Movement Strategy


Basic Movement Strategy
Some Movement Elements – Food Sovereignty and Beyond
Food Movement Notes
The Food Movement is the Food Sovereignty Movement


  1. As someone delving deeper into the community rights movement (and thus encountering a lot of inane backlash from people — mostly on the left, it seems, who feel threatened by the movement), i wanted to leave a note to say I really appreciate your constructive analysis of the CELDF strategy. It was integral in me building a FAQ draft (which I’m more than happy to share with you)

    Comment by ozob — March 17, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

    • Thanks ozob, I’m glad my post helped. I think the community rights movement is one of the best ideas and actions going. I’ll be saying some more about the CELDF in this week’s Friday summary. I know what you mean about distaste for the idea, at least among progressives. I haven’t come across hostility, but more of an incurious lack of comprehension. Do you have a link to the FAQ?

      Comment by Russ — March 17, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

  2. Glad you haven’t encountered hostility, yet…it becomes very frustrating and stressful when it comes packaged with the incurious lack of comprehension!

    The FAQ is in draft form (IMO, fairly well-finished, but I’m sure there are some glitches), and our chapter doesn’t have a website yet, so I can email it to you, but don’t think I should distribute it publicly until I get chapter approval and CELDF feedback. I’d love your feedback, and maybe it can offer something of value to your insights, too. It’s ~7 pages in PDF format. we’ll be using it as a training mechanism for chapter members…

    Oh, and tangentially related, I’m currently talking with another blogger in exploration of a liberatory pattern language…a non-dictatorial resource that could facilitate collaboration and understanding between different facets and agents of liberation activism. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in exploring further…

    Comment by ozob — March 18, 2014 @ 4:28 am

    • If I were worried about hostility I wouldn’t have become a GMO abolitionist. GMO proponents are not known for rational debate. As for the CELDF, a typical example has been an acquaintance involved in anti-fracking campaigns. When I sent her some info on how the USGS admits that the production projections are mostly hype, she warmly thanked me. When I sent her the CELDF’s PDF on anti-fracking ordinances, her reply was cool and curt.

      Why would you hesitate to publish an informal FAQ draft? Let ‘er rip! You can paste it right here if you want.

      I read a Transition Towns paper on pattern language. It looked like a potentially useful way to organize information. Do you have a link to this discussion? Thanks!

      Comment by Russ — March 18, 2014 @ 8:58 am

  3. My hesitation is out of respect for associations and group process…if i were publishing it as an individual, not a problem. But since it is a document of an official chapter of an official state network, and it might become source material for more official documentation on the movement, I need others to vet it and seek feedback in good faith before it actually becomes public, in the very least to clear up any potential inaccuracies. Regardless, I still think it makes sense to wait for feedback, as I’m sure there are some obvious (just not to me) corrections, and so far feedback has been timely and responsive…Inasmuch as it is “open source” and “creative commons” etc, if you want to take that source material and “fork” it and take ownership of that fork, then you are more than welcome to publish it on your blog. I’m willing to send the draft to you before then, if you want, too.

    Hope this helps communicate what I feel are my ethical constraints…

    Re: the pattern language — I’m discussing w/Dave Pollard (from howtosavetheoworld.ca) via email. I can ask if he would be amenable to including you on the conversation…we are (or at least I am) working out some of the general ideas about framing its scope and purpose. Not sure where it might go. Maybe we could set up a more public / inclusive process, even? http://groupworksdeck.org/ and http://www.reliableprosperity.net/ and Edible Forest Gardening v.2 all contain great examples of pattern languages

    Regardless, I can send you documentation of my personal impetus where i arrived at the conclusion of a need for a liberatory framework that includes a process of defection (liberatory transformation), defense (boundaries) and sabotage (undermining threats at their source). It even includes a diagram! 😛 (although it doesn’t hold a candle to all the fancy diagrams on Dave’s blog)

    Comment by ozob — March 18, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

    • I hear you. If it were me I wouldn’t see why the tinkering process, with no official names attached, shouldn’t be online. Conceptually, morally, and I assume as a practical/tactical matter as well, there’s no secrets involved I can think of.

