Action or Attraction? We’ve heard about it. We’ve seen it. But who are they? What do they want? Three weeks in and I finally got around to checking it out. I headed down to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to learn what the media wasn’t telling us…
Heading over, I walked right past Zuccotti Park. I was kind of amazed on the lack of supporters. It was about 2:30pm on a Thursday (October 6th) and the park was definitely full, but the majority of people were photographers. I would say 70%. It was like a zoo, but instead of animals, youthful transients were on display for the world to see.
This was a bit unsettling. The park had great energy, but after walking through and through for two hours, observing, I sensed a strong community of confusion. The average park squatter was young and lost.
The first (officially unofficial) representative I spoke with was twenty-three. I won’t use his real name, so for now, he is Steve. Steve has been living in an “acid house” in Maryland for the past few months. He has been on his own since he was eighteen and traveling from place to place when the opportune ride popped up. Recently he called it quits at the party house and needed something new. Two weeks of hitchhiking (imagine!?) from Maryland to NYC, and he had finally made it to the Big Apple.
Steve had family on Long Island, so he got to stay with them for awhile. Soon he began to get a bit “stir crazy.” That was around the time Occupy Wall Street started. When Steve heard about it, he realized it was the beginning to his next chapter and his path had led him there (Whether you agree with the topic or not, that personal feeling of “everything happens for a reason” can be pretty awesome). So, September 18th he moved to the park.
Steve’s feeling is that the majority of his new community “all feel the same way.” That they are “meant to be [there].” Now the one key element missing for me, is none of them know why…
After hearing one conversation about “that time communist Reds killed students in that one square,” I began to question the quality of education amongst the protesters. Experience (travel, life, ect.) even seemed lacking. Mainly do to such a young “dazed and confused” majority. I even saw one guy doing whip its. I mean, Really?
The perfect phrase to describe Occupy Wall Street is, “winging-it,” and it seems to be working, but I don’t see any action yet. When I say action, I’m ignoring the fact of mass and focusing on achieving an aim. This is lacking. Good or bad, it’s not there yet.
What I saw was something different, yet inspiring. A self-sustaining community in the middle of a city. Strangerly love (made that word up) and understanding. A homeless shelter similar to that of tent cities. National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates 1.6 million homeless youths living (aged 13-17) in the U.S. That’s the Asian population of New York; you’ve been to Chinatown. It’s a large number. One of the main issues with these kids is that they have less social support than their housed counterparts. Without that support, increased risk for various mental disorders, including depression, conduct disorders, and substance abuse are highly probable. I find it to be a hidden experiment.
This is how I read the situation. It’s an example on how we have to look at Occupy Wall Street. It’s a conversation starter for all our problems. Observe, adapt, and solve. I’m all for it and it will be interesting to see what comes of it… after a few whip it’s of course.
Photos from Tomorrow’s Hangover.