Living and thriving through regenerative practices and a sustainable worldview.

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The Nitty Gritty Guide

Check out a new project from Alli and Carlo Manzella, called “The Nitty Gritty Guide – Our Guide To The Good Life“.

The Nitty Gritty Guide

The Nitty Gritty Guide

An excerpt from their site states: “We are a growing number of individuals from various different backgrounds who have come together to share and learn time honored skills, traditional art forms and revive the knowledge that kept our ancestors alive and thriving without the dependency on modern conveniences, imports, petroleum based products, the commercial agricultural system and conventional food.”

These two are interviewing people who are doing work in the areas mentioned above within their local community, in order to spread the word and educate folks about what they’re doing.

Check out their latest interviews here!


So… why “Resilient Existence”?

The reed that bends does not break...

The name of this blog is a mouthful.
I know it better than anyone when I have to type it into the address bar, ftp server, etc.
But the name is purposeful and has a lot of meaning.

If you look at the right side of this blog, under “RECENT POSTS”, you’ll see the “TOOLBOX”, which is chock-full of awesome tutorials, videos, podcasts and other resources. It’s all there to help you figure things out on your own, do things yourself (DIY) or do things with others(DIT, Do-It-Together)!

In recent years, there has been a subtle undercurrent that I feel has been diluting the solution-driven, permaculturist movement, and the name of this blog also addresses that on some level.

The reed that bends does not break...

The reed that bends does not break…


You see, there are a whole lot of Lone Wolf types out there, who think that the way to address breakdowns in culture and infrastructure is to hole-up, hunker down, create a wall of resistance, and hoard. They might apply this approach to many different situations – a hurricane, new neighbors, or even general overall uncertainty.

I’ve seen the “I’ll protect me and mine” mindset one too many times, and I believe that it creates more problems, because it’s furthering the idea of scarcity and rigidity. Rigidity is not Resilience, but is often mistaken for it, when paired with a huge body of DIY-type knowledge.

But knowledge is not wisdom. And rigidity is not resilience.

The name of this blog is about what it says- “resilience”, and applying it to how we “exist” in the world. But also, if you remove a bunch of the letters, you are left with the word “RESIST”.
It is a reminder that there are a whole lot of options to go through before one must resort to simply resisting. I do believe that resisting has its time and place, but I am of the firm belief that energy flows wherever your attention goes. If you put your attention and energy into resistance, you’re going to meet a wall. If you put your attention and energy into creating alternatives and solutions, you may get better results.

I was once involved with creating a public charter school, and the biggest lesson I learned from that experience was gleaned by watching not the kids, but the parents. I recognized that there was a distinct split into two types of parents. On the one hand, there were the parents who totally believed in the mission of the school and wanted their children to be in an environment that encompassed the ethics, processes, etc. that were our vision. On the other hand, you had parents who were dissatisfied with the local public schools, many having had bad experiences, and just wanted their kids to go “somewhere else” that wasn’t an expensive private school. The first group may have also had bad experiences with other schools, but were more focused on building what they WANTED. The second group was more focused on what they DIDN’T want. It was often this second group that created drama, made it difficult to get through a board meeting, issued unrealistic demands, and in the end, even caused one incident that cost the school tens of thousands of dollars! I realized that this was a prime example of creating what you put your energy into.

So… once again, I’ll just mention that I think resistance can be useful. For instance, I think it is sometimes necessary when being applied to very large scale issues, like civil rights and social justice, when you really need something to give, shift or heave. Resistance can be non-violent and still work – just ask Ghandi or MLK Jr. But we’ve been conditioned to think of resistance as violent, so that is why I think that other options must be used first, even if they are just buying time while we are reflecting and looking ahead to the possibility of perhaps having to use any kind of resistance. The time that it takes for the “other letters to be removed”, is necessary in order to properly assess what is needed and what would be useful.

Hidden within the name of this blog is a reminder to “slow down” and make sure that any resistance will promote resilience rather than rigidity, and also nurture the existence of all, rather than undermine it or create competition.

I hope this makes sense!


Cutural Capital and Other Forms of Exchange

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different forms of exchange available in the world.

There’s been a lot of noise about Bitcoin in the past year, and the weather is also getting warmer, which finds me at more swap meets, flea markets, etc. where I tend to barter.

But what has really been nagging at me is all the fuss that is always being generated from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. I started to think about all this fuss as capital.

