and partly because US competitors (Germany, Japan, and many others) had been significantly destroyed—was an extremely unusual boom moment—the greatest sustained boom in our history. But thereafter the pattern of economic difficulty resumed in the final quarter of the century. Even though military budgets are high today in absolute terms, they are comparatively small as a share of GDP. And I think nuclear weapons now preclude an industrial-scale global war like World War I or World War II. We can have small horrible wars, but they don’t function economically in the way that larger wars did previously. 
Now these difficulties could be resolved if you had sufficient political power to mount a traditional Keynesian solution. But what is significant—and this is the heart of the matter—is that such a solution is no longer available, politically, for a number of reasons. I could go into a lot of them, but the principal one is the decline of organized labor. Labor union membership, the muscle behind progressive politics, was at its peak of around 35 percent just after the war, but is now down to the 11 percent range (and the 6 percent range in the private sector). Liberal reform now lacks an institutional basis. So that’s a picture of decay, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out. 
Gar S: You argue that “evolutionary reconstruction” does not flow from reform or revolution but rather “from building institutions, workplaces and cultures concerned with democratizing wealth.” How significant are cooperative enterprises in today’s economy. Could you describe the current state of America’s cooperative economy? 
Gar A: Given that the economy is unlikely to truly collapse and provoke explosive change—for all the reasons I have indicated—and given that a “reform” solution like the New Deal is extremely difficult in the absence of a strong institutional power base for liberalism (e.g. labor unions), we face an extremely unusual political situation. I believe we are entering an extended period, a multi-decade period, in which the dominant reality is likely to be one of erratic growth, stagnation, periodic inflation, substantial political stalemate and decay. 
In such a context, the prospects for near-term change are obviously not great—especially when such change is conceived in traditional terms. On the other hand, for precisely such reasons, there is likely to be an intensified process of much deeper probing, much more serious political analysis, and much more fundamental institutional exploration and development. In fact, this is already well underway. Beneath the surface level of politics-as-usual, continuing political stalemate and the exhaustion of existing approaches have begun to open up some very interesting strategic possibilities. These are best understood as neither “reforms” (policies to modify and control, but not transcend, current corporate-dominated institutions) nor “revolution” (the overthrowing of current institutions), but rather a longer-term process of “evolutionary reconstruction”—that is, institutional transformation that unfolds over time. 
Like reform, evolutionary reconstruction involves step-by-step nonviolent change. But like revolution, evolutionary reconstruction changes the basic institutions of ownership of the economy, so that the broad public (rather than “the one percent”) increasingly comes to own more and more of the nation’s productive assets. As the old system decays, an evolutionary reconstruction would see the foundations of a new system gradually rising and replacing failing elements of the old. 
Though the press doesn’t much cover this, such processes are already observable in many parts of the current American system. Some numbers: There are now ten thousand worker-owned companies of one kind or another in the country. And they are expanding over time, and they’re becoming more democratic rather than less. There are 130 million people who are members of one or another form of cooperative. A quarter of American electricity is produced by either municipal ownership or cooperatives. Twenty-five percent of American electricity is, in other words, “socialized.” There are neighborhood corporations, land trusts, and other municipal and state strategies. One can observe such a dynamic developing in the central neighborhoods of some of the nation’s larger cities, places that have consistently suffered high levels of unemployment and poverty. In such neighborhoods, democratizing development has gone forward, paradoxically, precisely because traditional policies have been politically impossible. 
All this has been building in scale and sophistication to the point that growing numbers of people now talk about a “New Economy.” It doesn’t yet compare to the giants of Wall Street and the corporate economy, of course. But it is growing to the point where challenges are also becoming possible. Move Your Money campaigns have seen billions transferred out of Wall Street banks into credit unions and local and community banks. If you add up the credit unions they are the equivalent of one of the largest US banks, knocking Goldman Sachs out of the top five. 
I see this era as something akin to the decades before the New Deal, the time when experimentation and development in the state and local “laboratories of democracy” laid down the principles and programs that became the basis for much larger national policies when the right political moment occurred. 
