A CONCRETE PROPOSAL
Costly Freedom in Afghanistan
Opposition to Charter Schools
Fight for Water
Ronald j. Morgan
Health Care Crisis Will Continue
Occupying a House Auction
Race, Gender, & Occupy
Occupied Higher Ed
Unpredicatable Life of the Occupy Movement
Zuccotti Park Press
STATE OF THE U.S.
Investing in Obama
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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Zuccotti Park Press: A Pamphleteer's Occupation
Who in their right mind would start a new small press at a time when the economy is so bad, e-books are rising, and bookstores, libraries and perhaps the printed word itself are getting shoved down the same path as vinyl records and record stores? Well, we would. Why? Because suddenly we find ourselves in a unique moment where we may have a chance to turn things around and the printed word—the broadside, the pamphlet, the book, the bookstore and the library—has a key role to play in preserving and advancing our intellectual, cultural, and political freedom.
I’ve always loved pamphlets. They have the immediacy and urgency of guerilla radio. They fit in your pocket. People share them with one another. The best are not just analysis, but an irresistible call to action that resonates with our conscience and with the times, demanding that we act. “Perhaps the most important publication in the history of the United States,” wrote Howard Zinn, “was neither a book nor a periodical, but a pamphlet.” In his essay “Pamphleteering in America,” Zinn describes how “Common Sense” went through 25 editions and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. “It was the best of best sellers.”
At Zucotti Park
I first made it to Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy movement, at the end of September. My friend, author Joe Nevins, insisted I meet him there. I had been closely following developments and thought I knew what I’d encounter. I was wrong. Nothing prepared me for how I felt when I first crossed the line of police and protestors and entered the liberated space of Zuccotti Park. Among the things I saw in Zuccotti that day were: a free lending library, a free kitchen, a free medical area, a comfort committee (to welcome new arrivals), a drumming circle, a free newspaper—the Occupied Wall Street Journal—discussion groups, information tables, facilitators, translators, de-escalators (to talk down fights), free silk screeners creating art on the spot, and a perimeter of non-stop protest against the 1%. The park was a civic dream come true, a living Declaration of Independence, a shared place for people to exercise their human and constitutional rights to the fullest.
In all my years of participation in social movements—and at 47 years old, I’ve been involved in a few—I’d never seen anything like this.
- I’d stood on corners as a student at Rutgers to protest CIA recruiting on campus
- attended student sit-ins to protest apartheid in South Africa
- been in the streets to prevent Gulf War I
- been gassed by riot police in downtown Seattle in 1999
- marched with striking teachers in Oaxaca weeks before Brad Will fell there
- slogged through mud to reach indigenous villages in Zapatista Chiapas
- met in secret locations on the Lower East Side to broadcast pirate radio as “DJ Thomas Paine”
lobbied the government in every possible manner to end their ban on LPFM
Zuccotti Park—before the raids—was something entirely new, connected in spirit to past and parallel movements, but going forward in a different way. That was September 30. I decided to join 700 others who were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on the march from Zuccotti to Brooklyn. Along the way I snapped shots and video with my phone. When I watch the clips now, I still get goose bumps.
Being in handcuffs for hours is just the beginning. All your thoughts and reflections seem to have triple the weight. Even though you are surrounded by compañeros, there’s just no way around the fact that the cops will have total control until you walk out, free again.
Between the police bus and the jail cell was cold rain. We had to stand outside in the drizzle and wait our turn to be uncuffed, have our possessions confiscated, and our identification recorded.
My jail cell held 115 people—young and old, Latinos, blacks, whites, Asians, students, unemployed, working people—that had been rounded up on the bridge. As each new person was processed and admitted to a large holding cell, we’d receive a roaring ovation from those already in there. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being in handcuffs for hours, being led to a cell by a police officer, the cell door opening, and dozens of people rising to their feet and applauding as you make your way in. The applause worked: we did not feel afraid or alone.
There were lots of meetings and discussions in jail. I sat next to a young man wearing an EZLN T-shirt and chatted with him. One copy of the latest edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal passed from one hungry set of hands to the next. Throughout it all, the word “solidarity” was uttered often. One young protestor asked, “What does solidarity mean? That we are solid?” In any other situation, the question may have provoked a cynical or sarcastic response. Not so here. A small circle immediately formed, myself included, around him. To answer his question, each person shared a story conveying what solidarity meant to them. No definitions, just stories and examples. The question, and the way it was answered, has stuck with me, awakening the pamphleteer in me to ask and address basic questions like his in larger and larger circles far beyond the windowless jail cell. There and then, the seed for the Occupied Pamphlet Series was planted.
