Occupy Sandy Efforts Highlight Need for Solidarity, Not Charity -
Understandably, residents were extremely grateful to receive any help they could get, but storm-ravaged communities weren’t the only recipients glad to see the sometimes-villainized occupiers. In a truly bizarre moment (especially to observers of the NYPD’s violent suppression of Occupy during its time at Zuccotti), FEMA and NYPD officers joined in chanting “We are unstoppable, another world is possible” with Occupy Sandy volunteers helping at Far Rockaway.
In Far Rockaway with Occupy Sandy -
After the woman took a hot meal and some toothpaste, I walked back down the hallway (really, I’m not afraid of the dark but I did find it eerie to be feeling my way in total darkness) and came into a lighted area where I saw a sign for the visiting nurse. I banged on the door, not expecting an answer, and was surprised when a nurse opened the door and introduced herself. She invited me to go with her to the ninth floor to check on a few residents.
As we walked up the stairwell illuminated only by her small flashlight, the nurse said she had worked in the towers, serving the 950 units there, for 25 years. She’d been on site for four days during and after the storm, she said. It became evident to me that, as is true of many community health nurses, this woman wore many hats: nurse, social worker, nutritionist, advocate. She banged on doors, announced herself, stepped inside to check on medications, heating, food and water, emotional status. She navigated the dark hallways with the confidence of someone who knew that so many depended on her.
Occupy Sandy is a coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources & volunteers to help neighborhoods and people affected by Hurricane Sandy. We are a coalition of people & organizations who are dedicated to implementing aid and establishing hubs for neighborhood resource distribution. Members of this coalition are from Occupy Wall Street, 350.org, recovers.org, InterOccupy.net and many individual volunteers.
Occupy's Afterlife -- A Dispatch from New York's Dark Zones -
Just after Thomas Frank declared Occupy dead, killed by its own fascination with process and language, I walked into St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park Friday and saw so many familiar faces from Zuccotti, not sitting around debating how to talk about the revolution, but doing hard, necessary, practical work to feed and clothe and support swathes of the city reeling from the Superstorm. The obituaries of Occupy had never seemed so completely wrong; not on May Day or September 17th when the streets again rang with protest.
The church basement was filled with volunteers standing around tables, some preparing food, some sorting donations and putting together boxes, like the Kitchen and Comfort stations from the best days at the park. All would be fed. All would be clothed. Except instead of waiting for those in need to arrive, curious, at the park and make their way past the cardboard protest signs to the heart of the occupation, these volunteers now were loading cars filled with precious gasoline to drive to Coney Island, to the Rockaways, to anywhere that people weren’t being cared for.
“It’s amazing how organized we are, it’s amazing how much so many people involved with the social movement have learned about themselves, about each other, about all of how, how to put these values into practice,” Michael Premo, one of the Occupy organizers in Sunset Park, told me.
AMAZING: Occupy Wall Street Leading Massive, Volunteer-Powered Recovery Efforts in New York -
They are thousands-strong and growing: entering devastated neighborhoods yet to see outside help from established aid organizations.
They are staffing donation drop off sites, running mobile food kitchens and delivering hot meals. They are distributing food and supplies to the stranded, locating trapped seniors, and aiding clean-up efforts.
In short, they are helping some of New York’s most vulnerable right now, and the work being done is simply breathtaking. And that work is growing by the hour.
Loosely organized under Occupy Sandy, Occupy activists have, in conjunction with 350.org and Recovers.org, created in very short order a massive, malleable volunteer network that is reaching untold numbers of New Yorkers still in the dark and cold.
They have established donation drop off sites in Rockaway, Coney Island, Staten Island, Chinatown, the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side, Harlem and all across Brooklyn.
And the volunteer opportunities, which you can find here and here, are just as intense as they are varied.
Lisa Sikorski, one of many activists coordinating supply distribution efforts, described their efforts:
“We’ve been getting tons of donations. This is all donations in here,” Sikorski said, pointing at tables. “We also gave away a ton yesterday. Stuff has gone out to the Rockaways, Sunset Park, Coney Island. There are people coming in with rolling carts, school communities have come up with truckloads of stuff and unloaded it. This is all community-driven donation right now, all of it.”
People beyond those being directly helped are beginning to notice Occupy’s incredible work. While snarky and backhanded, Bob Hardt of NY1 had this to say:
It’s a bad sign for the world that Occupy Wall Street and a Sikh group from Queens are doing a better job at distributing hot food than the largest international relief group in the world.
Now, make no mistake. The Red Cross and FEMA are operating shelters, food kitchens and distributing supplies as well. My point here is not to malign them.
My point? To shine a light on the incredible work Occupy activists are doing in locations where aid organizations have yet to lay roots. And to shine a light on the work they will continue to be doing, perhaps with your help.
You can volunteer here. or here.
#S17 digital story of Femforce actions at Birthday celebration of Occupy wall Street. See entire photoseton Flickr.
Colleen Begley, a medical marijuana defendant, is at Occupy Philly to change the “pot laws.”
[This image and the accompanying caption is from a group of photos taken by Elizabeth Bland for her series, “Awesome Women of Occupy Philly.”]
Whose Occupy? -
Already, the dominance of men has been established and the exclusionary agendas they consider important implemented. Though attempts to introduce “fetal rights” have so far been blocked around the country, Occupy Austin decided that since abortion is a “divisive” issue, it will not be part of any Statement of Principles or official action plans. Of course, no progressive woman would ever agree to that since reproductive rights are absolutely fundamental to our most basic human rights. But the men who have taken over the thinking, policy-making and agenda of the Occupy Movement have decided that, since reproductive rights don’t concern them, it’s a minor issue. More than that, their lifelong privilege as men gives them the certitude that they have the right to make decisions for those they consider less relevant, less valued to the Movement and the human race.
For women, whose marginalization always includes terrorized silencing through physical and sexual violence, and who have almost no training in fighting back, the choice is no choice at all: Either remain silent and remain with us or go off and do your own “little” thing far from the main movement. For women, whose dehumanization and objectification has always included being reduced to her reproductive body parts—body parts which she doesn’t even have the right to own, control or protect from assault—the choice is never hers. The decision as to whether the basic human rights unique only to women should even be on the agenda is left up to those whose privileged body parts make them uniquely protected from those human rights abuses.