If you were to try to gauge the scale of the Ann Arbor Occupy movement by the small camp at Liberty Plaza or even by attending a few of the the first local group’s general assemblies, you would probably come away with an immensely inaccurate picture. First of all, although people seem to find it easy to belittle the small physical camp and hold it up as a symbol of the extent of the local activity, those would be the first two misperceptions. Though very small in number, the few dedicated campers that have maintained a presence don’t just sit in their tents, they have been extremely active in assisting with the impending homeless crisis in Ann Arbor, staging a small but successful benefit just last week at Hathaway’s Hideaway. And secondly, the vast majority of local Occupy activists decided early on that although a local presence is important, a better use of resources would be to support other camps, and instead focus on awareness-raising and specific actions. In the flurry of assemblies, committee meetings, and on-line dialogue that has taken place, one thing has become clear, and that is that with a movement like this, it takes a while for things to become clear! A truly accurate estimate of the number of people that have continued to take part in local activities is difficult to arrive at, simply because there are so many things going on. In any case, having attended a wide variety of assemblies and events, we would say a safe number would be perhaps 200-300 people. But those are just the more regular faces. The fact is that the organizing of groups like this is a continually evolving process, and in the case of Ann Arbor, a process that may have moved more slowly as individuals make the decision to either commit to the original NYCGA process, or adapt the method to better suit specific needs, or in some cases, eschew this method altogether. The amazing thing is that so far – in spite of some disagreements about specific organizational methods – there has been no serious “factionalizing”. You will see a surprisingly broad spectrum of people at each group’s meeting, and the same faces taking part in different groups. And you will repeatedly hear the terms “solidarity” and “autonomy” used side by side, as the groups make it clear that the essence of the movement is taking constructive action as one sees fit, and seeking consensus and support whenever it seems appropriate. Because of the rapid evolution of local organizing, we’ll soon be taking this site – OccupyAnnArbor.org – in a radically different direction, seeking to bridge the gap between full-time activists and “regular people” who want to get involved. If you have ideas and interest but haven’t found a fit, learn more HERE or contact us. In the meantime, below is a quick roundup of the local groups that have been shaping up. Let us know if we missed anyone!
|The largest group that meets regularly adheres to the NYC General Assembly method that guarantees all voices present have a chance to be heard. Connect and learn more at OccupyA2.org and Facebook.com/OccupyAnnArbor|
|A new group, Occupy For All stands in solidarity with occupations across Michigan to foster autonomous, consensus-based relations built on interdependence and mutual assistance. The central site is at OccupyForAll.org|
|These students in Ann Arbor stand in solidarity with the Occupy movement happening across the country. Visit Facebook.com/studentsoccupyannarbor|
|OccupyAnnArbor.org (you are here!) has been providing news and information about local actions since day one. If you’re interested in the local movement, but don’t have time for lengthy assemblies, we’re planning a new action group. Share your interest and input at OccupyAnnArbor.org/actionlab|