Proposed vision statement as of 11/30/11 – editable version

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Vision Statement – Group Document 11/30/11 (Not final consensus, but no blocks as of the end of the meeting) (with edits to 11/30/11 – use “history” to see previous versions.)

What follows is a living document that will be revised through the democratic process of the General Assembly.

From the General Assembly of the Occupy Wall Street movement, to the People of the World, we offer a Declaration of our Vision.


Mic Check: We are the 99 percent.

We will no longer be marginalized by the 1 percent.

System Check: The system is broken.

Fact Check: The environment is collapsing.

Reality Check: There will be change.

We envision a truly free, democratic, and just society, built on the following principles:

Liberty: whereby we secure the civil and human rights of all against violation or infringement, particularly by unchecked corporate power and unjust governments;

People Power: whereby governments, in any form, at every level, derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not from the wealth of private treasuries;

Solidarity: whereby all people come together to make decisions through a process by which everyone’s voice is heard, and no one is marginalized.

Responsibility: whereby all who reap society’s benefits accept a fair share of its responsibilities;

Fairness: whereby political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just a privileged few;

Peace: whereby we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of tolerance and respect for diversity and the differing views of others;

Equality: whereby institutionalized racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination based on socially constructed labels are rejected by all;

Non – Violence: whereby non-violence is embraced as a way of life, and we resolve to always carry a good message as we work out our differences.

People Before Profit: whereby we value human dignity and needs over monetary gain, because when people lack security, education, or a standard of living adequate for their well – being, effective democracy is impossible; 

Principal Human Needs:  whereby human needs are elevated to a place of primary importance, this must become realized as the right to meaningful work, decent housing, comprehensive healthcare, and a full education.
Environmental Stewardship: whereby we work together to protect the global environment and preserve all species to ensure that life is sustainable, and that future generations will have safe and clean air, water, and food supplies.

Mic Check:  We are the 99 percent.

Our occupation will continue.

We will make this vision a reality.

The Working Group on Vision and Goals continues to work toward a more comprehensive statement of visions and goals to be incorporated as soon as possible into this living document.
This is an official document crafted by the Working Group on Vision and Goals. The New York City General Assembly came to consensus on ______________ to accept this working draft and make it accessible to the public by posting it online.


56 Responses to “Proposed vision statement as of 11/30/11 – editable version”

  1. Rich Woytowich

    Please make any proposed changes here. If you change the doc, please also leave a short message describing the change you made.
    I made a couple of edits just to see how the process worked – you can “compare” those to the present version if you like. The final text is iidentical to the original.

    -Rich W.

    • jay gruskin

      Up Til now, i have been disappointed in the OWS movement. Maybe i was out of step, maybe i didn’t handle the rough and timble of a grassroots organization, maybe my ideas were blocked or censored.

      But your Vision statement is RIGHT-ON!! It goes to justice and fairness.

      i would add only the following:

      “DIGNITY for ALL people regardlless of socio-economic status, handicap, religion or country.”

      I would also use FDR’s Scond Bill of Rights as justification (or even “my” Third Bill of Rights (posted in the
      DEMANDS Group Forum – to give an idea of policy approaches).

      Otherwise good work!!

      • Luke BigJohn

        Totally agree on these things. We just need to formalize this as a reform or bill of rights to be officially rectified. The justness of a government needs to be defined by public consent periodically.
        Then we need to put it on and gather millions of signatures!

    • Michael Korn

      Hey Rich,

      I’ve edited the doc…and here’s what I exactly fumbled around with. I placed an additional clause “Human Needs” right after “People Before Profit.” For clarity’s sake, I’ve edited out the word ‘education’ from the People Before Profit clause so it wouldn’t be redundant. Cheers!

      • Rich Woytowich

        The edits look good. I might have a few grammar fixes – when you’re finished editing, could you click on “save changes” so the system can unlock the document? Thanks!

        • Rich Woytowich

          On second thought…
          I was just thinking about how this process works, and realized that if we start editing each other’s edits, things could become unmanageable. Grammatically, all that’s needed is to replace the comma after “importance” with a semicolon:

          Principal Human Needs: whereby human needs are elevated to a place of primary importance; this must become realized as the right to meaningful work, decent housing, comprehensive healthcare, and a full education.

          This might be a good place to borrow from Jefferson again:

          Principal Human Needs: whereby human needs are elevated to a place of primary importance; that among these are the right to meaningful work, decent housing, comprehensive healthcare, and a full education.

          When you’re finished editing, could you be sure to click on “save changes” so that others can edit?



        • Rich Woytowich

          PS I’m glad you included “meaningful work”. The lack of meaningful jobs is a big issue for OWS – it’s what everyone is marching for today. I agree that it’s important for us to address that in some way in our statement. And I think you’ve come up with a good way to include the other human needs.

        • Rich Woytowich

          PPS In the “People Before Profit item, for grammatical consistency, the phrase should read:

          “.. security or a standard of living…”

          with no punctuation marks.

  2. Patrick Wilson

    I have put a “RESPONSE” after each quote to make my critique as brief as possible:

    “Mic Check: We are the 99 percent.”

    RESPONSE: We are part of the same income group as, 99% of the people in the US, but we have not been licensed to put words in the mouth of 99% of anyone else in the world. We can only speak for the group we represent… and that only with their direct consent.

    “We will no longer be marginalized by the 1 percent.”

    RESPONSE: What action is this tied to? Will this be this achieved by refusal to participate or by starting an alternate economy… what is the position of strength here?

    “System Check: The system is broken.”

    RESPONSE: What system? And how do you propose to fix it?

