Update 3/31/2014: Much of the info on this page is outdated.
Since our occupation in Tranquility Park, Occupy Houston has not gone away, rather Occupy Houston has grown up! Members of the original Occupy Houston have gone on to create and contribute to local groups engaged in every shape and form of activism imaginable. It’s this diversity that has honed our skills, like the advanced level in non-hierarchical organizing.
Though we have largely gone our divergent ways, many of us still meet via common groups in the area. Occupy Houston proper does still throw a good General Assembly from time to time, but for the most part, Occupy Houston mainly coordinate about any ‘real life’ news and meetings via facebook. The best way to reach several members of OH is via Facebook.com/messages/OccupyHouston
Note: These Frequently Asked Questions are intended to clear up some of the common queries that we’ve had over the last few days. We will be continually adding to this page as more issues arise. Thank you.
Occupy Houston Frequently Asked Questions
These FAQs can help you as you speak with members of the public at the street level, through the press, or during organizing meetings. None of the below constitute demands. They are merely guidelines for ways to approach commonly asked questions about Occupied Houston. Occupy Houston stands in solidarity with OWS and we model our self-governing process on the one you see in action at Occupy Wall Street.
What is Occupy Houston?
Occupy Houston is, like OWS and others, an group of concerned citizens, like you and me, who come together around one organizing principle: We will not remain passive as formerly democratic institutions become the means of enforcing the will of only 1-2% of the population who control the magnitude of American wealth. Occupy Houston is an exercise in Direct Democracy. Since we can no longer trust our elected representatives to represent us rather than their large donors, we are creating a microcosm of what democracy really looks like. We do this to inspire one another to speak up. It is a reminder to our representatives and the moneyed interests that direct them: we the people still know our power. We feel we can no longer make our voices heard as we watch our votes for change usher in the same old power structure time and time again. This is the simplest, most effective democratic exercise we have left to employ, and we all must participate in order to be heard. Let the powers that be know – by physically joining in and occupying space in Tranquility Park.
What do you want: what are you protesting for/against?
We want what everybody wants: the ability to have a home, to make a livelihood, to have a family or a community, to live in a free society. We all want economic and social justice. Thus, we are protesting for the rights of the 99% – for our most basic rights as citizens, to convene, to express ourselves, and to be heard. We are unified by our sense of economic injustice, as a result of both our domestic, and foreign, policy.
Who is involved? From which communities and organizations do we come?
A diverse group of communities and organizations from a wide spectrum have come together around Occupy Houston. We are a group of autonomous individuals with no leader. We have come together as concerned individuals who want our collective voice heard. However, there is involvement by unions, student groups, and existing social justice organizations. More of them join us every day.
Finally, but crucially: This movement, nationwide & worldwide, is comprised of thousands of people who have committed themselves to nonviolence. The one thing the powers that be understand and employ incredibly effectively around the world is the power of violence. We aim to offer a different model: a model of nonviolent direct democracy.
How long do people intend to occupy?
We will stay until change happens! Until broad swaths of the American population realize that it is we, the 99% alone that can reclaim society from the domination of the 1%. Democracy has never been a spectator sport, and Americans have an obligation, particularly if we claim to love our country, to build serious and meaningful change from the bottom up.
HOW does it work?
We engage in horizontal democracy. This means that we are a non-hierarchical movement, in which everyone can take on leadership roles, every voice is equal and autonomous action is encouraged. This also means we cannot be easily defined by outside observers, and it also means that we cannot be easily hijacked by outside forces. We try as much as we can to gain consensus because we believe everyone’s experience is equally valid, every voice and opinion should be heard, and none more than any other. In order to assure that all voices are heard and to facilitate better communication in a non-hierarchical meeting, we commit to engaging in “meeting process”. It is inherently slow, requiring patience, which makes consensus very empowering. Tranquility Park provides an inspiring (and public) space for people to meet one another, discuss and organize. For more details, see our guide to general assembly.
WHERE is Tranquility Park?
The Houston Occupation in Tranquility Park is located in the heart of downtown, bordered by Hobby Center and City Hall and is accessible by car, Metro bus and rail.
WHEN are things happening?
All day, every day! But check out General Assembly at 7PM nightly. Many Work Groups meet at 6PM or after the GA.
WHAT can I expect when I get down there?
Something you’ve never experienced before in this way – a real democratic space. Even if you are not sure you are on-board, come check it out in person.
Who should I talk to if I want to get involved with a committee or subgroup?
Come to the welcome table or just talk to folks to get a feel for the different Work Groups’ focus and activities. There is always something in the works and ongoing. The various Work Groups’ meeting days & times are posted on the WHITE BOARD on site. Most evenings from 5PM and on, you will find clusters of Work Groups discussing plans or events. If you can’t come to the Park in person, there are many other ways to participate or show support.