And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
-Hunter Thompson, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
I still remember the energy of the Occupy movement, which started in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan on September 17, 2011. It took a couple days to register in my online telemetry, but by the evening of September 19 I was sitting at home jaws agape at the live video streams coming from the actions in New York, and then elsewhere. Recall the upheaval of Spain and Greece under the post-2008 crash austerity, the waves of protest of the Arab Spring, and now, this. It was so obviously time for something to break out in the United States.
A couple weeks later, in early October, a young single mother pulled together the first Occupy Santa Cruz General Assembly in Louden Nelson Park, while others broke out, equally spontaneously, across the planet.
Such a whirlwind time, attending all those GAs, first at Louden Nelson, then at Mission Plaza, then up at the Court House and the San Lorenzo Park camp, all the meetings, all the earnest talk, waking up at 2AM when the cell phone paranoia tree would activate, then sitting at 3AM in the fog on the courthouse steps with live streaming rig ready for the cops who rarely if ever showed up and then, thank goodness, never spraying mace in people’s faces or eyes or mouths as they had in New York and Davis and other places.
Online mailing lists, web sites and other forums exploded in activity: what was wrong and how do we fix it? For a time, the Internet showed an awesome demonstration of the power of a world wide think tank. But how to harness it? How to harness it?
Middle class parents shocked by the astonishing levels of police violence against peaceful young people, nurses, grand parents, military vets, journalists and bystanders. The outrage at the corrupt financial system, and the complete and utter failures of the justice system to hold anyone accountable and the mainstream media to explore and explain how things could come to this.
When I took my youngest daughter to visit last month in August, we found a peaceful Zuccotti Park with a few die hard protestors, food trucks, and at the other end, a crowd clustered around street performers, all overlooked by the giant red sculpture.
The Occupy movement is barely remembered by most people now.
And yet… for the last several years, an impulse to make things better for more people has been reverberating across the globe, building, gaining momentum but always beaten back and denied by the prevailing system. While it is true that Occupy crested and fizzled, 10,000 seeds were sown, and the next tide is coming in. The issues which brought people into the streets two years ago remain. The yearning to make things better grows stronger.
At Civinomics, on the second anniversary of Occupy, we’re busy coding, and organizing, and building tools to change the world.