This week, I decided to head over to Occupy Wall Street and see for myself what was really going on down there. The images I had in my head were of chaos and wild hippis screaming and chanting in the streets of New York. I got off the subway at Wall Street and figured I be able to find the site by following the sounds of the uprising. However, it was oddly silent. If you decide to visit for yourself, when you get off the subway at Wall Street walk over to Broadway and head a little ways uptown (Occupy Wall Street is actually on Broadway…NEAR Wall Street).
The scene was nothing like I expected. It was almost like a camp ground with a mission. Myriad of tents are setup, as many people actually now live at Occupy Wall Street, and the organizers allow and encourage anyone to come live amongst them. Booths and tables exist, handing out information on issues like Hydraulic Fracturing (involves gas companies drilling through aquifiers and shale and pumping this now toxic substance into the water supply), social mobility, income disparity, homelessness, takes, employment rates, and more. Signs, pamphlets, newspapers, buttons, t-shirts, and more are given out at the tables, while singers and musicians put on performances around the area (I heard a beautiful acoustic rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”).
There is also a makeshift kitchen setup where anyone is welcome to enjoy free hot and cold meals as well as hot cocoa, coffee, and other beverages. They recruit volunteers to help setup, serve, and cleanup. Literally, anyone can volunteer or eat (they asked me, who was carrying a designer bag and had nice clothes on, if I wanted to stay and eat for free).
When I asked the table-ers what they hoped to accomplish with Occupy Wall Street, the answers were pretty in agreement. Some wanted a call for a constitution, many wanted a more organized protest and to occupy other parts of the state and country. Most just wanted to get people thinking, share knowledge, and get a message out to the public.
One Frenchman tabling about fracturing was completely honest. After finishing his speech on the toxic practice, he said, “Don’t believe what I’m telling you here. Think about it, and then go find the answer for yourself.” I liked that, a lot.
Don’t believe everything the media tells you on what is going on down there. Go check it out for yourself, if you can. If you can’t, here are some videos to give you an idea of what the scene is like: