Occupy Providence Day 5– Rain, Religion and the Clam

The unusually clement weather is beginning to break, a mild rain soaks the ground, the tents, the signs. One says, ‘As I am, so you can be Homeless’. This is a fear now gnawing at the edges of the middle class, but high rents and low wages have swelled the population of this park long before the occupation.

I see a Gadsen Flag– Don’t Tread on Me. No black flags of anarchy, the 2 Ron Paul posters still up have the words ‘Jim Crow’ scrawled on his forehead. A notice on the media tent reads–‘In cooperation with the Providence police please make tents 10′ from fence- form rows of tents.’

Most are inside those tents, the temperature dropping last night and the rain are the beginning of an endurance test.

In the center of the park, two women set up a Sukkot booth, and the metal frame is strung with branches, lights and handmade cards with messages of peace and hope.

I see a man stretching a tarp over some tents. He says his name is Phil. I mention the Sukkot and he says he is a born-again Christian through a conversion experience at a low point in his life. He is a contractor by trade and constructing a pretty good shelter out of a tarp and 2 pallets with some help from another occupier.

We get talking and discover that we both were in the occupation of the Seabrook Nuclear Plant in 1977. Phil was with the Maine group. We discuss the pros, the cons and the pitfalls of consensus decision-making. I tell him that I now suspect that some of the people who held up consensus and dragged out meetings were there to disrupt.

The occupation has so far been civil and cooperative with the City of Providence. Phil said that 2 women walked through yesterday, tourists from Moscow. They were also visited by the public safety commissioner. The occupiers are keeping it clean and orderly. It’s a public park, the usual people who hang out there are still there and anyone can walk through. No leaders but a kind of mutual cooperation.

Phil said that if the weather is good this weekend the park will fill up with people. Seems likely. The tents are still there and this diverse group is still holding together.

I’m late for work–got to go–more to follow.


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