Occupy Evening Shift

Bearing Witness

Mr. Green and I stopped by this morning and heard that help would be needed to keep a peaceful presence at Burnside Park, when the Occupation would move to the State House.

What with one thing and another, I didn’t get Downtown until about 6pm, after the demonstration, and I decided to stay at the Park and find some useful thing to do.

Sometimes that useful thing is simply being there, which I’m good at so that’s what I did.

I stationed myself at the plywood booth and kept people company. I spent a long time talking to a woman who, in my nursing opinion, urgently needs preventive care and education now. She is one of the many underinsured. She pays a lot for catastrophic insurance but has a heavy co-pay for the medications and tests she needs, which sometimes makes that care unaffordable.

I felt a little like a mechanic, trying to convince someone that their engine will fail down the line if they don’t get their oil changed. And knowing that the driver is using every penny to fill the gas tank to drive to work. To earn the money to keep the car. The difference is that a car is replaceable and a human life is not.

So next time I stop by with coffee I’ll bring some information about health care options for that percent of the 99% that has no health care security.

What stays with me is the good cheer of the Occupiers even in biting cold and facing each day without any idea what the next 24 hours will bring.

People stopped by the booth, some Occupiers, (including one guy in a wheelchair who has been putting in effort that endurance athletes would respect), old people, young people, donators and hungry people.

A young couple showed up with a tin tray of felafel and hummus. We put them out and explained to people what those fried chick pea balls were and recommending the hummus if you wanted to really appreciate them. I came away with part of a large bag of spinach there was no way to cook in the Park, so I’ll have to invent an Occupy Rustic Urban Greens recipe.

Someone stopped by with gloves, much appreciated.

This week there was another report of a fire department that refused to put out a fire because the the homeowners had failed to pay a fee. I posted on this once before, and got a refutation from a firefighter who said he knew the details of the case, and who said that my post set off his PTSD. Is it possible that our Nation has fallen into such confusion that we are breaking the hearts of the most brave and dedicated of our citizens?

What is the American spirit? Is it the spirit of the bucket brigade, the barn raising, the men and women filling sandbags when the levees break? Or is it the spirit fear and scarcity? The politician who gets elected on promises of tax cuts? The politician who fuels resentment against the poor? Is it the spirit of the gated community–raising the walls and narrowing the gates, believing that resources are valuable and humans are cheap?

I was sitting in Burnside Park, and did not get to hear the Native American drum ceremony that was performed at the State House. The history of the Narragansetts has much to teach us about change, accommodation, justice and injustice. Who has the right to Occupy what is debatable.

We are here now, under a full moon in an unnatural December when the weather has just turned from a prolonged mild fall to winter.

In the cold, in tents, We the People are petitioning for justice. It’s hard to pin this down, without leader or slogan. 99% is a lot. This is the tipping point where the economic pain affects so many people that a cry for justice cannot be ignored.

It’s amazing that Occupy Providence prevails. What the Occupiers are doing is being there. Like Gandhi’s fasts, it gets to you. Day after day– they are there. They are there for all of us.

4 thoughts on “Occupy Evening Shift

  1. thanks Nancy for being there! and reporting to the rest of us.

    the belief that “resources are valuable and humans are cheap” is certainly one of the roots of our problems! great insight!

    1. thanks to them. every time I go there I’m struck by how pleasant, kind and determined the Occupiers are. Also by how many other people in the community stop by in support.

  2. Sounds like Occupy is a lot more than tents in the park. A lot of issues are being discussed and ideas shared. This could be the start of dialog that leads to some solutions, and puts pressure on those with the power to make changes. Thanks for documenting it!

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