Occupy Wall Street NY2DC March, Walking through Morrisville, PA
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photo by rob kall
marchers are going to be walking over 200 miles from NYC to DC. I was out most of the day yesterday, marching about 4 miles with them, then driving, with my flashers on, at about 3 miles an hour for close to three hours, to give them light and safety, as they walked through Bucks County PA.
During the walk and after they settled in, in the evening, I talked with them about WHY they're doing the march. The stated reason is to show up in DC on the day that the "super committee" announces it's plans, which are expected to include maintaining the Bush tax cuts... and the marchers want them eliminated for the one percent. But another reason for the march was to share with locals the ways of the Occupy Wall Street, including horizontal democracy, as practiced in General Assemblies. So one goal was to hold general assemblies in public places, so others could see how they worked.
I started the day looking forward to meeting them at the Trenton NJ/Morrisville PA bridge at 9 AM. But we got word they'd arrived late to Occupy Trenton and were going to start late, arriving at 11 AM. At 11, the word was they were running even later. So I hopped onto the Occupy Trenton Live feed, clicking on NJ at Occupystream.com
. I could see a lot of activity, and within a minute or two, someone moved the camera so it showed people gathered in a circle, holding a General Assembly (GA.)
Screen Grab from NJ/Occupy Trenton livefeed. It was fun seeing my friend and Vietnam Vets against the war activist Bill Perry in the middle of the back of the image. He had a phone number I could call to find out what was going on, although I could easily hear the GA.
I coordinate with Bill so I'd know when they were getting close to the bridge, about 20 minutes from my place. He called AND Cathy Leary, one of the leaders of our local Coalition for Peace Action, also called to let me know I better get my ass in gear. I did. About five minutes after I arrived at the south side of the bridge, the marchers arrived.
I shot this video of the marchers crossing the bridge. They had great energy-- very joyous
I high-fived a batch of people, looking foreward to walking a few miles with them, not really expecting that over the course of the day I'd get to know and like a bunch of these young, dedicated activists-- from all over the country, all under 30.
I walked the first three or four miles with them, because I was able to set up "hop-scotching" to get back to my car.
Then I was going to aim for walking another three miles.
One of the first people I spoke to on the march was Owen,
who was walking with bare feet, which certainly grabbed
Owen is a soft-spoken art student, in his early twenties, from Baltimore.
photo by rob kall
I asked him why he was walking barefoot. He explained that he'd gone to "comfort" at Zuccotti Park, but the shoes he found hurt his feet. He was planning to make a pair of shoes when he got to Occupy Philly. He'd made some of his clothing and had made himself shoes before. Later I discovered that although he is very soft spoken, he's well respected by his fellow marchers and his quiet voice was given avid attention by his fellows.
Some of the marchers I talked to were planning on heading south-- to places like Richmond and New Orleans. It looks like there could be a pattern of migration to southern occupied territories as the winter sets in. And a number of the marchers had already been to a number of different occupied territories. The occupiers are moving around.
In the morning, there'd been no plan on where the Occupy Wall Street marchers would stay and there was no food lined up. We were afraid they'd have to camp out, unauthorized, in a right wing township, in a Republican controlled county, in a state park-- and it was getting pretty cold. By sunset, a Quaker meeting house in Bristol PA was welcoming them. I discovered this great news as my "hop-scotch" ride had dropped me back with the marchers. That meant a route change and we would no longer be marching up to where my car had been dropped. So we went back, got my car and, without further "hop-scotch" help, I started to take up the rear guard for the marchers, lighting their walk and raising their safety a bit, with my flashers going, since it had turned dark. Bill Perry was lighting the way at the front and his vehicle was loaded to overflowing with back-packs.
marching in darkness, through a section of levittown. photo by rob kall
the wagon, almost empty, early in the day, before another two feet worth
of back packs had been piled on it. photo by rob kall
At some point, I could tell the wagon they were pulling, which had gotten heavier and heavier, as more tired hikers piled their backbacks, signs, water bottles, etc. in it, was wearing out the folks pulling it. So We put it in the back of my car.There was still another mile to walk. With about a half mile to go, a few of the marchers stopped in to use a local diner's restroom facilities (most of the time they were using the woods-- men and women.) I got out of my car and grabbed a short but fun video. Spirits were a bit lower energy, but still high.
Video of a rest break, half a mile before the end of the day's march
Finally, cruising into Bristol, a quaint town on the Delaware, we finished the march at a Quaker Meeting hall build in 1711. It was warm and very welcome, after the previous night camped outside. Local peace activists and supporters and friends of the marchers cooked pasta, Turkey Chili, free-range beef meat sauce, pasta, lentils and brown rice, made a nice salad, brownies and some of us chipped in for eight pizza pies-- some cheese and some tomato, for the vegans on the march.
Around 11 PM a training on facilitation was started. I'd sat in on a similar training at Occupy Philly, but the process fascinates me, so I sat in on this one to. Having had some "skin in the game" as someone who had marched with them and helped them, for most of the day's march, I felt more comfortable, in this training, asking questions.
Part of my agenda was to flesh out my list of words that have emerged from the Occupy movement-- and my understanding of them.
Here's the list I created last night. Consider it a teaser. I WILL do a glossary, defining and explaining them soon, in another article.
Progressive stack: under-represented people speaking
Block moral, ethical or safety concern that could lead to leaving the movement
Horizontal decision making
Points of process
This movement is not only changing the nature of activism, it is creating a new language and way of operating and communicating.
It's not only words, but also hand signals.
Kelly demonstrates a block.
photo by rob kall
During the training, Kelly, the woman leading the training, mentioned the challenge of Agents Provocateur. Afterwards, I talked to her about them and then about the meaning of the march to her, since she and "Michael" had organized it. She talked about her concern that it was being "streamlined", meaning coopted from the harder edged activist vision it was created with so it would be more mainstream, more comfortable.
It was after 2 AM when I finally got home.
Today, I head to Occupy Philly, where I'll be documenting collection of food donations from merchants at the Reading Terminal, a few blocks from the Occupy Philly locale at Dilworth Plaza, at the foot of City Hall.