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“What Role Do Artists Play in Gentrification?” by Peter Moskowitz

  • Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, 2017.
    Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, 2017.

SEP 11TH, 2017 (artsy.net)

In 2015, Los Angeles-born artist London Kaye hung a large, crochet depiction of three children inspired by Wes Anderson’s movie Moonrise Kingdom and the twins from the 1980s thriller The Shining on a building in Bushwick next to the popular Bushwick Flea (an upscale flea market). She captioned the corresponding Instagram post with the hashtags #yarnbomb, #streetart, and #bushwick.

A few weeks later, Will Giron, a lifelong New Yorker and tenants’ rights activist, came to visit his aunt in the neighborhood. It was her building that had been yarn-bombed, and Giron was angry. Kaye had not asked permission to hang her work and when Giron complained to her and the head of Bushwick Flea, Rob Abner, he was met with a strong response: Abner threatened to call the Department of Health on his aunt, who sells Salvadorian food outside of her building, and said Giron should be grateful, because the crochet art would likely increase the value of his aunt’s property.

To Giron, it wasn’t only about the art. He felt like his family’s neighborhood was being overtaken by white outsiders, lured in part by Bushwick’s new creative scene, which didn’t care about the desires of those there before them.

“It was really about agency,” Giron told me recently. “People come in and act like they can do whatever they want. Kaye wouldn’t have done the same thing on Long Island or in a white neighborhood.”

Giron’s aunt can afford to stay in Bushwick because she owns the building she lives in, but Giron has watched as his friends have moved on, priced out as average rents increased by 44 percent in 20 years (the only thing preventing them from increasing beyond that is the relatively large stock of rent-controlled housing). In their place has come a flood of outsiders, most of whom are white; dozens of art galleries; hundreds of artist studios; and everything else associated with gentrification—fancy bars, restaurants, and clothing shops.

Giron said he would have less of a problem with gentrification if it brought rewards for the neighborhood’s long-time residents, but if you look in the galleries of Bushwick today, it’s clear that “the voices they amplify are the upper-middle class people,” he said. “You have artists coming in, they use Bushwick as their portfolio, and then force us out.”

Giron’s story went viral in New York media because it encapsulated a seemingly new problem: artists in the city being vectors for massive rent increases and widespread displacement. Some Bushwick activists have even called gentrification a new form of colonization.

In 2015, Bushwick was indeed in the midst of an influx of gentrifiers, but the trope of artist-as-gentrifier goes back much further. In 1984, an essay called “The Fine Art of Gentrification” was published initially in the journal October, and covered many of the same issues in the East Village that Giron later experienced in Bushwick: galleries as white-majority spaces that gave developers reasons to buy up land; the fear of original residents being priced out; a local press fawning over the new “revitalization” of the neighborhood; and insensitive artists benefitting from it all. “Who cares” about gentrification, art critic Kim Levin is quoted saying in the article, “as long as they’re trying to show good art.”

The idea of the artist-as-gentrifier has staying power because it carries truth: Artists do often move into low-income communities of color, and bring with them gentrified aesthetics and commodities like $4 coffee. But the trope also hides nuance. Artists indeed participate in gentrification, but they are not its sole cause. To understand how art influences gentrification, and how artists can help fight against gentrification, we need to see a fuller picture.

The first piece of the puzzle to understand how art became so linked to gentrification is acknowledging that there were artists before gentrification: People of color and lower-income white people were living in cities and making art well before the term gentrification was coined by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964. New York and San Francisco were seen as bastions of progressive and avant-garde art throughout the 1950s and ’60s, without much fuss being made about art’s effect on real estate values.

Two things changed that. Different kinds of people began moving into cities, and the art market grew tremendously, becoming increasingly professionalized and linked with global finance.

After World War II, the U.S. federal government essentially created suburbs out of thin air by subsidizing the mortgages of millions of Americans. But the mortgages came with conditions. Houses had to be single-family, and the mortgage owners in many cases had to be white: The federal government would draw maps of cities with red lines around neighborhoods with too many people of color to be eligible for mortgages. This process came to be known as redlining.

Redlining not only depressed the economies of inner cities, it created an entirely new kind of people in the suburbs—the white middle and upper-middle classes. For the first time in American history, the majority of white people were living largely privatized lives in single-family homes, without many community spaces or diversity, a lifestyle that reinforced the ideal of the nuclear family, with a stay-at-home mom and a working father. When the children of that economic and cultural experiment we now call “white flight” looked around, and decided they didn’t like what they saw, they began moving back to cities. In the 1970s, New York, San Francisco, and every other major urban center began experiencing an influx of a new kind of white person—one raised with the aesthetic, economic, and spatial values of the suburbs.

“Pre-gentrification cities were places people came to get away from the constricting values of American life,” Sarah Schulman, the author of Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (2013), told me over the phone. “The suburbs produced a different kind of person that brought a completely different ethic and value system to cities. You used to get the rejects and the resisters. Now you’d get the products of an unnatural environment of hetero- and racial supremacy.”

In the view of Schulman and others, suburbanization unleashed on cities a deluge of artists who cared more about marketable aesthetics than about art that could create social change.

