Minutes from 1-16-12 Meeting

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Environmentalist Solidarity WG at OWS / 01-16-12 / Monday Meeting Minutes + To-Do List

Facilitation: Pete

Minutes: Russell

  1. Eco-Cluster
    1. We begin by going over a list of projects that this WG has taken on or is taking on
      1. at the Eco-Cluster, we’ll share this with the other groups in the cluster, with an opportunity to spend 3-5 min on each project
      2. quick list of projects
        1. Fracking
        2. Indian Point
        3. our proposal(s) for large-scale action on Earth Day (April 22)
        4. Keystone XL pipeline
        5. Occupy Gibson
      3. getting more specific with this list of projects
        1. Fracking
          1. who would ideally present (the 3-5 min) for the WG? Dave
        2. Indian Point
          1. who would ideally present (the 3-5 min) for the WG? Tom
        3. Earth Day
          1. who would ideally present (the 3-5 min) for the WG? We don’t know; the Earth Day proposal will get better defined and prepared for collaboratively in the coming meetings
          2. three ideas
            1. Occupy Community Gardens, or, Occupy Disused Lots for Green Spaces
              1. there’s technically a difference between these two: the former would be a non-hostile (i.e., occupation in a positive sense) use of a space at an existing community garden, and the latter would be a project of squatting in disused space and claiming it for the community/the public as a place to grow plants/vegetables (utilizing skills in creating gardens and green spaces)
                1. Russell: I want to acknowledge that there are two ways we use this word “occupy.” We use it as a protest or stance of resistance or obstruction of things we don’t like and we use it as a word put before things we do like, as in “occupy our hearts,” or “occupy community gardens.” Very generally, I wish we would pick one, and I think we should pick the stance of protest.
                  1. Shanti: Be the Change Alliance (http://bethechangeearthalliance.org/) is a group whose perspective is transformative consciousness and has tools for being an environmental activist from a completely clear and grounded place that’s not opinion.
            2. Occupy the EPA
              1. this is an existing Earth Day action but it’s in DC (http://www.facebook.com/events/326669127357040/)
            3. Occupy the DEC
              1. Dave: This idea comes to me after going to a Frackbusters meeting (they’re a group that wants to make fracking criminal). There are 15 DEC offices throughout the state and if it could be coordinated, there could be actions at all of them on the same day, which could be very effective.
              2. Dave will look more into DEC direct actions and work with Tim W. on it.
          3. Robert: Another resource we have—and I’ve put this on the GA site—is the environmentalist national anthem, which is something that I worked on for Earth Day 1990 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW6w14NG4mM&feature=BFa&list=PL0566EC67A4B417F9&lf=plpp_video). The country needs a new concept of itself, and something like Occupy the National Anthem could help.
          4. Tom: Is it happening that this WG is going to do a panel at the Left Forum?
            1. Pete: We have been invited to participate, and that is the plan. Tom, if you know anything about it, why don’t you look into whether or not a group can get discount tickets to the Left Forum?
          5. Luna: There is a group called Mountain Justice (http://mountainjustice.org/) that does a weeklong training in West Virginia in March on anti-MTR activities and I would love to go and would be interested in seeing if this WG would get involved.
            1. Facilitator: Okay, you can be the point person on this WG’s research on that and interaction with that.
          6. In terms of chemtrails, please watch the documentary What in the World Are They Spraying? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf0khstYDLA)

————————————————-Certainly off-agenda——————————————-

Contention over the legitimacy of the issue of chemtrails. Contention over feeling shut down / unheard by the facilitator.

—————————————–Back to being on-agenda (more or less)—————————-

            1. Dave: Okay, people in the working group will watch the documentary and we’re going to table the discussion on whether chemtrails should be taken up by the WG.
          1. Tom: On Earth Day on Vanderbilt they always have booths for “green organizations” and we have a choice to get involved there—or, instead, to do a mini-occupy there, because it’s a lot of greenwashing and people trying to sell things.
            1. Robert: It would be good to know what’s being planned.
            2. Pete: Maybe we give people seed bombs for gardening with little flags that say “Occupy.”
        1. KXL
          1. who would ideally present (the 3-5 min) for the WG? Tim W.
        2. Occupy Gibson
          1. who would ideally present (the 3-5 min) for the WG? Tim K.
    1. Russell / Robert: Time should be taken at the cluster for us to define our group, say a bit about its origin and approach and what makes it different from the (work of the) other groups
      1. a concept of the whole cluster should be worked out too
  1. Planning our action against the KXL pipeline in anticipation of Obama’s deadline

    1. Pete: Last meeting we were wrong about Obama’s deadline. It’s February 21. On or before February 21 he has to decide whether the pipeline is a matter of national importance, and if he decides “yes,” then he has to allow the pipeline or deny the pipeline.