Gar S: You clearly show that regulating Wall Street doesn’t work and breaking up large banks is unlikely to last. The conservative Chicago School of Economics, you point out, had a solution: essentially any business “too big to regulate”” should be nationalized. “Take them over; turn them into public utilities.” Could large banks really be taken over and transformed? 
Gar A: The old conservative economists were right: Regulation doesn’t work; they capture the regulators. Anti-trust doesn’t work; if you break them up, they re-group. Look at Standard Oil. Look at AT&T and the telephone companies. In fact, the major banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008 when they were deemed “too big to fail.” They imperil the entire economy. So ultimately the only answer, logically, is to take them over at some point. Milton Friedman’s revered teacher, H.C. Simons, the founder of the conservative Chicago School of economics, was one of the first to point out this logic. He argued that this was necessary because it was the only way to preserve a genuinely free economy. 
Can it be done? We just did it in one form: In response to the financial crisis the federal government essentially nationalized General Motors and A.I.G. and was in a position to do the same with Chrysler and several major banks because of the huge injections of public capital that were required to save them from bankruptcy. At one point, Obama frankly told the bankers that he was the only one standing between them and the pitchforks. What happens when the next financial crisis occurs (as most observers on left, right and center think inevitable)? Or the one after that? 
There are also already alternative models at hand. Most people don’t realize this, but the federal government currently runs 140 different government banks. They aren’t always called banks, although sometimes they are, like the Export-Import Bank and the National Cooperative Bank. But sometimes they take the form of small business loans programs or agricultural programs. Then there is the Bank of North Dakota, a public bank that has been there for ninety years. It’s a state-owned bank, very popular with small business but also labor. Twenty states have introduced legislation to create public banks of their own. States have huge tax flows, which could capitalize such banks. Once you start to look more carefully, beneath the surface of media attention, it may be that far more is possible much earlier and much faster than many now imagine. 
Gar S: If you don’t like corporate capitalism or state socialism, what’s left? Shouldn’t a fundamental goal be to prevent accumulations of great wealth. Once great wealth or power is attained, there is a tendency to fear the majority and seek to protect one’s fortune at all costs. 
Gar A: That is a fair question, and most people don’t face it squarely: “If you don’t like corporate capitalism, where the corporations dominate the political system, and you don’t like state socialism, where the state dominates the system by virtue of its ownership, what do you want?” I think the developments reported on in the book point towards something very American, something that might be called “a community sustaining system”—one in which national structures and regional structures and local structures are all oriented to producing healthy local community economies, and thereby healthy and ecologically sustainable democratic communities. 
We are at a very remarkable moment in American history: Even as we face massive economic, social and environmental challenges, more and more people are beginning to see that politics as usual doesn’t work, that the problems are fundamental to the system itself. These issues are on the table for the first time in many decades. So there needs to be an answer at some point, in terms of system design, to the question of what a system looks like that isn’t corporate capitalism and isn’t state socialism but begins with community and how we build it. 
The truly central question is who gets to own the nation’s wealth? Because it’s not only an economic question, it determines politics in large part. The corporate capitalist system lodges such power in the corporations and tiny elites. An alternative system must begin at the bottom and democratize ownership from the bottom up—all the way from small co-ops and neighborhood corporations on up through city and state institutions and even, when necessary, regionally and nationally. 
I think we can see the outlines of such a model already emerging in developments in the New Economy. It might be called a “Pluralist Commonwealth.” Plural forms of common wealth ownership. Worker ownership, co-ops, municipal utilities, neighborhood land trusts, state ownership of certain national firms. Plural forms. It’s not very sexy language, but it attempts to get to the idea that you must change ownership of wealth in many different ways in order to achieve democratic results and achieve cultural changes that allow us a democratic solution to the systemic problem. The key thing is that just below the surface of media attention a great deal is going on—many, many new developments that move in the direction of democratic ownership, starting at the very grass roots level, and moving up. 
All of this ultimately also puts “the system question” on the table. We need a serious and wide-ranging debate around a broader menu of institutional possibilities for America’s future than the stale choices commonly discussed on both left and right.

