Pulling up to the camp I yelled out the window,
“Where can I drop some supplies!” and was directed to the front entrance of the camp by a man with shiny dangling spoons hanging from his hat who I had met briefly by the food tent on the previous Monday night.
I pulled up the Ambulance, an 86 military Diesel which spent most of its life on the island of Grenada, into the middle of the bustling farmers market, and was able in just a few moments to muster a small volunteer group to help unload the truck; though, almost immediately after stopped a woman came over with two officers at her side, yelling about how I couldn’t park there,…
The officers directed me to Atlantic Avenue, a gravel road at the back of the camp, where the Occupy Boston General Assemblies are held.
As I pulled up the volunteer group was running to greet me; ready to help unload the 11×11 military command tent/library, as well as the old wooded cranberry crates full of books. which I took off the walls at the bookshop.
“Wait, what is all this?” One camper asked.
“The new library.”
“I think you are going to have talk to someone first.”
“Well, that’s fine, but help to carry this bag over beside the media tent.” I said, leaving my friend who drove up with me with the bags and bins as I went to park the truck.
I had done some observation the Monday night of the mass arrests in the Rose Kennedy green way, and felt that the best spot would be straddling the hill just off the wall of the building which raises up over the GA area.
A man who had been at the camp since it’s inception approached as I returned and after a only a few moments exchange I was setting up the tent just as the first drops began to fall from the sky.
The rain was torrential that night. A friend, missing the last train, stayed over on the floor of the new library, all the books still in boxes.
Midway through the night the tent flap was flung open as a few people were ushered in,… I spoke up, saying,
“Hey, we are sleeping in here.”
“i’m safety.” the gruff voice called back, continuing, “and they are sleeping in here too. It is pouring out here and I am not going to let anyone sleep in the rain.”
“I wont protest this, but understand that in the future this place is not going to be a sleeping space.”
“Well, what is it then? you are sleeping here. Ain’t you?”
“Tonight I am, but tomorrow this is going to be the library.”
“We already got a library.”
In the morning I began to set up the shelves, level out the slope, as well as start meeting members of the Radical reference, and Simmons Progressive Librarians guild. They would come off and on to help me arrange the shelves. Campers, and people who I would later learned didn’t stay, but came every day until late at night began offering any service they said they could.
News reporters began coming, college students, young, elementary though high-school field trips, as well as the NYTimes. When that story broke, the donations began coming faster, hundreds of books a day; and I began to suggest we open a free public library with the surplus, and the idea is gaining traction; while other’s have said they had similar ideas.
One of the better things about the Occupy movement is just that, that many people who have had similarly radical ideas are able to volley them off of each other in a manner of protest, which, while not entirely devoid of anger, I find is of more substance than your snarling chanting in the streets type of single serve protest we have grown used to at events like the Republican National convention, or the G20 summits; which could leave one feeling like an ice cube in the ocean, or as fleas on the back of some giant wretched dog,… Besides, the media would never do it justice.
“What is your one demand? If you had had to answer?” they all ask, every day.
I once answered this to my satisfaction to some online live interview, I felt, when I said, that,
“I think our goal was to occupy and hold public space so we can have the open discussions which have been kept from us by the media and our elected officials.”
“And, how long do you think you will stay here?”
“I am not prepared to put a timeline on my involvement with a movement which intends to awake the masses to their condition.”
“But, what about the sacrifice,…and your store.” They would ask.
“I prefer to look at it as an investment in the future.”
For now, to turn a blind eye to the happenings beginning to happen not just in lands far, but in smaller and smaller towns, all gaining numbers, the rolling drum call of, as yet, unchained populism.
There was a rally in Roxbury, Dudley square, which they called Occupy the Hood; it was electric, fuel by the passion of loss and experience; which at times the Boston Occupation understandably lacks.
The next evening I got my camera back from a friend who I had asked to hold it, until I felt more secure on site, but not in time to get pictures of a March through Fanual Hall and Quincy Market.
