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Occupy Austin Housing Justice Workgroup Meeting

Lainie : July 23, 2012 12:48 am : End Homelessness, Events, Food Issues, Local Outreach, News

Occupy Austin Housing JusticeDear Friends:

The Occupy Austin Housing Justice Workgroup invite you to the first of our community planning meetings Thursday, July 26 at 6 PM near the pedestrian bridge on Riverside and Lamar, across the street from Taco Cabana. 

Those of you who are able are encouraged to bring food and water to share with those who are homeless and/or hungry, as we will be dining together outdoors to begin the meeting, and would like to also feed those who do not have access to affordable, healthy food.

These potluck style meetings will occur weekly in this same location. All are welcome – occupiers and non-occupiers alike. ***Please join us in support of those who are currently living in substandard, non-code compliant housing.***

Please feel free to suggest agenda items. Full agenda will be posted by Thursday morning.

♥ Lainie


From our Mission Statement (which is a work in progress, so please feel free to offer constructive feedback):

Our objectives: to assist both current and displaced residents of substandard and non-code compliant multi-family housing projects with food, clothing, childcare, and temporary shelter; to collaborate with and provide support to existing housing justice and tenant support organizations; and to train and empower tenants to speak out against unfair and discriminatory property management firms, to demand accountability from sub-standard property owners and petition city leaders to put ordinances in place to compel legal compliance by offending property mgmt. and owners.

Where you come in: By no means do we consider this statement representative of the “99%” nor of the thousands of Austinites living in substandard or unaffordable housing. In order to fully engage and empower those residents, we need your help. We need you to make every effort to step out of the digital world and into the reality of poverty and gentrification.

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PB&J Action!

Lainie : May 16, 2012 7:27 pm : End Homelessness, Events, Food Issues, Local Outreach, Spread the Word, Uncategorized, Welcome Wagon


Join members of Occupy Austin and other activist groups in sharing food, cigarettes, and mobile phone minutes with people who are currently homeless and/or hungry. We will also encourage them to share their stories, particularly their experiences with the Austin Police Department, in solidarity with the Peaceful Streets Project (

Thursday, May 17, 6:30 PM, meet up at Wooldridge Park

Please Bring:
Peanut butter
Knives for spreading pb&j
Recording equipment
Mobile phones that can be loaned

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Occupy Austin Joins Diverse Alliance in Austin

Corey Williams : February 14, 2012 2:27 am : Food Issues, Local Outreach

AUSTIN, TX, Feb. 13th, 2012 – Two weeks ago, a grassroots alliance of consumers, food manufacturers, politicians, public health and environmental organizations delivered a letter to the Austin City Council asking for swift passage of a resolution requiring labeling for genetically engineered foods within the Austin city limits.

The resolution would require foods which contain more than 0.9% genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to be clearly labeled similar to other nutritional labels currently required on packaged foods. A national survey conducted by MSNBC showed that 96% of over 45,000 people believe genetically modified foods should be labeled.

Austin-local chip manufacturer Beanitos strongly supports labeling of all GMO foods, and all of their products are Non-GMO Project verified. CEO Doug Foreman explains, “It’s simple really – you walk into any grocery store and can read a label to determine if your food contains gluten, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG . We want GMO food to be labeled so people can choose – and can make an informed decision about what they eat.”

“Our concern is the risk that these novel, genetically engineered proteins [GMOs] present to the health of all children, particularly those with food allergies,” says Robyn OʼBrien, a TEDx speaker, native Texan, author and founder of the Allergy Kids Foundation, “common popular foods in the United States contain chemicals and toxins that have been linked to alarming recent increases in food allergies, ADHD, cancer, and asthma in our children.”

The GMO corn made by Monsanto is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as an insecticide, yet Americans eat this “insecticide” present in 70% of all corn production in the USA. The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that 80% of food in most grocery stores contains genetically modified ingredients. GMOs have been shown to cause severe allergic reactions in humans, increase the number of allergies present in the environment, create antibiotic resistance in plants and humans, create immune suppression, and are linked to organ failure and even cancer.

In a recent example, an independent Canadian study found that a toxin from GE corn was present in the bloodstream of 93% of pregnant women, as well as in 80% of their fetal cord blood. The biotechnology industry and FDA claim these toxins are completely broken down by the human digestive system before entering the bloodstream, and the FDA supports their claim with both the lack of labeling and regulation.

