Wide Awake and Ready: The Occupy Movement Set to Kick Off a New Season

The burst of exhilarating energy and national attention around Occupy Wall Street (OWS) faded by December but the arduous work persisted throughout the winter. OWS activists have been obsessively preparing for an inspiring and effective year. With weekly marches to Wall Street, an ongoing occupation at Union Square, and a sleep-in action in front of the New York Stock Exchange, OWS in NYC has shown the public what the media tried to hide: we are still here, and we are not leaving. In addition to all these activities, Occupy Wall Street organizers have been working on movement building projects that have yet to emerge.This Saturday, OWS and people from throughout New York City will converge on Central Park. The event, “Spring Awakening 2012: Occupy New York City People’s Assembly” (#A14), driven by OWS organizers, will likely develop as a new invigoration of the OWS movement. While the park occupations, direct actions, and many other types of work that came out of Liberty Plaza continue to grow, many organizers have also began to shift focus toward creating connections with other networks, merging efforts, and strengthening existing relationships. There are two main constituents that the Spring Awakening 2012 is aimed at. First, there is significant focus on effectively bringing new people into the movement by connecting them in a way that suits their needs. Second, we hope to create relationships between seasoned organizers from, both inside OWS and other organizations, in a way that fosters collaboration on existing work efforts. With long-term, lasting, and fruitful relationships being the goal, this event could be a good indicator of the next phase of OWS.

A planning group of over one hundred activists choose April 14 for specific reasons. Energizing events in early spring will pull us out of a long and hard winter where the movement had some degree of disarray and where many have felt defeated. It is designed to propel us into the spring and summer where the work that everyone has done over the last 4 months will begin to manifest, for example, the citywide May Day actions. The group also chose Central Park because the mission of the day and the process to achieve it necessitates having people invested and involved from all over the city. As the movement grows, it is more and more important to have an increasing number of people and a diversity of voices involved in planning. Central Park is a central location for people from all boroughs to converge.

The earlier part of the day will be an open space format with blanketing, teach-ins, performances, and activities. The purpose of this is to celebrate our work and accomplishments, to bring positive energy and reinvigorate people, and to welcome newcomers and help plug them in to existing organizing work. For example, parents may find it difficult to participate in OWS because of overwhelming family responsibilities and safety concerns regarding bringing their children to events. However, parents are among the most concerned citizens because they are trying to shape a better world for their children.

“As parents, we are naturally focused on creating a better future for our children. For me personally, it is important to show my children how to participate in democracy and understand the process. And as my 10 year old is fond to point out, we are here to provide a voice for those that do not have one,” says Myra Kuo Territo, an Organizer with Parents Occupying Wall Street (POWS).  To mitigate fears of parents who are reluctant to participate in activism, Ms. Territo explains that POWS is hosting a teach-in, “discussing how to safely protest with children. Like a yellow balloon campaign so that people and police recognize there are children in actions. Recognizing signs of danger and creating escape plans.”

Spring Awakening organizers will keep all participants informed about activities using an open space system that they constructed in collaboration with Not An Alternative, Occupy Town Square, and other open space experts. It works by listing all activities on a “commons board” that denotes the time of the activity and a letter. Flags with matching letters will be posted throughout the space so participants can see where they need to go to find the event they are interested in. Additionally, all participants can receive constant updates by texting “@SpringAwakening2012” to 23559.

This open space format will continue throughout the day, however at 3pm, an assembly will also convene for those interested in more structured organizing and work commitments. At the assembly, organizers and activists will submit campaigns, projects, and initiatives. Participants will then form clusters, or groups, based on these submissions and collectively plan a strategy around them. They will also form commitments to the cluster with the goal of collectively working toward creating change in that area. Essentially, everyone will combine efforts to accomplish greater goals.

This is one step toward a greater coalescence of people working toward social and economic justice, but it is a crucial one. Occupy Wall Street has shown us that we have a common enemy. Whatever issues you’re passionate about, the oppressive economic structure plays a significant role. #A14 is about merging and strengthening collective efforts, with OWS and other groups who have been doing this work for a long time. Simran Sachdev, an OWS organizer who has been working on this event, said, “so many organizations have spent years working on the issues that OWS is passionate about. Forming greater unity amongst the 99 percent, by increasing collaboration between such groups, is crucial for our success. The Spring Awakening 2012 is a big step in that direction. I’m looking forward to the long-term accomplishments to come out of the event!”

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One thought on “Wide Awake and Ready: The Occupy Movement Set to Kick Off a New Season

  1. Pingback: Blog Post by Colby Hopkins, looking toward #A14 « Spring Awakening 2012

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