For those who maintain the occupation at night and all day: “They also serve who only stand and wait.” ~ John Milton (1608 – 1674) from Sonnet XIX.
Please note that these summary and report posts are not a substitute for visiting the #OccupyHouston home site. I present them as a digest of what’s available there. – Mike
Upcoming events and meetings (with more details below the jump or directly on the #OccupyHouston site, via links):
* OCCUPY HOUSTON MOVES TO SWEEP UP DOWNTOWN: The group is currently asking for seventy upright “lobby-dustpans” and brooms to fulfill their ongoing “Clean Sweep” project on November 13th.
* REPORT: [Next] Women’s Group Meeting, Tues. Nov 15th 5:30 PM
* Occupy Houston Study and Strategy Discussion: Nov. 19th from 2-4:45pm in the Program Room of the Houston Public LIbrary
Summary of Scheduled Events (Go to main #OccupyHouston page for more details):
REPORT: [Next] Women’s Group Meeting, Tues. Nov 15th 5:30 PM
At the first Women’s Group meeting at Occupy Houston that did not invite men (but included them in the second hour of the meeting) many attendees expressed satisfaction at having gotten something out of the meeting and providing a safe space where women can talk about the gender balance issues they experience in the occupation.
Some of these issues include situations where an occupier is taking on one of the most work-intensive areas, then has a conflict with an indigent visitor, asks for support and the facilitator does not support her but tells her to let it go or let the person have what they want… in short, this woman is doing a lot of the work, but not able to make decisions directly related to the work she’s been put in charge of.
Other issues were insensitive sexist language and jokes. One woman was in the company of 2 men occupiers away from the occupation briefly when one told the other a rape joke, etc. As we talked we found there are many areas where further education about insensitive language and what to do when one hears such language…is wanting, as in much of society.
We appreciate that men were able to respect our space so that we could have this discussion.
There was some debate about not allowing men at the first part of the meeting. Aside from valid arguments for using established protocol like creating a Safe Space for disenfranchised groups, etc, the women themselves pretty clearly proved to me the need for such a group and ability to create such a safe space when necessary – In essence, multiple women did not feel that the system in place was allowing them to be heard and taken seriously when issues come up, as well as when they are being harassed are finding not enough support from surrounding occupiers– especially when women are not feeling heard, or any minority group, we will continue to provide safe places for women to meet and talk about the issues and struggles we have in common.
Overall, as a group we agreed that we would like to see the level of awareness of about the inequality women face brought to the same degree of awareness as race inequality and insensitivity.
The next women’s meeting will be Tuesday Nov. 15th at 5:30 pm. Everyone is welcome and the meeting will be moderated. I will update this post with the women’s group mailing list as soon as that becomes available.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact Roxanne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the heated debate on Facebook, Nick Cooper posted this note and during the women’s meeting we agreed it was well spoken and that we’d like to add it to the general outline of what the meeting was about. To be clear, this was originally posted in response to a heated debate on Facebook (at facebook.com/occupyhouston at Monday 2:24 pm) :
We shouldn’t expect most white-males to arrive at occupyhouston already knowing the motivations for an all women’s breakout group. For me, it took seeing several presentations by queer and people of color caucuses to “get it.” At occupyhouston when the idea of a feminism meeting first came up, many guys objected. A feminism meeting with those males present might not even get started, and it made perfect sense for those who identify as female to choose to meet on their own.
Breakout groups inside larger groups sometimes choose to limit their participation to only women, blacks, people of color, sex-workers, rape-victims, or etc. These types of groups form because when non white males try to explore their thoughts in an open group, they are often interrupted, shushed, mocked, dominated, criticized, or otherwise shut-down. I do not think the response of occupyhouston should amount to “man up, deal with it on your own, and come back whenever you are ready.”
There is no equivalency here to an all-white breakout group, and comparisons to that effect are odious. Oppressed groups in our society are not the same as dominant groups and we shouldn’t maintain an unequal status quo on the basis of so-called equality. Black prejudice against whites is not the same thing as white prejudice against blacks. The concept of black power is not an equivalent to the concept of white power. Sex-workers do not get the same respect in our society as college students. Critiques of patriarchy are not the same as critiques of women. The 99% has real inequities in it, and they don’t go away by pretending we all have equal power.
If members of non-dominant groups often don’t feel comfortable to speak as much, or at all, in wide-open meetings, then they need other sorts of meetings to work on it. The process of developing ideas often requires a less pressured environment for collaborative dialog. Creating spaces where women don’t have to worry about being shut down by insensitive men can help build up the strength needed to dialog later with those men on a better footing. Sometimes the breakout groups start off as exclusive, and then can come to re-enter dialog with the larger group on their own terms.
There are exclusive associations taking place all the time at occupyhouston. There is no rule against such things. When David Rovics played a concert there, it wasn’t open for anyone to go up and play any instrument with him. A musician choosing who is in his band is no more problematic than a group of women deciding they want to meet alone.
