The following is a report from your friendly, neighborhood Occupy For All (O4A):
Five members of O4A arrived at Occupy Lansing, coincidentally just after their General Assembly began. Despite our interruption we were welcomed with open arms into their gathering, and placed on stack in order to introduce ourselves at the end of the GA. There were a dozen or so participants, emanating support for one another, their camp and the movement as a whole.
GA discussion revolved around communications issues through use of Facebook and website development. There were concerns about possible website hackings, non-user friendly interfaces and Facebook’s bizarre habit of dropping posts that don’t receive traffic, but may contain essential information. This is a common problem for many Occupies, and O4A encouraged the use of our calendar of Occupy events on our wordpress site. Anyone is welcome to submit an event and it will be posted up for everyone to see!
There was also discussion about the winterization of the camp. There was talk of moving tents closer together, use of a large all-encompassing tarp, and use of polyurethane insulator foam. We also discussed some of the information and plans Occupy Flint has for winterization. Through mutual support and shared knowledge, we hope to aid in the development and maintenance of winter camps. Members of Occupy Lansing are already working toward developing a functional winter camp, but more support is always welcome.
The serious issue of violence was brought to the table, and we are grateful for Lansing’s openness in discussing the issue with us. Violence within camps is a matter of grave severity, and identifying ways of holding people accountable for their actions is a dialogue each Occupy will ultimately have. Occupy Lansing has a “Good Neighbor Policy” that has allowed them to maintain a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, but as was brought up during the discussion, there is a lack of an enforcement policy regarding the GNP. It was determined that the “Three Strikes” rule used for their General Assemblies would be applied for matters of violations of the GNP, and that the General Assembly would have to consense on the matter of an individual’s removal. The members of the General Assembly demonstrated great wisdom and care when discussing the matter, which underscores the importance of open and respectful assemblies, and facing the realities of communal camp living.
Discussion then moved on toward the Inter-Occupy Summit to be held at Occupy Lansing on Saturday December 3rd. A Direct Action is scheduled for noon, and the Summit Assembly for 7:00PM. A huge art project, a people’s mic march and karaoke are ideas for DA being contemplated by Occupy Lansing. What Lansing ultimately plans for the Summit promises to be a great time!
After the General Assembly concluded we met with Occupiers and got the low-down on the situation of the camp. Recently Lansing’s heaters were taken, their kitchen was shut down due to claimed health-code violations, and the fire marshals implied that use of their generators were not allowed. Despite these disruptions, the Occupiers told us that the police have been very supportive, and check in periodically for the camper’s safety. Crime has decreased in the area since the campers moved into Reutter’s park. We also discussed Mayor Virg Bernero’s next visit to camp. Apparently Mayor Bernero has been receiving a lot of heat regarding the camp – many want to see it shut down. But thus far Mr. Bernero has held firm and has been very supportive of the campers, and Occupy Lansing hopes he will re-visit them in the near future. We didn’t walk through much of the camp, but saw the closed-down kitchen, still filled with supplies and their un-used generator (still used for coffee-making!). Many tents there are empty, or are used by weekend campers, and many will be taken down as winter approaches. Currently the camp is spread out over a wide range, but has consolidated since the first trip up by O4A members a few weeks ago, and as winter approaches, things will probably become closer.
We left camp with many hugs and “see-you-soons!” and went with three OL members to Kelly’s, a near-by bar. While the conversation revolved mainly around Occupy, by the time we left it was realized that yes, even the most passionate Occupy person CAN in fact talk about something other than Occupy. An intense nerdgasm was had over X-Men comics, the Avengers and the Hobbit movies amongst other things patently “geeky” [author’s note: and awesome!]
Occupy Lansing has held strong and firm in the face of conflict both externally as well as internally. The members we met and spoke with were showed incredible dedication to their camp and cause, and we greatly look forward to seeing them again this Saturday for the Inter-Occupy Summit!