Looking forward to hearing Daniel Ellsberg speak in Berkley in a few hours. We’ll try & take notes & share some of the best lines/points with you all. 

sustainableprosperity:

The Next American Revolution Has Already Begun: An Interview With Gar Alperovitz

Saturday, 08 June 2013 10:08By Gar SmithThe Berkeley Daily Planet | Interview

Gar Alperovitz, currently a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, has been writing books about wealth, democracy and national security for 48 years. In addition to serving in several government posts (including Special Assistant in the US State Department), Alperovitz is a founding principle of The Democracy Collaborative and a boardmember at the New Economics Institute.

What Then Must We Do? (his latest book and his twelfth since 1965) is a breezy, conversational read filled with somber forecasts, hopeful alternative economic strategies and lots of surprising facts and stats (Some examples: If the nation’s personal wealth were divided evenly, a family of four would receive $200,000 a year. The hourly US minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is now $2 less than it was in 1968. The US is such a large country “You can tuck Germany into Montana!”)

What Then Must We Do? (the title is borrowed from Tolstoy) explores a challenging premise: “The coming painful decades may be the prehistory of the next American revolution – and an evolutionary process that transforms the American system, making it both morally meaningful and ecologically sustainable.”

Daniel Ellsberg calls this book possibly “the most important movement-building book of the new century” and Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth, hails it as “the most compelling account yet of how we can move beyond the piecemeal, project–by–project transformation of our political economy to truly systemic change.”

Alperovitz recently took time from his busy schedule to discuss the arguments in his new book and explore the ramifications of social and economic change in an era of pending systemic collapse. 

Gar S: You point out that 400 plutocrats in the US now own more wealth than 180 million other Americans. A scale of inequality that ranks as “medieval.” Shortly before his assassination, Dr. King noted America’s problems could not be solved without “undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” 

Gar A: The concentration of wealth in this country is astonishing. 400 individuals—you could seat them all on a single airplane—own as much wealth as 60 percent of the rest of the country taken together. I was describing this distribution as “medieval” until a medieval historian set me straight: wealth was far more evenly distributed in the Middle Ages. When you ask where power lies in our system, you are asking who owns the productive assets. And that’s the top 1 percent—in fact, the top 1 percent of the 1 percent. It is a feudalistic structure of extreme power. It is anathema to a democracy to have that kind of concentration of wealth. More and more people are beginning to realize the extent and reach of corporate power and the power of those who own the corporations. The Koch brothers get a lot of publicity, but it’s a much wider phenomenon. 

You mentioned Martin Luther King, citing some of the quotes I included in the book. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, and we will be doubtless be hearing a lot about that and Dr. King’s leadership on racial equality and civil rights. I worked with him on neighborhood ownership questions we were looking at in the Senate at the time; and then again, a few years later, when he came out against the Vietnam War. He was also questioning the distribution of wealth, citing the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. At the end, right before he was assassinated, he even began to talk about changing the economic power structure, even occasionally, using the words “democratic socialism.” In this era of difficulty we would do well to remember Dr. King as a visionary who was beginning to step out beyond the cramped consensus to ask far deeper questions about the nature of America and the possibilities for a different future for this country. That is our challenge today. 

Gar S: You argue that it was not politics but circumstance (the Great Depression, followed by WW II) that precipitated the New Deal’s progressive change and the country’s post-war economic prosperity. I was surprised by your assessment that an economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression is no longer likely. Could you explain? 

Gar A: Despite the systemic problems a crisis collapse of the scope and scale of the Great Depression is not likely. Here are a few reasons. First, the size of ongoing government spending stabilizing the economy is much, much larger than it was at the time of the Great Depression. Government spending—the floor under the private economy, if you like—was at 11 percent in 1929, now it is roughly 30 to 35 percent of the economy (depending on the year, and whether we are in recession.) The economy may decline rapidly, but the floor is three times higher than it was during the 1930s. Second, today we have built-in economic “stabilizers”—spending that kicks in to help offset the decline when recessions begin to get underway: unemployment insurance, food stamps, and so on. Then there is the sea change in politics. The American public now holds political leaders responsible for making sure the economy works—or at least does not totally fail. There is a heavy political price for any politician who fails to deal with truly massive economic pain. Perhaps most importantly, when push comes to shove, major corporate leaders also support action to counteract truly major economic contractions. You saw it in 2008 and 2009 when business leaders demanded action—including the stimulus plan. 

So massive and sustained economic collapse of the kind that opened the way for extremely unusual and far-reaching policy change in the Great Depression and New Deal era, though not impossible, is no longer likely. This is not to say great recessions, ongoing economic pain, and high unemployment may not occur for long periods of time. Indeed, that is what we face at present. 