    2. Pete: What I want to figure out today is: a date for the action and ideas for its message and a slogan

    3. Pete: Banktrack.org is a site that helps us see what industries banks are invested in. I learned that the banks invested in the pipeline are: CitiGroup, JPMorgan Chase, Scotiabank, and T.D. I suggest our action to be against one or multiple of these banks, targeting them for their involvement in climate death. (http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/keystone_xl_pipeline)
      1. [Concern—I don’t know the person’s name—:] It’s a good idea but it could seem like just another bank protest, and I think we, among us (as people of environmental concern) can come up with something more creative.

        1. Shanti: I feel like a lot is missing in this group’s conversations about planning actions (many other groups have this problem too). There are deeper questions. What do we want to achieve? What are we trying to affect? What is the level of justice that we are after?

          1. Tom: I feel like we go protest this environmental threat on this day and that environmental threat on that day. But: all the assaults on our environment are connected! Can’t we avoid doing this one-at-a-time? How about a nationwide demonstration against all environmental threats/standing up for all the Earth?

    4. Dave: American Petroleum Institute funds Democrats and labor. We need to go after not just Obama but the organizations that fund people like him. Also, I think we need a campaign, which is to say a longstanding series of actions (that get tied into one another and that make use of one another’s momentum) to be really impactful and to get proper media coverage.

      1. Tim W.: API funded that organization Jobs for the 99% that was a group of unions (some of them fake) that said that the 99% stood (or, ought to have stood) behind KXL for reasons of job creation. We at OWS responded well, by dissociating from their attempt at co-option and putting out a statement through the GA that is as close as we’ve come to an official OWS anti-KXL stance. Getting with coalitions of labor is a good strategy. It is also a good strategy to direct our actions and outreach to labor. The biggest OWS actions are always the ones labor is convinced to come to.

      2. We don’t have an exact plan for how to get the banks to stop doing business with API. But in general you have to have an action that makes lots of noise that causes a public relations fiasco for them, so that they have to drop out.

        1. Dave will look more into API possibilities. It is worth knowing whether they have an office in NYC. (IOGA is here in the city; they’re a major frack lobby.) Dave can check with the Take Your Money out of the Banks -people to see if they have helpful tactics.
        2. Pete: I don’t know too many ideas about how to draw attention to banks but two things I’ve heard about were: Reverend Billy walked into a Chase bank and dumped a bunch of soil, and another tactic is making large fake bank signs for those big glass windows of theirs.
        3. Tom: Another idea is divestment, which is a long-term strategy and does hurt banks.
        4. Robert: What hurts the banks is when unions get their pension funds to pull out of certain banks. Start with the UFT.
    5. Facilitator: So, I’m hearing that we should go after the banks —that we should tell them, “Divest from climate death”—that we should tell unions about it way ahead of time and ask them if they’ll participate.
      1. Tim W.: We could insist on—so that we’re being positive and offering an alternative—support for the solar jobs bill.
      2. [Consensus:] We’re planning this action for Valentine’s Day (February 14)
        1. All of us should think more about how to make a Valentine’s Day action (against the banks for their role in climate death particularly in terms of KXL) more creative
      3. Tim W. will reach out to Tar Sands Action-350.org (which merged). We probably can’t get all their signs, which would be nice.
  2. A Possible Change in the Meetings Times of this WG
    1. Luna: It’s hard for me to get to these meetings because they are weekdays and I work. A weekend day would be nice; maybe there are others who agree.
    2. Robert: If we go to a weekend day, then we would want to change both days, so that there’s a gap of a few days between meetings.
    3. Pete: We don’t have to meet twice per week.
    4. Dave: Two talk-y meetings per week might be too many. Maybe a talk-y meeting and an action meeting.
      1. Ideas for “action meetings” include going out in the community and being part of tree plantings or holding ongoing teach-ins. Really participating in something that we create.
        1. The cluster is (hopefully) the right forum for those ideas.
      2. Russell: Maybe the “action meeting” is what we might call subcommittee work, i.e., coming together to do the things we said we were going to do during the main meeting.
      3. Luna: In my mind, we have a meeting to plan an action (protest), and then we go out and do the action. We need the meeting to do the planning.
        1. Tom: This WG would do well to have more reflection on how our last action went. More than a report-back, a chance to analyze what could have gone better. Let’s put on the agenda for the next meeting a discussion on the things that went right or wrong or nearly wrong about the Indian Point hearing mic check.
    5. Dave: Let’s put together more documents/resources that would really help us. Do we have one, for instance, on the banks that Pete just named and their investments in KXL?
      1. Russell: I would love to see a comprehensive document on all the bank-investment environmental issues. That is: the big banks that have invested in: fracking, coal, KXL, MTR.
        1. Shanti: To present a positive vision we should really tell people where they should invest instead.
          1. But aren’t all banks the enemy?

