10 Things You Can Do To Change The World

"Those not busy being born are busy dying" Bobby Dylan

On the weekend of June 26th, Toronto underwent a transformation. A new generation of activists were politicized, and in many cases radicalized. Also, a new generation of journalists were born, products of a long-awaited fusion of traditional and new media. For me, it was a return to days of old, going back a decade to when I was young and radical.

So I was there, on the streets, providing coverage and witnessing history. I'm still processing the insights and emotions triggered by the events, and I finally have time to put down some thoughts. Rather than focus purely on what happened, I'd rather share my story in the form of advice for how to move forward.

Here's my list of 10 things you can do to change the world, with examples of how I applied each of them this past weekend:

1. Spread Peace, Unity, Love and Fun

In the lead-up to the weekend, a lot of people saw the G20 preparations and protests as nuisances, and things to be afraid of. Many chose to leave the city rather than stay to witness what would happen. Myself, I was looking forward to it, and this song by Afrika Bambaataa pretty much sums up my mood. It's all about peace, unity, love, and having fun. Yeah, sure, sometimes things do go wrong, but even then, by staying focused on the goal you'll make the world a better place.

2. Work Against All Oppression

One of the big questions, both before and after the weekend, was about the issues people were protesting. What were they against? What were they for? When you're talking about tens of thousands of people, the answer is never simple nor homogeneous, but a good part of it ties back into principles of anti-oppression.

We all want to be free. That requires collaboration. We can't oppress each other in the course of our own liberation. So do yourself a favour and take an anti-oppression workshop or three to get up to speed. This will help you understand and support the causes of people who are different than you.

My weekend started at Thursday's Day of Action for Indigenous Rights. It was peaceful, well attended, and a great opportunity to learn more about the issues of concern to Canada's First Nations. In fact, for days before the summit, there were peaceful protests staged by all sorts of groups who shared an anti-oppression approach to social change.

Overthrow the Patriarchy?

3. Agitate and Mobilize

Everywhere you go, think about how to stir things up, and engage diverse people to take part in processes. Openly talk about what's going on around you, including your reasons for being there, passions and the pleasure you get from participating.

I do a lot of public speaking. Beginning in April, I started to include references to the G8/G20 and what would happen while the summit was happening in Toronto. At the very least, I wanted people to pay attention to what I predicted that would be the largest instance of political violence in Canadian history.

After watching the NFB film "Action: The October Crisis of 1970" recently, I can't help but wonder how this compares to what happened then. Any thoughts?

Saturday Night Chaos in Queen's Park

4. Become a Community Organizer

It's one thing to agitate and mobilize, it's another to actually organize. Clearly community organizers are a serious threat to the status quo: they're often the first to be arrested and the last to be released.

Anybody can be a community organizer, and we all belong to multiple communities that form around location, interests, work, leisure, websites, etc. Whatever you do, there's probably a community out there supporting it. An organizer is someone who helps a particular community come together, engages with other communities, and plays a role in the shaping of society.

The more communities we bring into the process of social change, the more diverse they will be and the greater our chances of being successful. I made an effort to circulate in all sorts of communities in the lead-up to and after the G20, and continue to try to engage people and get involved. Before all of this happened, it meant explaining why people should care, and afterward, it means telling them the truth about what happened so that as a society we don't forget our mistakes.

A social media moment

5. Make Your Own Media

We're all media now. Anyone can produce just about anything, and in many cases it is our responsibility to do so.

It's not enough to just capture what happens with a camera. In order for it to be useful and helpful, you actually need to turn that raw footage into something meaningful: a story that respects people's limited attention spans. So share your story. Share your analysis.

This is what I did, on CBC Radio, Twitter, and even Qik. My reward has been comments and responses from people, who shared the truth, and came up to me to thank for me for telling what really happened. That sort of interaction makes it all worthwhile.

Police raid in Parkdale

6. Participate in Counter-Surveillance

The reality of living in a surveillance society is something we've all grown complacent about. However when certain accepted norms are applied to politics and policing, they become scary and dangerous rather quickly.

Police engaged in surveillance and intelligence gathering for a year leading up to the summit, and throughout the weekend surveillance played a strategic role in the police targeting specific individuals.

As we move forward, we're going to have to develop counter-surveillance practices and habits so as not to make it easy for our rights and civil liberties to be violated. Maybe the Surveillance Club will play a role in that regard?

TPS Surveillance Van with Facial Recognition Software

7. Reclaim Public Spaces by Expressing Your Opinion in Chalk

Imagine what it would be like if everyone carried chalk with them, so that at anytime, in any place, you could talk back to the world? Perhaps it's time Toronto was hit by a wave of graffiti 2.0. People could start sharing thoughts about what happened this past weekend and why we won't allow it to happen again. Like murmur, we need to tell the stories of this city again and again so that they are never forgotten.