It seems that a whole lot of people want it, which puts it into the realm of commodity, and any business who has ever looked to promote themselves knows that “buzz” is a form of exchange that converts into financial capital. Hell, Google’s building an empire based on Search Results, a form of this kind of capital. I am personally beginning to think that we could eradicate the national deficit if we were to tax all of the invisible, freely-given capital that we give to Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. every day in the form of marketable demographic data and intelligence. But I digress.

What has been the most revealing to me, is how individuals are valuing their Facebook “share”. No, not the “Share” button, but actual share, as in, their slice of the Popularity Pie. People are crazy about this shit. Facebook “Likes”, have become a commodity, as people’s self-worth becomes attached to them. This has been steadily growing to the point that it is a widely accepted practice, and I recognize it as another form of social and cultural capital.

A friend recently forwarded the following link to a list I’m on, which started to take the conversation even deeper.

Scientists link selfies to Narcissism, Addiction & Mental illness

As I read, the following sentence jumped out at me:
“The more likes we get on social media sites the happier we feel. Is this sustainable?

Hmmm.
I realized that this concept goes back to another conversation I’ve been having in the general permaculture community, regarding economic permaculture initiatives.

If the structure or framework that we are working within is unsustainable (the global economy, perhaps capitalism, depends on your views) , then perhaps continuously trying to implement sustainable initiatives within a larger, unsustainable context is not the way to go. That’s like using “holistic” medicine for lung cancer, but still smoking…

I think it’s the same here, but it is within a cultural framework, rather than economic. Our general culture is unsustainable, hands down. It does not sustain or regenerate our emotional/spiritual/mental/physical/generational health. It has largely become saddled to the idea of profit/gain/resource hoarding. The hoarding of resources can include social “capital”, too (Facebook Friends, Likes, etc.).

It has been my understanding that MANY things can abstractly be considered social capital, or commodities. For example, just as Facebook friends can be thought of as a resource for the ego, gossip can also be considered a form of capital when it is exchanged between people and they receive some social/emotional benefit from it (profit).

The idea of being an “expert” or “know-it-all” in social circles, can also be a form of attempting to hoard or exude authority, which in turn, affects people’s social interactions and is a form of control (profit for the ego). Both of these require more and more information, and at some point it becomes unsustainable. It’s not a loop unless you’re going to gossip about yourself, which I’m betting won’t work very long. ;)

So, the way I see it, since our culture nurtures these behaviors through emphasis on media, ego, disconnection and polarization of views/”other-ness”, and rewards us for doing these things in the short term, we are left with what I think is the greatest re-skilling challenge of all: understanding, using, and developing tools of SELF, and also in/with our families/tribes/communities, to navigate the current culture and transform it into a sustainable/regenerative framework that promotes our health and well-being.

If we remove the need or pressure to stroke ourselves so much, then selfies will just feel pointless.

To me, it seems that it always goes back to Culture in the end. It’s the framework we all are trying to live within, since no man (or woman) is an island.

As if by fate, a few days later the following article tumbled into my Inbox and added another layer to the conversation.

8 Forms of Capital – Ethan Roland, Peak Prosperity Podcast

The section concerning cultural capital in regards to New Orleans and Japan during recent disasters is especially relevant to the discussion. I’ve often observed how Americans will pull together immediately after a disaster (Hurricane Sandy), and when there is a general time frame where things are expected to return to normal (Boston Marathon). However, when the effects of a disaster perpetuate indefinitely (poverty), or there is no help on the way (umm… poverty?), they are more apt to cannibalize each other in some form. It seems directly tied to the idea that we are living in a scarcity model, rather than an abundance model or something else, and I view this as cultural (the idea of “bigger, better, more”, “keeping up with the Jones’”, etc.).

How do we assess our cultural capital as a nation, a globally spreading cultural influence, a planet…?

How do we tie that capital to other forms of currency so that we are receiving regenerative returns in other areas and demonstrating a regenerative abundance model? (emotional, spiritual, social, etc.)


Lessons from Hurricane Sandy: infrastructure and resilience

I’ve been thinking a bit about this whole hurricane thing, and as is often the case, it has turned to more permaculture-related thoughts.

When my grandfather was a boy, he had a little kerosene lamp to light his way to bed every night. You see, they didn’t have electricity yet. During Hurricane Sandy, my mother used this very same lamp to read by and navigate through a darkened house.
I find it amazing that in around just one generation’s time, we’ve gone from having no electricity, to being so UTTERLY dependent upon it.