    “Fact Check: The environment is collapsing.”

    RESPONSE: It is predictable that the environment is in trouble, but it would take a lot of current data that goes against what people see out their window to sell this. Also, as important as it is, Is this what brought us here? Is this why the world is watching?

    “Reality Check: There will be change.”

    RESPONSE: Saying you’re going to kick somebody’s butt, and kicking somebody’s butt, are two different things. Talk is cheap.

    “We envision a truly free, democratic, and just society, built on the following principles:”

    RESPONSE: The term “truly free” infinitely vague (“democratic?” agreed) a just society is always a goal but it is an unobtainable idea which would most thinking people would agree is unobtainable. So this should be in the vernacular of “search for truth” or the “pursuit of happiness”.

    “Liberty: whereby we secure the civil and human rights of all against violation or infringement, particularly by unchecked corporate power and unjust governments;”

    RESPONSE: Here again we can work towards these ideas and improve are institutions so they come closer but the absolute securing of what someone’s ‘vision of what liberty is’ would be a tyranny.

    “People Power: whereby governments, in any form, at every level, derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not from the wealth of private treasuries;”

    RESPONSE: This is a restatement of the phrase “By the people, for the people and of the people” –A. Lincoln in the Gettysburg address, where he also famously phrased it as “all the people” which was at the time completely novel…this to is an ideal that we must always be in the pursuit of but should not kid ourselves that it can be established as an absolute condition.

    “Solidarity: whereby all people come together to make decisions through a process by which everyone’s voice is heard, and no one is marginalized.”

    RESPONSE: You can order people to come together… you just throw a party and hope they come.

    “Responsibility: whereby all who reap society’s benefits accept a fair share of its responsibilities;”

    RESPONSE: True, however, we can only make laws more fair and enforce them… (and that takes policing)

    “Fairness: whereby political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just a privileged few;”

    RESPONSE: They would argue that they do. We must show where they aren’t and suggest changes.

    “Peace: whereby we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of tolerance and respect for diversity and the differing views of others;”

    RESPONSE: If we could only wish it so… but what is the actionable phrase?

    Equality: whereby institutionalized racism…

    GENERAL RESPONSE: I think you get my basic difference with the approach that has so far been taken… meanwhile (believe it or not) I have no problem with the original “Principles of Solidarity” that are at this point listed on the new website:

    It may be, understandably, hard believe… but I offer these and my other critiques with the intention of being constructive and helpful. So more apologies… but these are the changes in direction I think this document needs.


    • Rich Woytowich

      A partial response:

      The idea of government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed is from the Declaration of Independence, written mostly by Jefferson. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

      Some elements of the vision statement are there to set a tone and motivate the reader. We had a version that did not include them – it just set forth the elements of the vision without attempting to inspire or motivate the reader. Most of the comments that we received said that we needed to provide something more.

      This statement just sets forth a vision. If we get past this step, the next step is to work out goals – steps that we can take to realize this vision. That will be a place where we can be more specific.

      -Rich W.

      • Patrick Wilson

        Yes it does sort of sketch in a vision… but in my continual reading of it that vision is of a dictatorial system where an enlightened few would tell everyone how they should think and feel. You would ‘secure’ a more orderly and fairer state. These things cannot simply be declared. They must be convictions that are reconciled to how to support one right without supressing another. When you think of the various points in this document it answers freedom with the supression of another. It dictates niceness to certain groups while chastising others. I don’t think this is what people are looking for.

        • Rich Woytowich

          I can’t tell where you live – have you been to a General Assembly? It’s the diametrical opposite of the scenario you depict. There is no “enlightened few.”
          We have an “enlightened few” in control right now. They may well be monitoring these messages. THEY are the ones that we want to keep from violating or infringing our rights.
          There is, of course, a danger that we may only replace one group of the “enlightened few” with another. That, I believe, is one of the major reasons why OWS remains committed to having no official leaders. We want the society we envision to truly be more free than the society we live in today. If you don’t see that in our vision statement, it means that we’re probably not reading the words the same way. This happens more frequently now – we’re in an age of “truthiness” rather than in an age of truth. But I can assure you that the words of our statement, as we read them – and as I believe nearly all others will read them – will not support a dictatorship of any kind.

          • Patrick Wilson

            To answer your direct questions… I live in Brooklyn and I have been a regular, participating member of OWS and NYCGA since the end of the first week of the occupation. I am an artist/activist and was a vocal supporter of the movement to the local and international press. I was the guy who declared to the NYT that our country was now an Oligarchy and that it needed to be returned to a Democracy, which became a catch phrase that was quote in Spain, Japan, China, Egypt…. and such.

            I have been to many GA s and have volunteer in the facilitation of both Spokes Councils and GA s.

            Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree, Rich, but my concerns are entirely well meant… and in the interest of the movement.


          • Rich Woytowich

            We may disagree on some things – but before I just throw in the towel and say that we can agree to disagree, I’d like to know where in our words you see an endorsement of dictatorship or control by an enlightened few – since I read the same words and come to the opposite conclusion.
            The only group I think we mean to chastise are the 1 percent – and not even all of them. Just the ones who abuse their wealth and / or power by taking advantage of those who have less, giving back only whatever their accountants can’t find a loophole for.
            Even as concerns our document – we may not have a real disagreement. It’s just that the one we’re working on has been through about two months of consensus building. That is a large part of its value. We’ve had brilliant writers work with us – but the group did not give them carte blanche to write their own visions and endorse what they wrote as the visions of the group. The skill that would be really useful would be the ability to understand the members of the group – and of any other groups we go to for feedback – and say what they want to say better than each of them could say it for themselves. We’ve all had to put our egos aside in order to get as far as we’ve gotten.
            Maybe we will discover a real disagreement that we can’t resolve. But all I see now is a need to understand each other better.