Simultaneously, between the 1970s and today, art itself became further entrenched within capitalism. The art market is now worth $45 billion a year, dozens of times its size a few decades ago. And big-ticket MFA programs have become seen as near-necessities for success in the art world.

According to Schulman, MFA programs essentially sort artists by race, class, and aesthetic, determining “who will be allowed into the reward system.” When (mostly white) art graduates move to cities, they come with a mentality of needing to win in the art market.

“A young, white artist could move to New York and decide not to move to a gentrifying neighborhood, or decide not to move to New York at all, but instead they decide to impose themselves on a place like Bed-Stuy,” Schulman said. “It’s a currency move—they see it as a way to access power, because other white artists, and people who run the art market, live there.”

Rising real-estate values also create a feedback loop for the art market: You have to be wealthier to live in places like New York these days, so artists in gentrifying cities create art that sells for more money, which creates an art market less concerned with the social value of art and more concerned with aesthetics that appeal to the wealthy, which feeds into an MFA system that creates more market-oriented artists, who then move to cities and produce aesthetically pleasing but conceptually vacuous art.

Writer Rebecca Solnit calculated in her book Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and The Crisis of American Urbanism (2000) that someone would only have to work 65 hours a month at minimum wage to afford an apartment in San Francisco in the 1960s. That means people had a lot of free time to make unprofitable art. Today, it’s nearly impossible to find an apartment in San Francisco for less than $3,500, which equals about 350 hours of minimum wage work. That forces people who want to be artists to either rely on other forms of support (e.g. family wealth), or produce art that could potentially bring in a lot of money.

Chris Myers, 29, is a black playwright, filmmaker, and actor who grew up in New York, and is currently working on a comedy series about gentrification. He’s said seeing the gentrification of the uptown Manhattan neighborhoods he was raised in fills him with a profound sadness. But he said he’s not as angry at gentrifying artists as he is at the system that brought them to New York.

“They’re part of this education-industrial complex,” he said. “They get a BFA or an MFA, and move to New York. But most of these schools are mediocre and don’t prepare people to actually succeed in the arts or acting. They’re here taking up valuable space because they’ve been led, almost criminally, to believe they can succeed when they can’t. Their parents float them rent for a couple of years, and then they leave, or they end up working in a non-creative field. Meanwhile they’re taking up the housing of families that were here before them.”

But artists cannot gentrify on their own. While white artists from MFA programs are often in a relatively privileged position compared to the working class populations of U.S. cities, they do not have the power to build condos, change zoning laws, and give tax breaks to corporations. State intervention is the often-forgotten part of the artist-as-gentrifier puzzle.

  • Janet Delaney, 10th at Folsom Street, 1982. Courtesy of ClampArt. San Francisco over three decades later is a very different place, with apartments under $3,500 a rarity.
    Janet Delaney, 10th at Folsom Street, 1982. Courtesy of ClampArt. San Francisco over three decades later is a very different place, with apartments under $3,500 a rarity.

Researchers have long identified four distinct stages of gentrification. The first is when the artists, so-called hipsters, and other individuals move into a low-income neighborhood and start repairing its often vacant structures. The fourth is when gentrification is mostly carried out by developer conversions and an influx of business or managerial middle class. But in my recent bookHow to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood (2017), I argued there’s nearly always a stage 0, when a city opens itself up to gentrification. The authors of “The Fine Art of Gentrification” found that government grants and tax breaks to developers were a necessary component of the East Village’s gentrification-by-art in the 1980s. The artists wanted to be there, but they needed government assistance for permanent change to really take hold.

“There’s an unconscious collaboration between artists interested in living in gentrifying cities, and the market forces and developers who benefit from them,” Becky Amato associate director of Civic Engagement Initiatives at the Gallatin School at NYU said.

Similarly, the conversion of SoHo from factories to artists lofts (and now high-end retail space) was not a natural progression. Sharon Zukin, the author of Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change (1982), a landmark study on artists and gentrification published in the 1980s, found that most manufacturers would have stayed in SoHo were it not for city-sponsored rezonings and law tweaks that allowed artists to create live/work spaces, and the tax breaks that incentivized the conversion of industrial spaces into residential ones. And Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn could not have gentrified to the same degree as they did if it weren’t for Mayor Bloomberg’s 2005 rezoning of 170 blocks of the neighborhoods, which allowed high-density luxury housing to rise across both. That rezoning pushed up prices in the area, and pushed a lot of artists to neighboring Bushwick, where some end up yarn-bombing the houses of long-time locals.

Artists in 2017 are still so closely associated with gentrification because they often participate in it. But gentrification is so common, so widespread these days, that artists—once the first-wave “pioneers” of neighborhoods—are often no longer needed. Cities are skipping the first few phases of gentrification, and going straight to the top-down development part, plunking new condos in abandoned parts of Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans, and virtually every other mid-sized American city. Often these projects come with some of the aesthetics that hark back to artist-led gentrification. Developers will hire street artists to cover a new condo in depoliticized, decontextualized graffitiKara Walker was hired by Creative Time, whose co-chair is also the head of multi-billion dollar development company, Two Trees, to create a work of art at the former Domino sugar factory in Williamsburg, a real-estate project that had become a focal point of anti-gentrification activism.

