Upcoming Speakers and Events!

Where and When: Our guest speaker forum meets from 2-3pm on Sundays before the regular Alternative Banking meeting whenever we can schedule good speakers. We meet in room 409 of the International Affairs Building of Columbia University at 420 W. 118th Street (& Amsterdam Ave).

November 22nd, 2015. Please join us to watch a documentary Je ne suis pas Charlie. Film Shows Chilling Climate for Muslims in Post-Hebdo France. (The link above is to Glenn Greenwald’s article about it.)

January 10th, 2016. We are excited to announce that John Krinsky will be our speaker. He is associate professor of political science at the City College of New York, with an interest in labor and community organizing in New York. He specializes in urban politics, the politics of social movements, and the politics of work, welfare and labor. New York City faces a rental housing crisis, with homelessness at record levels, more than a million households spending over 30% of their incomes on rent, and the number of apartments renting for $1,000 or less plunging fast. The city has an opportunity to manage this catastrophe, argues John Krinsky, by reviving a policy it pioneered in the “dark days” after the 1974 fiscal crisis: that of taking control of tax-delinquent property neglected by private owners and transferring it to nonprofit managers who will keep it permanently affordable.

NEW: OWS Film Club

As addition to our Speaker Series, please come and join us to watch films that address occupy issues. Once three months or so in the spot of a speaker, we will watch a film and have a discussion afterwards. Looking forward to seeing you there. Also, please provide your suggestions about what films we should watch Alt.Banking.OWS@gmail.com

Date Pending. Citizen Four

December 6th, 2015. Merchants of Doubt

The dates are subject to change. Please check the site for updates. Suggest speakers, join our e-mail list, or otherwise contact us at Alt.Banking.OWS@gmail.com


November 15th, 2015. Crypto-Socialism? What’s next? Please join us in the conversation with Dmitri Kosten about Bitcoin, blockchain technology and its potential impact on the society. There’s a lot of excitement about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. We hear about startups, investments, meetups, and even buying pizza with Bitcoin. Optimists claim that Bitcoin will fundamentally alter payments, economics, and even politics around the world. Pessimists claim Bitcoin is inherently broken and will suffer an inevitable and spectacular collapse.

October 18th, 2015. From 2-3pm please please join us in conversation with the daughter of the victim Susie Johnson of an illegitimate foreclosure speak about how it happened, her efforts to get justice and an upcoming action to protest it.  See the event page for the action.

October 11th, 2015. Please join us in conversation with Gerald Adams who will talk to us about meditation practices. MEDITATION: OCCUPY THE FUTURE – OCCUPY YOUR MIND: Is meditation a practice that sees the world more clearly or is it a glorified cocoon? Can it assist those in political struggle, or only help those wanting to ‘Think Big and Grow Rich’? Lets examine.

September 13th, 2015. Please join us in conversation with Nick Levis who will fill us in on the goings on in Greece. There’s an election scheduled for Sept. 20th. Nick Levis will talk about the remarkable developments over the summer with the Troika assault, the popular response to the referendum, the new form of financial war, the government capitulation and the new kind of colonialism that has been established in Greece.


July 26th, 2015. Please join us in conversation with Elly Spicer to learn about why apprenticeship is being rediscovered as a promising alternative to the traditional college route (which so often merely brings indebtedness and few new job opportunities). .Elly  was most recently the Director of the NYC Carpenter’s Labor Technical College,which trains approximately 1200 apprentices each year, both in class, and by working with the Carpenters’ unions to assign them to  “on the job” training where signatory contractors pay them a respectable apprentice wage, and contribute towards their health insurance among other benefits.

June 28th, 2015. Anna Bernasek and D.T. Mongan will join us to discuss their new book “All You Can Pay: How Companies Use Your Data to Empty Our Wallets Data giants know everything about us before we enter stores or open our browsers. We may think that the Internet lets us find the best deals, but the extensive information companies have about us means that the price we see tends toward the maximum they know we can pay. In a momentous shift, the economics of information will turn our economy on its head.

June 21st, 2015. Please join us in conversation with Sumumba Sobukwe – the founder and co-creator of Occu-Evolve, which is currently the longest running and last organized and active groups within the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Among a few topics, Sumumba Sobukwe will discuss the future of Occupy Wall Street and why poor and working class people tend not to join the movement.

May 24th, 2015. We are super excited to welcome our speaker Audrey Sasson from Wal-Mart Free NYC, which is a coalition of concerned workers and residents, small business owners, community leaders, clergy, and elected officials. Walmart Free NYC is committed to increasing economic opportunities, preserving local businesses, and bringing more and better jobs to communities across New York. For up to date information please check Wal-Mart Free Facebook page.

