Friday, August 3, 2012

What has Occupy done so far?

Post by Adam Odsess-Rubin, Artistic Intern

As I continue investigating Occupy Wall Street for The Civilians upcoming show at Joe’s Pub, Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy #S17, I am struck by how different the cultural landscape is post-Occupy.  Before coming to The Civilians, I helped start Occupy Santa Cruz in California, and acted as their first homeless liaison.  This is a difficult job in Santa Cruz, a city with thousands of homeless folks from all kinds of backgrounds.  I had to break up fights, negotiate with police, and even have people leave general assemblies, but the conversation around involving the homeless in Santa Cruz was always around inclusion and empowerment.  The first night of OSC, I slept in San Lorenzo park with a group of fellow University of California students, community members, and yes- homeless people.  We fed them dinner and gave them blankets and then shared stories from our lives until somewhere around two in the morning.  We took turns through the night keeping an eye out for Santa Cruz police, who went on to evict the campers in later months.

I didn’t know it then, but this was a part of a societal transformation happening across the country, and around the world. The game was changing, and for the first time in a long time people were coming together for social and economic justice for the people - the now infamous ‘99%.’

Thousands have been trained in consensus decision making, and even more have moved their money to credit unions.  The opportunity gap is now a common topic of conversation on the news, in The White House, and in living rooms all over the United States, and in July, activists helped defeat student loan interest rates from doubling to 6.8%.  There has been a lot of criticism that Occupy ever accomplished anything, but I say people just aren’t paying close enough attention. Here at The Civilians, I’ve interviewed union organizers, locked out Con Edison workers, students, librarians, and even a former Marine. Their common message: turn off the TV and get involved.  I saw hope in all of them, and for a few months in late 2011, my entire generation dared to hope too.  Occupy may be dwindling, but organizers continue to connect people online and in person, working towards what they believe to be a more just society. Nobody knows what will happen on the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, but I can tell you that something big is in the works.

At the OWS Library conducting interviews during the summer
- it was pretty warm in there!

On The Civilians front, we have an amazing show planned for September 17th.  On top of the performance of interviews and songs from the movement, we are organizing theaters, schools, and activist groups from across the country to join us and curate their own night of Occupy performances simultaneously to ours.  We already have schools and theaters signed up from Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon and the list expands every day.  We hope you’ll spread the word about this exciting new project and join us on the 17th! Visit the Occupy Your Mind web page for more info about how to put your own performance together and email me at for more info. And watch videos of past performances on our Tumblr HERE!

Get tickets to Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy #S17 by clicking HERE!

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