But while art can be used to help gentrify a community, artists as a group are no longer a necessary part of the process—they’re no longer the “pioneers” that signal to other, richer people that a neighborhood is now okay to move into.

  • Kara Walker, A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, 2014. Photo by gigi_nyc via Flickr.
    Kara Walker, A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, 2014. Photo by gigi_nyc via Flickr.

“There’s been such a widespread culturalization and aestheticization of urban lifestyles that artists no longer have to show the middle and upper-class gentrifiers how to live,” Sharon Zukin said. In other words, we’ve gotten so used to gentrification, so accustomed to its look, its feel, its violence, that artists no longer have to lead other gentrifiers by the hand into the process; yuppies, developers, and everyone else feel comfortable doing it on their own.

Still, anti-gentrification activists say artists can work against the process that turns their lives and work into policies and projects that lead to displacement. A group of activists working on an anti-gentrification project in Boyle Heights, in Los Angeles, where an art gallery is currently embroiled in a development controversy, suggest that artists participate in housing activism, get involved with their local communities and refuse to use their art to promote spaces of gentrification—e.g. white-owned galleries and art spaces in majority-black or Latino neighborhoods. Sarah Schulman suggested that artists fight for rent control laws and more affordable housing, which would benefit both artists and the low-income people they threaten to displace.

Those interested in concrete ways to fight gentrification can start by reaching out to a local group, like the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network, San Francisco’s Causa Justa :: Just Cause, the Los Angeles Tenants Union, or the nationally focused Right To The City Alliance. Artists often work insularly and socialize mostly with others in the field. Combating gentrification may mean getting out of that bubble, and linking up with resistance movements which may have little in common with the art world, but which are in desperate need of help.

—Peter Moskowitz

(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd.)

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Updates & Announcements for Tuesday, Sept. 19 – Thursday, Sept. 21 (from Adrienne Fong)

D.  Berkeley High Students Walk Out to Create Human Chain to Support Undocumented Classmates

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Berkeley-High-Students-walk-out-DACA444711273.html?9888

Occupy

~ San Francisco ~

Occupy San Francisco Bulletin Board

 http://www.occupysf.net

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Tuesday, September 19 – Thursday, September 21

Tuesday, September 19

1.  Tuesday, 12Noon – 2:00pm, Witness Unplugged

Impact Hub
2323 Broadway
Oakland

Suggested donation $10 – $20 – no one turned away.

Whiteness Unplugged: A conversation on Anti-Racism for White/Jewish/European Folks

Facilitated by Elana Isaacs and Angela Sevin with the support of Dori Knoll

We will join together and hold space for each other in this moment and movement around whiteness and race, historical and ongoing harm around the country, and how we connect White Supremacy to ourselves, families, work, communities, and lives.

Beyond Separation uses innovative and interactive learning modalities to examine the stories of whiteness that structure our society, our relationships, and ourselves.

Host: Beyond Separation & Impact Hub

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1716714905302097/

2.  Tuesday, 12:30pm – 1:50pm, Academic Freedom for Whom? Islamophobia, Palestine & Campus

San Francisco State University – John Adams Hall
1650 Holloway Ave, Terrace Level
SF

Part SFSU 2017 Constitution Day Conference (please see here for full details https://history.sfsu.edu/content/constitution-day)

Abstract:

In the last few years, pro-Israel industry groups have intensified their campaign to censure, silence, and discredit campus dissent, focusing primarily (but not exclusively) on advocacy for justice in Palestine. These well-funded and politically connected groups (including AMCHA, Horowitz Freedom Center, Stand With US, Campus Watch/Middle East Forum, Canary Mission, Zionist Organization of America, the David Project, the Brandeis Center, the Lawfare Project and the Jewish Community Relations Council) have enlisted Islamophobia, a main ingredient of the post 9/1//2001 “war on terror,” and labeled Palestinians as terrorists who threaten the security of the US and its main regional ally, Israel.

In so doing, these groups have falsely accused faculty, students and staff who are engaged in justice-for-Palestine—centered pedagogy, scholarship and advocacy with terrorism and anti-Semitism. Though discredited, these pro-Israel groups have been emboldened by a combination of the corporatization of public universities and a liberal discourse that weaponizes freedom of speech to silence dissent. Israeli lobby industry has cynically misused anti-Semitism to fan the flames against the broadening support for Palestinian rights, deliberately sought to equate anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel’s colonial and racist policies with anti-Semitism, and relied on wealthy and right wing donors who threaten to pull their monetary contributions if university administrators refuse to employ harsher measures to discipline campus dissent.

California public institutions (CSU and UC) have been particularly targeted

Host: Friends of AMED

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/169304470300645/

3.  Tuesday, 2:10pm – 5:10pm, Muslims, Mexicans, and the Politics of Exclusion – Panel 2

San Francisco State University  – John Adams Hall
1600 Holloway Ave.
SF

This series provides an analysis of the racializations of Arab, Latinx, Muslims and Palestinian communities within the United States, the struggles and solidarities produced by such communities, and what this reveals about racialization, rightlessness and resistance within Western, so-called liberal democracies.

