Is the Occupy Movement Dead, Alive, or Being Reborn?


Little Rock       The Occupy Little Rock (OLR) encampment is close to celebrating its 6-month anniversary and still ensconced firmly in their space near the Interstate and not far from the Clinton Library.  When my meetings are over today, I’ll drive by and see how they are making it.  I was part of a panel on a webinar the other night organized by Occupy Supply, the initiative of Jane Hamsher and the Firedoglake web-world, which raised over $200,000 to send physical support to Occupy encampments around the country during this period.  Most encampments may have been struck, but listening to the reports, Occupy Supply was still sending out ponchos and other gear for those that remained.  Listening to the reports on the state of the movement by Samantha Colon, a Buffalo Occupier now working with Firedoglake, OLR was claiming a victory in having pushed for a Veterans’ Day Center, recently won in Little Rock.  Their request to me was some pointers on how to build support and create more effective coalitions.  My email box is flooded with notes from all manner of folks talking about a 99% Spring and reviving the language of Occupy.  What’s really up?

Listening to the questions at the Occupy Supply webinar, it seems that in diverse locations like Monterrey, Buffalo, Little Rock, and elsewhere, Occupiers are trying to learn how to develop campaigns and then understand how their cities work, how to interact with them, and more than one of them mentioned lobbying.  There were 25 folks on the webinar, which occurs weekly.  Some like Occupy Pittsburgh were own to the hardest core handful of survivors, but still engaged to looking to concentrate in a particular area or issue and find help doing so.  In the belly of this beast there seems to be a desire to actually create something that looks, smells, and tastes more like an organization than the earlier movement and to hunker down and make something happen.  All of which is a very interesting, though difficult proposition, I would bet.

On the other hand the 99% Spring smells and sounds like the revival of the Occupy Movement, but seems more determined to recruit 100,000 volunteers in house meetings around the country to do something.  The something isn’t really clear despite the clarity of the call and reprising of the earlier excitement of the Occupy Movement.  I think it’s a safer bet that this is a gear up for the Obama election campaign and the energy that progressive organizations are trying to tape to revive their contribution to the election efforts.

Other Occupy activists seem to talk about having spent time building during the winter in hope that May Day and other events might revive the movement.  Good luck there, too!

In organizing the beginnings determine the ends.  It’s hard to retool from one formation to another, especially where a tactic, like the encampments and a unique process like the General Assembly consensus process, was so vivid, distinct, and powerful.

The Occupy Movement is clearly dead in its original sense, but there also seem to be legacies in various cities that may find fertile soil and grow towards the future, and other efforts, though wildly different, may shape a legacy in different directions in the future.