1. Have you discussed OWS in a course? How? What does OWS help you illustrate?
From Grace Bahng: Last fall we visited the Occupy Los Angeles site by City Hall for my Community Transformation course. I spend the second half of the course looking at different approaches and strategies to community development and change. We were learning about community organizing and spending some time talking and visiting the Occupy Los Angeles site afforded us a great way to look at different goals and methods in community organizing. The Occupy movement varies from the sort of progressive social movement organizing that has developed in Los Angeles through the Labor Movement but is still valuable in the goals of general civic engagement. This past Spring the same course (but different cohort) attended a collection of short plays at a community playhouse. The play was called Occupy the Heart. I used this time to illustrate the role that storytelling and communication has in the process of social change while examining the diversity of people that the Occupy movement was able to reach. You can read more about this class on my blog.
2. In light of your research on community and grassroots organizations,what questions should we be asking about OWS?
From Grace Bahng: The most common question is what lies ahead for the movement. While the objectives of engaging the public and providing a space for people to communicate their frustration with the systems is important, the question of whether the movement can transform the widespread energy into something beyond engagement to change is on the minds of many. The broader question might be what value does this sort of movement have toward contributing to social change, much in the same way that these questions face the trend towards “slackivism”.
3. If you were talking to participants of OWS, what insights or observations might you offer them based on the experience of past movements/grassroots efforts?
From Grace Bahng: I just attended a conference for social movement organizers in LA post-1992. The movement should consider collaborating with organizers, esp. the new generation of organizers rising up, to reach beyond anger and strategize towards lasting change. However, how to do so while also being able to appeal and mobilize the middle class of America will be challenging. However, if the Occupy movement is able to do so it could be what sets it apart and be its unique contribution over time.