Six thematic workshops will be held Friday and Saturday.

Each will include several subjects/groups.

February 17-18, 2012

Church of the Ascension,

122 Java Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

(see a list of the previous day Introductory SpeakersThursday 6-9 PM)


Friday 6-9 PM

Environment/Sustainability– Point Person: Maleni Romero

- Reclaiming the Commons. (Alexa Bradley)

- Water struggle in Bolivia. (Marcela Olivera)

- Beyond Oil NYC. (Dan Miner).

- Occupy Food: Seeds. (Alec Higgins)

- Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development Update. (Sara Burke)

- Ecosocialist Horizons (Quincy Saul)

Culture/Art/Education/Library - Point Person: Marcos Wasem

- Art and the Commons: Beyond the Tangible. (Maria Byck, Antonio Serna - OWS Artists)

- Commons Support (Tom Nielsen)

- Occupy University.

- From Copyright to Copyleft: Commons for arts and sciences. (Marcos Wasem)

- Occupy Student Debt Campaign. (George Caffentzis, Robert Oxford and Chris Casuccio)

Saturday 10 AM - 7 PM

Economy - Economics of the Commons - Point Person: Chris Rude

- Public Goods, Externalities. Market definitions of the Commons. (John McGloin)

- Solidarity Economics. (Caroline Woolard-Solidarity NYC)

- An Introduction to the Commons. (James Quilligan, Nancy Roof)

- The Anti-commons of the Commodity. (Chris Rude, URPE)

Economy - Money and Banking

- Alternative Banking and Alternative Economies, (Jim Costanzo).

- OWS Strategies on Alternative Economies. (Evan Wagner).

- Questions and answers about money, banking and finance. (Chris Rude and Sara Burke - URPE)

Gender/Care/Health - Point Person: Jeff Lawrence & Ina Bransome

- Feminist/Queer/Postcolonial commons. (Miriam Tola).

- Challenging Male Supremacy Project. (RJ Maccani).

- Child Raising as a Form of Resistance that builds radical communities and relationships. (Ileana Méndez-Peñate).

- Reclaiming and Reorganizing Birth, Breastfeeding, Babycare for the Commons. (Ina Bransome & Haya Brant)

- OWS Health Action. (Babak Karimi).

Nurturing the Commons, Old and New– Point Person: Tom Lowenhaupt

Moderator: David Bollier

- Creating New Commons with City Top Level Domains. (Tom Lowenhaupt)

- Technology and Social Change: Building New Economic Networks (Ron Suarez)

- Immigrant, Resident Voting Rights. (David Andersson)

- Occupy-Commons strategy workshop. (George Pór, Mary Beth Steisslinger, Tina Bakolitsa, Mark Jagdev)


Point persons are working with participants to coordinate the groups/subjects in each workshop. The basic suggested format for the workshops:

- Combine theory and practice: thinking is a way of doing, as much as doing is a way of thinking

- Set a tone of horizontality and respect

- Each sub-group will give a brief presentation/introduction (7-10 minute maximum)

- Discussion, questions, conversation

- How to keep / start building a commons in this area?

- Production of a document. Possible formats: transcriptions, interventions, interviews, synthesis of discussions...


More about workshop groups/subjects:

Economics/Political Economy

-Banking and Alternative Economies. Jim Constanzo

  • Aristotle knew that money was a means of social exchange; it is a question of who is allowed to control value. Today the 1% are in control of value and social exchange through the most repressive forms of Monopoly Capitalism. Every time you see a chain store or a shopping mall think of the proportion of value that stays in the community and how much equity leaves. Think of the amount of government funds that are necessary to maintain the structures of international Neo-Liberalism. Through alternative economies and people’s banks, we believe that there can be an evolutionary shift in the control of value to the 99%. These practices will take time and energy to implement but we believe that they will create structural changes that have the potential to economically empower communities and people.

- Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE). Chris Rude, Sara Burke

  • We URPE economists (in academia, trade unions and progressive think tanks) understand that the global economic system is a key aspect of the commons, and as with physical resources, we have a right to design and manage it for the common good of all. We stress that -- while sharing a critical perspective on the capitalist system -- URPE's members hold a wide variety of political views and interpretations of this system and are not advocating any particular design of that system. Rather, because of the ideological control exercised by the 1% not only over the global economic system, but also - critically - over economic education, it is imperative to help provide facts as well as a set of heterodox perspectives on economics and the analytical tools to help enable the movement to gain control of our economic commons. URPE plans a comprehesive 4-day camp this summer to respond to the needs of and help educate Occupy activists: This workshop will include several members of URPE who will introduce the basic tools of economic analysis from the main traditions so that those participating can see the strengths and weaknesses of each one for themselves.

- An Introduction to the Commons. Nancy Roof and members of KOSMOS journal www.kosmosjournal.org

Culture/Art/Education

- Art & the Commons. Maria Byck, Antonio Serna. Art & The Commons @ NYCGA Arts & Culture

  • Through the Occupy Wall Street lens we can see how corporate and capitalist thinking has lead to the commodification of the cultural commons. What is the impact of copyright? As corporations own much of our culture how do we interact with our culture if it is off limits? How is value created in a market driven economy in which art is horded as a luxury item rather than shared as a public good. Does this lead the artist to self-censorship? Does this affect our imagination of the possibilities? Where are the borders of this system? How can we push up against them? Can current practices in technology, such as open source, hacking and killer apps that take privately owned and coded entity and redefine it as public, provide some insight? How do the evolving dynamic of OWS actions provide a chance to challenge the current boundaries between the public good and private capital?