8. Use Bicycle Power

Bicycles are an essential means of getting around Toronto, but when the streets are alive they're even better. I was able to criss cross the downtown core with ease, and follow a number of police raids and actions on Sunday. Bike riding in a city like Toronto is inherently political, and often contributes a peaceful dynamic to what are generally stressful streets.

My advice to you is to build your own squad within the people's cavalry. If we all belong to squads comprised of a dozen cyclists, than it's easy for us to rapidly deploy anywhere in Toronto proper while then massing back into a large amorphous mass of bikes.

On Sunday when I heard the alternative media centre was being raided I was able to get there in a few minutes by jumping on my bike. Similarly got to Spadina and Queen by zipping along on my bike. Emma Goldman talked about how integral dancing was to the revolution, well allow me to state the obvious and say the revolution is on two wheels.

Cyclists eastbound on Richmond

9. Cultivate Agility and Adaptability

The real story of this past weekend was the agility and adaptability of citizens and their media. If you were using Twitter in Toronto this weekend you took a dose. A dose that permanently changed your consciousness. You were part of a collective mind that shared the pain, fear, adrenaline, and humanity that traumatized yet also united elements of this city. It was a moment that those of us who were part of will never forget. A transformation that offers glimpses of where the future of media lies when it comes to the power of connected journalism.

10. Choose Solidarity

Finally, we must to remember the principles of solidarity. On Sunday night, as people started being released from the detention centre, Emily and I went there to offer recently released detainees a lift home.

During our three trips, we heard the horrifying stories that reinforced our own experiences over the weekend. What we witnessed was the early stage of a society none of us want to live in: a preface to a Harper majority.

We owe it to each other to not only try to make our world better, but everyone's world better. Solidarity with other means helping when you're able, which is more often than you think. It's not about engaging in struggles far away, but seeing the reality of our struggles right here and right now. Before it's too late.

Eastern Ave Detention Centre

Comments

#11

Get the hell out of dodge when you think shit might go down.

For some reason, after reading Tip #2, I am suddenly interested in overthrowing the patriarchy.

Maybe 1 in 2 had cell cameras where I was.
At first, I thought it was overkill...cuz it was my first march.
But then I came home and saw the total lack of substance on the news. I didn't see anyone get to share their views. Just some crusty old anchors replaying a garbage can to the window...on loop.

Got on the internet, and completely different story on znet, youtube, etc. God bless the pentagon for the internet lol!

Also...
Just want to add another rule: #11 - Get yo' back up off the wall
My first hour was like being at my first dance...nervous!
But once we started chatting with people outside our little circle, it was frakking great. Made lots of new friends, shared myspace & email, cracked jokes all day, and most importantly got plugged into all sorts of new issues & groups.
For me anyways, this was more valuable than protesting itself.

Better be careful with that chalk, Jessie!

Apparently, while you can slather public property with signs for lost cats, garage sales and even ads for private businesses without any consequence, putting up politically motivated graffiti and posters are now criminal offences.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2010/06/17/14420391.html

These guys were arrested, spent most of a day in jail and were criminally charged charged for putting up an anti-G20 poster over 200KMs away from Toronto. This is how complete the harassment is.

I am, shall we say, not unfamiliar with the complete joke of a city this story takes place in. In fact, I type this sitting across the street from a mailbox there that is routinely postered, graffitied and knocked down. Once, I even saw graffiti over top of other graffiti that was on a poster on this mailbox. I'm willing to bet my left nut not one of those "dangerous criminals" were arrested for it.

To be fair, town council is freaky over graffiti (they banned spray paint sales to minors) but the cops in this city truly DO NOT give the slightest shit about crimes that don't involve high speed chases, kicking down doors, or anything else doesn't put them on TV acting like heroes. (I say that as victim of multiple crimes with no arrests made.) There is absolutely NO WAY this wasn't a politically motivated arrest and yet several cops bold-face lied about it on camera without even blinking, as if it was just part of the job. I guess it is.

Just recently, to conclude the local police psychological operation, they made a VERY public point of arresting some taggers who were actually boasting about their work on-line and begging to be arrested. It couldn't have been more obvious the cops arrested them to say "See, we didn't just arrest those two as part of a preemptive, fascist, crackdown on legal, constitutionally protected, dissent."

