We still can’t quite believe it. From that first one hundred person General Assembly in Bowling Green on August 2nd, to occupations in over 1000 cities, a seismic shift in the national dialogue and a general strike in Oakland, over the last three months we have stopped merely living in time and started living in history. And as the politicians and plutocrats double down on their already-failed policies, we know we’re going to have to build our own future if we want a world that’s not (literally or figuratively) under water. Nonetheless, winter is coming, and it poses some major problems for our encampments. Many occupations are going to have to enter buildings, moving inside to increase their power and beat the cold. Some occupations will no doubt be temporarily dismantled by the violent, militarized police forces of this country; departments which always seem to be well-funded, no matter the state of city budgets. Some occupations, inevitably, will disband for the winter because of strategic choice, exhaustion or lack of resources. The media will, undoubtedly, claim this means the end of the movement, and return to slobbering over every manufactured scandal caused by a presidential candidate saying something stupid.
As Occupations hunker down, winterize and look to the future, we have a moment for consolidation, reflection, and planning. We should take it. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, January 14-16th, 2012, we’re proposing an Occupy Convergence. The goal would be to build solidarity and affinity nationwide, to open up new communication networks, to discuss experiences and knowledge, strategies and stories, to share a drink, a meal, or a tent. To plan together, occupy together, and party together. The convergence would not try to build an official national organization of any kind, but would rather be a place to meet up, create friendships, and work towards our future.
Just as the cosigned here only represent themselves, not their occupations, so too would the convergence lack official representatives. It would not have delegates or a guest list: instead, whoever wanted to attend would simply arrive in whatever city decided to host (preferably somewhere warm!) and set up a tent. We will occupy a park in the host city and build a temporary encampment, and converging occupiers can take part to whatever extent they want. We’re good at building these camps now, we can do it quickly and easily.
There will be many other logistical challenges: how to get people to the convergence, how to feed occupiers, how to deal with the inevitable reaction and repression of the host city’s police, etc. There’s also lots of fun to plan: talks or teach-ins, direct actions, dance parties, etc. We have proven ourselves capable of great feats of horizontal self-organization, and we’re confident that individuals, local occupations and affinity groups will be able to solve these problems with ease over the coming ten weeks. As a starting point, we have made a facebook event designed for the discussion of a location. We also suggest using the hashtag #Converge to discuss on twitter. From here on out, we anticipate that the occupations, committees and protesters will work everything out together, and figure out the best way to do so.
The convergence will not be a decision making body: it will, for obvious reasons, have higher attendence from its local occupiers, and anyway, we are learning through experience that smaller, localized groups are better at making decisions than big, representative ones. This convergence will only be the first of many.
As we create more free, occupied spaces, as our confidence and numbers grow, as we build the better world we know is possible, decentralized networks of affinity, communication and friendship will be incredibly important. We’re going to be working together for years to come, and we’ll need to coordinate smoothly in order to win. The Occupy Convergence will be another step towards producing this coordination and, ultimately, this victory.
Winter is coming, but for the one percent, it’s going to be a lot longer and a lot colder.
Ariel Oshinksy and Stephen Squibb – Boston, MA
Willie Osterweil, Sam Frank, Mike Andrews and Malcolm Harris – Brooklyn, NY
Randall Cohn – Minneapolis, MN
Bill Soules – Santa Cruz, CA
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