This panel will feature the following speakers:
– Hatem Bazian (UC Berkeley, Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project)
– Blanca Misse (SFSU, Modern Languages and Literatures) 
– Rev. Michael Yoshii (Buena Vista United Methodist Church) 
– Mira Nabulsi (SFSU Communications Department)- 
– Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi (SFSU, Arab & Muslim Ethnicies and Diasporas).

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/309853516156769/

4.  Tuesday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, The Alt Right on Campus: What Students Need to Know

UC Berkeley Multicultural Center
220 MLK Jr. Student Union
Berkeley

A Presentation by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

The Alternative Right, commonly known as the Alt-Right, is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. 

A Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) expert on hate and extremism will share information on an orchestrated campaign by white nationalists to make college campuses their battleground. The battle is not over free speech or political conservatism. Come learn about what they’re pushing, why they’re obsessed with UC Berkeley and how we can effectively resist.

Speaker:
Ryan Lenz is the Senior Investigative Writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and editor of its Hatewatch blog. Before joining the SPLC in 2010, Lenz was a regional reporter for the Associated Press and an Iraq war correspondent for the wire service from 2005 to 2008. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Host: Gender Equity Resource Center – UC Berkeley

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/279975015831003/

5.  Tuesday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Speak out – #NoTasersSF

City College of San Francisco – Ocean Campus
50 Phelan Ave. – Student Union Lower Level – “City Café”
S.F.

Once again the San Francisco Police Commission  and SFPD is trying to further arm their officers with more tools to use against the people. The Police Commission will be holding two community meetings before it will come to a vote(the date of the vote has not been determined).

It is vital that we turn out our people to these community meetings and make our voices heard, NO TASERS IN SF!!! We have beaten this before by turning out as many folks as possible!!! 

~   ~   ~   ~   ~  ~  ~

Because of the capacity limitations of this space, we ask those interested to register via Evite. (http://evite.me/BzpCqpH5mb)For safety, we are limited to 100 attendees and will accept comments, feedback, questions and concerns by email sfpd.commission@sfgov.org

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1508676555876883/

Wednesday, September 20 

6.  Wednesday, 9:00am – 12 Noon, Public protest at Air District

375 Beale St.
SF

Please join concerned residents from all over the Bay Area who support efforts to put refinery pollution limits back on the BAAQMD agenda where they belong. The original version of Rule 12-16 addressed both toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases—it’s now more relevant than ever. 

Please sign up to comment on this non-agenda item; talking points will be provided when you arrive.

Host: Sunflower Alliance

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/294265830980958/

7.  Wednesday, 12Noon – 1:30pm, Love the Bay – Stop Increase in Oil Tankers

375 Beale St.
SF

This is an Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty Autumn Equinox Action: 

Join us to learn about the Phillips 66 refinery plan in Rodeo to build a huge oil terminal that would increase 100 oil tankers each year in the Bay. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) will decide on the permit which is why we will be in the atrium of the building their offices are in. The BAAQMD meeting is earlier that day.

Many Bay Area water protectors believe that the proposed tankers and oil terminal would bring in and hold tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada. This is the highest sulfphur crude being extracted and is worse for the air than conventional crude. It is also the most difficult oil to clean during a spill.

Host: Idle No More SF Bay, Refinery Corridor Healing Walks, Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/117225362283896/

8.  Wednesday, 5:30pm – 6:30pm PEACE VIGIL

Montgomery & Market Street,
below Senator Feinstein’s office; directly above Montgomery BART / MUNI Station
SF

Join us at the large PEACE  banner.

Theme varies each week; this week’s theme most likely “The Longest War in American History Just Got Extended”

All are welcomed!

9.  Wednesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Oakland Privacy: Fighting Against the Surveillance State in the Age of Trump – Meeting

Oakland Omni Commons
4799 Shattuck Ave.
Oakland

Join Oakland Privacy to organize against the surveillance state,  against Urban Shield, and to advocate for privacy and surveillance regulation ordinances to be passed by our State Legislature and around the Bay Area, including the Alameda and San Francisco County Boards of Supervisors, the BART Board of Directors, and by the Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Albany and Davis City Councils.

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/08/10/18801363.php

10.  Wednesday, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, What Happened To The Black People in Oakland?

Merritt Community College
12500 Campus Drive Newton / Seale Conference Room
Oakland

A celebration of the Rumford CA Fair Housing Act, signed on September 20, 1963.
Includes the World Premiere of short film, YOU A NOMAD.

Q&A with filmmaker, Shirah Dedman, and a discussion on Fair Housing and gentrification.
In a single generation, Oakland, CA’s black population has dwindled from 44% to an estimated 26%. Using a unique cross-section of African-American voices, this 20-minute documentary deconstructs urban displacement to reveal the systemic roots of gentrification occurring nationwide.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/120666308553625/ 

11.  Wednesday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Author reading with Shanthi Sekaran –Lucky Boy

Revolution Books Berkeley
2444 Durant Ave. (off of Telegraph)
Berkeley

LUCKY BOY is the moving novel about two unforgettable women in Northern California: an undocumented Mexican woman, Soli Castro-Valdez, and an IndianAmerican woman, Kavya Reddy, who longs to become a mother. Both are bound together by their love for the same child. Sekaran’s vivid story – begins in Mexico, follows young Soli’s perilous journey to El Norte, then to Berkeley where she manages to find work, and then, suddenly, trapped inside a nightmarish detention center. Ripped from her child, Soli must muster her daring and creativity to find a way out.