Gar S: The new word for economic performance is no longer “growth” but “stagnation.” One percent of the country controls so much wealth but—unlike the middle class and working poor—the rich don’t spend a significant part of their wealth. 

Gar A: This prospect of stagnation—or “punctuated stagnation,” as I write (there may be small intermittent upticks; plus oil and other commodity price explosions)—is very important to grasp. I believe (along with many observers) that we are entering an era of deepening stagnation and political stalemate. One problem is lack of demand in Keynesian terms, but I think it’s far deeper than that. We are returning to a pattern of stagnation that was common before the Depression collapse, on the one hand, and the extremely unusual conditions that prevailed during the postwar economic boom, on the other. 

A short form of the argument would be this: in the first quarter of the twentieth century, up to World War I, there was decay, decline, and indeed major recession and almost depression. We don’t know what would have happened; World War I intervened, bailing out the economy. Same story with the Great Depression: World War II, not the New Deal, solved the economic problem in the second quarter of the century. In the third quarter of the century the post-war economic boom—brought about partly by savings built up during the war, partly by military spending in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the big military budgets of the Cold War, and partly because US competitors (Germany, Japan, and many others) had been significantly destroyed—was an extremely unusual boom moment—the greatest sustained boom in our history. But thereafter the pattern of economic difficulty resumed in the final quarter of the century. Even though military budgets are high today in absolute terms, they are comparatively small as a share of GDP. And I think nuclear weapons now preclude an industrial-scale global war like World War I or World War II. We can have small horrible wars, but they don’t function economically in the way that larger wars did previously. 

Now these difficulties could be resolved if you had sufficient political power to mount a traditional Keynesian solution. But what is significant—and this is the heart of the matter—is that such a solution is no longer available, politically, for a number of reasons. I could go into a lot of them, but the principal one is the decline of organized labor. Labor union membership, the muscle behind progressive politics, was at its peak of around 35 percent just after the war, but is now down to the 11 percent range (and the 6 percent range in the private sector). Liberal reform now lacks an institutional basis. So that’s a picture of decay, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out. 

Gar S: You argue that “evolutionary reconstruction” does not flow from reform or revolution but rather “from building institutions, workplaces and cultures concerned with democratizing wealth.” How significant are cooperative enterprises in today’s economy. Could you describe the current state of America’s cooperative economy? 

Gar A: Given that the economy is unlikely to truly collapse and provoke explosive change—for all the reasons I have indicated—and given that a “reform” solution like the New Deal is extremely difficult in the absence of a strong institutional power base for liberalism (e.g. labor unions), we face an extremely unusual political situation. I believe we are entering an extended period, a multi-decade period, in which the dominant reality is likely to be one of erratic growth, stagnation, periodic inflation, substantial political stalemate and decay. 

In such a context, the prospects for near-term change are obviously not great—especially when such change is conceived in traditional terms. On the other hand, for precisely such reasons, there is likely to be an intensified process of much deeper probing, much more serious political analysis, and much more fundamental institutional exploration and development. In fact, this is already well underway. Beneath the surface level of politics-as-usual, continuing political stalemate and the exhaustion of existing approaches have begun to open up some very interesting strategic possibilities. These are best understood as neither “reforms” (policies to modify and control, but not transcend, current corporate-dominated institutions) nor “revolution” (the overthrowing of current institutions), but rather a longer-term process of “evolutionary reconstruction”—that is, institutional transformation that unfolds over time. 

Like reform, evolutionary reconstruction involves step-by-step nonviolent change. But like revolution, evolutionary reconstruction changes the basic institutions of ownership of the economy, so that the broad public (rather than “the one percent”) increasingly comes to own more and more of the nation’s productive assets. As the old system decays, an evolutionary reconstruction would see the foundations of a new system gradually rising and replacing failing elements of the old. 

Though the press doesn’t much cover this, such processes are already observable in many parts of the current American system. Some numbers: There are now ten thousand worker-owned companies of one kind or another in the country. And they are expanding over time, and they’re becoming more democratic rather than less. There are 130 million people who are members of one or another form of cooperative. A quarter of American electricity is produced by either municipal ownership or cooperatives. Twenty-five percent of American electricity is, in other words, “socialized.” There are neighborhood corporations, land trusts, and other municipal and state strategies. One can observe such a dynamic developing in the central neighborhoods of some of the nation’s larger cities, places that have consistently suffered high levels of unemployment and poverty. In such neighborhoods, democratizing development has gone forward, paradoxically, precisely because traditional policies have been politically impossible. 