May 17th, 2015. The Alt Banking Group will be holding our regular meeting at a new location in Red Hook this Sunday. The kind folks of BrooklynPlans have offered us the use of their space at 351 Van Brunt St. The meeting, from 3-5pm, is open to all! Please come.

May 10th, 2015. Data privacy and government surveillance have been one of the topics we have discussed at our meetings. A few days ago the Senate Republicans introduced a bill to continue the NSA’s authority to collect U.S. telephone records. To sort all these complicated issues, we are excited to announce that Julia Angwin –  a senior reporter at ProPublica and the author of Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance – will be our speaker.

(Our own Cathy O’Neil wrote a review of Julia Angwin’s book).

May 3rd, 2015. Please join us in the conversation about life of homeless people with Scott Hutchins, who has lived in the New York City homeless shelter system since 2012.

April 12th, 2015. In the effort to understand the complex and fascinating Real Eastate Market of NYC, we are excited to announce that Tom Adams will join us to lead a discussion on the issue. In addition, there might be more news about the recent NYCHA’s lease program.

March 15th, 2015. Please join us to welcome Mickey Paoletta – the author of  the book “The Deconstruction, Banking and Money Dynamics”. He will talk about debt, inflation and law vs. the public.

March 8th , 2015 Please join us for the first US screening of Who’s saving whom? At first the threatened economies were being rescued and then whole countries were being bailed out since 2008. Politicians are juggling with increasingly new multi-billion rescue packages, while people are again working for starvation wages in Europe. There are many rescue packages but there is no salvation in sight. The documentary film „Who is saving whom“ shows the truth about who is saved: It was never about saving the Greeks, or the Spanish or the Portuguese. It was always about the principal earners of these crises: the banks that contributed with high-risk speculations. We, the taxpayers and socially disadvantaged, are expected to put up with these massive billion euro risks. For the big banks the financial crisis is mainly a business model.

February 22nd, 2015. Argentina and the Vultures: For nearly a decade, Argentina has been embroiled in a fierce legal battle with a group of holdout creditors widely known as “vulture funds.” Multiple US courts have ruled that Argentina must pay the vultures or not pay any of its creditors at all, yet whether these courts will be able to force a foreign sovereign to obey them is still an open question. Our guest speaker Sophista is a researcher working on the case, and will speak to us about the history of the vulture strategy and why these rulings have raised criticism from mainstream financiers, the US executive branch, and foreign governments alike. Please join us.

February 15th, 2015. Our speaker is Jonathan McMillan – the author of The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution. The book explains why a financial system without banking is both desirable and possible in the digital age. The first part of the book presents the functions and the mechanics of traditional banking. It discusses how a delicate balance of government guarantees and banking regulation kept the flaws of banking under control in the industrial age. The second part explains how the digital revolution unsettled this balance. The rise of shadow banking is explained, and it is shown how an unsustainable boom in the shadow banking sector led to a banking panic: the financial crisis of 2007-08. The third part shows that the digital revolution has played a dual role. Information technology not only undermined the effectiveness of current banking regulation, but it also rendered banking redundant. An innovative blueprint for a modern financial system is presented and the implications of the end of banking are discussed.

February 8th, 2015. Please join us to welcome Katya Cohen – the author of The American Spellbounda tale of Wall Street excess. The central figure of the book is Vika Stakhanova who has everything figured out. “You’re either on Wall Street or you are a bum and there’s nothing in between,” she reasons. She’s an exemplary, abiding, thoroughly institutionalized member of the American corporate world. Vika does not have any friends; she has acquaintances. She does not have ideals; she has a comfortable niche. She does not have interests. She’s consumed by her pursuit of the “game.” Whatever personality she once had has been cemented and thrown into the river, mafia-style, away from sight. On Wall Street, personality is bad for business. Her usual MO is snark and derision – de rigueur qualities of a cynical and weary Manhattan dweller…

The financial collapse didn’t just destroy the way of life for millions of ordinary Americans, it also destroyed our carefully built narratives about hard work, merit and fairness. What does hard work mean? What are we working hard toward? When Vika asks herself those questions, in a rare moment of clarity, she panics. What happens when we come face-to-face with such dilemma and realize that our old mental arrangements just don’t work anymore?

February 1st, 2015. We will have two presentations this Sunday.
Please join us to welcome Michael D. White (an attorney, urban planner and former government public finance and development official) and Carolyn McIntyre. They will talk about how Citizens Defending Libraries came about, what it’s done, what it hopes to accomplish and how folks can get involved. Much more information can be seen in this post and on the Citizens Defending Libraries site.

