Tag Archives: organizing

What Does Grassroots Mean Anymore? | Irregular Times

8 May

The idea of grassroots organizing is that it’s supposed to be supported from the lowest levels first, like the way that grass grows, without reliance on centralized organizations or large sources of support. In grassroots organizing, people who have little power individually can form networks together that cannot be easily defeated because even when one part of the organization is attacked, new shoots can rise up to fill in, just as grass roots run in a complex weave of long thin contributions from many different plants to occupy a large space. In a piece of genuine turf, individual roots aren’t growing to create some kind of predetermined shape. The strong mat of green that results from their work is a result of unpredictable growth that doesn’t have a pattern that’s easy to pick apart. Its strength is that it is a jumbled mess.

What George Soros and his wealthy fellows are doing is giving a big load of fertilizer to a group of organizations that grow more like trees. These organizations have a centralized trunk and root system, and without those centralized systems, the organizations will die. Cut them back from the top, and they won’t regrow. They haven’t grown spontaneously from a network of small individuals. They’re the results of single seeds that have grown individually large and powerful.

…Big media organizations such as the New York Times have lost touch with what genuine grassroots organizations look like. What these corporate news operations describe with the the term “grassroots” nowadays is rather like their own organizations: Designed for consumption by individuals, but only though a system of distribution controlled from the top down, powered by large payments from a few sources with a lot of money.

via What Does Grassroots Mean Anymore? | Irregular Times.

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Urban Revolution is Coming — Occupy Wall Street

29 Apr

Max Rivlin-Nadler interviews David Harvey in Salon.

Geographer and social theorist David Harvey, the distinguished professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and one of the 20 most cited humanities scholars of all time, has spent his career exploring how cities organize themselves, and when they do, what their achievements are. His new book, “Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution,” dissects the effects of free-market financial policy on urban life, the crippling debt of middle- and low-income Americans and how runaway development has destroyed a common space for all city dwellers.

Beginning with the question, How do we organize a whole city? Harvey looks at how the current credit crisis had its root in urban development, and how this development has made any political organizing in American cities virtually impossible in the past 20 years.

The right ot the city:

So when I talk about the right to make the city more after our heart’s desire, and what we’ve seen in New York City over the last 20-30 years, it’s been the heart’s desire of the rich folk. Back in the ’70s it was the Rockefeller brothers for example, who were the big players. Now we have people like Bloomberg, and essentially, they make the city in a way that is convenient to them and their businesses. But the mass of the population has almost no influence over this process. There are nearly a million people in this city who are trying to get by on $10,000 a year. What influence do they have over the kind of city that is being built? None at all. Continue reading

Walk Like an Egyptian: Protest the Fat Cats

4 Feb

Writing in The Nation, Johann Hari spells out this fantasy:

Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind. Enraged citizens gather in every city, week after week—to demand the government finally regulate the behavior of corporations and the superrich, and force them to start paying taxes. The protesters shut down the shops and offices of the companies that have most aggressively ripped off the country. The swelling movement is made up of everyone from teenagers to pensioners. They surround branches of the banks that caused this crash and force them to close, with banners saying, You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.

And he goes on to point out that it has happened:

This may sound like a fantasy—but it has all happened. The name of this parallel universe is Britain. As recently as this past fall, people here were asking the same questions liberal Americans have been glumly contemplating: Why is everyone being so passive? Why are we letting ourselves be ripped off? Why are people staying in their homes watching their flat-screens while our politicians strip away services so they can fatten the superrich even more?

And so a dozen British citizens decided to start protesting against Vodaphone, which had managed to to gull the government into forgiving £5 billion in taxes:

That first protest grabbed a little media attention—and then the next day, in a different city, three other Vodafone stores were shut down in the northern city of Leeds, by unconnected protests. UK Uncut realized this could be replicated across the country. So the group set up a Twitter account and a website, where members announced there would be a national day of protest the following Saturday. They urged anybody who wanted to organize a protest to e-mail them so it could be added to a Google map. Britain’s most prominent tweeters, such as actor Stephen Fry, joined in.

Could this happen in the USofA?