I recognize that this is largely due to the fact that electricity has been built into our infrastructure. Generally, we don’t put wood-burning stoves in new homes or apartment buildings. We think of fire as a potential hazard, even if we cherish the warmth of a fireplace enough to make electric versions of them.

All of this brings me back to my grandfather. In his childhood, they had a lot less “infrastructure”, but stronger social relationships. I’ve had a lot of discussions about alternative infrastructure, how to strengthen it, getting off the grid “in order to be self-sufficient”, etc.
But none of those are really the same as talking about the idea of infrastructure ITSELF as being a crutch or a potential obstacle to resilience.

Back in the day, my grandfather’s community, in a town next to where I still live, had a very important discussion. These people were very hard-working folks who believed very much in the church as center of community, and in helping your fellow person out. These people also invented the very first insurance company in the U.S., and the idea of “insurance”, and this was almost a scandal inside the church.

Why? Because they recognized that it had the potential to “relieve” folks of the moral responsibility of helping their fellow community members, since insurance would step in and do what had traditionally been done by people: re-build houses after a fire, loan resources, etc. In the end, it was decided that they would only make “insurance” available to “heathens outside of the church”, in order to not make their own people complacent and apathetic. Obviously, the idea grew past those boundaries, and we now have a nationwide epidemic of insurance fraud and a litigious court system. Our good natures are now actually HAMPERED by insurance liability in many cases. Which is exactly the kind of thing that they were worried about. Oops.

My point is this: is infrastructure that is not based in social relationships, but rather, in contracts, actually an impediment to resilience, both physically and morally?


Rainwater Catchment

Came across this most EXCELLENT resource over at www.grownyc.org.
I think it might be the most complete little PDF of rainwater harvesting I’ve ever seen. It literally has pictures of the individual components used in their systems, along with pipe measurements, filtration systems, treatment, tanks, etc.

Rainwater Harvesting 101:
http://www.grownyc.org/files/osg/RWH.how.to.pdf

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

 


Food Co-ops Toolkit

A simple guide to setting up food co-ops. :)

http://www.sustainweb.org/foodcoopstoolkit/


9 Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

Source: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/

Excerpt:

Nine Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

  1. Mow or cut your lawn, weeds, or other vegetation right down to the ground.
  2. Plant any crops that will require a large planting hole (including woody plants, perennials in large pots, and large transplants).
  3. Add soil amendments (as determined by your soil test).
  4. Water the whole area thoroughly. You are going to be putting a layer of cardboard or newspaper over it, and rain and irrigation won’t soak through very well until that weed barrier breaks down. Water also helps the decomposition process get going.
  5. If you have compost materials that may contain weed seeds (like fresh manure, leaves, or hay), spread them in layers on the ground. Put a dry, carbonaceous layer of hay or shredded leaves below any manure layer. Avoid thick layers, and make sure to get a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio just as if you were building a compost pile (see Start with the Soil or other gardening books for details). Water this layer well.
  6. Lay down a weed barrier. I prefer to use large sheets of cardboard from appliance stores, because these last longer and are quicker to lie down. You can use layers of wet newspaper too. Make sure to have a 4- to 6-inch overlap where sheets meet so buried weeds can’t find a route to the surface. If you have already planted crops, or have other preexisting plants, don’t mulch over them. Cut holes in the cardboard to make some breathing space for each plant (or leave some room around each plant when laying newspaper).
  7. Now you can add your weed-free organic materials. I like to keep it simple, and just add a nice layer of compost. You can also do some sheet composting here, alternating layers of nitrogen-rich materials like fresh grass clippings with carbonaceous materials like weed-free straw.
  8. Now you add your final top mulch layer, at least 3 inches thick. Water the whole bed thoroughly once again. Your sheet mulch bed is complete.
  9. You can plant right into your bed if you like. To plant tubers or potted plants, just pull back the top layers until you get to the weed barrier. Cut an X in the cardboard or newspaper. If you are transplanting a large plant, peel back the corners of the X. Throw a double handful of compost in the planting hole and then put in the plant. Pull the layers and top mulch back around the plant, water well, and you’re all set. Planting seeds is easy too. Just pull back the top mulch to the compost layer and plant your seeds. You may want to cut through the weed barrier below first, depending on weed pressure below the barrier. If you are planting seeds, be sure to water regularly, as compost on top of cardboard can dry out quickly.

