What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Occupying our Airwaves

So Wednesday we started what will hopefully be a wonderful pathway forward for the Occupy Think Tank, and one I must admit I'm pretty excited about as well.  There is a pretty solid chance that we will be filling a vacant slot on the 6:30-7pm Occupy Wall St. Radio show every Wednesday on wbai.org, 99.5 fm in nyc.  Here is a link to the show from Wednesday, and below you can see a proposal that I wrote a few months back but that was not capitalized upon until just this week.

WBAI Radio, Occupy Wall St. Radio

The Occupy Wall St. People's Think Tank was on occupy Wall St. Radio Friday, February 17th for one hour doing a version of the discussion forum that sprung up in Zucotti Park in the Fall, and has been expanding throughout the region, country, and world since. We would like to formally propose a structured think tank radio program that could appear regularly on WBAI's Occupy Wall St. Radio show or elsewhere. The concept would be as follows:

  • One facilitator guiding the discussion using Occupy's facilitation techniques based on horizontality and equality of voices. The facilitators would also not always be the same so as to get a mix of genders, races, creeds, etc.
  • Ten plus studio participants. A usual OWS think tank has one recording device that is passed around similarly to a speaking stick. In the radio studios at WBAI there were 5-6 microphones, it would be very easy to have at minimum 2 people to a microphone as the facilitation technique would actually be aided by this method. The whole point of Occupy's facilitated dialog is to allow for patience and only one voice speaking at one time. Thus, people addressed to speak step up or pull the mic close to them. Our conversations are not about everyone always having a mic and being able to jump in, but waiting and holding collective, pensive, and pointed conversations.
  • Telephone participants would buttressed the studio group. A phone call could be the equivalent of going on “stack”. The called could then be there for their part of the dialog, perhaps be allowed a direct response after others, and then hang up. This would depend on logistics and the number of phone lines as well.

  • The topics could range from all over the spectrum of economic and social justice, the occupy movement, global issues, etc, and would be set in advance (though we have mostly decided on the spot in public).

  • The facilitation technique would follow “stack” and allow direct responses, but would be limited to the specific facilitator's discretion and methodology. Some limit direct responses in length, some in number, some don't use them much at all. This can also be determined with your production staff. Clarifying questions, points of factual information, etc. will all go through the facilitator and be explained prior and online. Individuals must wait until thoughts are complete and facilitation calls upon them, rather than jumping in when people pause.
  • The facilitators themselves would bring diversity to the show. One day a show facilitated by a white male graduate student on the future of the occupy movement, and the next show could be facilitated by an African-American man from the Bronx on issues of school pushout, and the next by a women leading a discussion on energy dependency and war. The beauty of this type of facilitated environment, is that it is about inclusion and leadership for and by everyone.

  • With the conversation set in advance it could be advertised around the occupy movement in order to get maximum participation both in studio and via phone. This could also be promoted on WBAI and such to have as many different voices as possible. There could be an online sign up at WBAI and Occupy's pages to be in the studio shows. As the show would be about inclusiveness, openness to everyone, and horizontal voices, so too would the ability to sign up.


This type of interaction should be very different from typical media dialog, and will in many ways be a learning tool for the audience on how to communicate with more patience. Many people describe the practice of being involved with occupy facilitation and the think tank as transformative. It teaches them to wait, to listen, and to allow for both themselves and others to formulate and carry full thoughts through to their conclusion.

We envision this show being able to air once a week for one hour. It would seem appropriate for it to be on Occupy Wall St. Radio, but could just as easily be on at a different time. We have a team of facilitators that could host the show. We would also help to fill the preset studio seats and promote real time phone participation through our channels.

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