Occupation is Participation

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Here are dispatches from a few.”>

A volunteer sets the open meeting schedule for working groups in Liberty Square. PHOTO: Mike Fleshman

Among the remarkable developments at Liberty Square have been the Working Groups, created by occupiers to forward the movement’s goals. In these groups ideas are exchanged, strategies are collectively shaped and the future of the occupation is being written. Here are dispatches from a few.


Since the best place to reach the 99% is on the subway — where 10 million New York commuters travel daily — Occupy Subways is turning New York City’s underground into a democratic platform. Elsewhere in the city, Outreach has helped general assemblies convene in the Bronx, Harlem and Brooklyn. Efforts will culminate in a day of service bringing Occupy Wall Street supporters into communities as volunteers.


Staffed 24 hours a day with 15 to 20 volunteers, the group ranges from nurses and doctors to street medics, herbalists, chiropractors, EMTs and acupuncturists. No one is turned away. “We practice the ethics of medicine,” said Pauly, 27, “meaning everyone will be treated no matter if they’re a police officer, active drug user or wearing a suit and tie. We run a city within a city.


Holding daily training sessions to assist occupiers navigating the choppy waters of public debate, the group “uses direct democracy and the facilitation process coupled with some inclusive radical concepts,” said Craig Stephens, 24. “Mediation in large groups is very hard but it’s very rewarding.”


The Food group, which began on Day 1 of the occupation, has received hundreds of donations from local farmers to sympathizers in Europe and Asia. “Yesterday we had a thousand people at dinner alone,” said Laura Gottesdiener, 24, and “we’re serving more than two thousand meals per day. Something we’re trying to fight against is the notion that, in this country, your socioeconomic status determines your health.” All are welcome and all are fed.

People of Color

Two weeks into the occupation, POC emerged in an effort to reach out to those who felt alienated by the movement. “Communities of color have historically been at the bottom of the 99%,” said Sharon, 23. “We wanted to make Occupy Wall Street more diverse in leadership, voice, perspective and participation, and a safer space for marginalized communities.” With about 250 members, it operates as a caucus with a variety of subcommittees that engage with other working groups.


Helping people acclimate to the realities of living and sleeping in a park, the group has distributed hundreds of donated blankets, sleeping bags, jackets and fresh pairs of socks. “We’re here for people’s comfort,” said Christine Rucker, 22, who has been occupying since week two. “If people forgot something, we’re here to provide those things. We’re family.”


Perhaps the most visible feature of Occupy Wall Street are the signs held up by occupiers conveying messages that get beamed around the world. “Graphic design is sometimes called ‘communication art,’” said Emily Schuch. “I hope this group can help foster communication between working groups and especially help Occupy Wall Street communicate to the world at large.” Working in print, web media and graphics, members of the design group have produced posters, infographics, banners, stickers, buttons…and anything else you can name.

This article was published in our third print issue on October 11, 2011.

This post is also available in: Spanish, Greek, Turkish

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  • Mikael Kallavuo

    Non-violent Self-defense Monitoring

    Why thousands of people can not better defend their non-violent mass meetings? Sometimes a small number – perhaps only four or five people – can “capture” a large demonstration. They can break a few windows or throw fuel bottle, which in turn can lead to extreme police retaliation.

    Violent clashes happens quite fast and afterwards it takes time to study, how violence was born and did the police use excessive force. Still there are nowadays a lot of good evidence material, many eyewitness with self-phone videos. With them it is possible show precisely the cause-effect relationships to violence.

    The cooperation monitoring can be quite easy to organize, if it will be done in advance.

    Shortly before the mass meeting the organizers could make a monitoring team and separate the areas of observation. The monitors can move in pairs. They could have a identical badge or patch, that to eyewitness could quickly report to them.

    Once established, such a monitoring system is likely to prevent violence. If there have been violence the organizers can very fast send to media a precise summary, with testimony and proofs.

    Mikael Kallavuo, Helsinki

    • wp1488

      Non-violent?! As of today, six people have died at Occupy movements. Explain that, hippie.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IWVV3IAAAQUGU77OCQV5W2CGMQ Invisible Hand

        Yes! Amanda needs to know, so she can explain it to her tea party (or Tea Party) friends. She is desperate to understand how non-violent people can die. It has her flummoxed. Riiggghhht.

        Is this someone who is, as I call them, ‘lazy-stupid?’ Doesn’t know, don’t know they don’t know, …or are just trying to muddy the discussion? Not really looking for explanations; just casting aspersions mixed with muddle-headed logic.

        Ignore persistent muddle-heads. They’re not trying to understand. And they’re up to no good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yasminecc Yasmine Cielo Chams

    Thank you. This is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

  • Cky590

    fuck you pussies

    • Bdfallah

      Thank you for showing us how much more desperately we must work to convince you to actually enter a discussion with us. We won’t let you down.

  • Cky590

    How about you think about this kind of shit like how much you will owe out of school before you go through with it quit fucking crying and make something out of yourselves.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IWVV3IAAAQUGU77OCQV5W2CGMQ Invisible Hand

      Soo….are you saying, think twice before you go to school because you will be indebted? Maybe, consider alternate courses?

      And, by ‘make something out of yourselves,’ …this one’s hard because that’s so vague…do you mean ‘get a job and get rich’, or ‘start a business and get rich’, or ‘start a movement and seize power and become a dictator’, or…’be like me, Cky590, and do what I did (whatever that is) and become what I am (whatever that is)…?

      ‘Thanks for the advice, Pops. And I’ll turn down the loud music while I’m at it.”

  • mtlAnonym

    A beautiful video in the same spirit on this article from Montreal: http://youtu.be/QF42ec7fFi0

  • Velveeta Heartbreak

    free art /posters / fliers – free to download and print

  • Ferd_Berfle

    “Occupation” by any other name is called squatting. You duds don’t know the meaning of adversity.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IWVV3IAAAQUGU77OCQV5W2CGMQ Invisible Hand

      And protesting is called ‘disturbing the peace.’ If that’s the rule book you choose to use.

      OK, ‘Ferd.’ (Love the pseudonym, BTW. From Laugh-In, I believe?) Come down and explain the meaning of adversity. And be sure to mind the billyclub-swinging riot police officer, who might put an abrupt end to your soliloquy.

  • Jcarrera

    Ya’ll are amazing! Grassroots participatory democracy at it finest. I have a bunch of clothing that I am donating to ya’ll when I head down next weekend!!

  • Bdfallah

    Thank you, Allison. This article is really helpful because it allows people outside of the Occupation, those who may not understand what it is or what it is about, to actually find a way to participate in it. Knowing that these working groups are functioning in such a powerful way, and that everyone, even those in an opposition mindset are encouraged to participate is exactly what we need.

  • mtlanon

    Occupy for the future. Please share this beautiful video from #OccupyMontreal :


  • Amanda

    Dear Allison, your article is a piece of shit. I hope your protest burns down. Say hi to the Neo-Nazis for me!

    Love, Amanda

    • Madelin

      Dear Amanda, stop being such “a piece of shit” and keep to yourself. Say hi to the 1% for me!

      Love, Madelin

  • Nono

    Barack Obama you are not president you are murderer and criminal and thief
    you are killing – usa – young men and innocents people just for stealing money and oil from arabic countries shame on you

  • Nono

    Barack Obama you are not president you are murderer and criminal and thief
    you are killing – usa – young men and innocents people just for stealing money and oil from arabic countries shame on you

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