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“One For All” at the Union Hall

Tuesday evening we participated in “Spring Training for the 99%,” a three hour session of galvanizing brainstorming, case studies and exercises at the Steelworker’s Union Hall on Independence Road in Cleveland.

Perhaps eight people from the Occupy Movement per se were there, yet the meme “99%” is associated with the Occupy Movement and the literature we received frequently refered to the movement. Over sixty people participated, mostly union members.

I was pleased to see many people of color. I am a person of mostly European heritage and I grew up in “white” suburbia, so am always looking to broaden my horizons and become less insular. I am also encouraged that so many people of color are employed in unions. As always, when I talk about “race” issues I kind of worry because I have been so ignorant in my life, albeit full of compassion. My ignorance has been in my kind of awkwardness and lack of comfort in diverse groups. I think this is something that many kind-hearted people experience, and it is important to understand our awkwardness and work on becoming more comfortable in the community on which we are working on becoming more a part, the diverse world community.

I wonder to myself how frequently people get together in union halls and what is discussed. Is it typically union issues, or is there also camaradery and perhaps talk about the larger issues of society?

The most interesting part of the gathering was that we were broken up into groups (we counted off by number), given a large sheet of paper, and asked to brainstorm and draw in twenty minutes all the things we want to see in an ideal community. We named our communities, too–ours was the town of “One for All.” (Later I got a kick out of learning that smith’s group’s town had the name of “All for One.”)

At the center of One for All we drew a community garden. Then one guy said, “We need more jobs here again; we need industry; let’s put in a shoe store and clothing factory.” So we put a shoe store and clothing factory in the upper left. Below that, affordable housing. And a river under the community garden for which we specified “clean water.” Train tracks for high speed rail right through the center of town which the inhabitants can use to zip around to other communities. Free education building, a city hall, a free clinic, a free hospital. We had it made!

The organizer for the evening then came to our table and drew a big “X” right through our free hospital and clinic. “This land is being taken over for WalMart,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” And then she ripped the section off our map.

We drew a wall and protestors around the torn off area but she came back and tried to take away the paper. I held on to it but then thought, “Oh, perhaps there is supposed to be some kind of lesson here,” so I let her take our beautiful community and she proceeded to rip it up and walked away with the pieces. (I still have it in my head, though, so it’s not gone.)

Later we learned that three of our groups had actually protected their communities by creating a physical blockade so that the “corporate actors” couldn’t get to them. This was what we were supposed to do–think outside the box. And what really would have been great, the organizer said, was if we had called on adjoining communities’ tables to help us defend each other from the attacks. Food for thought.

Many great ideas this evening–and the one I like the most is the “tactic star.” Here’s a version of the tactic star for those who are interested.

The idea of the tactic star is to really think about how to hone one’s tactics to achieve a particular goal. Many good points are touched on–largely related to how the tactic will be received by those we are working on helping and persuading and if this reception aids the goal.

Upcoming events in Cleveland:

Today (April 12, 2012) at 4:45 by the Free Stamp–“Save the Post Office”–rally to prevent cutbacks of Post Office services, locations, budget…

Saturday April 14 @ 9-3 & 5-8 – Community Forum and Dinner events (register and pay at saveourcommunities.org)

Sunday April 15 @ 3:30 – Justice for Trayvon gathering at 2917 E. 116 & Buckeye at Second New Hope Baptist Church

Monday April 16 @ 4 – Justice for Janitors Rally at Public Square

Tuesday April 17 @ 4:15 – Tax Day Protest @ NW Quad. Public Square – help stop war spending–instead use the money to help our communities and have a fairer rate of taxation of wealthy people (Buffet rule)

 


One Response to ““One For All” at the Union Hall”

  1. chris says:

    glad you are blogging again…

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