Monday, November 5, 2012
1. Change our movement’s name from “Occupy Brookings” to “Committee for the Common Good.”
2. Retain our old mission statement.
3. Adopt two major foci for the coming year (although remaining flexible so as to address other issues as we have the time, energy and ability): (a) exposing and opposing Monsanto’s adverse effects on the common good, in terms of public education/SDSU, traditional agriculture and health; and (b) “Buy Local” (a continuing focus).
4. As we work on these foci, we will continue to frame our public efforts in defense of the 99%, trying to educate and mobilize the public to oppose oligopoly and oligarchy. We will continue our commitment to nonpartisanship and make sure that we do not duplicate the efforts of other organizations and groups.
5. For now we will retain our website but give it a new masthead and revise its content to reflect 1-4 above. We will not change our domain name.
6. At our next gathering, on 11/17, we will preview the film “The World According to Monsanto” (see blurb below). We will do a public screening of this film in January. We will also begin planning several other public awareness events about Monsanto to be held in January or February, as well as a “Buy Local” effort for the holiday season.
"The World According to Monsanto" is a 2008 documentary film directed by Marie-Monique Robin. Originally released in French as Le monde selon Monsanto, the film is based on Robin's three-year long investigation into the corporate practices around the world of the United States agricultural giant, Monsanto.
The documentary reports many controversies surrounding the use and promotion of genetically modified seeds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Agent Orange, and bovine growth hormone. Cases in the United States (including Anniston, Alabama), Canada, India, Mexico, Paraguay, the United Kingdom and France, are explored, pointing out along the way how the corporation's collusion with governments, pressure tactics, suppression and manipulation of scientific data, and extra-legal practices aided the company's attempts at dominating global agriculture, according to the documentary. Scientists, representatives of the United States Food and Drug Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, civil society representatives, victims of the company’s activities, lawyers, and politicians are interviewed.
Marie-Monique Robin travelled the world to meet scientists and political figures in order to investigate Monsanto's actions, controversy over GM crops, and the effects of the globalization of industrial agriculture on farmers in the developing world. Those interviewed include Shiv Chopra, a Canadian researcher who was fired by Health Canada for revealing an attempted bribe by Monsanto regarding the attempted introduction of bovine growth hormone into Canada. The author of the research met several independent scientists around the world who tried to warn the political authorities about the use of genetically modified seeds. According to Robin, most of these scientists actually lost their jobs as a consequence of their speaking out. The "revolving door syndrome" is also pointed out in the research as a threat to the quality and independence of the scientific conclusions about the effects of Monsanto products, especially those reached by the Food and Drug Administration.
Robin travels to India, Mexico, Argentina, and Paraguay to see how Monsanto's genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have affected local farmers using it for their crops. The claim is that suicide rates of farmers in India have increased as farmers are finding it harder to earn a living using more expensive Monsanto seeds that, despite claims, still require specific pesticide and fertilizer (see above). Mexico, having banned GMOs, is trying to limit contamination and crossbreeding from subsidized U.S. GMO corn imported through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for eating. Argentinian farmers are giving up farming and moving to urban slums because they cannot compete with GM crops and are finding their farms, livestock, and children being negatively affected by pesticide runoff. Paraguay was forced to accept GMO crops as it was being imported anonymously and grown en masse, so prohibiting its export would have damaged the economy. In all cases genetic variation is reduced as a result of monocropping and ownership is increasingly concentrated.
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 2:29 PM
Monday, October 8, 2012
1. Discussion about advice from Chris Hedges. When Chris Hedges was in town last week to give the Harding Lecture at SDSU, he had a brief conversation with two members of Occupy Brookings. (Hedges has of course been very active in the Occupy Wall Street movement.) During that conversation he advised that Occupy Brookings drop the “Occupy” moniker and focus our activist efforts on Monsanto, as well as other matters of local significance. The reasons for the possible name include: (a) the Occupy Wall Street movement has in large part been destroyed by the elite, (b) the name "Occupy" now carries many negative connotations, and (c) remaining Occupy groups aren't coordinating very much with one another nationally. Therefore, some of the key reasons that we initially called our group "Occupy Brookings" no longer apply, though all of the reasons for our activism still do. The group decided to create a survey for OB members soliciting their perspectives on these matters. Phyllis will create an online survey and invite members to complete it.
2. Films to educate public. The members feel that one of our major tasks is to continue to increase public awareness on important matters. We want to host more films at the library. One option is to show “Fuel”, of which we have a copy. Also, Florence Moller will try to find a documentary about Monsanto, in case we decide to pursue that as a special focus.
