Movement Generation Solutions Part II: Resilience

The first part got quite long, so I decided to section this part out – I think it’s especially exciting.


We did a Visualization exercise of being organizers in 1969, after tons of tumultuous world change and uprising globally, and having a chance to go back to 1958 – what would you advise yourself? how could you be more prepared?

Then of course we applied that visualization to now – if we can imagine truly the changes possible in 10 years, what could we tell ourselves now about how to think, be, what to do, etc?

Here’s what I came up with:

– read the writings, stories and strategies of organizers from global south/third world, build deep relationships that bring the center of politics south
– not just of what you want to overcome, but what you want to exist and be. later, when the chance to overcome and shift culture arises, you will be better poised to lead towards something new, rather than just titillating and reactionary.
– what is the economic aspect of desegregation and equality? what do our communities need?

– physical practices. strengthen your body to be able to participate in a lifestyle of travel, struggle…discipline, together
– build multi-cultural spaces where folks are encouraged to love, honor and respect their own people and each other, and be who they are

– speak to a vision of leadership from people in struggle, from people of color
– we stand in solidarity, and there are many leaders…do not create vulnerable leaders by advancing visions as the work of solo organizer-thinkers, always have the wisdom and visions be the work of the commons, so that isolation and elimination tactics (red-baiting, assassination) cannot stop the dream.
– our own communication modes

– radical. live your values, this will help to bring them into existence.
– resolution minded. build community and relationship in such a way that it cannot easily be disrupted and betrayed. work with people you trust.
– beautiful and compelling. let your visions fill you up.
– one of many
– centered, grounded, and more centered.

when we came together with others in a small group, this is what we found we shared in terms of what we’d tell our past selves:
– more discipline in developing an analysis that isn’t based purely on western/northern political theory, knowing the thinkers/analysis/vision and stories of the global south
– having physical practice together, for solidarity, for strength
– making moments to take care of ourselves vs moments to push – learning to assess
– knowing how to assess
– never dropping respect for each other, no matter how intense or pushed the circumstances are
– knowing when its consensus time and when its time for other processes, and again, having discipline and trust

in the large group we debriefed:
– how far would we go to reach the people? would folks enlist to organize within the military? military is a weak link in right strategy now.
– how to focus good non-impacted folks (like artsy white hippies) into more necessary work
– more coordinated work globally, more communication than just shout-outs to each other, but really thinking of ourselves in community
– roles. really knowing your needs, your skills, your passion and your role.


Brock and Dave Show!

Here we got to hear current examples of Resilience from two amazing men who work in/with/around the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.

Resilience has to grow at several Levels:
– You (both at home and in your neighborhood) bring it back to
– Your Organization (in office/home and community) train and bring back to
– Your members (practicing resilience in addition to other organizing!)

Over 50% of humans live in cities, so now we need Green Cities:

Brock showed us the permaculture flower! Petals included: land and nature, built environment, tools and technology, culture and education, health and spiritual well-being, finance and economics, land tenure and community governance…

Permaculture is the practice of long-term sustained culture, integrative.

Tree People is a group doing groundbreaking work in LA based on the idea that the problem is the solution, if we come together to think thru next steps.

Be a Loca-vore – eating locally. local, small scale, regional self reliance

“give me a fish i am fed for a day, teach me to fish i am fed till river is contaminated. teach me to organize!”

we are kin to all life. we need a kin-centric worldview, everything is in relationship – fungi and bacteria can be great for us.

if kids grow food they will eat it! schools around food and gardens, growing food, growing schoolyards.

throw some cardboard and mulch on the front yard and grow stuff!

another piece of resilience is community gardens – shared garden spaces. rooftop garden spaces. evaluate roofs – what is the roof best for? lots of gardening space in the city on top of roofs. try garden urinals (yes, garden urinals).

how big is your garden in cubic feet? save seeds! 90% of varieties our great grandparents had at the turn of the century are gone. local seed banks! food coop, buy in bulk, economy of scale.
public transportation yay!
local-global currency.
co-housing, community land trusts, mutual home ownership.
how do we de-commodify housing and bring back the commonwealth VS private poverty?

some examples of communities reclaiming streets and public space:

in portland an intersection was reclaimed with a permanent tea station, cobb benches, urban oar, streets that can be used.

in a favela in sao paola, brazil reusing bottles, edible schoolyards that include ponds, food, wiggly raised beds, kids involved and learning. the permaculture has shifted the violent nature os the favela cuz folks are involved in the permaculture process.

rooftop water supply. treat with carbon and uv light. humanure toilet you compost in backyard.

the bottled water thing:
evian = naive – people will pay 3000% more than value of water coming out of their tap which is actually more likely to be drinkable since it is tested regular according to municipal standards!

grey water is finally legal in california! you can pump laundry water into backyard! process it and use it onsite instead of pumping it away to waste processing and back.

in seoul, korea and cities in china – floating walkable docks with cages of plants. pump water through the plants and in one year its a clear clean living fishable walkway. the bacteria and fungus process the toxins – the plants take the sun and pump the whole process.

symbiosis is the great natural process, not darwinism, not competition (that was a dude trying to propogate the myth that the sun never set on the british empire). party with biology!

green street movement – living systems, storm water through bio filters. curves, sidewalks, water retention onsite. bio-filters that take storm water and clean it up to be potable.

flooding is an indictment of watershed mis-mangement.

seoul, korea opened up a river that was under a highway and made it green.
6 acre park in sichuan, china. the garden cleans up the river water and comes out into fountains that kids can play in.

aquaponics – grow fish and process water. urban aquaculture in brazil – permaculturaamericalatina website. fish eat fruit from trees planted by the river – make clean water cleaning pond system!