See that itty-bitty yard space out front?

BAM!! Awesomeness!

Please go visit http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/ for more!


A Disturbing Trend

A snippet from a great piece of writing on permaculture, race, and good intentions. Please click through and read the whole article, it’s a very good read, and is something that I think is not being discussed as much as it should be within the “sustainability” community.

Source: http://www.beblackandgreen.com/content/disturbing-trend

“Over the past few years, I have attended several national, state and local good food conferences at which various non-profit organizations doing work in schools and/or community gardens in urban communities were featured in powerpoint presentations or slide shows.  Invariably, at least one of the images features a group of inner-city Black children posing in a garden or kitchen with one, two or three young white adults, standing with them, smiling broadly…”


The Tree Sisters

Check out this project- The Tree Sisters
And at the heart of all they do, are these wonderful maps!

Map of Five Choices:

Shadow Map:


CSA model applied to fair trade coffee

For you caffeine junkies, a way to sip with a conscience – 100% farmer owned.

http://coffeecsa.org/

 


Support 'Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act' to help decentralize food system

http://www.naturalnews.com/035214_local_food_farms_jobs.html#ixzz1op3dOqMu

Sunday, March 11, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Federal food policies that distribute billions of taxpayer dollars every year to subsidize the growth of commodity crops like genetically-modified (GM) corn and soy are largely responsible for the dismal state of food quality and health in our nation today. But Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) have introduced a new bill known as the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act that would help decentralize the food system and promote diversified, small-scale farming operations capable of meeting the growing demand for clean, fresh, local foods.

At least $12 billion a year is currently allocated to subsidize industrial-scale agriculture systems like pesticide-ridden GM crop mega-farms, and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that hold tens of thousands of animals in filth. Meanwhile, only about $100 million a year is allocated to support local food programs that grow and distribute fresh, clean food.

But all this can change with the passage of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which will provision more money from the Farm Bill for small-scale, organic farmers, and help bring more clean, local food into public school lunchrooms. And since hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill, which will establish federal food policy for the next five years, are already taking place, now is the time to contact your congressmen and urge support for the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act.

"American consumers want access to healthy, fresh foods and farmers should be able to sell it to them," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) about the bill. "Local and regional food systems help the communities where farmers and consumers live growing the economy and creating jobs while improving public health and nutrition."

You can read the entire Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act by visiting:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.1773:

Investing in local food systems will help reverse the obesity, chronic disease epidemic in America
Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are among the top chronic conditions that afflict millions of Americans today, many of whom consume a steady diet of corn- and soy-laden processed foods that are artificially inexpensive because of federal food subsidies. And while more and more people are learning the truth about processed foods and seeking out healthy alternatives, federal policies make it difficult for small-scale farmers to earn a living and provide healthy food for their communities.

“For too long, funding provided by the United States’ most far-reaching food and farm legislation has primarily benefited agri-business and large scale industrial-scale commodity farms that aren’t growing food,” writes Kari Hamerschlag on the EWG blog. “Instead, they’re growing ingredients for animal feed, fuel and highly processed food — at a high cost to our nation’s health, environment and rural communities.”

The federal government has no place interfering in agriculture in the first place, but if it is going to redistribute taxpayers’ money into the food system, it needs to promote the systems that lead to improved nutrition and better health — small-scale, diversified farms.

To learn more, visit:
http://www.ewg.org/local-farms-food-and-jobs-act

To contact your congressmen and urge support for the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, visit:
http://action.ewg.org

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ewg.org/local-farms-food-and-jobs-act

http://www.ewg.org

http://www.farmbillfacts.org/agenda-2012/farm-bill-timeline


FREE Permaculture eBooks!

http://www.green-shopping.co.uk/books/ebooks/free-ebooks.html

“Permaculture is all about one part of a system trying to help another, so this is our attempt to help replicate that, by sharing permaculture knowledge as freely and as widely as we can.

In this section you’ll find a selection of completely free eBook downloads on permaculture and wider environmental topics…”

 


A Municipal Bank In San Francisco? City Explores Revolutionary New Model

From:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/03/municipal-bank-san-francisco_n_1074600.html

San Francisco Municipal Bank

First Posted: 11/ 4/11 04:45 PM ET Updated: 11/ 7/11 02:17 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO — On a typically foggy San Francisco morning, a few hundred protesters stood on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of California’s Market Street location in an effort to bring the wheels of high-finance capitalism to a grinding halt.