All this has been building in scale and sophistication to the point that growing numbers of people now talk about a “New Economy.” It doesn’t yet compare to the giants of Wall Street and the corporate economy, of course. But it is growing to the point where challenges are also becoming possible. Move Your Money campaigns have seen billions transferred out of Wall Street banks into credit unions and local and community banks. If you add up the credit unions they are the equivalent of one of the largest US banks, knocking Goldman Sachs out of the top five. 

I see this era as something akin to the decades before the New Deal, the time when experimentation and development in the state and local “laboratories of democracy” laid down the principles and programs that became the basis for much larger national policies when the right political moment occurred. 

Gar S: You clearly show that regulating Wall Street doesn’t work and breaking up large banks is unlikely to last. The conservative Chicago School of Economics, you point out, had a solution: essentially any business “too big to regulate”” should be nationalized. “Take them over; turn them into public utilities.” Could large banks really be taken over and transformed? 

Gar A: The old conservative economists were right: Regulation doesn’t work; they capture the regulators. Anti-trust doesn’t work; if you break them up, they re-group. Look at Standard Oil. Look at AT&T and the telephone companies. In fact, the major banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008 when they were deemed “too big to fail.” They imperil the entire economy. So ultimately the only answer, logically, is to take them over at some point. Milton Friedman’s revered teacher, H.C. Simons, the founder of the conservative Chicago School of economics, was one of the first to point out this logic. He argued that this was necessary because it was the only way to preserve a genuinely free economy. 

Can it be done? We just did it in one form: In response to the financial crisis the federal government essentially nationalized General Motors and A.I.G. and was in a position to do the same with Chrysler and several major banks because of the huge injections of public capital that were required to save them from bankruptcy. At one point, Obama frankly told the bankers that he was the only one standing between them and the pitchforks. What happens when the next financial crisis occurs (as most observers on left, right and center think inevitable)? Or the one after that? 

There are also already alternative models at hand. Most people don’t realize this, but the federal government currently runs 140 different government banks. They aren’t always called banks, although sometimes they are, like the Export-Import Bank and the National Cooperative Bank. But sometimes they take the form of small business loans programs or agricultural programs. Then there is the Bank of North Dakota, a public bank that has been there for ninety years. It’s a state-owned bank, very popular with small business but also labor. Twenty states have introduced legislation to create public banks of their own. States have huge tax flows, which could capitalize such banks. Once you start to look more carefully, beneath the surface of media attention, it may be that far more is possible much earlier and much faster than many now imagine. 

Gar S: If you don’t like corporate capitalism or state socialism, what’s left? Shouldn’t a fundamental goal be to prevent accumulations of great wealth. Once great wealth or power is attained, there is a tendency to fear the majority and seek to protect one’s fortune at all costs. 

Gar A: That is a fair question, and most people don’t face it squarely: “If you don’t like corporate capitalism, where the corporations dominate the political system, and you don’t like state socialism, where the state dominates the system by virtue of its ownership, what do you want?” I think the developments reported on in the book point towards something very American, something that might be called “a community sustaining system”—one in which national structures and regional structures and local structures are all oriented to producing healthy local community economies, and thereby healthy and ecologically sustainable democratic communities. 

We are at a very remarkable moment in American history: Even as we face massive economic, social and environmental challenges, more and more people are beginning to see that politics as usual doesn’t work, that the problems are fundamental to the system itself. These issues are on the table for the first time in many decades. So there needs to be an answer at some point, in terms of system design, to the question of what a system looks like that isn’t corporate capitalism and isn’t state socialism but begins with community and how we build it. 

The truly central question is who gets to own the nation’s wealth? Because it’s not only an economic question, it determines politics in large part. The corporate capitalist system lodges such power in the corporations and tiny elites. An alternative system must begin at the bottom and democratize ownership from the bottom up—all the way from small co-ops and neighborhood corporations on up through city and state institutions and even, when necessary, regionally and nationally. 

