Friday, November 02, 2012
Occupy organization skills come to aid of Sandy neighborhoods
“I’m Lisa Cowan. I’m on the board of the Red Hook Initiative. I think Occupy Sandy people, who are alumni of Occupy Wall Street, sent out the word that we needed food. And so, this is sort of a combination of residents, volunteers. It’s one of the only places in the neighborhood that retained electricity during the storm, so we open our door, in part, because nobody could get any information. Nobody could plug in their phones. So we’re here for just—we opened up our plugs to the community. People started pouring in.
My name is Amelia, and I just responded to a call online through an Occupy website that they needed volunteers down here today.”
by Larry Geller
Occupy Wall Street clearly knows a thing or two about organization, and those skills are proving valuable in coordinating assistance to areas of New York City where government agencies have not yet begun to help.
This is clearly evident from the Occupy Sandy website that features several ways to stay in contact, including a mechanism to receive SMS text bulletins, and of course Facebook, Twitter and email. The website helps coordinate activities down to the neighborhood level.
(The pull-quote above is excerpted from the transcript of Democracy Now coverage of the flood-devastated Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Remarkably, Democracy Now has continued to operate even though their studios have been without electricity since the storm.)
[Conor Tomas] Reed and others have been volunteering in Red Hook since Sandy hit, mostly organized via "Occupy Sandy," a now burgeoning offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, websites like Recovers.org, a social hub for organizing volunteers online, and word of mouth.
Occupy Sandy volunteers aim to help smaller communities, where government relief organizations may not have arrived, Reed said.
"Occupy has gone from general protest work to now direct community support," Reed said. "What we're trying to do is build communities, not just charity."
[Huffington Post, Occupy Sandy, Occupy Wall Street Offshoot, Amasses New York Volunteers, 11/1/2012]
Reading about Occupy efforts in New York City made me realize that the movement represents real change, though the media would prefer to ignore it and politicians and their corporate sponsors hate it. Participating in or supporting grassroots movements such as Occupy is one way that anyone can help change the course of this country.
It also reminded me of something that Bob Fass said on Radio Unnamable (now in its 50th year on WBAI in New York City): “The least effective way to effect change is through the voting process.” I think this is very timely, with elections just a few days away. Forget these politicians. If we want change, we better get busy doing it ourselves. Occupy is demonstrating that leadership can be learned and exercised by ordinary people, and without the influence of huge banks and corporations.