White males often assume that their presence does nothing to stop women and people of color from feeling comfortable talking about their concerns and their histories. This fact alone explains why they are sometimes asked to not attend. I have been part of hundreds of types of groups and movements in my life and there has never been one in which white males didn’t speak for more than their even share of time. Those who would seek to deny women a chance to meet without them are obstructing the creation of a space where those who are used to speaking less get to speak more.
There are many who seem to acknowledge that we live in a white patriarchy where women may well not get their full thoughts out in the presence of men, but don’t seem to be open to creative solutions to bring balance. It should be obvious that women will not say all kinds of things about feminism if there are guys present, especially if they are insensitive guys. We have a long way to go, and we will never get there if women’s right to free association isn’t respected.
Occupy Houston wants to clean up your city…and yes, this means you.
Occupy Houston is the local observance of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement, which was hatched by the Canadian magazine Adbusters, and while the campaign has certainly ruffled the feathers of municipalities across the United States, the Houston chapter seems to have it’s sights set on more sustainable actions.
One of their directives is a city-wide invitation to help them sweep the downtown streets on a monthly basis. The group is currently asking for seventy upright “lobby-dustpans” and brooms to fulfill their ongoing “Clean Sweep” project on November 13th. This recurring event aims to clear the thirty-five downtown streets of trash in an attempt to spread awareness about the growing lack of municipal funds, and more specifically, the effect this situation is having on the fair city. Participants of Clean Sweep are treated afterward to a feast that is provided by other caring citizens and local organizations. The Occupiers are determined in providing solutions that are available to everyone and exhibit the “can do” attitude of Houstonians, and it appears they are just getting started.
While other occupations were beset with raids, arrests, and the discord of general state resistance, the Occupy Houston movement was throwing a “Corporate House of Horrors” party, an Open-Mic Talent Show, and even a “Zombie Flashmob” set to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at several prominent downtown banks. OH members are heard frequently on 90.1 KPFT as well as numerous other radio and Internet sources and have even attracted the interest of Democracy Now’s Juan Gonzales and Olympian Juan Carlos is scheduled to visit on November 11th.
The Occupy Houston members also regularly host cultural activities and civic events that encourage citizens not only to become involved in their community, but to be valued by their community. This unprecedented type of crowd-sourcing is not unheard of, but it is not necessarily valued by politicians, who continuously require more and more monies to get their projects off the ground. The local Occupy movement leverages the power of the people to fulfill their given agendas, and the members of their Outreach group have also started a sustained dialogue with the Mayor, City Council, as well as other at-large candidates, Green Party representatives, and delegates from employment and cultural sectors. Members of their Outreach program are continually attending and providing educational events and spreading the word of unity amongst Houston’s diverse cultural base.
Houston Occupiers are using solar-panels and marine batteries for some of their power, and have even called upon a private recycling company, and their new solar oven is just getting warmed up. Members also provide labor to local gardens in an effort to bring new food sources into the group, while feeding compost back to personal gardens in an efficient circular model.
As more and more money is siphoned out of our economy by the alleged “One Percent”, the Houston Occupiers seem to be focused on solutions that embrace the ecological ideas of “permaculture”. This ideal is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. This model appears in stark contrast from the system that has perpetuated itself throughout America. As pundits and mainstream media continue to polarize people and issues, the OH movement is focusing it’s efforts in a direction that rejects this systemic failure of perception. They seek congruency at the fundamental core of all actions, and they merely ask for sustainable solutions to be brought to their attention. During these times of widening economic uncertainty, this method is not lost on an increasingly discerning public, and the people are clearly responding to the call.
The organizers are hoping that their Clean Sweep project migrates to other cities as well, and that donors realize they can help their own city in a variety of tangible ways. From donating food, to dustpans, or just some time to thank the participants, there’s so many ways for everyone to contribute, which seems to be the backbone of the Occupy movement. It is clear that Occupy Houston members are looking towards a more sustainable future, and they definitely hope it’s contagious.
For more information about Occupy Houston, please visit http://www.OccupyHouston.org
Donations can be dropped anytime at Tranquility Park at 400 Rusk in downtown Houston.
Financial donations can be made from the WePay link on the Occupy Houston homepage.
Share support via social media at http://www.facebook.com/OccupyHouston
Nov. 19th from 2-4:45pm in the Program Room of the Houston Public LIbrary
Come out to this discussion where we will be addressing 3 main items:
1) Causes of the economic crisis
2) Finding concrete solutions
3) OccupyHouston – what comes next? – sustainability of the movment
A conference room capable of holding 200 people has been reserved for this public discussion (from 2 – 4:45 pm in the Program Room of the Houston Pubic Library).
Let’s come together to learn about and address these issues!