It’s also a story about California right now – who does the work and who has the power. With the regime of Donald Trump, and the increasing demonization of immigrants, 

A native of California, Shanthi was inspired by her own upbringing as a child of immigrants, by the news stories she was hearing about undocumented mothers losing their children when they were put into detention centers, and by living in Berkeley, a place that for all of its progressiveness is also incredibly privileged.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1611053335593333/

12.  Wednesday, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, Anti Police-Terror Project General Meeting

Eastside Arts Alliance
2277 International Blvd.
Oakland

Monthly APTP meeting, held on every 3rd Wednesday of the month. 

Join us Wednesday to:

Participate in a Teach-in on #GrandJuries

– Find out ways you can use your talents and resources to support APTP and get involved with the work, including how to join various committees such as the Black Leadership Committee, First Responders, Action, Policy, Media, and Security committees. 

– Find out more about the #DefundOPD campaign.

Thursday, September 21

“United Nations International Day of Peace”

13.  Thursday, 8:30am – 11:00am, J20 Resisters Court-Support Rosh Hashanah

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.
SF

The Jewish New Year’s Day is the final pretrial hearing for the J20 Resisters criminal case. These 11 queer activists are facing charges resulting from the Cal-Train shut-down as part of the massive day of action in protest of the Trump Inaugeration. In spite of our demand that DA Gascon DROP THE CHARGES Gascon continues to criminalize these brave activists!

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/117579282294061/

14.  Thursday, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Amour for  Alex Nieto – monthly gathering

Bernal Heights
SF

Monthly gathering with Alex Nieto’s family and friends at Bernal Heights where he was killed by SFPD.

Official notification not posted yet. Check: https://www.facebook.com/groups/721427181211650/

15.  Thursday, 6:00pm-8:00pm, Sweeps Watch, Training

UNITE HERE Local 2
209 Golden Gate Ave.
SF

Come learn about criminalization and supporting our unhoused neighbors. The Coalition on Homelessness is creating a new community program, Sweeps Watch.

We will be educating unhoused and housed people in tactics for responding to Sweeps of encampments in our neighborhoods.

We hope to build a network of solidarity, where housed folks are supporting the self determination of folks in crisis, with no where to go. We are doing this by building a network of rapid community responders that will have the skills to respond to police activity in their community safely and affectively. 

Host: Coalition on Homelessness

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/363375580749034/ 

16.  Thursday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Christopher Bollyn on the War on Terror

San Francisco Public Library – Richmond Branch
351 – 9th Ave.
SF

Christopher Bollyn, author of Solving 9/11, gives a presentation on his latest book, The War on Terror: The Plot to Rule the Middle East.

Host: Solving 9-11 Tour

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/467450196961682/

17.  Thursday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Displacement Disrupts Peace

Oakland Peace Center
259 29th St.
Oakland

Join us and explore the issue of displacement local and global through photography, spoken word, testimonies, and an open dialogue on International Day of Peace.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/793557334139347/

18.  Thursday, 6:30pm – 8:00pm, DACA Know Your Rights Workshop – Union City

Itlong Vera Cruz Middle School
Alvarado Middle School
31064 Alvarado Blvd.
Union City

DACA Recipients, we invite you to join us in our DACA Know Your Rights Workshop –Spread the word

Questions contact: Facebook: Michael James Chapman Jr
Instagram: @chaaaaaapman

19.  Thursday, 7:00pm, September 21st, Honor International Peace Day – Candlelight Vigil

Meet at:

Linda Mar Beach
Pacifica

Walk to Rockaway.

Bring candles.

Join us for candlelight vigil on Linda Mar Beach at 7:00pm.

Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech. Unite for diplomacy and denounce violence, war and occupation.

Enjoy singing and walking from Linda Mar to Rockaway with neighbors.

Sponsor: Pacifica Peace People

Info: www.pacifcapeacepeople.net

Saturday, September 23

Saturday, 12Noon – 6:00pm, No Hate in the Bay: March Against White Supremacy

Meet at:

63rd & Adeline
Berkeley

Join fellow community members to let fascists, the alt-right and all white supremacists know that they are not are not welcome in the Bay Area. 

Stay through the march or meet up afterward for a festival of resistance to celebrating black, POC, Muslim, immigrant, queer, trans, dis-abled, and interfaith communities!

This march was organized so that we can take the streets on our own terms – counter-demonstrations are very important, but we live here, this is our community, and every day is a good day to be united against white supremacy.

This march takes place the day before upcoming far-right, racist events set to take place on (and off) UC Berkeley campus, but it isn’t taking place at the same time as any of those events nor is it a specific response.

Host: No Hate in the Bay

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/114644749236663/

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Future Senator David Hildebrand! video by Peter Menchini

Future Senator David Hildebrand!

Δημοσιεύτηκε από Peter Menchini στις Κυριακή, 17 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

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Future Congressperson Stephen R Jaffe video by Peter Menchini

Future Congressperson Stephen R Jaffe

Δημοσιεύτηκε από Peter Menchini στις Κυριακή, 17 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

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September 17, 2011: Occupy Wall Street Begins in New York City [and San Francisco]

“The kids are alright! They may have lost faith in the key institutions of America—the elected officials, the media, the banks—that ought to be steering the country out of economic crisis, but they have not lost faith in the people.”

