Interconnectedness Means Fight

Last month, powerful images of people meditating amidst police violence during the waves of Occupy protests caught widespread attention.

The fact that practitioners of meditation or Buddhism would be drawn to the rallies is not a non-sequitur. In fact, the message of Occupy is one based in the dharma, “we’re all in this together.” The challenge to the 1% is a challenge to individualism and an affirmation of our interconnectedness. It also rings as a challenge for many Buddhists about what it means to apply the dharma in engaged practice. What many have come to realize is that interconnectedness means fight.
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Three Reasons Why I Love Occupy Wall Street.

Since September 17th, an enormous amount of public momentum and critique has been generated by the emergence of Occupy Wall Street and its replication in hundreds of cities across the country.  Since so much already exists regarding anti-oppression and the Occupy Wall Street assemblies, I rather share three reasons why I think Occupy Wall Street is critically important and significant.
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Immigration for the 99%

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More to be Proud of: Visionary Organizing (and Gender) Crosses Borders.

When we work from a place of visionary organizing, we fast forward ourselves to a prophetic future and transcend current politics. We create moments for transformation instead of conflict. Continue reading

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Asa – Jailer (Attica/Arizona Mix)

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Protected: An End to Self-Care

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Catch More Flies with Honey: Toward Visionary Organizing

One does not have to be familiar with the bolt sizes on the wrecking balls that tore down Cabrini-green to oppose the demolition of public housing. One must hold close the comfort of stepping into a warm room from a cold outdoors, the solace of a bed to lie in, and the security of a place called home.

We have become the expert biographers of our own demise. Rather than offering a vision of the world we yearn for, we study and share the machinations of government and capital that harm us. Like doctors who offer diagnoses but no cures, we are the town criers of a sick society rather than the midwives of the world to come.
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Hear Them Ring: Operation Streamline and the Future of Our Courts

Upon entering, the room was filled, like a Christmas carol, with the jingling of shackles.  Were it a song, it’s chorus, more haunting than catchy, “are you an alien?”And as a choral, 11 men being charged simultaneously, “yes your honor” with a line of defense attorneys like a baritone backrow “no questions your honor.”

As if those who come from those who emerged from this soil, whose stomachs are filled with the corn nourished in this valley since long before the arrival of the Niña or Pinta, have less claim to this land than the Baltic fair skinned judge asking if they understand. Continue reading

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Chicago, We’ve Only Just Begun

This mayoral election marked the first time in over 20 years that Chicagoans had a real voice in our elections and real chance to shape city-hall politics outside of Daley’s machine.  The crowded field narrowed and a true reformer was in the running. Yet, weeks before election-day, columnist Laura Washington declared the race ‘a missed opportunity’ for progressives. This election is not a missed opportunity. It’s a wake-up call.

As Miguel del Valle said in his speech as election results were announced, “we have started something new here.” The campaign saw older progressives activated with renewed vigor in Miguel del Valle’s candidacy. Young people never before involved in a political campaign got inspired to hit the streets. A grassroots network of thousands of volunteers fanned out across the city, posing a viable challenge to the machine’s power that no one believed was possible. Del Valle’s campaign injected substance into the debates. His candidacy raised up our schools, housing, and streets; asking all of us to take ownership of a city that should belong to us all.

And by the end of February 22nd, tens of thousands of voters cast their ballot for the vision of a mayor for every neighborhood and a city that works together.

We had a candidate who supported a responsive government, called for community organizing, and lifted up people’s issues. Del Valle’s volunteer operation was more than impressive, it is a promise of what’s to come. Now is our time for each of us who want an affordable city that takes its residents into account.

This is only a missed opportunity if we roll over and play as dead as we’ve been under the Daley dynasty. We have tasted the beginning of a new city-wide progressive force and we’re hungry and energized to keep that movement moving. As del Valle pronounced, ‘Chicago can be the city of responsive government but we only get there if our communities are organized.’

We will continue to build between young and old so the successes of Harold Washington’s campaign are not nostalgic memories but valuable lessons we can apply to our current work.  Our efforts represent more than a campaign for a mayor whose time has come. We represent a generation who has come of age. We have the energy of our youth and the wisdom of our past mistakes. We will fundraise, build strong communications, and strengthen our networks across the city.  We have the numbers, the reach to resources, and the connections to form a real progressive bloc that could make any politician shake.

In what could have been a concession speech, del Valle laid claim, “There are people willing and able to fight the battles that need to be fought… We are going to build an agenda that says progress should be for all and not for some. I can feel it coming.”

We haven’t missed our opportunity. Our moment to democratize Chicago has just begun. February 22nd doesn’t mark a loss but a first step toward victory.

– B. Loewe & Josh Prudowsky.

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