I think we can see the outlines of such a model already emerging in developments in the New Economy. It might be called a “Pluralist Commonwealth.” Plural forms of common wealth ownership. Worker ownership, co-ops, municipal utilities, neighborhood land trusts, state ownership of certain national firms. Plural forms. It’s not very sexy language, but it attempts to get to the idea that you must change ownership of wealth in many different ways in order to achieve democratic results and achieve cultural changes that allow us a democratic solution to the systemic problem. The key thing is that just below the surface of media attention a great deal is going on—many, many new developments that move in the direction of democratic ownership, starting at the very grass roots level, and moving up. 

All of this ultimately also puts “the system question” on the table. We need a serious and wide-ranging debate around a broader menu of institutional possibilities for America’s future than the stale choices commonly discussed on both left and right.

Looking forward to hearing Daniel Ellsberg speak in Berkley in a few hours. We’ll try & take notes & share some of the best lines/points with you all. 

Come out to Gezi Gardens!
June 9, 2013

Formerly Hayes Valley Farm, now ‘Gezi Gardens’ in San Francisco (map here) is now an occupied space that needs your support.

Hayes Valley Farm was started as a permaculture project. It flourished beautifully, and became a tool for those in the community who wanted to learn about permaculture and sustainable gardening (pictures here). Among the projects the group was able to build in the space: a bee-farm, a seed library, tours for school students explaining how to engage in permaculture, etc. But when it was recently sold to developers to build luxury condos (and maybe later some low-income housing too, the developers claim), the permaculture group who had been building the permaculture space for years was forced to leave. They’ve gone on to continue their permaculture sharing vision through 49farms

Meanwhile community activists, squatters, occupiers, neighborhood supporters & the like have begun emerging at the old permaculture space. They appropriately named the space ‘Gezi Gardens’ in solidarity with environmental activists in Turkey whose movement started under a similar context. The group has done amazing work in terms of replanting, and rebuilding the space. There are about half-a-dozen tree houses with tree sitters as well, and that number is growing everyday. Many people from bay area occupations are in the space. Among other objectives, the group hopes to build structures (and has begun that process) that can delay construction and provide housing for the homeless in the area. 

They’ve been served eviction notices three days in a row now and are now at risk for police invasion/eviction any day. They need people who can sleep in the space, to hold it down for as long as possible…ideally forever, even.

The post-eviction plan that was collectively decided yesterday (through consensus) was that autonomous defensive actions will take place immediately after eviction and activists are to gather at 5PM the day after eviction at Patricia’s Green & the space WILL be retaken. 

We’ll be sleeping out there for a few nights at least, so let us know if you’re coming out that way and we can meet up! Needs include the usual flashlights, cameras, generators etc. Come support the right to community space, direct action, and environmental sustainability. Crops, not condos!

Hey Tumblr family, friends & followers,
We’re arriving in the bay area tomorrow and we still don’t have sleeping arrangements for the first few days. It looks like we probably have some gaps filled in but we’ll be in the area from June 7-19th. Even one night of hosting would be greatly appreciated. We’ve taken to couchsurfing, among other websites, but it’s summer and so many couchsurfing hosts are booked full with requests, especially in a destination as popular as the bay area.
These are events that we’re likely going to in-between our interviews, so please join us if you’re interested. Write us & let us know what you’d like to meet up with us to attend and we’ll try & make it happen:
San Francisco/Oakland Events:
June 8: Free Farm Volunteer Gardening
June 8: Strange Bedfellows Opening reception 7 p.m.
June 9: Stories of Queer Diaspora 
June 9: Rally for Freedom of Expression in Iran 11 a.m. 
June 10: Trayvon Martin 
June 11: Anarchist solidarity rally 
June 11: Our Vanishing Civil Liberties 
June 13: A feminist indictment of rape in the military 
June 13: The attack on public transportation 
June 13: Justice for Alan Blueford BBQ/Rally 
June 14: Words of resistance, political poetry 
June 15: US War drive in Middle East 
June 16: Abir Kopty on Challenges to resistance in Palestine 
June 16: Occupy Oakland Foreclosure Defense Meeting 
June 19: Assata: Eyes on the Rainbow Screening/Teach In
June 20: Transgender & Queer Performance festival 
June 20: War on Whistleblowers screening 
PLEASE reblog if you don’t mind. It’s not ‘an emergency’ per se but there is definitely a sense of urgency as we still don’t know where we’re sleeping tomorrow evening. Posted on June 6th. Tumblr messages are fine but email is better: thepeoplesrec@gmail.com
There are two of us. Male/Female platonic if it makes a difference. 

