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Manufacturing the discourse

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2011 at 10:59

This is an article from MSNBC about a memo outlining the need for corporate control of the OWS discourse. It illustrates not only plans to exert influence on the movement as a whole, but to also target individual leaders within the movement and politicians who express support for the movement with what will essentially be smear campaigns. The strategy starts with a $850,000 budget just for preliminary research and opinion polling in order to find the best routes for manufacturing discourse. Make sure to check out the video at the bottom of the page.

Here is a link to a PDF of the memo:http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/CLGF-msnbc.pdf

Subtleties of the discourses

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2011 at 14:52

This is a portion of an article from the NYT as quoted on MSN about sanitation and public health at the OWS site at Zucotti Park in NYC. In it a doctor comments on transmission of disease in the encampment:

Although condoms are often available on-site, Dr. Tierno said the protest’s evolution to private tents, from sleeping out in the open, had raised the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The site’s pounding drum circles, he added, could lead to hearing damage. He compared conditions at Zuccotti Park to those in a hajj — the pilgrimage to Mecca, in which whole groups of people have come down with respiratory infections in a short time — and those experienced by the flower children of the 1960s, when, he said, communal living situations created problems with sanitation and sexually transmitted diseases.

This is such a great illustration of how discourse draws upon other discourses to be effective. An expert is quoted, thereby giving the words authority, which are used to project other discourses on to OWS. Promiscuity is inferred with the mention of the need for condoms and of the increased risk of STDs, thus linking the OWS discourse to negative discourses around sexual morality. Drum circles invoke discourses of tribalism and Western association of the drum to “primitive” culture, lack of civilization, and lack of control. Referencing the Hajj draws in discourse of Muslim and the lovely associations that the West has constructed onto that identity. Flower children inject discourses of vapid hippie-dom an being outside of mainstream society. Each of these discourses have been deployed, consciously or not, to position OWS outside of acceptable discourses of civility and “normal.” Other less marked discourses could have been referenced in order to illustrate  the effects of people living in close proximity. For example, cruise ships or conventions (such as the American Legion convention that led to “Legionnaire’s Disease”) could have been used instead of referencing the Hajj, and refugee camps could have been used instead of references to communes and flower children.

Link to article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45260520/ns/health-health_care/#.Tr2kOlaK9M4

Audio Clips from Westlake Center

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2011 at 10:15

Here are some audio clips from Westlake Center.

This is a clip from a woman in her 30’s who was carrying a sign that read “if you make less than $164,000 per year you are part of the 1%.” She looked like a typical suburban soccer mom and was standing with two other protesters at the corner of Westlake Plaza, somewhat apart from the main encampment of Occupy Seattle.

This is a clip from a man in his 30’s (the brother of the woman interviewed above). He looked like a typical Northwest urbanite, dressed in polar pleece and a toque. His sign had an image of Captain America. He describes how he became involved with Occupy Seattle.

This is a second clip from the man interviewed above. In this clip he talks about public perception and media perception of the movement.

This clip is from a young man who was passing out fliers about the idea of moving the encampment to Seattle Central Community College. He looked like a typical NW college student. In this clip he talks about reasons to move to Seattle Central and in this clip he talks about health care.

Occupy WS airs TV ad

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2011 at 20:13

Air time has been purchased and the ad has been showing since Saturday on Bloomberg News, ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox News, among other networks and is booked through Monday. The ad was expressly created to contribute to the discourse around OWS identity. In it, the multi-message positioning of the movement is maintained, and indeed highlighted, as is the multi-generational, multi-classed, and multi-ethnic composition of the constituents.

Click here to link to video and article on MSNBC : http://fieldnotes.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/05/8657432-occupy-reaches-into-living-rooms-through-new-tv-ad

Young Adults, the recession, and OWS

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2011 at 08:38

The OWS movement is multi-generational, and certainly benefits from efforts to keep discourses focused on how it is not just a youth movement, not just a student movement, not just a movement of the poor. That said, it is also important to think about why OWS does seem to resonate with young adults of consciousness, to look at both the material realities that 20-somethings face today and how this influences their outlook on the future.