———————————Contention on whether or not we have “enemies”————————

Dave: I think both sides are right on this. People may be positioned on the other side, but whatever the case, you have to give people an out so that they can recreate themselves so that they can find reward.

———————Back to the discussion on our pattern of talk-to-work/action in this WG———-

    1. Pete: I think the work model we’ve been using is working pretty well. We come together, tell one another we’re going to do things, go out and do them, and come back to the group to report about it.
  1. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward
    1. Robert: This film was mentioned at our last meeting and I did watch it because of that. I have to say I was not impressed; much of it is incredibly impractical and is a fantasy.
  2. Announcements:
    1. Luna: The small group of people behind the eco-subgroup of DA are doing a zine and I wanted to announce/remind. It is called Sewer Rats and is on ecology in the city. Submit your writing or art by January 20 to pikabeavbrigade@gmail.com or rachelmialeone@gmail.com.
    2. John: I’m in Take Back the Bronx (formerly Occupy the Bronx) and we are starting up an environmental justice WG. We don’t have a meeting date but we’re getting there and participation from this WG in that one—or collaboration—would be good.
    3. Pete: Alice sent me an email which I will have to share with you all that said that the DEC is drafting a bill that would give water withdrawal permits to natural gas companies.
    4. Tim W.: There’s a hearing tomorrow at 2pm in Long Island City, Queens that is not going to be on water withdrawal—it will be largely informative.
    5. Pete: I am a member of ISO and there is an event we’re doing at 56 Walker St on January 25 at 7pm called Socialism: What It Is (and What It Isn’t), featuring Sam Farber.
    6. Pete: There is a new issue of Socialist Worker (that’s the newspaper of ISO), and in it there is an article by Chris Williams who’s a member of this WG.


To-do list (where possible, with a reference number to where this came up in the minutes)


  1. ALL should think more about how to make a Valentine’s Day action (against the banks for their role in climate death particularly in terms of KXL) more creative (2eii1)
  2. ALL should think more about whether they’d like to change the meeting times for the WG. Options include: switching to one meeting per week, switching to one meeting per week plus a separate “action meeting,” going entirely off of the Monday-and-Friday pattern and picking two different days, changing the time/hour (3)
  3. ALL will watch What in the World Are They Spraying? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf0khstYDLA) so that the WG can have a conversation at an upcoming meeting about whether it wants to take on the issue of chemtrails at all (1aiii3fi)
  4. Pete will send us all (or post for us all) the info from the email from Alice about the issuance of water withdrawal permits (5c)
  5. Pete will produce a more comprehensive list of banks we’re targeting for environmentalist reasons (That is: the big banks that have invested in: fracking, coal, KXL, MTR, others?) (3ei)
  6. Pete will draft a statement for the WG on KXL
  7. Pete will set up a doc on the GA site for the history of the WG (its origins, identity, and past activities)
  8. Pete will reach out to the eco-subgroup of DA to try to see if they won’t just join our group instead of try to be—over at DA—what we’re trying to be as a WG
  9. Dave will look more into direct actions against the DEC and work with Tim W. on it (1aiii3biii2)
  10. Dave will look more into API possibilities. It is worth knowing whether they have an office in NYC. (IOGA is here in the city; they’re a major frack lobby.) Dave can check with the Take Your Money out of the Banks -people to see if they have helpful tactics (2dii1)
  11. Tom will figure out if it’s true that you can get group discount tickets to Left Forum (1aiii3di)
  12. Luna will learn more about and possibly attend the Mountain Justice Spring Break looking for ways for the WG to help/be involved/send people (1aiii3ei)
  13. Tim W. will reach out to Tar Sands Action-350.org in planning for our KXL action (2eiii)
  14. Lisa will, at the next meeting, give an update on the action against Monsanto on January 31
  15. For the whole WG: keep in mind that in the very near future we need to be going to meetings / using appropriate channels of communication to tell the DA WG, the GA, and SC about our KXL protest
  16. For the whole WG: figure out what we want to know about and how we want to interact with the Earth Day Fair on Vanderbilt (1aiii3g)
  17. For the whole WG: think more about what kinds of documents the WG could produce that would serve as good resources (and publicizing or educating material) for our work. What is missing? What would be really nice to have? (3e)
  18. For the whole WG: to remember that at the next meeting we want time (on the agenda) to discuss the things that went right or wrong or nearly wrong at the Indian Point hearing mic check (3diii1)
  19. For the whole WG: think more about how we can incorporate the wisdoms of holistic, transformational activisms into our beings and our operations

One Response to “Minutes from 1-16-12 Meeting”

  1. Robert Pollard

    Shanti had shared the Action Guide from Be the Change Alliance – http://bethechangeearthalliance.org/#Action%20Guide – Unfortunately, the pdf version is priced at $15 rather than being available as a free download – so there are many, many people who will not get to read it or benefit from whatever is in it.