Hey Tumblr family, friends & followers,

We’re arriving in the bay area tomorrow and we still don’t have sleeping arrangements for the first few days. It looks like we probably have some gaps filled in but we’ll be in the area from June 7-19th. Even one night of hosting would be greatly appreciated. We’ve taken to couchsurfing, among other websites, but it’s summer and so many couchsurfing hosts are booked full with requests, especially in a destination as popular as the bay area.

These are events that we’re likely going to in-between our interviews, so please join us if you’re interested. Write us & let us know what you’d like to meet up with us to attend and we’ll try & make it happen:

San Francisco/Oakland Events:

PLEASE reblog if you don’t mind. It’s not ‘an emergency’ per se but there is definitely a sense of urgency as we still don’t know where we’re sleeping tomorrow evening. Posted on June 6th. Tumblr messages are fine but email is better: thepeoplesrec@gmail.com

There are two of us. Male/Female platonic if it makes a difference. 

We are all Trayvon. The whole damn system is guilty! We demand justice for all victims of racism & violence.
Submit your National Hoodie Day events & other gatherings to us here, via Facebook or via email (thepeoplesrec@gmail.com). If you’re in the Bay Area, feel free to join up with us at this march. 
See you there, Oakland.

We are all Trayvon. The whole damn system is guilty! We demand justice for all victims of racism & violence.

Submit your National Hoodie Day events & other gatherings to us here, via Facebook or via email (thepeoplesrec@gmail.com). If you’re in the Bay Area, feel free to join up with us at this march. 

See you there, Oakland.

(un)Fair Carnival and Musical March,  Oakland Thursday June 6

We are graduate students, undergrads, faculty, workers, lecturers, and others concerned about DEFENDING QUALITY AND ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC EDUCATION and BUILDING SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE WORKPLACES at the UC.

 12pm: Start at Oscar Grant Plaza. We’ll be stopping by the hotel where high-level administrators are attending a conference with panels on how to suppress protests and public events like ours. People’s Public Forum: If you want to join us just for the People’s Public Forum: 1pm: Converge at Snow Park before we head to the Kaiser Center (300 Lakeside Dr.) at 1:30 for a People’s Public Forum. We are hopeful that the administration will let us speak inside the Oakland Room #1015 as per their original plan, but we are prepared to hold a press conference with speakers outside of the building if they refuse. Come one, come all.
RSVP on Facebook here

(un)Fair Carnival and Musical March,

Oakland Thursday June 6

We are graduate students, undergrads, faculty, workers, lecturers, and others concerned about DEFENDING QUALITY AND ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC EDUCATION and BUILDING SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE WORKPLACES at the UC.

12pm: Start at Oscar Grant Plaza. We’ll be stopping by the hotel where high-level administrators are attending a conference with panels on how to suppress protests and public events like ours.

People’s Public Forum:
If you want to join us just for the People’s Public Forum:

1pm: Converge at Snow Park before we head to the Kaiser Center (300 Lakeside Dr.) at 1:30 for a People’s Public Forum. We are hopeful that the administration will let us speak inside the Oakland Room #1015 as per their original plan, but we are prepared to hold a press conference with speakers outside of the building if they refuse. Come one, come all.

