i’ve held off on writing about Occupy. so much has already been written.
finding Occupy is simple: kind people have written in the location on many of the city-erected, permanent placards that map the most common tourist destinations in lower manhattan. or, if you fail to see the Sharpie’d additions, there is always the sound of the drum circle.
zuccotti park is tiny — a mere 33,000 sq ft. burnside park in providence, for comparison, is a whopping 75,000 sq ft. zuccotti presently is wall-to-wall tents / tarps, with one-person-wide walking paths clearly maintained through the space. there is a comfort station, food prep area, and waste / disposal / grey water area at one side.
for anyone who has been part of a large-scale festival, social gathering – or for that matter non-US hostels – the set-up looks very familiar — large plastic tubs and storage bins used for both food storage, large-scale prep, and wash water. latex gloves were pervasive for all food handlers and clean-up crews.
while i was there, i saw 4 people attending to different in-park jobs — sweeping and mopping the paths, picking up litter, the like. 3 of the 4 wore their own personalized message placards duct-taped to their shoulders like large capes while they worked.
the ‘professionalism’ – for lack of better word – at the food, waste and comfort stations were evident. i hoped the visiting suits had the savvy to see past the cardboard and plastic and see the organization, attention to detail, exacting standards and efficiency.
there were occupy residents selling things and taking donations… humourously, it seemed that the chronic homeless were hands-down the best at making money. they had both a pitch and a confidence that the younger i-came-here-for-this-cause folks lacked.
getting TO the park was difficult — i estimated 3 tourists for every one occupant, and that may be a conservative estimate. the tourists were snapping pictures with the same distanced excitement as if photographing animals in an outdoor exhibit at a zoo. some *did* engage the Occupiers, tho i do not know what they were expecting to get from the exchanges.
i can understand some of the concern that ny city officials have about the gathering. tiny space; tightly packed. anything highly flammable could have tragic consequences. the mass of people pouring THRU the park increases the density and chaos, tho it was quite obvious from what i saw that it’s that very stream of tourists that have, so far, prevented serious action from being taken against the Occupiers. the physical dynamic was fascinating: Occupiers at the edge of the park, working while under constant probing from the tourists; the tourists who streamed by, snapping pictures, commenting; and then on the far side of the tourists, a line – i counted 12 – police officers, leaning up against the temporary barrier, watching the Occupiers ignore the tourists.
it was a weird culture sandwich, or an even weirder macro-organism — the thin outer police membrane edged against the ever-active tourist cytoplasm which undulated around and thru the zuccotti nucleus.
The full set is here.