  3. Daryl Atamanyk

    I’m from Canada, Patrick. The United Kingdom and France are Canada’s principal parent countries; notwithstanding our having become increasingly cosmopolitan as of late with immigration from every other country in the world: call these latter countries, our cousin countries. And The United States of America is Canada’s best friend. Did you hear that Patrick? You are my best friend.

    Consensus by its very nature accesses our collective conscience residing in the human brain and heart. By virtue of having this human element in common with every member of our species: you access by weight of consensus that which we all have in common. Don’t short change yourself: you DO speak for me and for all of us. And all of us are grateful for your willingness to stand up and be counted.

    I know that all of us like to find fault outside of ourselves to protect our own self-image, individually and collectively; yet the fact remains that via our past complacency, we chose not to stand up sooner and block our politicians’ paths of behavior: in effect giving our consent to let them do whatever they wanted to do. In the morning when we look in the mirror we do not like to see someone complicit in crimes against humanity …or against anyone else… but clarity and honesty of thought and expression yield the singular truth. We are to blame for the situation in which we find ourselves.

    The United States of America is the spearhead and protector of the free world, the freedom of which in that free world was granted to us by providence (providence being of God to those who believe; and of nature to those who do not). To you who build true consensus, based on the Truth of the Heart, I grant you permission to speak upon my behalf. You included, Patrick Wilson.

    May God please bless us all.

  4. Patrick Wilson

    Thank you for these respectful responses to my concerns. They are much appreciated… but I am afraid they do not address what I see as the problems with this document.

    In the initial emotional response from the occupiers in the document “Principles of Solidarity” I was surprised at their clarity and presence of mind. By speaking for themselves I think they spoke for these universal concerns you are speaking of… and that struck a chord. This moment, and those sentiments, cannot be improved on. The task at hand now is to craft a document that shows we are ready to do all the mental and physical work necessary to make these ideals possible, which includes the rigorous approach to drafting documents.

    The visions and goals we articulate now, must be in area of practical strategy…and how to bring about these changes.

    With respect and solidarity.

  5. Daryl Atamanyk

    @ Patrick Under Housing Group’s Forum: Long-term Occupation Ideas

    The forum is discussing the most immediate practical strategy required by the OCCUPY MOVEMENT as a whole, if as a movement we are to maintain our momentum. And not only that: the discussion lays out a strategy to increasingly accelerate that momentum… in a very dramatic and media loving manner! Perhaps that forum will facilitate the stimulation of your groups’ creative powers.

  6. Bill Record

    Regarding Patrick’s responses. If we have the “Principles of Solidarity” then should the “Visions” not be in a different context to expand the Principles? And the “Goals” to follow with all of the details and explanations? I guess Patrick’s point would be a bit clearer to me if he could rewrite a couple of the bullet points so I could have a better idea of his approach. Thanks, Bill

  7. Bill Record

    I would like to post a brief explanation of the Peace Principles. Always Work for Peace, Always Work for Unity and Always Carry a Good Message. These principles were brought to the Iroquois Nation and other Original Peoples by the Great Peacemaker over a thousand years ago. The Peacemaker Story takes 9 days to tell. The short version is that over a 40 year period he healed and unified the 5 original tribes in upstate NY who were engaged in fierce gorilla warfare. These principles were the basis of his teachings and became the basis for the Iroquois Confederacy. (google “The Great Law of Peace”). Our founding fathers studied this Confederacy and used many of their ideas when they founded our country. But they didn’t include some of the core concepts.

    When the founding fathers signed the Constitution, the native elders told them that “By signing this document you are creating a place for evil to dine at your table.” The elders knew that 51% majority rule was a recipe for disaster as it left 49% unhappy. It becomes a device for the elite to create and control a two party system that keeps the 99% from being united. We are turned against each other by the rhetoric of the two parties, who can always blame the other party for a problem instead of working together to fix it.

    These three principles, Peace, Unity and a Good Message, can be the mortar that holds a movement together. Simply stated, yet they expand to include the concepts that all voices are heard, a form of consensus is used, we don’t gossip about each other etc. A group united with these principles can move mountains.

    As our VIsion Statement now stands, we have the words Peace and a Good Message included. I would favor changing the bullet point of “Solidarity” to the word “Unity” so as to have these three principles in our Vision Statement. I understand that the word “Solidarity” has a strong meaning to the OWS Movement. Perhaps we can work the word “Solidarity” into another place in the document. I personally like the idea of having “Unity” as a bullet point.

    These three principles have a strong historical context, they are from New York State,home of the OWS, they can be simply stated and they are powerful.

    Thanks to everyone for doing such a great job,


    • Rich Woytowich

      As I hope you see, we’ve incorporated quite a bit of what you’ve contributed into the current version of the doc – we especially appreciate the “Mic Check” opening and closing (although we have, admittedly, made some changes).
      I’m not speaking for the group here – just as the person who collected the edits and posted the revised document.
      The word “Unity” WAS in the document, but there was some concern that this could lead to an enforced unity – suppressing disagreement rather than resolving it. In our meeting, “Solidarity” seemed to say most of the same things, without the possible negative connotations. We may not have true unity with each other, but we can work together in solidarity.
      If you can come up with a way to express the concept of unity in a way that does not trigger these concerns, please post it, either as an edit to the doc or in a comment.