2 examples of ancient aquaculture:

chinampa – valley of mexico. (if cortez was from venice colonization would have gone very differently – as it was, he destroyed the amazing dykes that was floating terraced growth)

and where the tigris and euphrates rivers met in iraq – the marsh arabs lived in reed huts and integrated aqua cultures.

could NOLA be the next venice?


gopal shared with us his star wars analogy and led us in a conversation on political solution thinking

“we’re in the trash compactor – we shot the serpent (the evil evil) then we ran to the center, then the people on margins blocked the sides from sight, then we put up a piece of trash to block it (in a trash compactor, hello) – this is like the ultimate false solutions move. ultimately needed a C3PO – it was the outside to our inside strategy…now it’s time to be the C3P0 you wish to see in the world!”

inside-outside works when inside can point to outside movement and say we are not obligated to obey/converse/compromise.

there is no way to measure what is owed from north to south. jubilee is anchoring ecological debt movement now – external debt is dwarfed by ecological debt.

our responsibility is not to find a socially acceptable compromise – its to demand what we really need and organize our communities to want/need it. if we compromise with our congress, that’s the “best we can get”…starting in the center means you can only be pulled right. have to start with what you want, then can meet in the middle.

this is a “where we can win” moment – if there’s nothing meaningful at the federal level, then you get aggressive stuff happening at the local/state level and move it, make it complicated enough to need knowledge, and then that can drive federal policy. no federal policy is actually great locally and great internationally. you have to know what your line is tho – where will you draw the line of what you won’t support.

we need to recognize when there is a process success, and when there is a content success. ACES was a content fail in terms of what directly impacted communities are telling us clearly; but it was a process success (at least partially) in terms of the nationally organizing that advanced it. now we need to make sure the folks involved in the process learn what the content really needs to be. Different strategies organizations are trying to employ, show a different political line. but we need alignment, so that we can trust those different strategies.

one participant brought up the metaphor of the ocean liner heading towards the iceberg. we’ve been fighting about resources and whose on the deck chairs and who is underneath. but now there’s an iceberg, and we’re passed the point where we won’t hit it. the measure can’t be is it good for those on the boat – it has to be in the context of the iceberg…for real, is this not just ok but XCLLENT?

do we push it up to the next level now, or drive something to failure to make it happen again. if it fails then we can get more together, more aligned, to push for what we actually need.

the dynamic of non-profits is: who are we accountable to? the problem is that various communities we would like to be accountable to are in tension. outside the context of alignment, we make our own decisions. there’s no political space where we can give each other feedback on the decisions we’ve made. right now we don’t have politics, we’re doing locally based campaign work – and we’re stretched locally.

yeah…but – politically this might be an iceberg and we need to reallocate the resources.

localism of nonprofits limits us…we can’t do international or national level stuff as effectively as we need to…existing national groups are too often top-down instead of local-up.

via campesina does stuff global/regional/local, not either/or…

we can see this as a critique of having to be accountable to funders who only want to fund us for local work and not for regional/natl cooperative work…trans-local…

we need to get to a point where we don’t have to compromise our values to advance. we need to open minds to the reality that there is a deep connection between local and international. we need to make sure our local members see the failure of how we have been doing it, and see the big picture.

we want direct action not like rallies or protests, but people directly doing the things they want/need to see in the world.


Strategic Conversation:

we need the fearlessness, tactics, and solidarity with direct action that is an advance of actual implementation. we need to have a mindset of we are doing this, and we will do it with y’all (govt, stimulus) or we will advance it in our communities. release the mindset of obeying and being complicit.

what is the DAILY practice. and how do we talk about a multi-strategy approach – where we don’t always agree but know when is the right time for which tactics. have it planned out so it’s not just action after the lobbying piece didn’t work.

we need to flip the relationship and dynamic so that policy is developed from a starting point of community organizers, rather than organizers being asked to help advance policy that doesn’t serve our needs.

gopal summary:

bottom up alignment, ussf, direct action, political conversation towards alignment of analysis – revolutionary ecological analysis that’s larger than our local struggles, liberated zones!, bringing our organizers up to speed and fearlessness so they aren’t a barrier, process AND implementation, working well with white folks, organizational capacities (like ruckus), clarity about where we agree and disagree and what we are/aren’t working on, edo-audit of our organizations, clarify what a green job really is and what the steps are to get there, importance of labor, share our tools with each other.

That’s all for now!