Interested in the local Occupy Wall Street movement, and aren’t sure how to get involved? Well, you can always keep track of the latest activities on the local group’s Facebook cause or group page, or visit the group’s website. But the BEST way to get involved is to simply SHOW UP for an assembly, and the next one is this Thursday at 6pm, at Liberty Plaza. The group is rapidly getting more organized over the last few weeks, with the various committees – Direct Action, Education, Transportation, Press, Supplies, etc. – meeting regularly. More motivated, action-oriented individuals are always welcome, and if you’re frustrated with the policy paralysis of Washington, and the corporate capture of our government, there’s probably no better way to get together with like-minded people and start taking action. If it’s your first time attending an assembly, there are just a few things that might be helpful to know. First of all, you may be surprised at what kind of person is there. In spite of the media’s tendency to try to portray the movement as being run by the youthful fringe of the population, the Ann Arbor assemblies so far have been comprised of a nearly equal number of dedicated UM students and thirty-and-over citizens – some of them local professionals, some of them business owners, and some of them regular working people or grad students. There are also a few homeless people at the assemblies, but what do you expect? The assemblies are taking place right in their “home”! Another thing that’s important to understand is that assemblies are not run like board meetings or congressional sessions. No one slams a gavel at the beginning and dictates an agenda. The assemblies are self-governed, and use simple procedures utilizing hand gestures (as in the images below). As long as there is a confident and respectful facilitator guiding the group, this works remarkably well. It does however move things forward a little more slowly than you might like. But certainly not as slowly as CONGRESS, for instance, so maintain a little patience. Be prepared to commit more than an hour of your time if you want to absorb the whole assembly, but if you have less time, just INTRODUCE yourself. It’s mostly a very embracing crowd, and since there are no leaders, you’ll get the most accurate picture by talking to more than one person than you will by just talking to one individual, or simply observing. Below are the most common gestures being used worldwide for group communication. The exact implementation of the gestures may vary somewhat from group to group.
The images below were extracted from this original Occupy Wall St guide in PDF.