      But I’m not saying that to argue with you on this particular matter, just offering a general comment on what you said, taking it as a general principle.

      I have one of Pollard’s books, “Finding the Sweet Spot”. It’s one of the things I’ve read in trying to figure out how to go into business. I’ll check out the links you sent, and look forward to hearing more about your discussions. From what I recall, pattern language is a way to organize ideas/terms for tactical use, and didn’t have any inherent political character (i.e., being inherently more democratic).

      Comment by Russ — March 19, 2014 @ 6:43 am

  4. Sure, we can do the tinkering process online w/o any other names attached, if you want. That’s similar to what I said (albeit, less cryptically). Let me know how you’d envision that happening and how you ‘d like to proceed…

    Yes, my understanding of / experience with pattern language also indicates that it doesn’t necessarily have any inherent political character, but has other inherent characters that are necessary and useful (e.g., it is contextualizing vs decontextualizing; promotes and facilitates systems-thinking; prioritizes relationships between elements as large part of defining their inherent character, etc — and perhaps that does indicate some sort of relevant and useful “meta-political” character).

    I was thinking about reading “the sweet spot” for the same reason (i’m actually writing a business plan right now) — do you have a review posted?


    Comment by ozob — March 19, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

    • If you want to paste parts of it here, go ahead. Unfortunately not many people will see it here.

      What kind of problems is pattern language supposed to help solve? Is it just an algorithm for arranging thoughts? If so, is it supposed to be easier to understand for a general audience, or mostly for other people familiar with pattern language? And, is the terminology a scaffolding to be removed (edited out) after the drafting, or is it supposed to be part of the published version? Of course that last part might be on a spectrum, some taken out, some left in.

      Or maybe the explicit pattern language version is for one audience, while a version without pattern jargon could be for a more general audience.

      I haven’t posted anything about “Sweet Spot”, just wrote a bunch of notes in a notebook. My basic entrepreneurial idea is that, just as direct retail agriculture is already generating its own production and distribution systems separate from the industrial systems, so a revived regionally-adapted non-industrial seed sector will also need to generate a new and separate system, since the existing one is economically brutal for the seed growers. But so far I have only the vaguest ideas on how to do this.

      Comment by Russ — March 20, 2014 @ 2:52 am

  5. also, as i’m getting feedback, practically speaking, version control rears its head as an issue 😛 (esp. wrt to ensuring that best changes get implemented into the latest version)

    Comment by ozob — March 19, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

    • If you’re doing this as part of a formal group, won’t you eventually formally vote to approve a final version?

      Comment by Russ — March 20, 2014 @ 2:53 am

  6. yes, but until then i don’t want to complicate *my* editing process or unnecessarily duplicate work (e.g., someone editing a section that someone else had already improved along the lines of what they were thinking)

    do you have my email from this? i don’t want to post it publicly (mostly b/c of spambots) but i can send you the draft PDF. i have no problem w/you posting and maintaining a version of the document or otherwise using it in the course of your existing work to theoretize and promote the movement. share and share alike 🙂 i’ll have a public draft ready by sometime next weekend, i think…

    re: pattern language, it is a non-linear system of elements that each exist separately and together as solutions to various (originally, design-oriented) problems or challenges. thus, it is flexible and context-dependent. since there really isn’t a cohesive “liberatory field” yet, Dave suggested it might be more of an ordered “pattern set” that could hopefully develop into / help create an actual pattern language (developed and used by actual practitioners).

    re: your idea…i like the way you are thinking. my business is directly a part of the former, “direct retail agriculture generating its own production and distribution systems separate from the industrial systems.” Mission: we use farm-fresh fermented foods to research, develop and implement best practices in appropriate nutritional technologies and processes for the purpose of enhancing community food security and food sovereignty.

    the economic and legal brutalities you mention (e.g., patent lawsuits, etc shutting down seed banks?)…i think you can extend your aforementioned analogy on alternative systems development even mroe specifically to include ownership and marketing models that exploit loopholes in the pro-industry regulatory system. for example: CSA members technically own the produce before it ever gets to their door. the farmer doesn’t “sell” them anything, and thus is not theoretically subject to the same pro-industry regulatatory constraints of retail operations (we’ve had confirmation of this from our Dept of Ag). while raw milk is “illegal” to “purchase,” people buy “cow shares” all the time do what they please with what they already own (their share of the production). the farmer simply has to label their grass-fed, small-scale word-of-mouth operation as “unfit for human consumption” or the like (ha!). so what would this same ownership / production / distribution model look like for regional seed ownership, production and distribution?

