Sunday, September 29, 2013

Block Printing Class Was Fun and Community-Building, and Thoughts on Creating Privately Owned Public Open Spaces

  Jack Roger's free lino-block printing class left us all feeling like artistic successes. Conversation at times drifted to current Northeast Kingdom events, while our hands were busy creating interesting designs. Community classes fulfill one of our goals here, which is to provide a space for people to meet and strengthen their ties to neighbors.

   Although progress is slow, another good sign is that neighbors are dropping in for coffee and conversation or to use the computers. Of course, visitors are also coming in too to see the art. This makes for an interesting mix of people who might not otherwise use the same space, which is also a great way to strengthen community ties.

   We hope to prove that indoor public space can be an asset to the community, especially here in Vermont where six months of the year inclement weather precludes sitting around in a park.  Some communities are creating public-private partnerships to make this kind of space a reality. Have a look at the link below:

 This is 60 Wall Street in New York City. It's a POPOS (privately owned public open space). Occupy Wall Street used it for meetings during the occupation of Zucotti Park. Yes, some of the people sitting here quietly reading the paper, getting a cup of coffee or using the public bathroom may not have a fixed address. But every time I've been in there, everyone has been respectful and considerate of others rights.

   Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park near Seattle, centered around a large bookstore, is another privately-owned public space I have visited. My daughter loved the giant chess set. From the pictures, it looks like it's getting a little ritzier than when we were there, but the idea behind these public places is that they are open to everyone and encourage events or
just hanging out. Wouldn't it be great to have a child's play place like they have in malls right in downtown Newport? One where you didn't have to buy your kid a Happy Meal to get in?  A place for mom's to take their kids on a rainy day, hang out, talk and have a cup of coffee?  Privately owned public places are a way businesses can contribute to strong communities, but are not just a charitable donation. These spaces encourage people to come and linger, possibly remembering something they need to get, which they wouldn't have if they had just made a quick trip in to buy something from the Pick and Shovel and then hopped in their car to leave again. Indoor public spaces also provide ideal locations for publicizing (and hosting) educational and cultural events such as art shows and plays. They are also great places for shopping-weary tourists to sit down and take a take a load off their feet. Kid friendly spaces would surely be welcome to these visitors!

   The new development downtown would be an ideal way to incorporate public open space into the community of Newport. It would also demonstrate to residents that the developers are seriously interested in the welfare of our area.

   For the time being, The 99 Gallery and Center will be open at least part of the day as a place for neighbors to meet and we will continue to offer free classes and events for the community. Our coffee pot is always on! We are looking for people with skills to share who are willing to teach a class and provide materials. All classes are free, though people sometimes may want to contribute something to the person teaching the class to offset costs. This is voluntary. The Gallery and Center does all the publicity.



Monday, September 23, 2013

We're Inviting You and the Neighborhood to The 99 Gallery and Center for our Next Art Show!

  Come to The 99 on  Saturday, October 5 for a showing of art about the Kingdom from Kingdom artists. Our talented local artists will be joined by community members and student artists to get us thinking about where we've been and where we're going. Enjoy cider and donuts and great live music, from 2 to 4 PM. We will also be circulating a map of other galleries in Newport. Make it an Art Walk day and then come back for hot chocolate! The 99 is located behind 316 Main Street, facing School Street across from the Family Dollar in downtown Newport.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Draw the Line on the XL Pipeline" Rally in Hardwick Draws More than 50 Activists and Some Thoughts on the Sharing Economy

A crowd gathered by the side of the road in Hardwick today to protest the XL Pipeline and its little brother the Portland Pipeline through the NEK. These pipelines will carry toxic tar sands bitumen with potentially serious environmental consequences should a spill occur. And several already have in other parts of the country. The Portland Pipeline is an existing pipeline that is already about 60 years old. It passes under many NEK waterways and due to the effects of Tropical Storm Irene, the pipeline is now exposed to the elements in a few locations.  Activists came from all over northern and central Vermont to say "No" to these projects.

   After the rally, a smaller group, including members from NEK99% and Occupy Central Vermont,  met to talk about how we can create a society where greedy wealth-accumulating individuals and corporations don't engage in  activities which put people and our planet at risk.
  Here are some thoughts I took away from this discussion:

  We want to replace the "Hoarding Economy" (where a few people who work hard at "gaming" the system are accumulating an ever larger share of the nation's wealth) with the a "Sharing Economy", where people in communities move goods and services locally without excessive accumulation by the few and without debt. We tossed around a few ideas about what the Sharing Economy would look like. Certainly one aspect would be fair sharing in the wealth generated by production by all those who labor to create it. Another would be more neighbor-to-neighbor support and community assistance.