  8. Rich Woytowich

    To all:
    I think Michael’s edits are a good example of the kind of changes this system can handle. Major rewrites are harder to handle, but I hope the document is mature enough by now.

    We may want to talk about how to handle online edits – this might be a good place to ask our friendly Tech Committee for guidance.

    For now, a workable routine might be something like this:
    – Anyone can edit the document between voting meetings. Edits should only be to the current text – if you want to change someone else’s edit, work it out with that person elsewhere before making changes here. We can’t have dueling edits.
    – At each voting meeting, we should have copies of the “old” document (as of the previous meeting) and “new” document (with the edits).
    – We decide which edits to keep (possibly with changes) and which ones we want to undo. Someone (me or whoever else accepts the job) updates the document to reflect what was agreed to at the meeting.
    – The updated document becomes the starting point for the next round of edits. I (or someone else) would update the “please do not edit” version to match, so it will be easy for anyone to see the effects of all edits made since the previous meeting.

    We can see how this works between now and Sunday. I won’t be there on Sunday, so if this sounds like a good way to move forward, I’d ask for a volunteer to edit the document to reflect whatever we agree on at that meeting, and either copy the revised document to the “please do not edit” version or send me a message to let me know that I should do it.

    Comments? Suggestions?
    – Rich

  9. Patrick Wilson

    @billrecord in ref to your comment: “I guess Patrick’s point would be a bit clearer to me if he could rewrite a couple of the bullet points…”

    I’d be happy to oblige… if you could tell me which points aren’t clear to you.

    @richwoyt in ref to: “I think Michael’s edits are a good example of the kind of changes this system can handle. Major rewrites are harder to handle, but I hope the document is mature enough by now. …We may want to talk about how to handle online edits – this might be a good place to ask our friendly Tech Committee for guidance.”

    “Am I missing something here, Rich? Given that my imput is that this document needs to be abandoned or entirely rethought… should I, in your view, be starting a separate process to address this?”

    • Rich Woytowich

      I’m only speaking for myself here – and I’m mostly doing that because I’m the person who collected the group’s toughts and put up this post. I don’t own this document.
      The document that we are currently editing represents the collective effort of the V & G Working Group over the last few months.
      The course of action that the group will take will, I believe, be determined by the feedback we receive on this document. I believe that most members of the group would not want to start over – but if enough of the feedback we get indicates that we need to do that, then we will have to respect that.
      This particular editable doc is best suited for minor changes. But any member of the working group can create a new doc. You’re welcome to post your ideas and participate in the consensus process.
      A practical suggestion – many people have said that our document should include “a statement that…”. This puts the burden of creating the actual statement on others, who may not share the beliefs of the person making the suggestion. If you believe that our document needs to be rewritten, I believe it would be most effective if you would write at least a rough draft of the document you would like us to consider. If others share your beliefs, they may be willing to work with you on improving your document.
      The process can be long, slow, and frustrating. But it does give everyone an opportunity to be heard.

      • Patrick Wilson

        Thank again for these civil responses. Especially with the amount of frustration I must be adding to the your process. I’m in the odd position of being entirely at odds with a document that has been crafted by a group of people whose intelligence and civility I find entirely admirable. In fact I would say that all of the responses I have received are far more skilled than my own.

        Having said this, I am quite convinced that the current document is fatally flawed and not in the best interest of #OWS or NYCGA. It is, in fact, my prediction that if given to the press, this document, as is, would alienate a very large section of the population.

        But even if this were not true I still could not support the idea of having a small group of individuals preaching and dictating how things will now be or else we’ll… I’m not sure what.

        If the document were in the spirit of Rich, Bill’s, and Daryl’s post I can assure you… this would be an entirely different conversation.

        The question is… where is our society failing its members and how can we be a part of the solution? This is where the visions are needed.

        Meanwhile I will do what I can to work on an alternative as you have suggested… as well as ways that the bullet points might be made to fit the humble and nonviolent effort to ‘come to the aid of our country’ (and support others in their efforts as well) that I think this movement is.

        In solidarity.

  10. Bill Record


    The impression I received from your longer response was that you felt the overall tone of the statement is incorrect. I got the idea that you would like the statement to have a different basis. I don’t exactly understand the different tone you would like to set, so if you could rewrite any one or two points, I could better understand. Or as Rich suggested you could start a new document. Do you feel your ideas can be accomplished by setting a different tone for this document or is it better to start over? We have invested in this document but as Rich said, we need to be open.

    Rich, Not sure how to edit this document. I think there is a google docs software that allows some kind of editing that is traceable. This being on the internet we have bigger pool of input that could be hard to sort out. The person doing the editing may have trouble being neutral when several good suggestions are made around one topic. Not sure how we would bring it all together. Perhaps there is a software wiz out there who can give us some guidance. Perhaps there is another site we can access that has the ability to support a traceable editing system. But right now it will come down to who is at the meetings for the final decisions, is that correct? Big Picture View: however we solve this could be a model for future discussion.

    • Rich Woytowich

      If you’ve created a login name on, and joined the Vision and Goals group, you should see tabs at the top of the document – “Read”, “Edit”, “History”.
      You should be able to click “Edit”, unless someone else is already editing.
      You should be able to track changes by using “History” to compare two versions. You’ll see highlighting indicating what was changed between versions.
      Probably the only thing that can make this system unworkable would be what I called “dueling edits” – where people edit other people’s edits, possibly reversing each other’s changes. For now, my suggestion would be that if one person makes an edit, and another person wants to make a different edit to the same text, they work it out elsewhere and agree on an edit, which one person would make. An alternative would be to post a comment in which you show how you would edit that text. At our meetings, we would, I hope, resolve conflicts and put up a mutually agreeable version, which would then be the basis for the next round of edits.
      I’ve never used an official “wiki” – I don’t know how that differs (if at all) from what we have here.
      I don’t think a process like this could have worked when we were first shaping the document – this process doesn’t handle major rewrites very gracefully. Even now, any proposals for a major rewrite should probably be done either by posting a comment or by creating a new doc.