RSVP on Facebook here

If you’ve followed us for a while, you know we’ve been traveling on and off over the last year, trying to document social movements in the U.S. & the swelling of the left, etc.
In June, we’ll be on the West Coast. We rely entirely on the generosity of people’s couches for sleeping circumstances. If you’re on the West Coast, want to hang, and think you can put us up for a few days, we’d sure appreciate it.
I’ve divided our time into slots cos I don’t want to over-burden any one couch-host-person. Although we’d really, really love to stay with cool people from Tumblr who have a little bit of time to do political/citizen-journalism stuff with us, we understand that that isn’t within everyone’s capacity, interest or comfort zone - so really, we just need a place to rest our heads at night - a couch is great but a floor works. Let us know if you can help us with one or more of the following dates please:
In Los Angeles June 1-7:
UPDATE: Housing is taken care of but if you’re still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.
In Oakland:
The nights of June 8, 9 & 10
The nights of June 11 & 12
The nights of June 13 & 14
If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.
In San Fransisco:
The nights of June 15, 16
The nights of June 17 & 18 & 19
If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.
In Portland:
The nights of June 20 & 21
The nights of 22 & 23, & 24
If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.
In Seattle:
The nights of 25, 26 & 27
The nights of June 28, 29
The night of June 30 and maybe July 1
If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.
Best way to reach us about this: thepeoplesrec@gmail.com.
Please also send us recommended events, talks, people & organizations for interviews that would fall in-line with or would be close to (we can definitely re-work our schedule slightly) these dates.
If it’s no real bother to you, please reblog this to increase our chances of finding housing!
-The People’s Record
In response to questions asking for clarification, housing would be for two people, no pets.

If you’ve followed us for a while, you know we’ve been traveling on and off over the last year, trying to document social movements in the U.S. & the swelling of the left, etc.

In June, we’ll be on the West Coast. We rely entirely on the generosity of people’s couches for sleeping circumstances. If you’re on the West Coast, want to hang, and think you can put us up for a few days, we’d sure appreciate it.

I’ve divided our time into slots cos I don’t want to over-burden any one couch-host-person. Although we’d really, really love to stay with cool people from Tumblr who have a little bit of time to do political/citizen-journalism stuff with us, we understand that that isn’t within everyone’s capacity, interest or comfort zone - so really, we just need a place to rest our heads at night - a couch is great but a floor works. Let us know if you can help us with one or more of the following dates please:

In Los Angeles June 1-7:

  • UPDATE: Housing is taken care of but if you’re still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.

In Oakland:

  • The nights of June 8, 9 & 10
  • The nights of June 11 & 12
  • The nights of June 13 & 14
  • If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.

In San Fransisco:

  • The nights of June 15, 16
  • The nights of June 17 & 18 & 19
  • If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.

In Portland:

  • The nights of June 20 & 21
  • The nights of 22 & 23, & 24
  • If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.

In Seattle:

  • The nights of 25, 26 & 27
  • The nights of June 28, 29
  • The night of June 30 and maybe July 1
  • If you can’t host but are still available to come along for interviews or show us around the city or just accompany us in case we get lost or whatever, that would be helpful & welcome too.

Best way to reach us about this: thepeoplesrec@gmail.com.

Please also send us recommended events, talks, people & organizations for interviews that would fall in-line with or would be close to (we can definitely re-work our schedule slightly) these dates.

If it’s no real bother to you, please reblog this to increase our chances of finding housing!

-The People’s Record

In response to questions asking for clarification, housing would be for two people, no pets.

active-rva

active-rva:

Safe2Pee.org, a compiling site for safe, genderfree, and accessible bathrooms, appears to be down. You can still access the site and browse existing bathrooms, but you can’t search by location or add new sites; you receive a long “Fatal Error” message. This appears to have been ongoing since at least early last month, and it doesn’t appear that the San Francisco collective which runs the site has responded. 

Does anybody know if the SF-based Genderqueer Hackers / Bathroom Liberation Front is still active? If they are not, do you know how they can be contacted?

anarcho-queer
anarcho-queer:

Drone Spotted Hovering Over West Oakland
On February 8th, 2013 at 3:50 pm a drone was sighted hovering above a neighborhood in West Oakland. There didn’t seem to be a focus, it just maintained it’s position above properties. It is not known at this point what agency or individual was operating the craft.
Alameda Sheriff’s recently released their intended policies around the use of drones. You can take a read here
Once introduced into their arsenal, they would be used for a variety of purposes ranging from counter terrorism operations, chases, search and rescue, surveillance, as well as other operations.

anarcho-queer:

Drone Spotted Hovering Over West Oakland

On February 8th, 2013 at 3:50 pm a drone was sighted hovering above a neighborhood in West Oakland. There didn’t seem to be a focus, it just maintained it’s position above properties. It is not known at this point what agency or individual was operating the craft.

Alameda Sheriff’s recently released their intended policies around the use of drones. You can take a read here

Once introduced into their arsenal, they would be used for a variety of purposes ranging from counter terrorism operations, chases, search and rescue, surveillance, as well as other operations.