As part of the Occupy meeting the other day we moved into smaller discussion groups. One of the topics was Direct Action, I ended up volunteering to follow up with any other volunteers to come up with ideas for how Direct Action can be used by the movement to further reach our goals. Keep reading to get a google docs link to view the notes from the session and find out how you can get involved.
You can read and edit the notes that Dallas took here.
From looking at the notes it seems clear that people have a lot of opinions on Direct Action. It seemed as if there were two main categories of direct action, things that could be done by anyone any time and things that required a large group of people and group approval before happening.
For the stuff that people could do any time anywhere I think it would be good to try and come up with a list of different things that people can do and find ways to spread those ideas around to people who may not be able to make it to any of the larger group Direct Actions. I'd say maybe a printed list of ideas and a page on the group website could be good ways to further this type of Direct Action. I think this type of involvement is really key especially over the winter months when getting people to come together outside might be more difficult. But the idea is good that you can support the Occupy movement through your daily choices, in what you say and do, what you buy, etc.
For the larger group Direct Actions it seems as if there are also a lot of strong opinions. People getting involved in these types of events are putting themselves at risk of arrest or physical violence on the part of the police, so it is important that any Action be well thought out and planned, and that everyone participating should be very aware of what all the issues are, why they are at that particular point protesting. People also seemed to want there to be a group consensus before any action is taken, either in the form of a committee that proposes actions or simply through the existing GA. I'm not sure which would be the best.
People also seemed to want these larger Direct Actions to be things of beauty, peace and inclusiveness, incorporating art and music and creating events that bring people together with love rather than anger. This seems to be a pretty key element, people want for the actions to be something that creates more of a movement rather than dividing us. Direct Actions should also be well thought out and focused, having a clear strategy and goal for each Action that is supportive of the group's goals rather than simply feeding individual's needs to feel like they are doing something meaningful and change creating, the ego should be gone from the motives for the Direct Action.
There wasn't a whole lot on how we can evaluate Direct Actions after the fact to determine if they have an impact or not. Especially with the individual Direct Actions it is hard to get a clear idea of how well it went. With a march or a sit-in or something you can tell from the number of people there how well it turned out, but you still have to determine if even with good numbers of people if the correct goals were achieved.
I've emailed the four people that wrote their contact information down for this particular action group and asked them what their thoughts are, hopefully we can come up with some good ideas to bring back to the General Assembly about how we can use Direct Action better in the Occupy MN movement. If anyone else wants to contribute ideas or has thoughts on what we should do please email me and let me know, I will add you in on further emails and keep you posted of any physical meetings that we do.
I'm a little worried that maybe I bit off more than I can chew trying to coordinate the Direct Actions thinking for the movement, but hopefully it's something that will come together out of many people's ideas and it won't be just my thinking that influences everything. I'm excited to see what kinds of ideas we come up with and see if there's more that we can do here in Minneapolis.