    • Patrick Wilson

      Thanks for clarifying… I misunderstood what you were suggesting in the earlier post.

      In this, I think we could do no better than to promote the rights as they appear in the Bill of Rights in the constitution, though I do think there are similar and well phrased examples in the UN document as well, which could be promoted to augment our individual rights as noted in the latter.

      For me the thing to work on is the vision. The words can only describe the vision after it exists. But the vision must be one that keeps a very diverse group of people together who are united by very specific, shared interest.

  11. Bill Record

    Rich and Patrick,
    I had another idea. We can start 3 or more separate posts. Each post starts with the document as it stands now. Each post has an editor with the ability to accept or reject changes to the document. People can make whatever suggestions they want to as many posts as there are. The editor of each post keeps some kind of continuity. On Sunday we have a copy of the final version of each post to compare. We could start with Bill’s Version, Rich’s Version and Patrick’s Version. Other people welcome to start their version. Then on Sunday we will be able to look at each bullet point with different ideas and try to bring them together. This assumes that we are happy with the overall document format of preamble, bullet points followed by a summary. This idea is a bit like the spokes council model.

    • Rich Woytowich

      That’s a workable alternative. It gets around the problem of editing other people’s edits – everyone who wants to make a change can present it without stepping on anyone else’s toes.

  12. jay gruskin

    Rich and eveyone else:

    Do you know what an elephant is?……………..
    it’s a mouse designed by a commottee !!!

    you have a document that’s pretty good (but it’s turning into a bureaucratic nightmare with endless editing)
    —- just issue the damn thing!! Let the linguists, semanticists and nit-pickers make a valid case — and amend it later!!!!

    The only thing I disagree with is demonizing the 1% (that’s about 3.5 million Americans) do you want to
    brand all these people?———I think you should direct your venom only at the top 0.1% and substitute “0.1%”
    for “1%”

    Do I have a second?


    • Rich Woytowich

      Actually, the document has a sort of inertia. It exists in the form that we agreed to at our last meeting. The changes people are making are, in a sense, friendly amendments that the group will have to decide on. As for the 1 percent, I think any number we choose is open to question. We have members of the 99 percent who act like 1 percenters, and members of the 1 percent who act like they’re part of the 99 percent. “We are the 99 percent” seems astonishing enough – if we really do number 99.9 percent, this country is in worse shape than it looks. Anyway, I didn’t coin the slogan, but it seems to have a life of its own now.
      I only reluctantly added the line about being marginalized by the 1 percent. I don’t want to demonize anyone. Maybe just get three spirits to visit some of them, or send them to the top of Mount Crumpet to have their hearts stretched. And I think a vision statement should look forward, not back. But there was some very strong sentiment – expressed by more than one person in more than one place – in favor of putting a line like that into our statement. Maybe we need to take another temperature check on it.

      • jay gruskin

        You could also leave out 1% and just substitute: “corporate elites” or
        ”corporate powerbrokers”.

        Everyone knows we’re then referring to their outsized political influence.

        • Rich Woytowich


          Thanks! I couldn’t make a change here because the doc is currently locked, but I made a change in the “Please do not edit” version.

  13. Daryl Atamanyk

    Required: one parking spot in Lower Manhattan: in part to accommodate Johnnie Depp it is hoped; and the spirit of Hunter S.Thompson. For more information please review the posts in the Housing Group Forum entitled Long Term Occupation Ideas.

    In order to “develop a vision” reflective of humane realities one must first do a root cause analysis of “the problems” with which one is faced. Funny thing about problems: those responsible for the problems tend to blame others for the problems having arisen. No one likes to feel at fault.

    Take us for example: blaming the bankers and politicians et al when we the electorate provided implied consent for them to do whatever they decided in terms of legislation. We the electorate did not BLOCK their actions. Not BLOCKING, we de facto CONSENTED. Now we have chosen to BLOCK them. But let us not blame them for our having facilitated that which they did. Yes they too are responsible: but too are we responsible for not attending in a responsible way to our half of the checks and balances that restrain our pesky human nature, a nature that exists in politicians as much as in you and me. And until we take responsibility for our past behavior and accept that you and I are responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves… until we do that… until we arrive at that particular root cause… no vision that we come up with will accurately and effectively address the problems. On the other hand, if we take responsibility for our role in the mess that America has become, any visions that emerge will have enormously greater chances of actually giving birth to goals that address the root cause. We must not forget that the root cause is that which impelled us jointly to behave in those manners that gave rise to the present situation. If we don’t accept joint responsibility for having created the problem, then any visions that issue forth from us, and goals that are based on those visions, will reflect not our addressing the root cause. Those “visions” and “goals” will reflect our effort to hide from ourselves our own culpability more so than reflect an addressing of the true problem. We will then feel “we did something,” when in fact we did nothing but mask the symptoms. The root cause unaddressed will then see the symptoms re-erupt in a future generation.

    I have a solution for the root cause, if not in its entirety, at least in its being of significant diagnostic value: not to mention, so to speak, the powerful prescription my solution suggests.

    Might I suggest a stepping back for perspective before you proceed with your endeavor to define a vision statement prematurely?