The day after we marched along the Charles River, to the Regatta, where there was a speak out; then, further, to Harvard Square, where again we spoke out, calling our fellow citizens to wake up to the conditions which have sprung up around them, then further to follow us back to the camp, or, if nothing more, that they ask us to answer anything further they may have otherwise been left to wonder about.
There are grad students, from Harvard to the lowliest and the never even been to school, who show up every night or never leave. A few people who would come into my store in the suburbs, live on site independently of anything I ever did or said. Scientists, who are in the lab all day, before coming back to mentally test ideas aloud with their peers until 3 in the morning; Community college professors, retired Military, a linguist who stays awake longer than any human I have ever seen, manning the news feed and translating; it feels like, here, at the cusp of evolution, we have the ability to tell our own story, and all this technology is being utilized for good instead of idle.
Noam Chomsky visited; I felt like the tingle of being alive like when I read him at 15.
Of course, the urban x-factor is there, and the media will spin whom or whatever story they can their way the second an incident or individual happens across the line into the park. Systems will certainly need to work themselves out, which, to be fair, are being deliberated on by the hour, which, will maybe one day be the rudiments of a new working civilization, one which seeks out individuals floundering, or not, with intent to foster their passion, facilitate motivation and interest, for the good of the movement, for the good of society, for the good of themselves; in solidarity with humanity.
A lot of them are people with zero outdoors experience, people marginalized by society, smart in the street or some specifically specialized way, but as yet the conceptual integration, of, to leave a place better than it was found, is still seeping in; though proposals have been, and are being made on the hour, appeals to those with experience, for if their is one thing which is shown deference in Dewey Square; it is idea.
I sleep with the radio channel on at night, the walkie talkie which was gifted to me at the end of my first week; calling out from time to time that the library is always on call; trying in my waking hours to spread the idea that some of all the work belongs to everyone and attempting to correct any hypocrisies in myself.
When word came over the wires that the Oakland police cracked down with almost lethal, if not at least wholly terrifying force, Boston was met with a somber morning, and a sunset march around the Commons, over to Fox news and the state house, then back to camp for an important GA.
At the GA that evening two people were called out for their frivolous spending, lack of transparency, and refusal to work within a consensus based decision making group.
I had attended the financial accountability working group meeting the morning before, day 5 of the incident which began when a man calling himself Paul Carnes, though he has another internet moniker, Paul Fetch, was interrogated by the group as to why he disappeared for several days, immediately after opening a bank account and pulling a certificate of Doing Business As with the city of Boston to use Occupy Boston as a means to cash checks written out to the group or solicit funds with the groups name.
I was personally insulted when I saw the list of receipts, including sole fast food ice cream sundays and military uniforms.
Paul stormed out of the office shortly after I asked him to reiterate, to the group, his stance,.. he said he didn’t trust every other member of the group, and was acting in unilateral decision making in regard to the donation generated funds, staunchly refusing to give up the bank account numbers, or change his name off the account.
When he left a proposal was drafted and unanimously voted on that any action undertaken by Paul was not sanctioned by the FAWG. When this was read at GA the stench of scandal was immediately let out of the bag, brought out in full light to the crowd; who later surrounded the info tent where Paul had locked himself, to conduct one on one interviews with anyone who had any questions, chanting,
“Shame, shame, shame.”
Yesterday I was interviewed by the Globe, for the Books section, they asked me the funniest, scariest, and weirdest things about being there,….the funniest, I said, was just in the way that the people interacted, like new old friends righting the world, civilized revolutionaries,… the scariest was the idea of how big and powerful the conglomerated control of industry, of money,and how out of control it had gotten,… the weirdest thing, was,… for this I walked her out back behind the library tent, and pointed to a few video camera’s which were aimed basically at my small marine combat tent, and told her, that I had to assume that someone on the other end was watching me.