For the last month I haven’t really had any free time. And I am okay with that. It was my choice. I was looking for a way to plug into the Occupy Together Movement in a way that made sense for me. I chose to volunteer my free time because I agree 100% that our country and world is going in the wrong direction and as Howard Zinn said so eloquently, “you can’t be neutral on a moving train.”
I feel incredibly blessed to have a job I love that also allows me to have a roof over my head, food in my belly, health insurance, and the ability to begin paying off my student loans (abet on a 20 year plan with too much interest). I don’t take these things for granted. All people should have their basic needs met the way I do. But they don’t.
The Occupy Together Movement is seeking to both draw attention to and highlight sustainable solutions to the causes and systems that allow for 1% of the population to wield undue power and influence in world that everyone (all 100% of us) lives on together. It wasn’t feasible for me to camp out at an Occupy camp, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to do my part to strengthen and be a useful part of this movement. I started participating in marches and protests while trying to figure out my niche. Where could I be of use? The answer to that question came via two places.
The first answer started with an email on Monday morning from Jake Levitas, a friend that I had worked with a year ago on a community-minded art project called Tendervoice/Tendernoise. (Check it out, it is awesome.) Jake wanted to know if I I would like to get involved with a project he and a group of others had created over the weekend at the Occupy the Web hack-a-thon at the Hub. Of course I did. I was already bummed that I had missed the hack-a-thon, so here was my chance to get involved. The project was Occupy Design.
Occupy Design is a grassroots project connecting designers with on-the-ground demonstrators in the Occupy Together movement. The project’s goal is to create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language to unite the 99%. The project places an emphasis on producing infographics and icons to improve the communication of the movement’s messages and the data surrounding them across the world.
Now, a month later, I can say that I haven’t regretted that decision to be a part of Occupy Design for a second. From seeing a Occupy Design banner at the General Strike in Oakland to a partnership with GOOD magazine to generate infographics for the 99%, there have been incredible connections and moments throughout this past month. I have gotten to connect with architects that want to change the way we design buildings to web developers that build tools that allow all of us to make our voices heard. I can’t wait to see what comes next for this project and this movement.
The second answer to the question of “where is my niche” was #occupythedancefloor, which came about in another equally serendipitous way. The online team at RAN was talking about promoting REVEL, our big fundraiser, and I mentioned that I was going to “occupy the dancefloor,” which caused my co-workers to laugh and then tell me I should make that a meme. I sat on that idea for a week or two and then realized that yeah, it was a pretty damn good idea. Dancing is a joyful, non-violent way to express yourself. And as Emma Goldman said (or said something to the effect of), “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
#Occupythedancefloor is a project seeking to both inspire and provide tools for organizing dance parties as fund and awareness raising events for the Occupy Together Movement. The project’s goal is to reach out to the nightlife and dance communities across the globe and involve them in this paradigm-shifting movement through the universal language of dance.
I am a part of the above projects because I want to put my design and project management skills to good use. But that doesn’t mean you won’t also find me marching in the streets. It is going to take both behind-the-scenes work and non-violent direct action for true change to occur. No movement has ever changed anything without both.