NEW YORK — Although the unseasonably warm weather has been favorable to Occupy Wall Street protesters who have set up shop in Zuccotti Park, the logistics and potential problems of living in a public space are not lost on the occupiers. Early concerns about basic needs and safety for the demonstrators quickly spawned a democratic system to provide resources for those on the ground who need them.
Colin Harris-Mctigue, a volunteer organizer and coordinator of the outreach program for Occupy Wall Street, has been frequenting the park (now deemed "Liberty Park" by protesters) since the movement's first day, on September 17.
"There was a loose conglomeration of people, and no one really had any idea of what was going on," Harris-Mctigue explained of the early days on the ground. Although there is no hierarchical system, groups began to form naturally. "The way [the outreach program] started was one day at 3 o'clock, we stood up and said, 'Does anyone want to join an outreach committee?' And that was the foundation. It was two people. And from there, we now have over 2,000 in our data list."
Among the makeshift facilities on site are a kitchen, a compost station, a medical center, a comfort station where blankets and clothes are donated, a translation service, a legal service, a press center, an information center, charging stations and a multimedia library. All of the on-site staff who work the centers are volunteer and all food and goods are made possible by donations.
The infrastructure established by the protesters is a reflection of their ideals: They are demonstrating effective community living and sharing.
"I don't want to speak for everyone, but I believe everyone here desires equality in the United States in one form or another," Harris-Mctigue said. "I think that's what everyone's different aspirations and issues boil down to — having a fair share of the pie. It's not all economic equality. It's racial equality, sexual equality and everything that you can imagine. That's what the '99 percent' means to me."
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