I also happen to be sitting within eyesight of a place where cops bludgeoned a couple of young black men a year or two ago. They dispensed this beat down in clear view of the public, a city owned surveillance camera, numerous (redundant) private surveillance cameras aimed at the public sidewalk, and a few kids with cell phones. Magically, all of the surveillance cameras just happened to "malfunction" that night and captured nothing. Meanwhile, the cell phones were seized and the footage "accidentally" erased.

But, despite the city being essentially invisible even within Canada, cops in this city are well known for beating people, violating their rights and targeting individuals based on age, race and sexual orientation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN44hJfdDS4
http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2008/09/10/police-brutality-yes-ma...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGDA-wcHwsc

and don't forget the witch hunt that made the city famous
http://www.walnet.org/csis/news/london_94/cbc-trials-4.html
http://everything2.com/title/Project+Guardian

Coincidentally, that witch hunt was brought to you by infamous self-fellator, Julian Fantino, who just happened to be running the security for the recent G8 conference in Huntsville and must be depressed about not being allowed to crack open the skulls of protesters in Toronto.

As they say, "I was out of town when that shit went down." I was vacationing out west. Otherwise, I might still be in jail. All I got was bits and pieces of the horrible live coverage from the mainstream media. It basically consisted of a tape loop of guys jumping on a police car and breaking a few windows while "security experts" blathered endlessly about the Black Block and how evil and dangerous a couple hundred young people dressed in black and carrying hammers are. Oh, yeah. Far more dangerous than the forces commanded by those inside the Convention Centre. "Oh, a broken window! How will we carry on?" Jesus H. Christ!!!

Meanwhile, the Security Establishment literally shat on the Constitution. They passed secret laws, spied on protesters, infiltrated, instigated, illegally detained, abducted, beat and even shot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oETzR2pTw0M completely innocent protesters. They rounded up around a thousand of them on utterly bogus charges. They even stole the artificial leg of a 57 year old government employee because he "might use it as a weapon". http://www.financialpost.com/related/topics/police+yanked+prosthetic+amp...

In the course of their attack, these stormtroopers officially blew through over a billion dollars, probably much more unofficially. That estimate also doesn't include the costs incurred by further clogging the already clogged court system with bogus, penny ante, charges when it could be dealing with ACTUAL CRIMES! But even that wasn't enough. Not only did they lie about everything that happened, they tried to enlist the public to help them hunt down people they failed to arrest because they were too busy beating people who were just standing around the streets of Toronto.

"Tonight on Canada's Most Wanted...Metro Police want your help identifying this dangerous criminal who was seen roller skating on a car. Cops want him arrested before he can skate again!"

After this G20 meeting, (Did ANYTHING actually come out of the official summit?) I have completely lost ALL respect I had for the police (and I know a couple cops). They are little more than a fascist goon squad who's only purpose is to protect aloof, anti-democratic, power mad "leaders" that enjoy hiding behind billion dollar fences and laugh as they slurp Dom while planning how to further erode democracy, human rights and divide the spoils amongst themselves. Cops are The Thin Blue Line between regular citizens and those who count.

What went on is repulsive to this Canadian. But apparently, as this cop explains to some confounded young people, "We don't live in Canada anymore." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjVtsuoPlzk&feature=related
Indeed. We live in a police state and anybody who questions their legitimacy will pay a heavy price.

Shot over three days June 25,26,27 2010 in Toronto this is what we saw at the G20.

Thousands of innocent people were detained and injured by police officers. Those in power granted new laws to authorities which allowed for illegal searches and detainment of anyone who looked suspicious. This included certified media personnel, children and students and even everyday people who were on their way to work. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was abandoned and our government allowed the city of Toronto to turn into a martial law type war zone.
We have spent hundreds of hours editing this footage and posting it, in the hopes of opening peoples eyes to the seriousness of this issue.
We must never let this happen in Canada again! Stephen Harper and whoever follows after him should be made aware, that the most Canadians disagree with this type of mismanaged funds and totalitarianism tactics. We in Canada value our freedom of speech. Even though some opinions may will differ on this subject, one message should ring loud and clear....NEVER IN CANADA AGAIN MR HARPER!!!! NEVER EVER AGAIN!!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoM5k0cSGE0

Societies don't change overnight.
Be persistent, polite and patient.
Who had the more lasting impact? Ghandi, or Guy Fawkes?
The Black Block played right into the gov's game, justifying the heavy security, justifying the price, which every citizen paid, in more ways than one.

Now we have a Conservative majority in Ottawa - fueled by fear, anti-crime, pro-big-business, oh and more fear.

Participate!
Be heard!
Vote!

Peace,
Howard

Hopefully, the 2-wheeled revolution includes our motorcycles, Jesse!

yes, we need to build stronger ties between cyclists, scooters, and motorcycles.

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