Tag Archives: activism

A Walk Through Occupy Pittsburgh

18 Oct

It’s a ripe time for protest, friends.  And since I’m in my 20’s, live in a city, and have yet to experience the fiery passion of gathering around a cause, I decided to mosey on over to Occupy Pittsburgh this week, which set up camp this past Friday.  Pittsburgh is one of many cities to join the Occupy Wall Street movement, and since it’s right in my backyard, I didn’t have much of an excuse to ignore it.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday ya’ll.  Not sure what Lollipop Tuesday is? Check out the nifty link at the top.  It’s okay, take your time.  I’ll be here all year.  No really, I will.  I’m posting every day in 2011 cuz that’s how I roll.

But this is my first day posting about a protest, so let’s get to it.

I don’t really know how I feel about the whole Occupy Wall Street thing.   I appreciate the idea of gathering around a cause and I agree that our current system isn’t really working out for folks right now. But the idea of a protest that isn’t really protesting something, I don’t know – specific – is odd to me.  Let’s say everyone joins in and agrees – what then?  Is the plan to start coming up with solutions?  Because I thought that the whole idea is for folks to make demands.  It appears there has been a list released of a few things – albeit somewhat vague and not all measurable – and there has been quite a bit of media buzz surrounding the dichotomy between those protesters who want to move to goals and solutions and those who don’t deem either of those necessary.

I don’t know, I’m new to the whole thing.  So instead of getting all excited about it and going in there demanding that people start talking concretely about what they want, I decided to just go talk to people and see what it was like to be there.  I actually had a lot of questions – like what they do all day when they aren’t marching, meeting, or debating ideas.  I wondered where they got their food from and what the little micro society was like that they set up.

As it turns out, my questions were answered in pictures I took while walking through.  Well, those and by a lengthy discussion with two gentlemen named Earl and Johnathan, who were set up behind the food table, giving me the lay of the land.  You can read more about Pittsburgh’s version of the now-global m0vement/initiative/gathering/whatsit at OccupyPittsburgh.org.  Or if you’d rather just look at the pictures (it’s okay, no one can judge you), scroll away my friends.  Bask in the glory of my 5-year-old camera phone.

A view of the camp from 6th and Grant, downtown. It happens to be conveniently positioned in front of two prominent Pittsburgh companies: BNY Mellon, the target of a picket scheduled for the 17th, and UPMC, a 9 billion dollar Pittsburgh-based healthcare system.

It's a pretty muddy area they've staked out for themselves, which has been remedied by the creation of cardboard sidewalks.

Along the way, I ran into a fellow crafting a sign for himself. Cardboard seems to be the doer-of-all-things here. Hey, it's recyclable and found in abundance; I can dig it.

At the food tent, I found Earl (left) and Johnathan (right), who gave me the lay of the land and welcomed me warmly. Earl loves that he can have conversations with people of all ages, backgrounds, and political perspectives here. Johnathan is from Colorado and on his way to Occupy Wall Street. They both tell me of how readily everyone lends a hand, how all the food in front of them is free for the taking, and how people are just eager to talk to one another about ideas. "This", Earl says, "is true democracy".

Another cardboard creation, advertising the free food and encouraging donations. Baskets of cereal boxes, a plethora of bottled water, a bowl of fresh fruit, and other various foods littered the tent. People bring what they can and eat what they need. Later on I hear one gentleman tell another, "Yeah man! There's free food! I'm never leaving!"

Earl was pretty intent on me including these folks, who he says are mainly responsible for the food tent. Lauren (in the yellow hat), he notes is particularly organized and hardworking, making sure there is order in what may otherwise be a tent of delicious chaos.

A modest dry erase board propped up against a pole features agenda highlights.

On the way out (or in - I suppose it's a matter of perspective), a few tattered boxes lay to collect donations of various kinds.

To learn more about Occupy Pittsburgh, check out OccupyPittsburgh.org.  To learn more about the spot that spawned a global movement, check out OccupyWallSt.org

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