 Richard Kreitner is The Nation’s assistant editorHis writings are at www.richardkreitner.com.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders to Highlight Medicare for All Bill in Public San Francisco Speech

National Nurses United Press Release, 9/15/17

Contact Information | Media Center

Sen. Bernie Sanders with, at left, CNA member Melissa Johnson-Camacho at press conference announcing introduction of S 1804, the Medicare for All Act of 2017

Fresh off the introduction of S. 1804, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders will address the theme in a public speech Friday, September 22 in San Francisco, hosted by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United.

What: Sen. Bernie Sanders, public address
When: Friday, September 22, 1 p.m. PT
Where: Yerba Buena Gardens, 750 Howard St., San Francisco

S 1804 has already made history with its co-sponsorship by one-third of the Senate Democratic Caucus, a direct reflection, say nurses, of the growing momentum for Medicare for all, sparked by the Sanders 2016 Presidential campaign, and a an activist mass movement, including the work of CNA/NNOC members.

“We are enormously proud of Sen. Sanders for his sponsorship of S. 1804 and want to welcome all the activists and supporters who have worked so long with Sen. Sanders and nurses’ fight in our common fight for healthcare for all and social justice,” said CNA and NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

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“Time for a California State Bank” by Gayle McLaughlin

When the big banks were foreclosing on so many families across the country, I did what I could to protect Richmond. We passed a financing program that would take the mortgages of financially underwater properties by eminent domain, where we could then refinance these mortgages for the homeowners on fair financial terms.

We approved the program – but Wall Street and the big banks were so scared they went to Congress and passed a law to preclude our local effort. Richmond took on Wall Street and lost.

Our determination is to keep on fighting and organizing!

California can have a bank owned by the people just like the state of North Dakota has a bank owned by the people. We’ll all save money on financing for schools and roads, affordable housing, and hospitals, and the thousands of cannabis growers across the state will have a bank for their legal produce. A people’s bank for California will also allow innovative support mechanisms for new small businesses and other innovative enterprises. Let’s take our money back from Wall Street and the multinational banks!

In 2012, California tried to create a state bank with AB 2500, which had wide progressive support. However, corporate-controlled legislators killed the bill on behalf of the California Bankers Association.

As Lieutenant Governor, a public bank will be a top priority for me. Imagine how we will pass public banking legislation as more than 100 organizing California communities! Sacramento is going to hear us, loudly!

If you’re working on public banking in your own community, please reach out – we want to share resources and encourage your efforts! And if you’d like to support the campaign as we educate and organize on public banking, please give here today.

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“CITIZEN DEBT AUDITS ARE CHALLENGING BIG FINANCE IN THE U.K. AND BEYOND” By Steve Rushton

September 14, 2017 (Occupy.com)

Since the fire at Grenfell Tower in West London that claimed the lives of at least 80 people in June, attention has sharply focused on U.K. local authority spending and decision making. Many unanswered questions remain about Kensington and Chelsea council’s priorities and the way it manages council housing, but the problem is wider than that. Tests on public buildings since the Grenfell fire, including social housing and hospitals, revealed that a vast majority of cladded high-rises fail safety tests. The degree of mistrust in councils’ housing management is visible on the Chalcots Estate, in London’s Camden, where residents are crowdfunding money to carry out independent safety checks on recent refurbishments.

Attention on the inadequate quality of social housing adds weight to a growing movement of citizens auditing local government spending. As Occupy.com reported in 2015, debt activists in the U.K. are part of a continental surge aimed at opening up the books and forcing reviews of public money flowing into the financial sector instead of social spending – particularly funds deemed illegal or illegitimate.

The trend didn’t come from nowhere. This movement has learned from campaigns in the Global South challenging illegal or unjust debts since the 1980s.

LONDON CALLING

In 2014, residents in England acquired the right to inspect their local councils’ accounts through the Local Audit and Accountability Act. It is in London, a global capital of finance and corruption, where people are most using these laws to undercut the corporate interests.

The People’s Audit has encouraged residents of the South London borough of Lambeth to question local spending and, in the process, reclaim democratic oversight. The group, consisting of a dozen local residents, analysed accounts, contracts, invoices and correspondence relating to expenditure. They used the 2014 legislation that obliges councils to open up their accounts for a 30-day period of inspection, and recovered hundreds of documents they then analysed and summarised in a report published in July.

The report found “evidence of extensive financial mismanagement and failings in financial governance potentially costing millions of pounds.”

Details of the alleged mismanagement include over-paying building contractors, price-fixing for building tenders and the council’s unawareness of what it is spending money on, and to whom. Councils have faced a reduction in government funding by 40 percent since 2010 and any overspending – whether through negligence or corruption – hits already stretched frontline services.

The decline in government grant funding comes as a result of austerity measures, justified by the bank bail-outs that in themselves were arguably illegitimate and should be audited.