    My primary focus is creating widespread solidarity via the co-opting of the public education system [high schools for a start], not just across United States, but throughout the freeworld [and by way of underground methods, to secure the support of citizens of tyrannical regimes].

    If anyone is interested in more information regarding elementary materials that facilitate “having a vision” email me at and I’ll send them to you. It’s forefront stuff: and elegantly simple.

    And we need that parking spot in Lower Manhattan. Please ask around.

    • Rich Woytowich

      This is only a partial response, but I hope it is an important one. I like what you say about us having stood by and let the plutocrats have their way. Some might say that it’s a “chicken and egg” thing – that we sttod by because they conditioned us to. I felt really disappointed during Carter’s term of office when people started revering “the Presidency”. So much so that I campaigned for Ted Kennedy in the 1980 New York primary. It only got worse under Reagan and the Bushes – Clinton didn’t particularly do anything to reverse it. Under Bush II, any time anyone spoke against government policy, they were silenced by being told they were “helping the terrorists”. But in the ’60s, protesters were told they were “helping the Communists” – they protested anyway. When did people decide to go silent?
      So yes, we bear our share of the responsibility. I made a change in our document to reflect that. I couldn’t do it here, because the doc is locked, so I did it in the version marked “please do not edit”. I hope you’ll find that it expresses the point you made.

  14. Bill Record

    A note to let readers know I started a new Post with a revision to this document as compiled by Rich and everyone who added content. I made a number of changes and wanted to keep this document intact.

  15. jay gruskin

    Hello Rich,
    i admire the work you are doing and hope you get a Visionary Statement out that will help propel us forward!
    You are also someone with good sense and have taken the time to respond to my comments.

    I would like to offer you a document (I prooduced it and posted it in the DEMANDS GROUP – “A Third Bill Rights……..)” in the THREAD ‘PROPOSED: Revisiting FDR’s Second Bill of Rights …….”
    Even though it was produced in a nonconsensus process (I composed it) it is well-written, is comprehensive
    and uses positive language (win-win, avoiding zero-sum or confiscatory-blamegame language.

    I think it could propel the movement forward even more AND I believe it could be brought into a democratic
    or consensus model very quickly! AND I would change only one of the “rights” with some modifying langguage.

    Please take the time to review it. THanks.

  16. Rich Woytowich

    OK – I looked at the original post (not yet at all the comments). There is a lot to be said for it. Maybe when we start to work on “goals” we will want to enumerate the rights that we want to secure against infringement.
    Our vision statement goes further. The very innocent – sounding item calling for political and economic institutions to “work for everyone, not just a privileged few” is our distillation of John Rawls’ concept of “justice as fairness” – the idea that inequalities, if they exist, should benefit everyone, especially those least favored. In other words, it’s OK for the CEO to have a mansion and a yacht (Elmer Fudd reference intentional) if it means that the cleaning crew have a more secure, better paying job with better benefits. For a while, that worked. While in college, I spent my summers working at Grumman. This was in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when they were in their prime – the Lunar Module, the F-14. They were proudly non – union. I say proudly because they didn’t keep union organizers out by brute force. They kept them out by paying everybody better, and giving them better benefits, than any union would dare demand. They were almost entirely a government contractor – they weren’t competing against third world sweatshops. And they had a reputation for quality that they hoped would justify their higher price tag. That was the best corporate environment I ever worked in. But it didn’t last. The Apollo program was ending as I was leaving school, and I didn’t want to be the new guy in a place that was letting people with decades of service go when the contracts expired. Their were limits to how far they would go to keep workers’ morale up. But – whatever anyone may say about the fact that Grumman made military hardware – I’ve seen the system work so that the guy at the bottom had a better life because of the efforts of the guy at the top. I don’t see that today. People idolize Steve Jobs. But I’ve seen reports of Apple products (maybe the one I’m using now) being made in Chinese factories where workers are beaten if they don’t work hard enough.
    So yes, I want to see government transformed. But I also want to see corporate America transformed. At the moment, that hope hangs on one line in our vision statement.
    My story is not the only one. I’m sure every member of our group has a reason for wanting some particular words included in our statement. Ensuring that our rights are not infringed is just a small part of what our statement is all about.
    Maybe we need to collect our group’s reasons for supporting the pieces of the statement that each of us has written. Maybe that will help everyone who reads the statement understand where we’re coming from. I don’t know whether people will be willing to listen. We’re already worried that even what we have written is too long. But thanks for starting the discussion!

  17. Rich Woytowich

    TO ALL:

    In response to some of the posts here, I have an edit of my own, which I can’t post because the document is locked.

    I would replace

    “We will no longer be marginalized by the 1 percent.”


    “For generations, we have stood silent while corporate elites turned our country into a plutocracy. We will be silent no longer. ”

    I posted the earlier statement in response to the discussions we had at our last meeting, but I was having a hard time getting to sleep. Some of the posts here made me think that there might be a better way. Thanks Jay and Daryl. I think I can get some sleep now.

    • Rich Woytowich

      PS You can see the edited document – along with what I hope you’ll agree is an improved version of Michael’s edit – in the “please do not edit” version of this doc.

    • Rich Woytowich

      PPS Please continue to post comments here. My hope is that eventually, we’ll go back to using this as the editable doc.

      Also note that Bill has created a new doc to accommodate proposed edits that he couldn’t make here.

    • Daryl Atamanyk

      Thank you Rich! This document that you and your associates are drafting will become a very important starting point for the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY to consider when it convenes in DC.

