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...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Burning Both Ends

Wow!! What a long day... Its midnight in half an hour, I'm on a subway platform at 59th street. I just had a great meeting with a guy who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone in 1961-62. Yes, the first two years it existed. He really likes what we're talking about and was impressed with it all. I think it will open many doors for us/me. Time will tell. We have a lot to prove and to make happen, but even if in failure this will be a huge success.

The day itself though, wow!  I got 5 hours of sleep on a few drinks while discussing the sustainable occupy stuff last night. Then I was up at 6, chi gung, shower and get out to Brooklyn for work.  We went back into Manhattan and walked around the whole of the Museum of Natural History, then back to Brooklyn and worked late. I mannied for a total of 11 hours today, jumped on the subway and Africa meetinged it for 2.5 hours and now hope to get home and to bed before getting back up at 6 and doing it all again. Long nannying day and then occupy meeting after...

But this is the way it is right now. I am working hard. Occupy, Africa, Mannying, these are the keys to my future. They will succeed. #36

Monday, June 25, 2012

Farming for More Markets

So I started a new job yesterday... Yes another one.  Another look into another part of the world that lives around us.  This time I am working at a farmers market.  Not a typical one, but one that more or less acts as a Sunday organic market.  It has a pretty unsound business model, but the absolute best of intentions.  It is part of a workers cooperative, or at least will be some day.  The building is designed as such for the long term, but not wholly there yet.  Anyway, it is very interesting to see the world that exists there.

The business itself is a bit of a mess.  It is retail sales of a mostly perishable food supply, that only opens once a week, thus making the p in perishable capital.  They are losing money hand over foot in an endeavor designed to make money for the workers co-op. They are working on tweaking it into a collective kitchen project. There are some remnants of occupy style endeavors. People with the warmest of hearts and best of intentions, trying to do something that they only partially know how to.  Like occupiers trying to organize people or labor without talking to labor organizers or having experience at it, trying to run a retail produce business with knowledge of produce but no experience with retail business is tough, ambitious, comendable... but lacking in efficiency and know how.

All the same I think they are evolving and working to really do good things. The co-op set up is great, and if they add a kitchen that serves food daily they could end up with an outlet for food bought for a Sunday that won't last till the next one.  There also is a very strong personality coming with it that on first glimpse seems to be maybe too strong and independent. Not that there is not tremendous need to respect both this person and the project as they are doing it.  They've done good things, but there is always more to it all than that. We shall see, but another job, another day, another way.  Cooperative worker owned structures are great, I am excited to be a part of the beginning stages of something like this, and to have more work...

Step back, reassess

It's been a long month.  I've really started focusing on a few specific things and this sustainable occupy project has really been received well.  I should post the first draft of its concept and then some other things as well in here somewhere.  We are having our first full meeting of it tonight.  Excited.  Sadly most of the crew I tried to pull in hasn't gotten to excited, but there still will be at solid 7 or 8 people there tonight, and that is about what I had hoped to start off with.

The Africa work is as well moving forward.  Yapo and I have been emailing back and forth every day or two for weeks now.  Making plans, getting things moving forward.  It has been really tough now though as I'm flat out mannying 50 hours a week, had car issues that took away the free time on the weekends, and just started this farmers market job.  The hiking place fell through.  Amazing story.  I said I didn't feel comfortable working for them until they could pay me and they responded by saying they were going to let me go because they didn't think I was committed enough to the company or working as a guide.  As if everyone should work for free for the owners longer-term benefit... Crazy!  But I think I'm gonna try to sit for the hiking guide exam in September anyway.  It could lead to some doors that I might not mind being open some day.

Anyway, the Africa stuff is looking quite positive and with the other things bringing enough income in to live, I should be ok.  I've got time to put into sustainable occupy and alternative systems research, and the development work in Sierra Leone, the two things I am really excited about right now.  Things are going pretty well.

Sustainable Occupy Concept

Sustainable Occupy One Page Concept

Occupy is a movement about change and creating another world. To that end, the Occupy Wall St. Think Tank will be undertaking an in-depth research and solution oriented study aimed at compiling, assessing, and creating sustainable models for the Occupy movement to work with moving forward.
  • The Think Tank will work to find a way to sustain individual socio-political engagement, occupiers, and the occupy movement itself. Our aim is to create ways for both individuals and communities to be more focused and dedicated as social and political actors, a structured yet flexible working and communications network, and the creation of longer term ethical environments to live, work and grow within.
  • We also want to provide a sustainable example for general society. That we can live within moral and ethical frameworks and still partake in the rest of society. That we can still have iphones, watch TV, have decent clothes, see family and friends, go places, make things, achieve great things, and enjoy our lives – but to do it through a more inclusive and rewarding way of engaging with social, economic, and political interactions.
  • Another world is possible - and there are countless examples from brazil to china, AD to BCE. Let’s learn from them all, create possible alternatives, engage with them, experiment with them till we find the best way of all!. Figure out what it could be, set it up, and lead by example!
Our principles: We will do whatever it takes to answer these questions and provide a solution. This project requires people with questions, no presumptive answers, and an ability to leave their ideologies at the door. While well versed in social scientific methodology, we will not be handcuffed by the rigidity of categorical methods of inquiry. We’ll read novels, plays, historical materials, newspaper articles; conduct street surveys and informal discussions; engage in participant observation, crunch numbers and paint pictures; and anything else or to whatever extent, that we see as a potential tool in learning, understanding and doing. Most importantly though, we’ll do it everywhere, and everything is on the table!

We will operate in an atmosphere of joyful exploration and mutual respect where every idea is valued.

Consider a few questions: What is the meaning of work? We can explore this question by engaging in physical production (sewing, carpentry, cooking), by reading novels about communes or academic works on the transition from manufacturing to service economies, or even have discussion groups with members of alternative living communities from abroad. Or how about nourishment? How do we understand our food and how we would want it to be produced and consumed. Or the nourishment we receive from art and music, or that a child receives growing up in a liberating environment? Stability, security, food, shelter, community, wants, needs, love, respect; how do we gain all of these for both our selves and others?

We will address these questions and countless more. We will learn from historical examples and doing, connect with small and large experiments around the world, and engage with the everyday lives of people and their ideas. We have a problem: “the world” is not working for most people. We must both create and envision a new one – in no particular order.