Also on Feb. 1, this one from 4-5 pm, Nick Levis will fill us in on the goings on in Greece. As you probably know, a left-wing, anti-austerity coalition called Syriza just won the election and formed a government.


January 25th, 2015. Please join us and Tamir Rosenblum to talk about the non-union developer-Goldman Sachs-HPD-Mayoral coalition that is behind current NYCHA’s lease program. As we understand public bonds are going to enable the sale of  900 NYCHA units to the worst non-union developers, on what appears to basically be a no-risk deal for the developers (public money is going to pay for the difference between the NYCHA rent-rates and market rates). The labor record of these developers is just abysmal, and by making public housing essentially private, more likely it will allow these guys to use their regular, utterly exploited undocumented immigrant workforce to do the renovation work without prevailing wage obligations applying.

January 18th, 2015. Interested in how you can invest in local businesses? We have a great speaker on the subject: Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a globally recognized expert on community economics. He is one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the “J.O.B.S. Act,” signed into law by President Obama in April 2012. Shuman is currently Director of Community Portals for Mission Markets and a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and Post-Carbon Institute. He’s also a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is also an adjunct instructor in community economic development for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

December 21st, 2014 Please join us in the conversation with Fog Of War (not his real name) about taxes. The US tax code is more than 6600 pages long. It is super complicated. Needless to say, we won’t be able to cover it all, but will try to get a better understanding of certain parts of it. For example, deductions. What if mortgage interest deduction would disappear? How would it effect households and construction industry? (Just a note: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not allow mortgage interest deduction and still have same incidence of home ownership). Is it a good idea to have a flat tax rate for individuals and corporations? If you have questions about taxes, please prepare them for the tax expert.

December 14th, 2014Laura Hanna and Hannah Appel, of Strike Debt & the Debt Collective, will join us to talk about their ongoing work.

December 7th, 2014. Chris Rose – the founder and Executive Director of REAP (Renewable Energy Alaska Project) – will share his experience and ideas on how to start and implement renewable energy projects.

After working as a fundraiser for various non-profit public interest groups around the United States he received his law degree in 1990 from the University of Oregon, with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. For over 10 years his private practice in Alaska included representation of Native Alaskans from Northwest Arctic villages and the mediation of a variety of disputes around the state..

November 30th, 2014.The three concepts of Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG)  are intimately linked to the concept of Responsible Investment (RI). RI began as a niche investment area, serving the needs of those who wished to invest but wanted to do so within ethically defined parameters. In recent years it has become a much larger proportion of the investment market. Interested in Responsible Investment (sometimes called) Impact Investment? Please join us in the conversation with Auros Harman of  HIP Investor (HIP = Human Impact + Profit). We also will touch on how to identify leading indicators of financial performance in the ESG frame work and how we, regular folks, can make an impact in the investment sector.

November 9th, 2014. The Internet of Money? Many people are excited about Bitcoin or, more generally, digital currencies and other applications of blockchain technology. Josh Snodgrass will discuss why people are excited about this, how digital currencies work, where they now stand and what the future could look like – both good and bad.

For a good introduction to Bitcoin, you can take this short online course.

October 26th, 2014 Please join us to discuss the latest development in the muni bond market with Tom Sgouros, who is a freelance public policy analyst, engineer, and writer. He makes his home in Rhode Island, an ideal laboratory for studying the effects on the local economy of poor public policy and broken finance markets. In 1991 he became a banking analyst in a hurry upon the onset of Rhode Island’s very own banking crisis. Since then, he has consulted to dozens of elected officials, candidates, and activists, in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California, Vermont, and elsewhere around the country, about public finance, banking, tax policy, and sustainable economic development. His latest book is Checking the Banks.


October 19th, 2014 We invited Columbia students Sam Lutzker and Sammy Schwartz, who were involved in the Summer for Respect project, to talk to us about their experience of organizing Walmart workers.


September 14th, 2014
Doug HenwoodWe are excited that Doug Henwood will visit. He is the author of Wall Street: How it Works and for Whom and hosts the weekly radio show Behind the News.
Please join us.


August 24, 2014
Best-selling British author Nafeez Ahmed will speak on Mass Surveillance and the Crisis of Civilization: The inevitable collapse of the old paradigm and the potential for the rise of the new. The international security scholar and investigative journalist writes for The Guardian on the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises . As advance reading for this talk, we recommend browsing through his Guardian articles, including the widely read June 2014 piece, Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown”

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