  18. jay gruskin

    Hi Rich,
    That was a nice response – thanks! and there is much truth in what you say.
    i agree that things were much better in the 60’s and 70’s and in my “bill of rights’ I try to level the playing
    field and and return aa sense of fairness to the workforce.
    Thank you so much for reviewing it. Let me point out its’ merits.
    First, it’s called a “bill of rights” because I thought it would be more politically correct – it is more a set of goals
    or policies.
    Second, I address wage inequality and low wages in several ways:
    -I define a minimum wage such that if only the lowest paying job is available, it will pay a “livng” wage
    which is sufficient to live on but at or just above the poverty level. (in NYC that might be $16 or $18/hr).
    -I define a “fair” wage as one that will provide a standard middle-class lifestyle for a family. This will allow
    there to be only ONE worker in the family (this will immediately lowere the unemployment level since
    Wives wil no longer be forced to work to support the family – but may elect to do so).
    The 1/50 wage of a $2 million executive is essentially an executive salary cap designed to return to the
    wage inequality in the 1960s. How it works – the executive can sstill get a 10 or 15% salaty increase
    but only if it raises EVERYONES salary by the same percent.
    -I specify that we will trade (import) only from countries that pay a “fair”wage to their workers. This reduces
    the possibiility of Americans forced to compete with slave/prison wages. The hidden benefit is if foreign
    workers are better paid – they will be better customers for American exports.
    -Then many basic services would be free: education, medical, food stamps (available on demand only for
    needy or “qualified” recipients.

    I hope you see enough merit to make use of any “rights”. You can use the document whole or break
    the down individually – or just adapt any of the phrasing or ideas put forward. The DEMAND group hasn’t
    made much use of it – i hope that your group (V/G) can do a better job with it.
    Of course i deal with other issues but wage inequality and lack of jobs seems to be at or near the top for
    the OWS movment.

    Good luck with the vision statement.

  19. Patrick Wilson

    This might as well be my last word in this thread because, as it regularly happens, before there is any meaningful resolution to sighted problems, the conversation simply starts anew on a different thread as if nothing had occurred, and the important but inconvenient concerns are left behind.

    To Rich and Bill, after reviewing my earlier post I think your later questions are answered in my original point by point ‘responses’ on this thread. I would be glad to elaborate but due to the problem described above it seems futile.

    My point is this. No matter how you touch up this document I believe it is ill conceived and fatally flawed for the many reasons I have sighted.

    As I have stated earlier, the principles of the movement were better served with the document from the second day of the occupation (Principles of Solidarity) and this newer offering does not improve or elaborate on that document in my view… it in fact only muddies the water, when we should be working on a vision that goes to the strategy of how to help right our countries direction instead of offering platitudes that fall short of the history of such documents… with all my deepest apologies.

    The closest thing I see here to a promising first step on a new effort is the last post by @darylatamanyk

    I am referring to the comment that begins with:

    “Take us for example: blaming the bankers and politicians et al when we the electorate provided implied consent…

    and ends with:

    …If we don’t accept joint responsibility for having created the problem, then any visions that issue forth from us, and goals that are based on those visions, will reflect not our addressing the root cause. Those “visions” and “goals” will reflect our effort to hide from ourselves our own culpability more so than reflect an addressing of the true problem. We will then feel “we did something,” when in fact we did nothing but mask the symptoms. The root cause unaddressed will then see the symptoms re-erupt in a future generation.”

    Since I am having no luck in changing the approach and direction of the drafting of this document, I feel I should turn my attention to actively opposing it outside of this limited conversation.

    With all due respect and solidarity.

  20. Daryl Atamanyk

    @ Patrick Wilson I encourage you Patrick to advise that we not act before the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY considers the matter in DC.

    It is my firm belief that everything has a logical order out of which all organically evolves. The vision statement is not ours to issue. We owe it to the movement to exercise self-restraint and acknowledge that DEMANDS and VISION STATEMENTS and STATEMENTS OF SUCH IMPORT are the prerogative of a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in DC, the members of which are representative of all corners of the country…as well as representative of the INTERNATIONAL ARM OF THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT, even if the latter are there only in an observer or advisory capacity.

    Your Canadian friend,
    Daryl Atamanyk

    • Patrick Wilson

      We are in complete agreement on letting any declaration come from the national and international forums respectively, it has been the consensus here in NYC to resist trying to dictate a vision and instead to promote the empowerment of the individual and the many voices… this is the idea I continue to support and promote.

  21. Bill Record

    Daryl and Patrick,

    I can understand that there are root causes to the problems. How about the concept that man has dominion on the earth? What will it take to root that historically imbedded notion out of our subconscious? and our consciousness? I think we are full of all kinds of baseline assumptions that are no where near sustainable.

    Will a document that is about root causes be understood, and acted upon by the masses? Nobody wants to look at their own shit.

    Yes it starts with the education system. How long?

    Can you incorporate anything about root cause in our present statement? A bullet point to acknowledge this. A starting point to keep this topic alive.

    Yes we are writing a statement that may not be deep enough. We are writing something for the NYC GA, not the national movement. We are writing something for people to rally around and keep the momentum of the NYC Occupy Movement going.

    Keep your voice heard in this discussion,

  22. jack siler

    You have been trying to reduce something very complex and multi-layered into a simple statement (Twitterishly.) The pressure to do that is because to expand to a larger public it’s necessary to say what the OWS stands for. There seem to be two important conflicts: those with a specific axe to grind (I’m foreclosed, I’m discriminated against for my sex/race/religion, I can’t find a job, our environment is dying, etc.) and those who want a document that matches the Declaration Of independence or the Constitution in covering all bases.

