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Principled Economic Co-ops at Occupy Nova Scotia

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Principled Economic Co-ops at Occupy Nova Scotia

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The organizers at Occupy Nova Scotia are working on a new initiative to provide funding for occupations taking place around the world. The project centers around the idea of a special kind of co-op based on common sense moral principles. And they have one successful example to prove that this is not just daydreaming.

ONS has just started to publish Occupy Magazine, an international alternative media project to bring the latest news of the occupations into the liberated territories, squares, parks, schools and work places of the local communities. The first issue of OM will be released Saturday, October 22nd, and its already causing a stir in the city. Seeing the value of such a magazine, supporters have been eager to sustain the project with cash donations. But this is no ordinary fund raising campaign.

The co-op gets its structure from the decision-making mechanism that is being used at general assemblies everywhere – the consensus model. And co-op members are putting up the seed money to take part. The sharing of the co-ops expenses grants shared decision-making power within the project. As of now, there are only two members of the Occupy Magazine Principled Economic Co-op, or PEC for short. But that number is expected to grow rapidly.

Already there is talk of another PEC based on the above economic model, for the composting toilet that has been set up at the occupied square for the convenience of the protesters. This humanure toilet (human manure) has been serving the ONS community well for the first week of it`s encampment, and most people are quick to complement the ingenuity that was required by the initiator of the project. (I have not asked where they are disposing of the waste. But apparently the city`s waste-water inspectors paid a visit to the toilet, and left some latex gloves as a parting gift) The occupiers decided to support this project as an environmentally friendly alternative to port-o-potties, and also to the idea of having campers impose on local businesses. There is a sense that such initiatives need to be rewarded within the community with funds to allow them to continue and even flourish. And there has been talk of building similar toilets for other occupations. But inviting other activists who share in the benefits of the toilet to actually join in responsibility for it`s economic success through co-op membership is just one way that the people at Occupy Nova Scotia are moving into exciting but uncharted territory.

The Occupy Magazine PEC demonstrates 3 principles which are key to creating a people centered economy. They are sharing, trust, and providing services based on need. While some of these ideas are similar to experimental structures that have appeared in the past within anarcho-syndacalist movements, there is also something uniquely fresh about what is going on in this small Canadian city on the coast. There have been no arrests, and almost no police harassment at the camp all week. Could it be possible that this has allowed them to devote more of their resources towards creative solutions? One thing is certain. They have some good ideas. They are eager to let the world know about them. And maybe other occupations need to start talking more and exchanging notes.

James Green is one of the occupiers at ONS.  The group of citizen activists have taken over Parade Square, the park in front of city hall in Halifax, Nova Scotia. James spends his days talking to the other organizers about how to create a better world. He is also co-editor of Occupy Magazine. He can be reached at occupymagazine@gmail.com.

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This is very disturbing. The

This is very disturbing. The photo is not a photo of ppl working on the magazine and the idea did not originate in, or lead to, consensus. The magazine organizer dictated all the parameters of the magazine and announced it as a "super awesome surprise". Ironically (and oddly), while the magazine eschews the internet presence, questions and attempts at discussion of these things that arose during the general assembly were shut down and relegated to internet. This is problematic also because the majority of the occupiers are not on the internet as only very limited wifi is available onsite (for five users). Attempts to provide more service have been stopped for no known reason. The magazine is not a collective project by the whole group, as this indicates; reactions to the first issue is mixed at best, as it is not truly representative of the group. Decisions were made in a autocratic manner; similarly, the project originated in a private offshoot of the group, a consensus on the proposal was never asked for or granted.  It is unclear whether this indicates deeper problems, but for now many questions persist about the way it came about, the timing, the "model" it is using, the reason why Nova Scotia (as opposed to other cities) should take on such a project and why it should take precedence over other goals and activities, its funding structure, as well as the choice to allow only one ONS member - characterized as a journalist - to write an original article (also, why a graphic designer willing to donate his time was paid, if rumors are true). These questions and the response to date by the organizer casts doubt on the claim of "principled" economic cooperation, based on sharing and trust, as does the response. In time, this effort may evolve in a different direction. This situation is evolving and will hopefully be resolved soon.

Very disturbing indeed!

Dictated! As in "dictator"/"Exclusion"?? Now things like that wouldn't occur in a communist environment traditionally would they? What's up with the link on this page down the bottom,"Join the Halifax Media Co-op today. Click here to learn about the benefit of membership." Are you PROFITING? Is that a SUBSCRIPTION page? Is that a PAY PAL sys at the top of the page? So you want DONATIONS too? U TAKE ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS U SAY?

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