LOBO & PFI SCAMS

Addressing suspect bank deals, the citizen network Debt Resistance U.K. continues to work on Lender Option Borrower Option, or LOBO, loans. These long-term loans with varying interest rates that councils took out from banks – especially in the early 2000s before the crisis – are often such complex financial products that councils could not understand what they signed.

Debt Resistance characterises these loans as a “lose-lose bet” for councils, which are now locked into contracts for up to 70 years, paying interest rates up to five, seven and even 10 percent. Local authorities can always borrow from the central government through the Public Works Loan Board, which is cheaper, especially now that interest rates are low.

But U.K. government policy has encouraged councils to tap into the financial markets, a strategy exploited by banks and brokers who lured councils into the LOBO scam through initially low teaser rates and financial advisers who had interests in the brokerage firms.

Making use of the powers under the Local Audit and Accountability Act, Debt Resistance U.K. has supported residents in dozens of councils across the country to file objections to their councils’ LOBO spending.

Public Finance Initiatives remain another systemic financial mismanagement problem for local authorities in Britain. These public-private partnerships have been promoted for the last 20 years as a means for public infrastructure projects to gain private investment, whereby the eventual ownership of schools, hospitals, housing and the like passes over to the public sector following repayment. But the reality is very different. Today Britain owes over £300 billion in PFI debts, which the group People vs. PFI asserts is “institutional theft”.

PFI is especially prominent in the National Health Service, where it accounted for nearly 90 percent of capital investment in new hospitals between 1997 and 2007.

The NHS is at a breaking point due to lack of funding, yet over £2 billion per year is flowing to private companies through PFI contracts. In addition to cost, other problems with PFI include tax avoidance, which it enables through offshore ownership of companies, and lack of transparency. Campaigners like People vs PFI have struggled to even see the contracts of the deals.

RECLAIMING DEMOCRACY

These three campaigns in the U.K. have strong parallels with the municipalist movement in Spain. In local elections in 2015, many councils – including Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s biggest cities – were taken over by progressive coalitions that are now learning to govern the cities in the interests of the people. One of the strategies they use is auditing debt: according to a 2012 change in the Spanish constitution, municipalities are forced to prioritize debt repayments over social spending.

Madrid concluded the first phase of its audit on public spending and policy in May when it released a report on the social, economic, gender and environmental impacts of its policies. The aim is to work toward correcting the negative impacts.

Although diverse in focus, each of the debt audits share common strategies and focus. These campaigns are broader than a technical exercise to understand which debt was illegitimate, which spending was illegal, or which public deals were corrupt. They are about protecting democracy by restoring fairness to finance. For citizen debt audits, the only way to challenge the power of banks is to reveal their crimes – and build a public movement that mobilizes around the injustice, demanding the public money be spent in the public interest.

citizen debt audit, Grenfell Tower fire, Local Audit and Accountability Act, Debt Resistance U.K., Public Finance Initiatives, LOBO loans, People vs PFI
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“THESE CORPORATIONS HAVE THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON CLIMATE POLICY” by Lorraine Chow

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON ECOWATCH

September 15, 2017 (Occupy.com)

For better or worse, corporations have a major influence on climate change policy. Just look at Koch Industries, a multinational conglomerate owned by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch that has contributedhundreds of millions to federal candidates and lobbying over the last 25 years.

The “Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint,” a new analysis from U.K. nonprofit InfluenceMap, now ranks Koch Industries as the company with the strongest opposition to the Paris climate agreement and most intensely lobbies against policies in line with the landmark global accord.

The InfluenceMap scoring system does not measure a company’s actual greenhouse gas emissions. Rather, it measures “the extent to which a corporation is supporting or obstructing the climate policy process.”

For the InfluenceMap report, researchers analyzed more than “30,000 pieces of evidence” on 250 global companies and 50 major trade associations on their lobbying records, advertising, public relations and sponsored research, according to Bloomberg.

The research group gave the Wichita-based company an “F” grade for its anti-climate actions:

“Koch Industries appears to be actively opposing almost all areas of climate legislation. In 2014 in the US, they were reportedly active in their opposition to a carbon tax, funding politicians and campaigns to oppose the tax. Similarly, in 2014 they appear to have opposed the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan in consultation and through direct engagement with policy makers, and boasted about their success in blocking the US Cap and Trade Scheme in 2010. Additionally, they appear to be opposing measures to transition to a low carbon economy, advocating against renewable energy subsidies, and funding groups that have opposed energy efficiency standards, the repeal of fossil fuel subsidies and the need for action on climate change. They seem to be exceptionally active in opposing renewable energy standards across the U.S. Both the organization and its CEO, Charles Koch, appear to have questioned climate change science, and have reportedly funded climate denial. Senior executives are active in both the National Association of Manufacturers and ALEC, which also appear to be resisting climate change related regulations and policies.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Silicon Valley tech giant Apple was ranked highest on the list and has an A+ for its support of climate change action and its positive engagement with a number of climate change policy areas.

Here are the report’s key findings:

• 35 of the 50 most influential are actively lobbying against climate policy. They include companies in the fossil fuel value chain (ExxonMobil, Valero Energy, Chevron), energy intensive companies (BASF, ArcelorMittal, Bayer, Dow Chemical and Solvay) and electric utilities with large amounts of coal generating capacity (Southern Company, Duke Energy and American Electric Power).