  We talked about working in our communities to create the Sharing Economy while at the same time working to dismantle the Hoarding Economy. Some ways that this could be done are:
   1. Working through various governmental and legal channels to make it harder for accumulators to accumulate, such as the proposed "Robin Hood Tax" on financial transactions. Wealth accumulators are like other hoarders, they have a problem that makes them unable to stop trying to accumulate money, even when they have so much that there is no logical reason to have it. The tax is like putting a tax on cigarettes--it makes it harder to pursue their addiction.

   2. Reinforce the immorality of wealth accumulation in the face of the suffering of so many. In small scale societies, people are prevented from accumulating by peer pressure. We need to apply that pressure. At the recent Wall Street demonstrations in New York, we went from financial institution to financial institution to crying "Shame, shame". This is a moral statement. In some parts of the country people are gathering for "Moral Mondays" to promote the idea of a just society. It's also hopeful that the new Catholic pope Francis has made a statement that the church has become unduly obsessed with issues like abortion and has neglected issues of inequality of resources. This helps bring the notion of social justice into the moral realm.

3. Work in our communities to model the Sharing Economy on a local level, by promoting local production and distribution of goods and food and by holding events that where "value" is not monetary. We need to demonstrate that "giving" means more than donating a gift to a poor family at Christmas.

4. Make the Sharing Economy fun. No joke. Art, music and film can make a new idea more attractive to everybody, the 99% and the 1%.  And a great outreach to kids too.

  I picked up a copy of "Occupy Finance" at the 2nd anniversary. Here is a link to an NPR story:

And here is a link to the book:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Occupy Looks this AM in the New York Papers.

New York Times: If it's in there, it's not at all obvious.

Free Daily papers they give out to folks getting on the subway: As last year, these more populist papers devote some coverage to Occupy.
The headline in The Metro reads, "Occupy Still Important Two Years After Start".

An editorial in AM New York reads, "Occupy Wall Street Must Raise It's Voice Again."

The author, Liza Featherstone, writes: "Occupy did not change our reality, but it did change our political rhetoric, especially here in new York City". Featherstone connects the Occupy movment to the current mayoral election in NYC. The paper's banner headline reads, "Ain't Even Close", referring to a poll placing Democratic candidate DiBlasio well ahead of Republican Lhota. I will try to share the full text of this editorial later, but she concludes by exhorting Occupy to "become a nuisance to the 1% again". I'm ready for that.

It did occur to me that there might be some connection between the dramatic decrease in police harassment and the election. DiBlasio is looking like the front-runner, has adopted a softened "Occupy ideology"  and has the backing of labor. Our afternoon demonstration, organized by a labor/Occupy/Act Up coalition, seemed to get the royal treatment (there were amplifiers set up at one point along the route, from which labor speakers gave short talks as we marched to Bryant Park)  For the most part the police didn't even appear to have come prepared to arrest anyone. Only a few had zip ties hanging form their belts, unlike last year.

Maybe they're thinking about impressing a new boss.

However, I'm not getting excited about any political candidates. They all seem to be cut from the same cloth, But maybe we can hope for "not so bad" as opposed to "really bad".


According to news reports there were several arrests. This would have been at the UN demonstration in the afternoon when several activists entered an intersection as an act of civil disobedience. It was all very quiet.

Bizarrely, the police wouldn't allow cardboard sticks for signs into Zucotti park (everybody knew not to bring wood sticks) because they were painted. But they were OK on the sidewalk, where they might actually have encountered a passer-by.

Just had an interesting conversation with a lady from France in my somewhat halting French. She is a socialist and is sold on the idea of taking action against Assad in Syria, but I guess in France they don't worry so much about getting their government getting them into a ten year war. Very few people here at the hostel are speaking English, and there seems to be a different language at every table. If you aren't a stickler for comfort, I'd recommend you try it out if you stay in New York. Sharing sleeping space and bathrooms is inconvenient, but the place is very pleasant, easy to get to the rest of Manhattan on the subway and feels very secure for someone travelling alone. There is a little cafe with food a little cheaper than the high prices in many places inNew York.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Photos, Occupy Wall Street, S17 Afternoon Actions

Back at the hostel, where I can look through the photos and try to find some that aren't blurry. Below: Emperor Pipeline arrives at Wall Street; It's really hard to photograph a crowd when you're in it; These mounted police were necessary to keep us from going up the steps again, apparently; It wouldn't be Occupy without chalk; A nicely stitched sign forced these women to pose for interminable photos; Both comedian Lee Camp AND film maker Dennis Trainor Jr. ("American Autumn", Acronym TV) in the same picture. Amazingly they look just like they do on video. Guess they don't wear any makeup. I have to admit, I was starstruck; The Robin Hood Tax banner. This is what you get when you have union money, along with pre-printed signs and matching T-shirts. Frankly I like Occupy's love of cardboard, markers and chalk, but that's just me; A couple of pictures of the the second demonstration, at 5 PM as people getting out of work were able to join; Entering Bryant Park; Sweet Honey in the Rock, with amplifiers. Somebody had a permit.