Our press conference held this morning in Tranquility Park in response to last night’s [Nov. 8] arrests went well. Big thanks for those willing to brave the cameras and to those of you who sent us videos and pictures from the… [More]
We’ve been checking with the courts and jails to get the latest status of those arrested by the Houston police department in last night’s string arrests related to a tarp covering our valuables.
- Rico had his court date at 10:00am
- Amanda had her court date at 9:00am, plead not guilty, and was released on $210 bail.
- Shaun had his court date at 10:00am
- Remington is currently held in city jail downtown on charges of disobeying an officer. His bail is set at $235.10.
- Chris, Matthew, and Erick are being held in city jail downtown on charges of erecting a structure. Their current status is incomplete.
We’ll keep everyone updated as we get more information. Stay strong!
UPDATE: Those arrested are now out on bond and safe at the occupation. Many many thanks to our awesome legal team for being so on the ball. Y’all are rock stars. Seriously.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HPD ARRESTS 10 OCCUPY HOUSTON PARTICIPANTS
Houston, TX, November 8, 2011 – At approximately 11:00 PM, HPD arrested 10 Occupy Houston participants… [MORE]
General Assembly Minutes Nov 10, 2011 7:00pm
Approximately 40 in attendance
Jacob: Introduction, hand signals, and GA rules
Volunteer Group Report Backs
Alice w/ Outreach: We’d like people to participate in discussions on 11/11/11 from 3:00pm-6:00pm.
Shamus w/ Sustainability: All of the things that the police stole from me were replaced by volunteer donations. Please keep the park clean. There are sustainability meetings at 5pm every night. There are peacekeeping meetings where we learn how to diffuse conflicts. At 10pm we have overcoming addictions meetings.
Vanessa w/ kitchen. Cleanliness is very important. You must wash any plates, cups, and spoons that you use. The kitchen is a group effort. Please ask if you don’t know where something goes. On 11/11/11 at 11:00am there will be a meditation mob at UH library. At 11:00pm there will be a meditation mob in Tranquility Park.
Emily: Wants to donate a phone to the Occupy group, and is checking the temperature of the idea.
Erica: Printed 400 flyers and wants people to use them. They will be at the info desk.
Gene: Wants volunteers for easy work. Wants volunteers to monitor right wing radio, look for lies, and write down their sponsors. He’d like people to listen in short shifts.
Jorge: His cat’s name is peach and is 1 month old. Thank you for help with the cat.
Erick: He must meet with lawyers, so he can’t be at UH on 11/11/11. He wants people to go to University of Houston to organize 11/11/11 activities.
Steven: Wants to confirm the people going to Washington DC. He’s trying to get in touch with him. If you’re going to DC please contact him.
Damien: Marching to the Egyptian consulate at 11:00am. Meeting at Tranquility Park at 12:00pm, march to the Egyptian consulate in support of the Egyptian democracy movement.
Emily: She lives in Freedmanstown (the 4th ward). She is seeking input and volunteers to look into the possibility of purchasing the former Federal Reserve Building on Allen Pkwy and/of 10 historic row houses on Victor St. She envisions these buildings and land can be used as a campus for long-term of the 99% movement. Another idea is to use these buildings for veterans housing. See Emily or Shamus in sustainability for more information.
Scott: There are two types of questions. A standard question is represented by a fist. A clarifying question is represented by making a “C” shape with your hand.
Roxanne: Wants Occupy Houston to shop at local businesses on black friday instead of big box department stores. Nov 25 is black friday, the day after Thanksgiving. If you do go to a big box store we will not shame you. – 1 BLOCK, some members do not want to spend anything anywhere on black friday.
Erick: Alter our mission statement to “End the cultural corruption of humanity”. Wanted a temperature check. A vote showed 40% in favor and 60% opposed, not an official poll.
Roxanne: Saturday 11/12/11 is national sleepout day. There may be extra people sleeping in Tranquility Park that night.
Erick: Corporations are corrupt. The environment is in danger. How is culture affecting our lives?
Jeff: Profit does not equal greed. We must get rid of televisions. Capitalism is the best system. On 11/11/11 he will be reading the names of Iraq and Afghanistan war dead in front of the KBR building at 500 Jefferson st, 1/2 mile from Tranquility Park.
Matthew: I have seizures only when I get worked up or if it’s hot outside. Sometimes he washes dishes for several hours because people do not wash their dirty dishes.
Master Jesus: Occupy Houston has no leaders. Let’s be kind to each other if we disagree.
Scott: Dog sh*t is gross. Clean up after your dog. You may get a ticket if your dog is off a leash. We need to ask important questions if occupy is to succeed.
Vanessa: Agrees with Erick’s proposal about the mission statement, but she is afraid that people outside the movement will not understand it. It is too esoteric.
George: 14 winter hats were donated today. The best way to stay warm in the winter is to wear a hat. Ask for one.