3. Brief report on fracking awareness-raiser. This was held at the Cottonwood a few weeks back. Only 3-4 people showed significant interest during the four hours we were there, but the group felt the effort was worth it.
4. Education letter-writing. There was brief review of our letter-writing plans regarding Referred Law 16 during the month of October.
5. Next meeting. This will be on October 20. Our activity level is low at present because so many members are involved in the upcoming election campaigns.
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 2:33 PM
Monday, September 17, 2012
1. Fracking Awareness Event on Saturday, Sept. 22. We will hold this casual consciousness-raising event at Cottonwood Coffee, from 2-6 pm. OB volunteers will staff a table with literature and computer video/headphones to help educate the public about fracking and its risks. All arrangements have been made.
2. Working to Vote Down Referred Law 16 (Education Reform Package). Our goal is to submit to the Brookings Register one letter to the editor or speak-out each week during October, urging the defeat of this measure. Three people have thus far volunteered for the five slots, and two others are being asked.
3. Cash Stamping. Members once again stamped their cash with the "Buy Local" slogan, and then we stamped the cash of several vendors before running out of ink. We will continue to stamp cash at meetings but won't plan to hold any more special events to do that this fall. We may want to combine cash-stamping with a holiday cash mob in December. A couple of vendors at Farmers' Market said that they have received stamped cash from customers lately, so the money is starting to circulate.
4. Chris Hedges. A reminder that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges will speak on the "Death of the Liberal Class" at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, October 2, at the Performing Arts Center on the SDSU campus. Hedges has been very involved in the Occupy movement.
5. Mark Your Calendar: A holiday cash mob has been tentatively scheduled for December 1.
Because so many of our members are either going to be gone in October or deeply involved in the election season, we will not do any major actions until after election day.
NEXT MEETING: Saturday, October 6, 10:30-noon, presumably at the Brookings Public Library (not yet confirmed).
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 12:50 PM
Friday, September 14, 2012
Saturday's Occupy Brookings Assembly will be held under the tent at the Farmers' Market instead of at the Brookings United Church of Christ, due to a funeral that will be held at the church. See you at 10:30 a.m.!
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 10:43 AM
Thursday, September 13, 2012
An open forum on education will be held from 7:00-9:00 pm on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Brookings Public Library. Three local political candidates, local teachers Donna DeKraii and Sandy Arsenault, and a representative from the South Dakota Education Association will discuss with voters Referred Law 16, the repeal of HB 1234. The forum is being sponsored by Brookings Democrats and SDEA. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 8:36 AM
We will meet at the Brookings United Church of Christ, 828 8th Street South, due to a scheduling conflict at the library.
One of the agenda items will be finalizing plans for the fracking information event to be held the following Saturday, Sept. 22.
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 8:32 AM
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Report from the Fast for the Earth. Participants are now involved from 16 nations. Launch week turnout at events was generally disappointing, but those who attended engaged well. The most popular events seemed to be the tours. We talked at length about the difficulties of educating and motivating the public.
Activity Scale. We discussed the need to plan events that are manageable given our available "people power." Also, postings on the Occupy website will now be scaled down considerably.
Education Referendum. We will hold a public march in late October against the education reform package and invite participation of the South Dakota Education Association, among others. We will also do a letter-writing campaign to the Brookings Register beginning in October. In September we will plan our talking points and schedule.
Participation in Global Anti-Fracking Campaign. Richard Seese brought to our attention that September 22 is global anti-fracking day. We decided to participate. Everyone is encouraged to sign the petition. In addition, we believe that we need to educate the public about fracking in general and also in South Dakota. To accomplish that, we decided to approach Jacob Limmer about our having a presence at Cottonwood Coffee on Sept. 22. Update: Since the meeting, the Mollers have checked with Jacob, and we will be allowed to do this, from approximately 2-6 p.m. We will have literature for distribution, and Phyllis Cole-Dai will prepare a short looping video presentation that individuals can watch (with or without headphones). Richard will prepare some signs to draw attention to our table. We will finalize the plans for this during our September General Assembly.
"Buy Local" Cash Stamping. Lawrence Novotny will organize a couple more stamping events at the Farmers' Market. We will also continue to stamp our own cash during meetings, so be sure to bring yours along.
George Lakoff on "Framing Issues." Luanne Napton has a 20-minute DVD that may be good for us to watch during a meeting. She will preview it and let us know.
Next General Assembly. We will not meet on the first Saturday of September, which falls on Labor Day weekend. We will next gather at 10:30 on September 15th. Due to a scheduling conflict at the library, the Assembly will be held at the Brookings United Church of Christ, 828 8th Street South.
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai at 9:37 AM