This article is a good place to start. http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/02/8586286-recession-threatens-generation-of-young-adults-inspires-occupy-protests

 

Occupy Seattle moves to Seattle Central Community College

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2011 at 07:58

Occupy Seattle’s recent decision to move its command encampment to the grounds of Seattle Central Community College may have some very practical reasons behind it (click here to listen to some of the early thoughts behind this decision). With the onset of cold weather, OS would have been hard pressed to maintain a physical presence at Westlake Center and the move to SCCC gives the protesters a base of operations that is less likely to result in arrests and actually allows for sleep, more sanitary conditions, and greater access to community support. The plan is to continue to occupy Westlake Center by day and to return to base camp at night to sleep.

Within the context of discourses about the movement, however, this may have been a bad strategic move. Attention may be shifted from the daytime actions at Westlake to the encampment at SCCC. Furthermore, by relocating to a college campus it is more likely that the movement can be portrayed as just a movement by youth, or just a movement by college students, or just a movement by Cap Hill radicals. In relocating, the movement loses some of its ability to defy definition. At Westlake (a broadly defined public space) singularly defined (or limited) discourses about the constituency of the protesters were difficult to make stick. Westlake, like the unmarked body of straight able male middle-class whiteness, is an unmarked space. It does not lend itself to the solidifying of discourses about OS. In fact, Westlake makes it much more difficult to overlook the presence of suburbanites, senior citizens, union members, folks of color, business professionals, veterans, children, blue collar workers, service industry workers, and day laborers in the movement. The move to Seattle Central, though certainly a sound logistical choice for a sustained occupation, firmly places the movement within certain discursive identities (radical student, youth, over-privileged, white, queer). It allows the discourse to set, and in doing so the movement becomes more readily dismissible. After all, we’ve been dismissing crazy college kids for decades, right?

Participant Observer Field Notes

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2011 at 20:26

Participant Observer Field notes from Occupy Seattle at Westlake Center, October 23, 2011. as observed by shana and ken, with a few links to audio clips.

There are about four or five small groups gathered in huddles that seem to be occupied with some specific tasks or conversations.

Text heavy environment. “We are the 99%”; several Occupy Seattle designs on garments; some directional/protocol signs; “Contribute to the Coffee and nicotine station.”

One group is busy making signs on cardboard. I didn’t think to write down any of what they said. Bad me.

Use of the “people’s microphone” to announce that we are looking for 8 people for an occupation tonight who would be willing to be arrested.

In addition to the sign-making group, there is a People of Color Caucus against Racism; Spirituality/Peaceful Living; Sustainability; Internet and Communications; White Anti-Racist Caucus

The police seem to be taking a relaxed posture, both strategically and literally. They have hands in pockets, talking to each other in small groups of three or four, drink coffee, answer questions posed by passers by. Click for audio commentary.

There are not many un-occupied places to sit down.

Wide range of ages. Many people apparently over the age of 50. Many under the age of 30. 70-80% Male. A few queer coded emblems are in evidence.

A Native man in his 30’s introduces himself to me as “Chief.” He traveled to Seattle from New York with his girlfriend, who ditched him. He was down at the waterfront and was told that there was good coffee for free up here. He said he really didn’t know what was going on.

Some languages other than English being spoken by people in the occupied zone.

Shana and I are approached and asked if we would be able to help with the General Assembly tonight, as the people who point to hand-raisers and get them “on stack”.

I observed at least three instances of yuppie/suburbanite/tourist looking folks stopping to pose and have their picture taken with the occupation as a backdrop.

I witness a young (early20’s) white man who would fit the media description of an Occupy Seattleite (NW beard and ‘stach, bike and velo gear, tats) angrily walking away from the encampment saying “I fucking hate the poor.” It is unclear if he was part of the encampment. A young man tells him “hey you forgot your bike” and hands a bike over to the angry guy.

Are the Tallers (workshops) spontaneous? RE: No, they are announced via People’s Mic

Some intergenerational disagreement on strategies and compliance with police orders. Click here for audio notes.

According to the orientation for the General Assembly (announced by Peoples Mic), debate and processing about issues is done in the small groups we saw earlier and the groups report back to the General Assembly. Click here to listen to part of the orientation delivered by Peoples Mic.

During the Assembly, the police are at the opposite end of the plaza. The Assembly does not seem policed.

I don’t participate in the People’s Mic during General Assembly. I wonder how my experience would be different if I did. Greater sense of connection/collectivity? Mutual tasking? Voicing with your own mouth even things that you disagree with? Hearing things you do agree with voiced in concert?