October 20, 2011
By Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
Over the past few weeks, I have been invigorated and moved by the energy surrounding Occupy Wall Street and it’s offshoots across the nation. Yet, at the same time I’ve been faced with the tensions being articulated by so many folks on the Left: how can this energy be connected to and further long-standing organizing work for social and economic justice?
Here at Occupy NOLA, I have been excited about the potential of making these bridges through the project of the anti-racism working group. In less than two weeks, this working group has been developing a collective analysis and strategy that I think has the possibility of contributing towards long-term movement building.
From Difficult Moments to Moments of Promise
This is not to say this work has been easy. Many of these conversations are painful and difficult. At the second General Assembly (GA), a debate emerged regarding the use of the livestream at the GA. Since the initial planning meeting, Occupy NOLA had been posting photos and videos on Facebook without those in attendance’s permission. Myself alongside several others from the anti-racism working group raised the concern that having the entire area video taped led to the space not being safe or secure for a variety of folks: immigrants, trans folks, queer folks, etc. and offered the proposal that 1/3 of the space not be included in the livestream.
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October 10, 2011
By Amy Wolfe
In the past few days and for the first time in my life, I simultaneously lost and found my voice. I’ve never had laryngitis before. Usually it is hard to hear what I’m saying, because I’ve got a low, mumbly voice, and when I stand up in front of people and talk, I start blushing fast and my hands shake. Counter to this, I am also a very argumentative and opinionated person. The past few days, I’ve had occasion to do several things that scare me in front of a whole lot of people, and there’s something about having a raspy, scratchy, squeaky voice that has made it so much easier. Last night I told my roommates, “I feel tougher! Like, this is how I actually sound on the inside!”
And the past few days have felt like months. Occupy Wall Street is gathering supporters faster than anyone can believe, and here in New Orleans we’re just starting up. Today is Friday, October 7th, 2011, the eve of Yom Kippur. Five days ago was the first general meeting to start up Occupy NOLA. I knew something important must be going on, because it drew two hundred people to a sunny park at noon during a Saints game. Yesterday was the first march, and the beginning of the Occupation in Duncan Plaza, across from City Hall. This feels like déjà vu to a lot of us; in 2007, a group of people fighting for public housing and homeless rights occupied Duncan Plaza for about a year, before they were forcibly removed by the police. In that time, what began as maybe six tents, became three or four hundred people. The plaza is beautiful, in a very city-specific way. It has a huge gazebo in the middle, winding paths all around, and several rolling green hills. It is between the city hall, the large public library, and Tulane Avenue, all within the shadow of the locked and empty Charity Hospital, where all of New Orleans’ un-insured and under-insured got their healthcare, Pre-Katrina. The plaza is often full of all sorts of characters and law enforcement types, like most city parks that I’ve come to know in my life.
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