On both sides of the aisle, experts agree that mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods is a prerequisite to providing a critical method for tracking the potential health effects of consuming genetically engineered foods.

Over 17 states across the nation have GMO labeling initiatives currently stalled “in committee.” Despite wide-spread political, business and voter support, stalling has been the most successful tactic used nationally to keep this issue silenced for over ten years. Swift action is the only acceptable response to over ten years of national in-action on this urgent health and safety issue.


Broad-based Support for GMO Labeling

These organizations and individuals are in favor of manufactures labeling products that contain GMOs:
+ Grocers: Whole Foods, Fresh Plus, Wheatsville Coop, Natural Grocers, Ingredients, SFC Farmer’s Market
+ Non-Profits: Allergy Kids Foundation, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Sustainable Food Center, Institute for Responsible Technology
+ Political Organizations: Texas Senator Kirk Watson, Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Texas Representative Donna Howard, Sierra Club (National and Texas Chapter), Austin City Council member Mike Martinez, Austin City Council candidate Laura Pressley, Austin Earth Day, Liberal Austin Democrats, Bastrop County Commissioners Court, Texas Nationalist Movement, Justice Party of Texas, Million Musician March for Peace
+ Food Producers: Earth Balance, Zico Coconut Water, Beanitos Bean Chips, Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms, Windsor Park Community Gardens, Austin Permaculture Collective
+ Health Practitioners: Natural Health Center of Texas, Excelon Health LLC, Austin Yoga
+ Parental & Faith Organizations: Central Texas ‘Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ Coalition, Occupy Austin Interfaith Working Group


City of Austin Council-members Current Positions on the GMO labeling issue:

Mike Martinez is the only council member to make a public statement in support of GMO labeling. Council member Martinez has a history of endorsing pro-farmer resolutions. However, his office has done nothing since January 31st, when Occupy Austin delivered their letter asking for him to address the issue.
Bill Spelman‘s office has begun legal research into municipal GMO labeling resolutions such as in Boulder, Colorado and over 40 cities across California. However, they have refused Occupy Austin’s offer to provide legal assistance on the issue.
Chris Riley‘s office acknowledged that they received Occupy Austin’s letter, but have taken no action and declined to make a public statement about GMO labeling.
Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison‘s office would not confirm that they received the letter and have not returned several phone calls over the last two weeks.

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Occupy Austin Asks City to Require Labeling for GMOs : February 2, 2012 11:44 am : Food Issues, News

Occupy Austin’s General Assembly asks that the Austin City Council immediately pass a resolution requiring labeling of all products sold within the city limits that contain more than 1% Genetically Modified Organisms. On January 28th, 2012, the Occupy Austin General Assembly passed a proposal to deliver a letter to the Austin City Council expressing their concerns about a disconnect between popular opinion in Austin and the current laws regarding the labeling of GMO’s.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that GMO crops were “substantially equivalent” to non-GM crops, allowing them to be introduced into the food chain without labeling and leaving consumers in the dark about what they’re eating. By last year, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, approximately 80% of conventional processed foods in the United States contained GMOs, making them hard to avoid. In 2002, the Texas Task Force on Genetically Modified Foods recommended GMO Labeling for all food sold in Texas. In the 10 years since this taskforce reported back, nothing has been done. No legislation on this issue has been passed, or even voted on, at the state or local level.

Despite its broad support across the community, the labeling of these ingredients has not received much attention in either the national media, or in Washington DC. Occupy Austin points to the direct collusion between Monsanto and the US Department of Agriculture, from the Reagan administration through the Obama administration. “Monsanto enjoys the same protections in the agriculture industry as Goldman Sachs enjoys in the Fed,” said David Cortez, Occupy Austin’s Bank Action organizer. Austin, Texas is home to Whole Foods Corporation, which has been very active in fighting federal resistance to programs that educate people about what they are eating.Over 100 local businesses are in favor of the labeling of GMO’s, including grocers such as Whole Foods, Wheatsville Coop, and the downtown Farmers’ Market, as well as non-profit and political organizations, food producers like Earth Balance and Zico Coconut Water, and health and parenting organizations like the Central Texas ‘Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ Coalition.

National surveys show that 93-96% of Americans agree on this issue. A national campaign for labeling, headed up by, secured a place on the California ballot for the 2012 election and is focusing on similar initiatives in other communities across the nation. Many countries, including Japan, Mexico, Russia, China and nearly every country in Europe currently require foods containing GMO’s to be labeled.

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