MAKING WORLDS: AN OCCUPY WALL STREET FORUM ON THE COMMONS

February 12, 2012

February 11th, 2012—From February 16th to the 18th, the Empowerment and Education working group of Occupy Wall Street will be organizing a forum to reflect on the direction and aims of the Occupy movement and articulate strategies for the movement’s future. The forum will take place at the Church of the Ascension at 122 Java Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and will be open to the public. The times are Thursday Feb. 16th from 5 PM to 9 PM, Friday Feb. 17th from 5 PM to 9 PM, and Saturday Feb. 18th from 10 AM to 9 PM. Information can be found online at makingworlds.wikispaces.com.

Recent media articles have argued that the Occupy Wall Street message has profoundly influenced the political conversation in the United States, to the point that President Obama “took a page” from OWS in his State of the Union address. At the same time, these articles suggest that the energy of the movement itself has died down after the countrywide displacement of Occupy encampments beginning in late November. The truth, however, is that supporters of the movement have not been dormant over the winter. They have been meeting—indoors and outdoors, in public spaces and community centers, homes, and cafes—to plan for a new phase of the Occupy movement. While OWS was initially focused on protests and demonstrations against corporate greed and income inequality, the movement is now seeking to create solutions to these problems. Increasingly, OWS’s supporters have begun to embrace a theory of social organization that is referred to as “The Common” or “The Commons.” According to this theory, a “commons” is defined as any widely available resource—from air, water, and community gardens to open source software—whose mode of production should (or already is) being determined by those who use it. Perhaps the most recognizable “common” that we rely on in our daily lives is Wikipedia, one of the many current user-run repositories of knowledge.

Based on the belief that the market is transforming the world’s “commons” into profit centers, the Making Worlds forum will bring together Occupy supporters as well as other organizations and community networks for three days of sharing resources and ideas on how to build and sustain a more equitable world for today and tomorrow. The forum will encourage a horizontal, discussion-based format, and participants will include the feminist economist and activist Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, and James Quilligan.

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