• Also in this group of 35 influential companies holding back climate policy are four powerful automotive manufacturers (Fiat Chrysler, Ford, BMW and Daimler). The research found the companies lobbying to delay or dilute efficiency and CO2 emissions standards and procedures both in Europe and North America. Depending on region, passenger vehicle emissions account for 12% or more of all greenhouse gas emissions.

• On the other side, 15 of the 50 most influential are pushing for an ambitious climate policy agenda, favoring renewable power and electric vehicles. They include signatories to the RE100 initiative committing to buying 100% renewable power (Apple, Ikea, Unilever, Coca Cola and Nestle) as well as power sector companies (SSE, Enel, EDF, Iberdrola and National Grid) who are shifting their business models towards low carbon electricity generation.

“The data shows the climate policy agenda, in terms of corporate influencing, is being driven by a small number of massive global corporations,” Dylan Tanner, InfluenceMap executive director, said in a statement. “It also shows a group of powerful of companies in the tech, consumer goods and utilities sectors increasingly pushing for policy to implement the Paris Agreement.”

InfluenceMap also ranked “influencers” or powerful trade associations that actively lobby against climate policies. A number of trade associations received an “F” grade, but here are the bottom five: U.S. Chamber of Commerce; American Petroleum Institute; American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity; National Mining Association; and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Check out the full list here.

carbon footprint

Originally published by EcoWatch

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“OCCUPY THE CINEMA: ‘BLOOD IN THE FACE’ AND OUR NEO-NAZI MOMENT” by Bill Arceneaux

September 11, 2017 (Occupy.com)

Described as a “love mongerer” who is seemingly above hate, George Lincoln Rockwell is credited in the 1991 documentary “Blood in the Face” for fueling the modern American neo-Nazi and white power movements. Through archival footage, we see Rockwell interviewed and giving wannabe pseudo-intellectual speeches on race wars, revolution and how Hitler was the second coming of Christ. Mind you, this all took place in the 1950s and 60s, soon after WWII. While some accost Rockwell for being a monster, one woman claims he has the right to speech and that right mustn’t be impeded. Asked what she thinks of him otherwise, she responds that he has a neat appearance.

This is the disturbing gut punch of truth that “Blood in the Face” provides: that the fringe extremists determined to “take our country back,” people we may even call our neighbors, have found more than receptive ears and minds for their message. Even the filmmakers Anne Bohlen and Kevin Rafferty – who only express their anger and horror at the very end of the film – lead us into a twisted beast of logic when confronting what they feel deep down. The movie cuts to credits before the audience has time to draw a response, indicating the directors’ fear that the most hateful people around may not be so alone, and may only grow in numbers.

Currently streaming on Fandor, “Blood in the Face” is immensely grotesque and infinitely disturbing, but also brilliant in exposure and capture, in expression and suggestion. It’s unfortunately all too relevant now, given recent events in Charlottesville and the wave of hate crimes and white supremacist activism spurred by the election of their enabler-in-chief, Donald Trump. The context of this documentary isn’t one of a specific moment, but of future ones. It’s a movie about the snowball effect that hate and misinformation produce from generation to generation, poisoning potentially good people with ugly evil.

For example, we meet a marine who served during WWII, but now sits on camera wearing a hood on his head and spitting epithets out of his mouth. We see another man, a local White Power leader, informing his guests to please move their cars to a better location for fear that if it rains, the cross burning might be moved to that area. He does this in a kindly manner, even laughs a bit about it, before returning to his service.

The casual and leisurely way these interviews are conducted work not only as a way for the filmmakers to gain some level of trust, but to put the audience in step with those who may be easily converted. The amount of effort these white supremacists make to justify their beliefs and actions before the camera is staggering. They level of false factoids and conspiracy theories would make moon landing truthers blush. These are Alex Jones listeners and David Duke voters – and they listen wholeheartedly and vote in full force. Their paranoia and true believer delusions are barely hidden under supposed disenfranchisement, heritage and “economic anxiety,” which comes out through sweat and sincere speeches given with conviction. This is a horror film for our time unlike any other.

In “Blood in the Face,” White Power is in fact equated as a civil rights movement, like “save the whales or seals,” a young woman states. She may be a holdout for possible goodness, as she appears genuinely uncomfortable not with being interviewed, but with deciding what answers to provide. She stammers often, looks off camera and even comes close to tears, trying to stay focused on the message of racial purity. I suspect an internal conflict of conscience is happening as she actually considers her thoughts, possibly for the first time.

In another moment, Michael Moore (yes, that one) tells a lady that she doesn’t look like a typical Nazi. “You could be a Coppertone model,” he says. The woman blushes, hesitates, smiles and repeats the message of the movement in a quietly choked up and surprised manner. Caught off guard, she considers where she is at and why she is there. Only a scene before, she is seen walking arm in arm with a rather militant looking man who drags her back to a car. A clear picture of abuse and manipulation comes to mind.

And maybe that could be just it. Maybe some of these people aren’t bad, but only victims. Or maybe that’s just what they want us to think. There are many dark sides to humanity. And this film reminds us, those parts aren’t going away.

RATING: 5 / 5

Follow the author on twitter @billreviews.

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