    Then there are those who realize that our current social/political/corruption/economic institutions aren’t working so we must fix the institutions, kick out the .01%, and fine tune our politics and economic structures so that wealth is “fairly” divided versus those who believe (and I’m one of them) that ALL of the problems come from the very nature of our social and political process, therefore we are only applying more band aids to a profound problem. I.e. a species that fails to adapt to a change in its environment dies – and we have changed our planetary social, political, economic, and environmental environments in many and unsustainable ways.

    I tried to say before that these conflicts can and must be resolved within the Occupy movement before a comprehensive and brilliant statement of visions can make sense to a large body of people.

    So there is the reality: we are NOT going to change the world overnight so IN TRANSITION there must be proposals that aim to make changes to and with the social, economic, and political structure that we have which will alleviate some of the most pressing symptoms of our systemic malfunctions. We can only change the diaper, not the baby’s bowels.

    Secondly there needs to be an allied movement to explore, define and propose changing those parts of our social, economic and political systems that need to be fundamentally, foundationally revised to continue life on earth – period! To propose only this part now would be utopian as I think Patrick pointed out. But to leave out the dream would be just applying more band aids, as Rich said.

    Dividing the statement into NOW Part 1 and LATER Part 2 would support action and immediacy as well as let the world know that deeper thinking and more profound corrections would be in everyone’s future.

    Apart from that, I was in Old Saybrook, CT today where the very active Occupy South Coast was told by the police on Friday that they would have to buy a $350 Liability Insurance policy if they wanted to rally on the green. They held a pseudo-rally anyway. They, too, are working on a statement. I think every group everywhere is working on a Vision & Goals statement. Nonetheless, New York started this and is looked on as the leader. It would be provincial of the NY OWS to not lead when a national movement coalesces in DC, but it seems to those outlayers that NY should not dictate. What comes from NY should be brilliant, precise and headlined as TEMPORARY so that the nation will see the leadership, but not a dictatorial stance.

    Enough from me. Any comment this time?


  23. dougb

    For everyone in vision and goals,
    Though I’ve spent a couple weeks all told at OWSNYC, I live in Maine, so have participated in person in only 1 vision and goals meeting, to my regret. I’ve followed the development and maturing of the statement closely on line.

    Its development feels organic, not contrived. So many people have put their best thinking and effort into it. Each version gets better. 2 months ago I could never have imagined participating in a creation that dares to identify basic human needs and then commits to fulfilling them. What a break from the America I’ve known. Dozens, hundreds contribute to this statement and work things out, even when its hard. It models in practice how so many of us want this movement and society to be.

    I don’t myself see arrogance or presumptuousness in the statement or in this effort. Maybe I’m naive, but the good will, the good thinking and the sheer number of participants in this movement involved in creating this statement make it seem unlikely to be “wrong” in its conception or its construction.

    It makes perfect sense to bring it to a national convention, if the general assembly consenses on it, as one of many contributions toward a final statement. In the meantime lets go ahead and make our contribution the best we can.

    I’d guess we’ll know when producing further versions begins to produce diminishing returns and becomes regurgitation. Maybe that will be soon.


  24. Michael Korn

    Hey Doug,

    Frankly I’m starting to get nauseous at the process. But plug away, we must. Thanks for your kind words and your actual presence last Thursday.

    Kiss a moose for me! Be Well and…keep contributing. We’ll finally get through this together! Peace!

  25. Brendan

    Hemmingway never wasted an adjective. This will avoid future arguments about adjectives:

    We envision a society, built on the following principles:

    Liberty: whereby we secure the civil and human rights of all against violation or infringement,

    Power: whereby governments, derive their powers from the consent of the governed

    Solidarity: whereby all people come together to make decisions

    Responsibility: whereby all accept a share of its responsibilities;

    Equality: whereby racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination are rejected;

    Non – Violence: whereby non-violence is a way of life

    People: whereby we value human dignity.

    • Michael Korn

      Hi Brendan, I wish you or Hemingway was with us at the meeting today to bring your points across. There is a serious split in the committee on how to craft the final document. In my opinion, yours has cut out any real substance to the document. But in fairness, I will mention your doc at the meeting today. Unfortunately, I don’t have a printer or I would print it out. The copies I made for our meeting came from a friend who had a working printer.


  26. Lopi

    Imho I think that the whole structure of the intro with the “mic check” is gimmicky. It’s cheesy as hell. It doesn’t stir me. The whole document reads very stiffly. If you are wondering why I am not involved in helping to craft this statement, is I saw the dynamic of the group when you all came to the GA to present the statement. It had the appearance of being run by men. Sure there were a couple women present, but I do get a very strong sense by watching the google group and this forum, that there is some serious male domination going on here. Please correct me if I am wrong. I hope I am

    I think bringing the doc to the GA might help but you have to be willing to really let people change it. Don’t bring it for feedback as a token gesture to pass approval on what you have already written.

    I would edit it ALOT. Take out the beginning part, replace it with a more dignified sounding introduction. Mic check is what we do live. In writing it just sounds pretentious as hell.

    The whole document reads dry. When I read the declaration of the occupation? I cry.
    when I read this? It’s like a laundry list.

    I hope you can take my critique as a constructive one

    thanks for listening

  27. Brendan

    I cut the following words because each one is a pandaoras box: Truly, free, democratic, just, civil, unjust, just, consent, wealth, come together, voice is heard, marginalized, reap, benefits, fair, benefit, priviledged, few, harmony, tolerance, respect, diversity, socially constructed labels,good, adequate well being, effective