After Wall Street, Boston was one of the first sites in the spread of the #Occupy movement. A small group of activists and their friends took up residence in Dewey Square as a voice of the “99%” angry about corporate greed…and the slightly smaller percentage who are ready to upset their lives to do something about it.
This bold action touched something in the deep, dark recesses of the Parent Imperfect’s experience, and he was drawn to find out more. While he’s not likely to pitch a tent in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston any time soon, he has made his way down there four times, first as a curious gawker and then as someone delivering so material aid and engaged with whatever happened to be going on at the moment.
On the night he was packing for the recent trip to London, he received a text imploring him to call the Mayor’s 24-hour help line to protest about a plan for the police to evict the occupiers. He made the call and got someone who answered his query with, “That’s a lie…where are you calling from?” It turned out that the police did come in and arrest a group of people who had attempted to expand the encampment, and the action was on the news in London when he arrived. In fact, many people the PI spoke to in England thankfully were much more interested in talking about #Occupy Boston than the recent collapse of the Red Sox. How could they not care about childish millionaires chomping chicken and chugging chilly ones in the clubhouse?
Each time he went down to the #Occupy site, he tried to get the rest of the family to accompany him. He noticed that there were more children around Dewey Square each time he went down. Liz would have liked to go, but, it was difficult for both parents to go unless they could organize a family entourage. Vince seemed to know what was happening, but didn’t show a lot of interest. The last time the PI asked him, Vince said, “I can’t go right now, but you know that C. and his brother are organizing a National Day Out of School at BLS and some kids are going to that occupy thing…Can I do that?” The absolutely mischievous look on Vince’s face made the PI smile, but that didn’t stop Parenthood from suddenly overcoming the occupier in the PI.
On one beautiful night in early October, Connie agreed that she would like to accompany the PI and their neighbor to see what this thing was all about. Since she is not one for the TV news, she had heard about #Occupy, but didn’t really know what to expect. She was a little overwhelmed at first with the occupiers, some of whom were a little scary to her. As she and the PI took a walk around the encampment, a few young women with lots of tatoos and piercings spoke to her and it was suddenly a much more interesting place.
As she and her father were handing in some clothing donations that they had brought with (Connie got a kick out of the fact that someone immediately put on one of the jackets they brought), Connie became fixated on a scene near the next table. A young man had come up to a literature table thrown up by a local lefty group and begun asking people questions about what they were really doing. The man seemed to think that there were plenty of things wrong with the U.S., but didn’t see putting up tents in Dewey Square as the way to make anything change for the better. The debate became louder–but not really angrier–and a crowd gathered. A young guy who saw Connie trying to get a look, stepped back and let her get very close to the table. For at least ten minutes, she was transfixed, not even noticing that her father was quite a distance away from her.
By coincidence, Connie and the PI saw the man who had asked the questions on the Orange Line as they headed home. Connie recognized him before the PI did. That gave the PI the perfect opportunity to ask what had interested her about the conversation.
“I didn’t understand all that they were saying, but I liked how everyone listened to him and answered him back without getting angry. It was fun to watch.”
Between homework and the general over-scheduling of her life (piano, gymnastics, ballet and being a Junior Coach at school), it’s not easy to find a time when Connie and any other member of the family can get downtown to support #Occupy Boston. Connie, however, is ready to go again. The PI asked if she had talked about her trip to #Occupy with the kids at school.
“No…most of them wouldn’t really understand. They already think I’m weird enough.” Maybe that’s what the PI gets for sending to the Junior Coach potluck with organic cookies. No matter, the next trip to #Occupy Boston will be a family affair.