November 28, 2012

Sandy remakes the Occupy movement

Sharon Lerner, American Prospect - Occupy Sandy has cooked and distributed between 10 and 15 thousand meals each day; enlisted more than 7,000 volunteers; created three major distribution hubs from which it dispatches both workers and supplies; and established dozens of recovery sites in New York and New Jersey. Perhaps most stunning, the group has raised more than $600,000 in cash for its efforts and received more than $700,000 in supplies donated through repurposed online wedding registries.

In a strange way, the storm has helped the Occupy movement, too, providing the insistently non-hierarchical, tech-savvy network of protestors with an opportunity to demonstrate the values it sometimes struggled to articulate during its Zuccotti Park chapter. When it was centered around inequality in broad, theoretical terms, OWS failed to connect with many of the “99 percent” it aimed to represent, particularly the kinds of folks who live in Gerritsen Beach, Staten Island and the other working class areas that are now ground zero for Occupy Sandy.

Post-storm, the occupy movement finds itself in a position many in these neighborhoods might find more palatable. “They’re channeling all their energy into something tangible,” says Susan Healey, a 54-year-old social worker from Bay Ridge who volunteers with the group but didn’t consider herself an “occupier” back in the Zuccotti days. Necessities and the ability to quickly dispatch volunteers to where they’re needed most are apparently worth a thousand banners.
The Occupy movement is also easier to understand in motion. During the encampment, OWS was standing against something—albeit something as widely disregarded as corporate greed. Now, the group is standing forsomething—or, rather, running, digging, cooking, cleaning, hoisting, and organizing for something—and much of the effort clearly stems from unassailable generosity and altruism. The good they’re doing seems to have answered any remaining questions about what Occupiers meant by standing up for the “99 percent.” It’s also a rebuke to those who dismissed occupiers as lazy, unemployed kids: Yes, many of the volunteers are young, pierced and tattooed, but, clearly, slackers they are not.

1 comment:

Uncle Goat said...

And this is proof that what is needed is action, not talks, not panels, not experts debating on the news about the best course, but on the street action. This same kind of action must be seen if people seriously want to stop the oil companies from pan frying the planet. It's all well and good to blog your thoughts, but we need boots on the ground.