The Occupy movement, broadly speaking, is about remedying the large-scale political and economic inequality that exists in this world, about fixing a system which currently allows the most wealthy Americans to use their wealth to obtain a monopoly on political power and to use that political power to further enrich themselves at the expense of the 99%. The 99% of Americans that the system is currently rigged against, while having common grievances against the economic and political systems under which we live, also have a huge variety of different lifestyles, work schedules, preferences, etc. We understand that not everyone can camp out in the park every night, and it’s also okay if not everyone wants to. We also understand that not everyone is able to join a nightly General Assembly because of jobs, families, or other commitments. If the 99% are going to prevail in changing the nature of our society for the better, we are going to need widespread participation and this means having organizations that have flexible structures that will accommodate the wide variety of lifestyles and preferences.
Occupy Berkeley is thus calling for more widespread community participation in the form of Occupy Berkeley Beer Committees (OBBCs). These should not be confused with the formal committees or working groups that exist within Occupy Berkeley (which have regular meeting times, point people, and other requirements of regular attendance). OBBCs are built around the idea of the “affinity group”, which is a small collection of individuals (say, 5-20) that are united under a common desire to do something. You can form an OBBC with your friends, your work colleagues, your family, or people that you meet online through Occupy-related forums and websites.
So what does an OBBC actually do? Good question. The answer is anything you want. Maybe you are interested in holding a bake sale to raise money for Occupations, doing a flash-mob at a big box store in the area, creating artwork to assist Occupations in planning their events, holding a teach-in about a topic you are experienced in, maintaining a blog about the Occupy movement, getting politicians to publicly voice support for the movement, organizing others to attend the next big demonstration, picketing a bank, or even just sitting around talking about the movement and where it’s headed.
Why is it called a “beer committee”? Do I have to drink beer? While we think it should be an option, the concept of the “beer committee” is simply to convey that your OBBC can be as laid-back and informal as your group wants it to be. It can just be about meeting up, tossing a few back, and talking about Occupy. Or you can be interested in hard-core serious actions. Or you can fluctuate between the two. Again, it’s up to you.
Each OBBC will be allowed, but not required, to post weekly updates on the Occupy Berkeley website in a new section called “beer committees”. This is a great way to see what other BCs are talking about. Maybe your BC will have a good idea that other BCs want to help make a reality, or maybe you’ll be inspired by something someone else suggested.
The primary benefits of the BC structure to the movement is that they
- Allow members to organize themselves at a time and place that fit their own schedule.
- Allow members to associate and work with others that they have common interests with and enjoying being around.
- Allow for an unobstructed means to useful action.
Again, the movement needs you. It needs your time, your ingenuity, your skills, and your vocal support. Form a Occupy Berkeley Beer Committee with those you know, help the movement meet its goals, and give yourself stories and insight into the movement so that when your grandchildren ask you “What was it like to be alive when the people finally made historic changes to create a more fair and sustainable society?”, you’ll have an answer that they’ll be excited to hear.
If your BC is interested in posting on the Occupy Berkeley website please email firstname.lastname@example.org.