But that’s not what pulled the trigger. A few days later, an old poet friend, Stuart Leonard, emailed me. He was on the Brooklyn Bridge, too, and he and his wife had narrowly escaped arrest. The experience on the Bridge was to him what Zuccotti Park and jail have been to me—an awakening. But in his case, he was inspired to write a poem, “Taking Brooklyn Bridge.”
When I read the poem, I got goose bumps. Written to Walt Whitman and evoking the cadence and style of his magnificent poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Leonard’s poem sings the song of awakening (I apologize Walt Whitman). The poem begins with:
when I was young you spoke to me,
I would sit in the old church cemetery
surrounded by the tombstones of patriots
reading you out loud to the stray cats
and you came to me, you sang to me,
showed me myself in everyone and everything,
taught me a democracy of the soul, to live
in the rough and tumble world with dignity,
to grant that same dignity to the people around me.
I apologize Walt Whitman,
I let the song fade into the din
of everyday life, there are excuses
I could make, I will not make them,
I did not carry your song through the streets,
I worried about the strange looks and awkward postures
I might see in those who needed to hear it.
I got complacent, I was informed,
yes, informed, I read the papers, watched the news,
debated over dinners, knew full well since the days of Reagan
what was happening to the common people like me
that you taught me to love, watched as we were turned
from citizens to consumers to the dispossessed,
and I did not rise up, I did not take to the streets,
did not risk or struggle, did not sing your song
that you so generously gave me.
I sent “Taking Brooklyn Bridge” by email to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, saying, “Lawrence, this unpublished poet just sent this to me, he is not asking me to send it to you, I just want to know what you think of it. Should I encourage him?” Ferlinghetti, 92-years-old, responded: “It’s an impassioned poem and should be published broadside. Why don’t you revive your Open Pamphlet Series and publish it?”
That pulled the trigger.
Twenty years earlier I had stood on street corners near Astor Place distributing Noam Chomsky pamphlets I had produced in an effort to stop Gulf War I. We exchanged pamphlets for subway tokens and donations. The thing took off fast and led to me and my future brother-in-law, Stuart Sahulka, producing dozens more under the name “Open Magazine Pamphlet Series.” For the following several years we published some of the most outspoken advocates for peace and social justice, including Howard Zinn, Juliet Schor, Edward Said, Elaine Bernard, Manning Marable, bell hooks, Helen Caldicott, Kristin Dawkins, Amiri Baraka, Loretta Ross, Seymour Melman, ACT UP, Allen Ginsberg, Subcomandante Marcos, and the Dalai Lama.
When I submitted an article to the Occupied Wall Street Journal, part of its automated response said, “We would like to encourage you to create your own printed media.” That’s the spirit of Zuccotti Park, and that’s the spirit of our effort: create your own printed media.
Could there possibly be a better time to support the proliferation of the underground press? Inspired by the liberated spaces created before the raids, Zuccotti Park Press and the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series are being published by the non-profit, Brooklyn-based, immigrant advocacy group, Adelante Alliance, whose core mission is to increase literacy among Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Our vision? To help this movement—and those to come—create a better future, one based in dignity, equality, justice, literacy, democracy and freedom for all. Like the Zapatistas, with each pamphlet we publish, we want to “plant the trees of tomorrow” and help the long-term project of creating “one world in which many worlds fit.”
Working with Noam Chomsky, our first nationally distributed pamphlet, due out May Day, is titled, “Occupy.” It’s a 128-page call to action, to resist, to continue reaching out and struggling for a better world. “The Occupy movements have been a remarkable success,” says Chomsky. “They’ve changed the national discourse. They have introduced into public view crucial concerns that had been hidden. They’ve created communities of mutual support and solidarity.... In fact, one sign of their success is the nature of the repression against them.”
When I was released from jail that night, it was a cold and rainy, no sign of dawn. I’d long missed my last train home, and it was still way too soon for the first. My mind reeled with everything that had happened. At the perimeter of the downtown police compound a small group of people were waiting in the rain. I thought they were waiting for someone else, but they were people from the movement, waiting all night, in the cold and rain, to greet each one of the 700 with a warm embrace and food. The next time I’m asked what solidarity is, that will be the story I tell first.
Spring is here. May ten million flowers bloom.
Greg Ruggiero worked as senior editor with Seven Stories Press from 1997 to 2005 during which time he published such titles as 9-11 by Noam Chomsky, Silencing Political Dissent by Nancy Chang, Israel/Palestine by Tanya Reinhart, and Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Y. Davis. Photos: from the Brooklyn Bridge protest and arrests; Photo by Alex Fradkin.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.