    For more info and future workshops please visit: Art & The Commons @ NYCGA Arts & Culture

- Common Support: Examples of Existing Organizations, Tom Nielsen

  • In New York City, libraries, community supported agriculture and worker cooperatives all have dedicated organizations to support them. These organizations cater their programs and services to the unique needs of each type of enterprise and help them remain viable. Panelist: from Just Food, Angela Davis, New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives, Philip Botwinick or Sharon Kimmelman, and Tom Nielsen, the Metropolitan New York Library Council will talk about how their organization came about and what they provide their target members, as a way of gaining an understanding of how to create, grow and maintain movements and enterprises that exist for the common good.

Environment/Sustainability

- Sustainability. Dan Miner, Beyond Oil NYC

- Reclaiming the Commons, Alexa Bradley (http://onthecommons.org/)

  • There is enormous synergy between the rising commons movements and Occupy. We will look at the insights of each and discuss the deep and practical questions of what we are learning about how to reclaim/create our commons and what it takes. We will draw on examples of commons work of various scales and arena, including the work to create a new social charter for the Great Lakes and various land/food commons efforts in the US. What enables people to "think and see" the commons so that they can in turn reclaim them? What do we believe we could "common" and how would we know it is a commons? How can a commons approach open up new solutions and shift assumptions about equity, value, leadership, participation? How do we build the "we" of a given commons and establish shared leadership/ responsibility?

- Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development Update. Sara Burke

  • Delegates from UN Member States are in the process now of negotiating the "Zero Draft" of text for the summit on sustainable development that will take place in Rio de Janeiro June 20-22. Fresh from consultations with country representatives deliberating how bold they are willing to be in confronting a future constrained by climate change, financial turmoil and global social protest, this reportback will provide a chance to discuss the "official" approach to preserving our global commons, its strengths, weaknesses and ways the grassroots movement is relating to it.

Nurturing the Commons Old and New

- Creating New Commons with City Top Level Domains

  • The workshop will look at the ownership and oversight of the .nyc TLD (like .com, .org, and .edu but just for our city) as a commons resource. Should all or part of the .nyc TLD be a commons? Are management lessons provided by the likes of Elinor Ostrom relevant to a city TLD? Are other global cities looking at TLDs as community resources? Do city-TLDs provide a basis for collaboration between Occupy movements in cities globally? In what ways are they “open greenfields for new local governance structures” as some contend? The workshop exploration is being organized by Tom Lowenhaupt.

- Immigrant, Resident Voting Rights

  • The idea of granting voting rights to foreign residents is not a utopia and it is already a reality in more than one third of the countries in the world. At least 65 countries do grant voting rights to some foreign residents. There are some countries where foreign residents have been granted the right to vote for a very long time (Nineteenth century, beginning of twentieth century). But in general, it is quite new. The majority of the countries have granted voting rights in the last twenty years. David Andersson

- Technology and Social Change: Building New Economic Networks

See this page on Technology and Social Change for details. Presented by Dr. Ron Suarez (DrRon on the official website of the NYC General Assembly of OccupyWallStreet).


- Occupy-Commons strategy conversation: Reclaiming the Commons as a Social Theory of Collective Action,

online and on-site, facilitated by George Pór, Mary Beth Steisslinger, Tina Bakolitsa, and Mark Jagdev

This is a collaborative inquiry into the Commons, as a “theory of intentional collective action, designed to evolve the vision and will of a group, organization, or society as a whole” (Appreciative Inquiry).

Thinking of strategy in the context of a practice-led social theory of collective action, begets such questions as:

  • How can Occupy occupy the strategy space and equip itself with the organizational, material and intellectual resources it needs for helping the 99% win?

  • A question worth asking from the Occupy and Commons movements: Are you really two or one?

  • How can those interested to learn thinking together better, faster, and more strategically, form and benefit from a strategy-focused knowledge commons?

Thinking of strategy as guidance to support wise choices in our daily work in and around the Occupations, evokes such questions as:

  • What new possibilities can we see when we look at Occupy through the “Commons” lens? What does it suggest about better ways to govern and manage our various kind of common pool resources”?

  • What are the commonalities in Occupy and Commons, in terms of principles, systems and processes of co-production and co-governance?

  • What are examples of good practices in existing commons (in and outside Occupy) for personal accountability, as in “letting other members know what they can count on us for”?

  • How does a healthy dynamics of local/regional/global decision-making look like?

There's an online forum dedicated to those questions and related questions, including what matters to you most about the Commons, here. You can participate in our online learning community of strategic thinking and planning even if you can’t attend the workshop in New York in person.

Workshop facilitators

online: George Pór, supporter of Occupy London, founding editor of The Future of Occupy

online: Tina Bakolitsa, Occupy London, Outreach WG

online: Mark Jagdev, supporter of Occupy London, founding editor of The Future of Occupy

on-site: Mary Beth Steisslinger, supporter of Occupy Pittsburgh, contributing editor of The Future of Occupy

Recommended blogposts to read before the workshop

All People are Organic Intellectuals: the role of socially conceived theory in transformation

How r’evolution carries itself forward by the Working Groups of Occupy

Can Occupy occupy strategy?

- Cooperatives and Social Justice - Cheyenna Weber

  • This story-based workshop would bring together co-op folks who are connecting their alternative models to justice struggles to highlight the work of these different groups. We would offer a brief overview of what cooperatives are, the role they play in the larger solidarity economy, and how they've historically been linked to justice struggles. 2-3 individuals from food co-ops, worker co-ops, and credit unions to speak about their work.