    Comment by ozob — March 20, 2014 @ 4:07 am

    • I’m in a rush for a day or two right now, so I’ll respond when I have time, in a few days.

      Comment by Russ — March 21, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

      • I’ll need more time to read all this, but just from skimming their post I gather that Owens and Livingston:

        1. Are engaged in bourgeois quibbling about what is and isn’t “constitutional”, what does and doesn’t derive from the Declaration of Independence in some sense a duly certified law professor would agree with, etc.

        I, of course, care nothing about any piece of paper, but only about what’s effective toward anti-corporate abolitionism. The fact is that none of these documents has any consistent meaning at all, except to antiquarians talking about what they meant at a particular time in a particular context hundreds of years ago. Anyone who claims to think the Declaration of Independence, for example, has any ineffable “nature” other than what the people of a time are willing to fight to make it mean is a liar or an ahistorical moron. (I’m not sure which of those a system academic is more likely to be.) But the only way these documents matter to modern abolitionists is in how they can help attain the abolitionist mission.

        Of course, these liberal scribblers agree with me. Throughout the piece they repeatedly assert that what’s “constitutional” isn’t anything stable, anything based on principle, but is merely whatever the bourgeois courts say it is.

        So there’s our basic conflict over what is or isn’t constitutional: We say that this can only be decided through political struggle. They say it’s a purely elitist determination and decree. And there we see the basic difference between democratic philosophy and liberalism, which is inherently hierarchical, authoritarian, elitist.

        2. They seem to have basically liberal-reformist objections to a more anarchistic philosophy. That’s irrelevant since the anti-corporate movement is, of necessity, both ideologically and on a practical level, anti-liberal. That’s because liberalism is inherently pro-capitalist and pro-centralization, and also because it’s a proven failure at everything except helping to increase corporate power.

        They also engaged in smear tactics, fraudulently seeking to conflate explicitly anti-corporate movements with, for example, racist “states’ rights” movements. This demonstrates their bad faith and their conceptual idiocy, since “states’ rights” makes no sense as a concept, while community sovereignty obviously does, since it comes much closer to humanity’s natural political and economic state, as well as being in much closer accord with the principle, paid lip service to even by today’s statist/corporatist tyrannies, that sovereignty can repose only in the people themselves, and that political power can only be conditionally delegated to any kind of hierarchy.

        By now we know that these hierarchies, and the political philosophies which sought to justify them, including liberalism, were always frauds which have not improved the happiness, prosperity, and freedom of the people. At most they were able to use the age of cheap oil to build mass middle classes in the West. Here isn’t the place to debate whether or not this Western middle class existence is the highest utopia humanity can aspire to, the way liberals would have it. (I’d say the record shows that middle class existence, even where it was temporarily stable, didn’t seem to make people happier, and in many ways left them less content.) But I will stress the fact that as we reach the end of the Oil Age, this middle class is being ruthlessly liquidated, and the system is clearly headed back, as fast as it thinks it can politically get away with, to pre-fossil fuel form of economic tyranny: Some kind of feudalism or slave society which will be much worse than even the medieval variety.

        There’s no disputing this basic trend toward increasing corporate domination and the destruction of the economic middle class as well as the Bill of Rights-based system of civil rights/liberties. All this is inherent to the system. Today liberalism, as an ideology and as a set of political prescriptions, is a massive scam meant to help this corporate domination plan along. That’s the basic aspect of the term “neoliberalism”: Liberal terms, concepts, forms like representative government, etc., have been completely harnessed to the goal of shifting all real power and control to corporate bureaucracies while maintaining nominal government as corporate welfare bagman, thug, and the impresario of circus “elections” and “representation”. I defy anyone to give me an example of any significant government initiative of recent decades which transcends those three basic categories.

