What I've been doing during the Indy occupation's first week is what a lot of supporters have been doing: waiting to be told what they need. I know they speak for me, and I trust the people I know and have spoken to personally to be getting the issues discussed that I care about and considering solutions I'll find acceptable. What I didn't know was what I could possibly do to help. I contributed financially to the Wall Street Occupation because I know not everyone can. I offered at the medical tent at our kick-off rally to buy necessary supplies that hadn't been donated, because I was short on time but can financially do what a lot of them can't: pay for things.
Yesterday a friend told me that they needed notebooks and pens to take proper minutes at the meetings. I showed up with them, at the actual "let's be here round the clock" occupation for the first time, and asked to whom I should give them. Who's taking minutes?
Someone laughed and said, "You are!" I laughed and did it.
So that's how it worked. If you see a need and when you ask, it's not immediately apparent who is doing it, do it. I took minutes, and it felt great. I'm going back tonight specifically because I'm a good note-taker and I'll be able to get them posted online quickly. That will help keep the ground shifts and internet arms of the Indy occupation in communication with one another.
You can guess which of these made me feel like I was more a part of things.
Now, I can think of ways for us to make it easier for people to pitch in. We need to inventory our supplies, and if nobody has done that, I can do it tonight. That way we'll know what we have and what we still need. We need to streamline the way that the various working groups talk within the group and make the various discussions more orderly to follow than FB groups will allow, so I am hoping to help with a message board that gives each of our many working groups a subforum where their threads won't be dicked around by Facebook's scrolling format.
I have figured out how to find things to do, and my intended contribution is to spoonfeed those opportunities to people who haven't learned that yet. It's what I was waiting for someone to do for me at the start, which is my motivation to see that it's done for the next people.
BUT WHAT DO WE WANT?
There is still a lot of talk in the media right now about how the occupation movements are a fucking mysterious directionless mob that has no idea what it wants because they haven't presented a list of unified demands for everyone in it.
People who ask this are missing the point. I have been talking to people on Facebook who are confused that there's no bumper sticker statement that they can decide whether to sign onto or not. They want to know exactly what's been determined to be the priority of the movement before they go down and get involved. This is a reasonable desire, and it's the best idea when dealing with top-down sorts of organizations where priorities are announced and members can either sign on or join elsewhere.
That's not what this is, though.
If you want something specific and you aren't sure whether your local occupation is going to agree to push for it, then the solution is not to sit at home and wait to see what the attendees have decided.
For people who want a specific list of demands:
I can speak for many in my local General Assembly, I think, when I say that one reason a list of demands has not come out is that the specific things we want are enormous things like, "Stop letting corporate money influence elections." Rather than make that list and camp out until we get it, my General Assembly is talking about educating people about the problems in our electoral system, because frankly a lot of people do not even know yet.
How can we get people behind a list of demands if they:
A: Don't know the problem, and
B: Don't realize that decision-making could happen any other way than by having a list of options that all serve corporate interests more than our own?
We're teaching people about what money can do (and shouldn't do) in our country, and we're teaching them how direct democracy and consensus work.
I don't know what your General Assembly is doing, but if you don't like how they're handling themselves, I suggest you show up there to vote.