At their front, liberal city supervisor and mayoral hopeful John Avalos stepped up to the makeshift podium, a beat-up red megaphone pressed to his salt-and-pepper beard, to give one of the trademark rabble-rousing stem-winders that have earned him his status as the de facto progressive candidate in this month’s contest.

If Avalos knows one thing, it’s how to work a sympathetic crowd. Ringing up one applause line after another, the candidate hammered easy targets like the Wall Street bailout and tax cuts for the wealthy.

But one line in particular stood out. “San Francisco needs to look into starting its own municipal bank,” he said. “We need to stop doing banking with the very people who wrecked the economy.”

The assembled crowd, a motley assortment of union workers, mask-wearing anarchists and everyday people feeling trapped by high unemployment and a dour economy, erupted in a rapturous roar of support.

For the creation of a local government commission.

To study an obscure form of banking.

That a politician could so easily get an angry mob to instantly rally around an idea so inherently complicated is indicative of either his oratorical skill or the timeliness of the idea, or both.

As a rallying cry, “off with their heads” it’s not; but a municipal bank may be just the thing to kick-start San Francisco’s economy out of the doldrums. Or it could become a black hole sucking millions of dollars from the budget at a time when the city can least afford it.

The idea of creating a local municipal bank has been around for a long time. It was a demand of the 1975 San Francisco Community Congress, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors commissioned a Legislative Analyst Report at the bequest of supervisor Matt Gonzalez on the issue in 2001.

Only two totally government-owned banks exist in the United States, neither of which are under the jurisdiction of an individual city. Around the world, a handful of cities (Berlin and Jakarta, for example) have been …

Read entire article…


How To Start A Food Co-Op or Cooperative Business

Added to the Community – Social, Economic, Urban Planning, etc. section:

“How To Start A Food Co-Op”  – From the Cooperative Grocer’s Network (2010)
“How To Start A Cooperative” – From the USDA Office of Rural Development, a guide that outlines the process of organizing and financing a cooperative business. (1996)


Make Your Own Lotion Bars for Gift-Giving!

Taking a break from being so serious for a moment.

Check it out:
http://www.learningherbs.com/news_issue_73.html


An Open Letter to the Occupy Movement: Why We Need Agreements by Starhawk

http://starhawksblog.org/?p=675

By Starhawk | Published: November 9, 2011

Alliance of Community Trainers is the training collective I work with.  Here’s our statement to the Occupy movement on questions of violence, nonviolence and strategy:

From the Alliance of Community Trainers, ACT

The Occupy movement has had enormous successes in the short time since September when activists took over a square near Wall Street. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of active participants, spawned occupations in cities and towns all over North America, changed the national dialogue and garnered enormous public support. It’s even, on occasion, gotten good press!

Now we are wrestling with the question that arises again and again in movements for social justice—how to struggle. Do we embrace nonviolence, or a ‘diversity of tactics?’ If we are a nonviolent movement, how do we define nonviolence? Is breaking a window violent?

We write as a trainers’ collective with decades of experience, from the anti-Vietnam protests of the sixties through the strictly nonviolent antinuclear blockades of the seventies, in feminist, environmental and anti-intervention movements and the global justice mobilizations of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. We embrace many labels, including feminist, anti-racist, eco-feminist and anarchist. We have many times stood shoulder to shoulder with black blocs in the face of the riot cops, and we’ve been tear-gassed, stun-gunned, pepper sprayed, clubbed, and arrested,

While we’ve participated in many actions organized with a diversity of tactics, we do not believe that framework is workable for the Occupy Movement. Setting aside questions of morality or definitions of ‘violence’ and ‘nonviolence’ – for no two people define ‘violence’ in the same way – we ask the question:

What framework can we organize in that will build on our strengths, allow us to grow, embrace a wide diversity of participants, and make a powerful impact on the world?

‘Diversity of tactics’ becomes an easy way to avoid wrestling with questions of strategy and accountability. It lets us off the hook from doing the hard work of debating our positions and coming to agreements about how we want to act together. It becomes a code for ‘anything goes,’ and makes it impossible for our movements to hold anyone accountable for their actions.