        (Obamacare, for example, is really a corporate bailout and a poll tax. It has no public weal character, but is a combination of corporate welfare conveyance (its main proximate goal was to bail out the financially beleaguered health insurance sector; from there it’s simply meant to keep this worthless corporate sector in profitable existence), political circus (it poses as a big public-interest program), with a thug element as well (the poll tax is meant to help force people who are trying to break free of the corporate cash economy back into it).)

        3. I see how they’re the types who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a “troll”. But as I said in point (2), they themselves are technically trolls in that they’re pretending to be making a critique of participatory democracy and natural real economies, based on some alleged common ground, when really there is no common ground between anarchism/mutualism/positive democracy and centralizing corporatist bourgeois liberalism. There’s no substantive common ground, just some vague alleged affinity of ideals. But as we’ve seen, liberalism has been nothing but the ongoing betrayal of these ideals, and is a definitively proven failure and/or treachery.

        I will agree with one strategic point. My understanding of the CELDF strategy is that it seeks to use the concepts and rhetorical forms of constitutionalism and the first stage of the American Revolution in an innovative and tactically effective way, to help organize modern anti-corporatism and rational economic tendencies toward building a coherent movement. But so far it seems pretty vague on what the next steps are, once organizations dedicated to fighting for these ordinances have been brought into existence.

        But the Owens/Livingston hatchet job clearly has no goal other than as typical liberal gatekeeping. They’re trying to distract attention from the complete failure of their own scam and discourage people from taking up new ideas and new forms of activism and organization.

        I especially like their horror at the prospect of communities fighting to resist interstate highways or fracking pipelines. And you always gotta love when so-called “leftists” take up the canned Frank Luntz term “patchwork”. Luntz called this one of his “words that work”, and we see how this term has indeed worked, to the point that it’s now a staple of alleged “left” discourse as well, wherever our pseudo-radicals are opposing the people’s really trying to fight back at the community level, which is after all the natural level of human existence. Because liberals and authoritarian leftists have no such human basis for their existence, but are only synthetic products of mass society, they could never understand this kind of humanism.

        (“Conservatism” is another part of the overall corporate propaganda scam, but in this case we’re concerned with a liberal and/or radical chicist attack, so I focused on that.)

        Comment by Russ — March 26, 2014 @ 3:45 am

    • I look forward to seeing the draft. I’m just catching up on the latest from Oregon and New Mexico. If you’re going to publicly post it soon I’ll wait for that, otherwise I’ll send you an e-mail.

      I’d like to hear more about the farm-fermented food business. When I mentioned the economic brutalities, I was thinking of the economic structure of the sector, where the GMO cartel squeezes the whole production line, and each subsequent company has to further squeeze its own suppliers, to the point that the primary growers are practically unviable. I’m assuming:

      1. Agroecological variety breeding and seed production can’t proceed under this same system.

      2. But there does exist a viable alternative, if we can figure it out.

      But of course the more direct depredations you mention are also part of the problem.

      Similarly, for me the main problems the Community Food sector must solve are economic ones, in particular how to build CF input and processing infrastructure. But I’ve also thought a lot about the political problems you describe. I’ve argued vehemently at David Gumpert’s blog that the movement needs political organization for mutual support, political publicity, and where necessary civil disobedience. I’ve argued that it’s primarily the customers who will need to organize this way. The Raw Milk Freedom Riders are one example of what we need to do on a vastly greater scale. Evasion ideas like cow shares may be temporary helps, but I doubt those can be the lasting form of the solution. As we’ve seen in Wisconsin and elsewhere, the system intends to “solve” the cowshare problem in its own way.

      Unfortunately I was just talking to the wall at Gumpert, where everyone is of the type which has a visceral aversion to actually getting together to fight what everyone agrees is the enemy. They just want to hang separately, as Ben Franklin put it.

      Comment by Russ — March 27, 2014 @ 4:55 am

      • Hi Russ 🙂 You also need to check in on Colorado and their CR statewide Referendum that elevates corporate rights over Corporate “rights” and also overturns State, federal, and trade agreement preemption. I just posted a bunch of stuff about this over at the Benton FB page today.

        By the way, I got here from a link that ozob posted to our Oregon CR network in an email. The world is getting smaller and far more connected in this work. Pretty amazing stuff linkages being made!