Wow! Ranks Swelling to Several Hundred at Labor/Act Up/ Occupy S17 Solidarity Demonstration

We arrived after a long walk the barefoot guy in white to the UN, which is opening today. I was heartened to see several hundred people already gathered, a coalition of labor, including many nurses, Act Up AIDS activists and Occupy, demonstrating for a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions (this would be a tax on Wall St.) We marched, chanted and sang all the way back to Bryant Park. What a difference from last year---The police are all over, some with zip ties on their belts, but I didn't see any arrests. They just seemed to be directing traffic along the way. Even went out in the street at times. A guy grabbed me to help hold the Act Up Fight AIDS banner for awhile, so I marched with them most of the way. I think there are are about 500 to 700 people now and everybody is here listening to Sweet Honey in the Rock. In addition to no police interference there have been amplifiers. Yet Zucotti park is still barricaded off like a fort. Can't get pictures to upload, so will head back to the hostel and work on it. There is a GA tonight, but won't go. It's been a great day.

Taking a Break at Bryant Park, between S17 Actions at occupy Wall Street

Well, let's see. It's been along afternoon. I left Zucotti Park looking for the subway to catch up with folks at Times Square, but ended up running into the march and had a great time with hordes of people, signs and music walking up Broadway. (OK, there were about 200). We made a lot of noise.

We ended up at Washington Square at a planned rally with speakers about the TPP. I'll have a lot to say about this later. It's serious. But the fun part was getting to hold the banners for B and P while they did their show.

Things got a little vague at this point, but a guy with bare feet dressed all in white said we could follow him to Times Square for the next TPP event via the subway. So some of us did. A couple from New York, a lady from New Jersey, and a guy from Boston.  At Times Square we found the event was over. What a disappointment. But there not only did Iget to see Lee Camp, we ended up walking around New York with him, following the guy with the bare feet. Along the way we picked up Dennis Trainor Jr, who made the movie "American Autumn". So now I find myself sitting in a park with the guy with bare feet, Lee Camp, Dennis Trainor and a growing crowd of others. This has been a little surreal for a middle-aged lady from Vermont.More later.

S17 Wall Street

There's something ironic about using a Burger King send info about an anti-corporate  event.

One thing about Occupiers---apparently we're not early risers. I arrived promptly at 8 Am and found a group of about 20 very cold activists. Soon the bagels and cream cheese arrived. And then more activists. Within the hour the number increased to about 100, there are many more now that we have gotten back to Zucotti park from a visit to Wall  Street. It was NOT blocked off this year, allowing us to make a human gong to counter, and drown out the opening bell at the stock exchange, from the steps of...not sure what huge building it was but there was a massive statue.

NYPD get up early in the morning. In fact there are about ten of them for every protester. Many walked along side of us on the street. Some of the light blue shirted ones walked with us, a few engaged in conversation with marchers. I keep a sharp eye on the ones in the white shirts.

Some of our own Vermont Band P folks are here. Events are planned for all day.
Oh, Oh---The park appears to have emptied out. Better go see what's going on.

Monday, September 16, 2013

En Route to NYC for Occupy's 2nd Anniversary

Greetings from Amtrak: Looks like an event in support of fast food workers and an event to protest the Transpacific Partnership are going to happen pretty much at the same time. I want to do BOTH of these. Have to see how it works out. The TPP event will be theatrical. There will also be speeches and workshops all day at Zucotti Park. And a People's Exchange, only I don't have anything to exchange.  Curious to see how heavy the police presence will be.

More about the action here:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Heading for Wall Street Tomorrow

This is my third visit to Zucotti Park. The first year I was on the livestream and some of my fellow 99%ers here happened to catch me----Hey That's Diane!
Last year Occupy's meticulous plans to close down access to Wall Street were met with overwhelming police presence, and brutality. This year looks more festive but plans have been very mum---I don't think we'll know what we're doing until we do it.  This news reporting thing via the blog is pretty new to me, so I don't know how it will go. Hope to duck into someplace with WiFi periodically to post pictures and info. Be sure of one thing----you won't get this information via the mainstream media. This the news reporting of the future. If you want to know what's really going on anywhere you will have to rely on citizen reporters. And that means that it's very important that we keep a free and open internet. 'Bye for now, Stay tuned.-----Diane

Friday, September 6, 2013


S17 is upon us again. We will be be celebrating the beginning of Occupy's third year by convening in New York City on September 17, the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Stay tuned to this blog for reports from the events in New York City.

Souper-Tasting Food Event and Pop-Up Occupy Increased Our Visibility in the Neighborhood

   NEK 99% hosted two events at The 99 Gallery and Center this month. Neighbors dropped by for the tasting event and left with kits including fresh produce from local farms and organic brown rice from Newport Natural Foods and all the other ingredients to make the dish they tasted, allowing us to provide dinner for about 30 people. The Pop-Up Occupy was hosted by Occupy Central Vermont at The 99. There was great free food and household items and some interesting workshop discussions.