29 Oct Occupying the Institutions.
Last week on buzzflash I wrote about the connection between our film “Battle for Brooklyn” and OWS. Last year, as we completed Battle, we started to make a film about education in NY. We saw intense similarities between the way in which parents were shut out of the education process and the way in which communities were shut out of the development process. Our daughters’ school felt under attack by the DOE, and we heard rumors that they planned on putting a charter school in our building. We started to examine the way in which decisions were made and information flowed, and we found a thoroughly corrupted system that was gamed to shut out parent and community involvement. It was once again, a top down management style that did not take into consideration the voices of those most affected by decision makers.
The process, of housing one school inside another has a tendency to pit neighbor against neighbor, forcing them to fight over scarce resources in the guise of fostering competition. If the community is divided, those in power have a much easier time of doing what they want. We witnessed both development fights and school fights using sham public forums to create the impression of public involvement. However these public meetings were almost always overrun by division. We saw this time and time again in the Atlantic Yards fight, and it was clearly taking place in the schools fight. In fact democratic leader Jo Ann Simon made this direct point at a meeting about inserting one charter school in another public school
Last year I wrote a piece about our process of starting a film about education in NY. The times they have a changed in an unbelievable way. Last year the people accepted the fact that they would have to fight each other for scraps. In the following video there is anger at the DOE from all sides, but a lot of that anger is also based around communities fighting each other. Charter schools brought their supporters and the threatened schools brought theirs. In the end the vast majority of people walked out. The charter supporters stayed, and they got their schools. People walked out en masse because they knew that they weren’t going to be listened to and they were fed up. The public meeting was a sham, and people knew it.
This year the people took over the PEP meeting using consensus techniques learned at Occupy Wall Street, rendering those in power essentially useless. Thankfully it was captured by meerkat media collective so that we have direct evidence that the occupy movement has moved from anger to rage to action.
From the first moments of my first visit to occupy wall street I had a sense that something momentous was taking place. This morning, when I saw this video by meerkat media that cinematically captures the people taking control in a consensus model it was clear that the movement has powerful legs to carry it.