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Print Lab

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Some Guiding Principles of the OWS Print Lab

  1. The primary function of our group is to generate prints, not money. We are not the souvenir stand of the occupation, nor are we manufacturing t-shirts for others to sell. We are not beholden to shareholders, boards of directors, bosses, or any other forces that might pressure us to maximize revenue. Alongside the occupiers at the park and across the globe, we print in order to contest the violence that these forces have enacted upon the 99%.
  2. We make prints. We make prints for people who build the movement with us. We make prints for people passing through, for people sleeping at the park, for working groups, for bankers, for teachers, for homeless people, for unemployed people, for mothers, for children, for anyone who wants a print and who values what we have to offer as a symbol of solidarity. These prints are not meant to enable people to consume the occupation the way one consumes a commodity. A print, no matter beautiful or authentic, is no substitute for participation.
  3. We will not be commerialized. We will not be financialized. We do not make prints for people who value these objects as a source of future money. In other words, please do not ‘flip’ this print the way bankers and speculators were flipping houses. That sort of speculative logic is at the heart of the financial crisis, at the heart of what we are all suffering through. We know that it is not possible to erase these tendencies, but we actively push them out of our lab. We do so by refusing to print for anyone who is clearly generating inventory for their own business, by making it clear that we do not support the resale of these items under any conditions. Selling these prints is a violation of our trust.
  4. We work. And we are making a business. We are enterprising. We are innovative. We are so many wonderful and productive things, but we are not working or innovating in order to make money. That means, we are not entrepreneurs. In a world where those who create the crisis get bailed out while the rest of us get budget cuts it can be hard to remember that social wealth exists all around us. With a little work we can generate all sorts of amazing things together, without having to be focused on generating profits. Yes the Print Lab is an asset, and yes it is even a business. But it is not THAT type of business, it is not THAT type of asset. These are difficult distinctions to make, and we have very few examples to help guide us in this experiment. What is a business whose primary goal is not to generate revenue? What is a business that prioritizes the people who make things together as much as the people who will use the products the business creates? What is a business that encourages every ‘customer’ to join us as a ‘producer’?
  5. Everything we produce is free. We accept donations, but donations are not mandatory. Donations are not simply another way of saying ‘price’. Our prints do not have prices. They are not commodities. This experiment does require resources: ink, shirts, mesh, emulsion, tape, squeegees. All these things cost money, at least when donations in kind are not available. We also know that the occupation spends a lot of money on necessary provisions, because we live in a world where access to money is necessary for survival. And for these reasons, we accept donations, all of which go into the OWS general fund, minus the small amount of money we take out for replenishing our printing materials. If you are making a donation, whether in labor, materials or money, THANK YOU. And if you walk away with something printed by the lab, please understand that you did not buy this print. It's probably worth repeating the first, and most important point: We are not in the business of selling. We are in the business of occupying.
  6. The print lab is not run by bosses or experts. Most of us working here know that - and have learned all we need to learn through skill sharing, problem solving, and collective good will. Anyone can join the print lab, so long as you come with good intentions. So long as you want to participate in this grand experiment, this demonstration that our collective labors can be organized in so many more wonderful affirming and brilliant ways than the system that we are fighting against, then we are happy to share this work with you.
  7. Everyone should know each others names. If you are working at the lab, make sure everyone knows your name and you know everyone’s name. Smile at each other. Get to know each other. Respect each other.
  8. Encourage new people to join in, share the skills that have been shared with you. Let the PrintLab proliferate.
  9. Don’t ever forget why we are out here working together. We are in the process of building a movement that wants more than a few extra crumbs, that wants more than a couple new regulations, a couple new taxes, a couple new jobs. We are building a movement that wants an entirely new world—and we need to be prepared to make that world, together.
  10. OCCUPY EVERYTHING!

(working draft as of November 7, 2011)

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