The Occupy movement includes people from a broad diversity of backgrounds, life experiences and political philosophies. Some of us want to reform the system and some of us want to tear it down and replace it with something better. Our one great point of agreement is our call for transparency and accountability. We stand against the corrupt institutions that broker power behind closed doors. We call to account the financial manipulators that have bilked billions out of the poor and the middle classes.

Just as we call for accountability and transparency, we ourselves must be accountable and transparent. Some tactics are incompatible with those goals, even if in other situations they might be useful, honorable or appropriate. We can’t be transparent behind masks. We can’t be accountable for actions we run away from. We can’t maintain the security culture necessary for planning and carrying out attacks on property and also maintain the openness that can continue to invite in a true diversity of new people. We can’t make alliances with groups from impacted communities, such as immigrants, if we can’t make agreements about what tactics we will employ in any given action.

The framework that might best serve the Occupy movement is one of strategic nonviolent direct action. Within that framework, Occupy groups would make clear agreements about which tactics to use for a given action. This frame is strategic—it makes no moral judgments about whether or not violence is ever appropriate, it does not demand we commit ourselves to a lifetime of Gandhian pacifism, but it says, ‘This is how we agree to act together at this time.’ It is active, not passive. It seeks to create a dilemma for the opposition, and to dramatize the difference between our values and theirs.

Strategic nonviolent direct action has powerful advantages:

We make agreements about what types of action we will take, and hold one another accountable for keeping them. Making agreements is empowering. If I know what to expect in an action, I can make a choice about whether or not to participate. While we can never know nor control how the police will react, we can make choices about what types of action we stand behind personally and are willing to answer for. We don’t place unwilling people in the position of being held responsible for acts they did not commit and do not support.

In the process of coming to agreements, we listen to each other’s differing viewpoints. We don’t avoid disagreements within our group, but learn to debate freely, passionately, and respectfully.

We organize openly, without fear, because we stand behind our actions. We may break laws in service to the higher laws of conscience. We don’t seek punishment nor admit the right of the system to punish us, but we face the potential consequences for our actions with courage and pride.

Because we organize openly, we can invite new people into our movement and it can continue to grow. As soon as we institute a security culture in the midst of a mass movement, the movement begins to close in upon itself and to shrink.

Holding to a framework of nonviolent direct action does not make us ‘safe.’ We can’t control what the police do and they need no direct provocation to attack us. But it does let us make clear decisions about what kinds of actions we put ourselves at risk for.

Nonviolent direct action creates dilemmas for the opposition, and clearly dramatizes the difference between the corrupt values of the system and the values we stand for. Their institutions enshrine greed while we give away food, offer shelter, treat each person with generosity. They silence dissent while we value every voice. They employ violence to maintain their system while we counter it with the sheer courage of our presence.

Lack of agreements privileges the young over the old, the loud voices over the soft, the fast over the slow, the able-bodied over those with disabilities, the citizen over the immigrant, white folks over people of color, those who can do damage and flee the scene over those who are left to face the consequences.

Lack of agreements and lack of accountability leaves us wide open to provocateurs and agents. Not everyone who wears a mask or breaks a window is a provocateur. Many people clearly believe that property damage is a strong way to challenge the system. And masks have an honorable history from the anti-fascist movement in Germany and the Zapatista movement in Mexico, who said “We wear our masks to be seen.”

But a mask and a lack of clear expectations create a perfect opening for those who do not have the best interests of the movement at heart, for agents and provocateurs who can never be held to account. As well, the fear of provocateurs itself sows suspicion and undercuts our ability to openly organize and grow.

A framework of strategic nonviolent direct action makes it easy to reject provocation. We know what we’ve agreed to—and anyone urging other courses of action can be reminded of those agreements or rejected.

We hold one another accountable not by force or control, ours or the systems, but by the power of our united opinion and our willingness to stand behind, speak for, and act to defend our agreements.

A framework of strategic nonviolent direct action agreements allows us to continue to invite in new people, and to let them make clear choices about what kinds of tactics and actions they are asked to support.

There’s plenty of room in this struggle for a diversity of movements and a diversity of organizing and actions. Some may choose strict Gandhian nonviolence, others may choose fight-back resistance. But for the Occupy movement, strategic nonviolent direct action is a framework that will allow us to grow in diversity and power.

From the Alliance of Community Trainers, ACT

Starhawk

Lisa Fithian

Lauren Ross (or Juniper)

To comment or endorse this statement, got to:

http://trainersalliance.org/