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That Will Never Work: What Progressives Can Learn from OWS

Session Type(s): Panel

Training Tag(s): Organizing & Movement Building, OWS

Starts: Friday, Jun. 8 4:30 PM

Ends: Friday, Jun. 8 5:45 PM

Room: Ballroom A

When Occupy Wall Street first started, almost no one thought it would work. What does the explosion of interest in OWS say about the tactics of the occupation? What can progressive organizations learn from Occupy’s success in shifting the dialogue from austerity to inequality?

That Will Never Work: What Progressives Can Learn from OWS

Miss this panel? No problem! Here’s what happened.

Storified by Netroots Nation · Fri, Jun 08 2012 18:18:36

At #nn12 meta #ows panel w @msmaryclinton & @maxberger
Panelists reviewed the first 9 months of the Occupy movement to find lessons for a progressive vision.
#occupy lessons: it isn’t suffering that leads to uprising. It’s a vision of what can win. #nn12 Yotam MaromMarianne Manilov
.@maxberger: #Occupy moved people from thinking about what’s achievable to working back from what’s necessary. #nn12 #owsJoe Macare
Occupy has also provided lessons for online/offline integration.
#occupy lessons: there was a collapse both in online & offline. U were able to really participate in both. Not just click. #nn12 @maxbergerMarianne Manilov
"Social media is the fuel, not the fire" @maxberger #ows #nn12Elana_Brooklyn
Started from social media and then made it real. Posts actively showed real-world legitimacy of the movement. – Isham Christie #nn12 #owsJulie Kaviar
The physical occupation was a topic of discussion.
"#ows was the chorus of a previously fragmented movement fighting together in one space." @msmaryclinton #nn12Nick Espinosa
There was also talk about cooperation with a broader coalition.
Strongest when #ows wasn’t worried about "the coalition" and who should do what and where they came from. – Yotam Marom #nn12Julie Kaviar
Institutional help: provided money for flyers and created a wall between cops and occupiers @msmaryclinton #ows #nn12Julie Kaviar


Max Berger


Max Berger is an organizer with the Occupy movement. He worked as as a GOTV organizer in 2004, as an online organizer for Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign in 2003, and has also worked with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, J Street and Rebuild the Dream. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but had to leave Portland after school because he wasn’t ready to retire. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

Other sessions: The Heart of the Beast: How the Grassroots is Taking on Big Banking

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Isham Christie


Study Critical Social Theory, Philosophy, and Cinema at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Participant in New York Students Rising, Students United for a Free CUNY, and Occupy Wall St.

Mary Clinton

Mary Clinton

Mary Clinton is an organizer with Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers in New York. As a radical with firsthand experience working on issue and electoral campaigns in a big, red, rectangular state, she’s used to pushing up against a brick wall. While naysaying the naysayers, Mary began organizing with Occupy Wall Street during the August General Assemblies. This was both because people told her not to and because she’d never seen so many fellow leftists in the 26 years of her life. She tweets tidbits about #Occupy and Labor @msmaryclinton and @99picketlines. Mary is also a member of the Organization for a Free Society, always on gchat, and suffers from a severe Facebook addiction.

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Michelle Crentsil

Michelle is an organizer for a healthcare union in New York City. In addition to union organizing, her past experience includes youth organizing and welfare rights organizing. She focuses on intersections of race, gender, and class oppressions in her organizing and activist work. She has been involved with Occupy Wall Street through the People of Color Working Group and the Labor Outreach Committee.

Yotam Marom

Yotam Marom

Yotam Marom is a political organizer, educator, and writer based in New York City. He has been active in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and is a member of the Organization for a Free Society. Yotam has experience in anti-austerity struggles, student activism, democratic education, Jewish social justice work, and communal living. His writing can be found at

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