        Comment by Dana Allen — March 28, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

      • Hi Dana. I saw the stuff you posted on the Colorado amendment. It’s a great idea, though I didn’t understand why a procedural delay is preventing them from gathering signatures. Amazing linkages indeed!

        Comment by Russ — March 29, 2014 @ 6:25 am

  7. Thank you for taking no quarter with them. It is refreshing and wonderful to read someone holding ground against co-optation, or even taking ground back. I appreciate that. And I like the term “liberal gate keeping.” It is a wonderfully succinct description of elitist, egotistical, oppressive, apologetic and patronizing behavior.

    RE: the FAQ, I got news it would be a few more days I’m waiting on feedback. I’m also eager to get yours as well. Contact me if you get impatient, otherwise I’lll be in touch.

    I think “loopholes” such as “cow shares” are a good intermediate liberation strategy as well as a good economic development strategy. I’ve been building a generalized business model on the idea. The more people who get screwed over by the system attempting to “close the loopholes” the greater the popular resistance will be, and when that time comes, we need to have legal (e.g., CR) and economic alternatives ready. I think people who have direct relationships with their food and food systems often understand what’s at stake.

    If your posts are any indicator of the content of your character, I would hang with you any day!

    Comment by ozob — March 28, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

    • Hi ozob 🙂 As you can see from my comment to Russ above, we are all in the same CR club here. Russ is a member of the Benton FB page and I’ve been posting some of his relevant stuff over there and he also chimes in with some really good comments to various postings. I invite you to join us and become a member of our FB page. Multiple OR CR groups have members there along with people that don’t yet get this CR work but are learning as we share all kinds of info. It’s slow going, but if we just keep putting the info out there many people finally get it. Maybe you can get a conversation going about pattern language. We really need some help with framing the oppositions talking points as we get into campaign mode.

      Comment by Dana Allen — March 28, 2014 @ 11:00 pm

    • I just turned that comment into a post.

      I have the same idea as you about people being taught by the system’s persecution that we can’t appease them and can’t seek a compromise. One of the many reasons we cannot “coexist” with GMOs, too.

      That in turn is the same idea which was borne out by the history of the 19th century Populist movement. The movement lecturers described how the Farmers’ Alliance co-ops were being systematically embargoed by the banks and suppliers, not because the co-op business fundamentals were bad, but because the existing finance system wanted to destroy them, since they were building an alternative to farmer indenture to the banks and furnishing merchants. This hard-knocks education in turn taught the farmers that they couldn’t hope to better their position within the existing system, but would need to achieve radical change. This led them to adopt the greenbacker platform and demand the subtreasury plan.

      We need a similar movement-building process today, though a big advantage today’s direct retail farmers have over the commodity cotton farmers who formed the base of the Populist movement is that they were stuck with trying to reform the commodity system upon which they were dependent, while we only need to break free of it.

      I’d hang with you guys. 🙂 I look forward to reading the FAQ.

      Comment by Russ — March 29, 2014 @ 6:34 am

  8. Dana — thanks for reaching out! This is ethan — my dad called me “ozob” because it’s “bozo” spelled backwards. Dunno, ask him. I’m not on facebook, but Nancy and Caiti just got the Marion Co chapter page up and running: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marion-County-Community-Rights-Chapter/441912649276753, so y’all should get linked up! Yeah, I loved Russ’ 3rd party insightful comments.

    we’ll get a website in the next few weeks, working on a FAQ and our own draft declaration. so we’ll have plenty of material to populate it. slow, maybe. steady, probably. unstoppable, definitely!

    Comment by ozob — March 28, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

  9. fyi, Russ — sent you the FAQ via email (I think…). in other news, we’re considering a food bill of rights over here…Dana made some pretty convincing strategic arguments

    Comment by ozob — April 16, 2014 @ 11:38 am

    • Thanks Ethan, I got it. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet – fiendishly busy last several days. But I’ll read it within the next few days and give you any feedback I have.

      Comment by Russ — April 16, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

  10. Cool, no worries — take your time if you have other priorities. I just wanted to make sure we were in fact connecting 🙂

    Comment by ozob — April 16, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

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