I know the police clashes make the news more often, but most days at #OccupyWallStreet look more like this.
I’m so full with the day I hardly know where to begin.
I went down to #OccupyWallStreet bright and early today because a friend was planning to propose to his girlfriend via the “People’s Mic” (that thing where one person talks and everybody nearby shouts it out to the people farther away), and I didn’t want to miss it.
I missed it anyway, because I was on the wrong end of the park unfortunately, but it happened and it was beautiful and somebody got video and put it on facebook, so I got to see it after the fact. She said yes 🙂
(Here’s the footage:)
In the meantime, while I was missing the proposal, I got to talk to some people who were there showing support from their Methodist church. They had communion prepared if anyone wanted it, and a sign that read “Jesus Was One of the 99%.” I found out a bit later that there are quite a few churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations represented. There was even a sukkah and several people walking around with cardboard badges that read “#OWS Chaplains.” They are available if anyone needs prayer, support, counsel, etc.
And they’re planning a demonstration together where they march a golden calf down Wall Street.
Then I got to sit in on an education discussion circle where people were discussing what the educational system needs. Most of them were teachers I think, and some administrators. There were many individual voices, but a lot of common ground. Everyone seemed to be listening well and cooperating with the guidelines of the process.
There was a really great bucket band playing at my end of the park.
Then I sat in on a free class/seminar on media issues. I missed the very beginning, but shortly after I sat down, there was a fact sheet passed around about how in 1980 there were 50 separate companies who ran the media in the US alone, and today there are only 6, worldwide. After that, the conversation focused on how that fact impacts our media, news, channels of information, etc. Again, everyone was listening and taking turns.
Of course, in any gathering this size, you always get at least one crazy. There was a guy walking around with a sign that read “Google Jewish Billionaires” (emphasis on the Jewish). The first time I saw him, there was a circle of people around him chanting “Stop the hate,” and the second time I saw him, he had developed a tail of three people carrying signs that read “#OWS Does Not Support Bigotry.”
I went wandering, trying in vain to find my friend who was supposed to be proposing (and probably had already by that point), and I talked with three very nice ladies from upstate and NH who were carrying signs that read “Grandmas Support #OccupyWallStreet.”
Then I wandered past some occupiers performing a silent dance piece. It was pretty cool.
There was also some scripted theater going on, topically relevant.
I figured out that I must have missed the proposal, and wandered over to where there was a circle of conversation going on.
It turned out to be a “think tank.” I always wanted to be part of a think tank. 🙂 Apparently they have an open-forum think tank every day (?) from 12-6, and anyone can join. We had a bunch of New Yorkers, quite a few who were only on their first or second visit, and one lady representing Gettysburg, PA.
It. Was. Awesome.
I didn’t even really sit down with the intention of sharing anything, I just wanted to hear what everyone else had to say, but as the discussion moved forward and people raised questions and concerns (our topic was campaign finance reform – not something I feel I’m an expert on), I found that I had some suggestions and ideas that I felt were worth speaking to the group.
To quote another occupier, I felt like Ralph with the conch.
It felt so good to contribute an idea that I did it again a few minutes later. There was someone taking notes throughout the whole meeting, writing down everyone’s comments, and our facilitator said that some nonprofits have volunteered to type up and aggregate the data and ideas they collect, for future use when the movement grows big enough. And people listened, and added dimension to my ideas, and identified drawbacks, and it was all so very civilized and intelligent and cooperative I nearly floated away!
If you haven’t gone to an #occupy event yet and participated, go, go, go! Who says you only get to do democracy during election cycles?! Ah, amazing. It was such a high.
We had some added excitement during the think tank meeting. Someone nearby called “Mic check!” (which is the signal for everyone to pay attention). The man then announced “MISSING CHILD!,” which was shouted out to the corners of the park, followed by a description of the child and her name. They found her within a minute I think. She had wandered off a little ways and was amusing herself at a different station. The woman sitting next to me in the think tank gave me a look and said, “Now that’s organization.”
Who says the occupation isn’t efficient?
And then, to top it off, I passed John Oliver interviewing someone on the sidewalk on my way out of the park.
For the first time in quite a while, I loved New York today.