Should the occupations come in from the cold?

by Catherine Gammon

Should the occupations come in from the cold?

Brooklyn, December 2009

What “should” in that question means is “would I like”:

Would I like the occupations to come in from the cold?

Yes, I think I would.

I would like the occupations to consider, or reconsider, what looks like needless heroics around toughing it out by camping through winter weather.

What were the dates of the occupations in Tunisia and Egypt? What were the coldest temperatures, the worst weather conditions? Can we wake up and look around and recognize the truth of the difference in where we live?

Maybe in Oakland and L.A. the winter’s not much of a threat. But New York has already seen snow. And it’s only October.

Even the Buddha went indoors for the season of rains.

Even armies retreat for weather. Or they do when they’re in contact with the land. Or they did, once upon a time.

I don’t write this as a camper. I’m only a marginal participant, a visitor, a sympathizer, an Internet follower and re-poster. And I imagine of the handful of people who may read this, not many, if any, will agree.

But this is what I’ve been thinking about as the temperature drops and the snow falls.

The occupation movement matters and letting the occupations wither away as the weather worsens seems like a big mistake and a lost opportunity.

Maybe the campers who will tough it out see that toughness, that witness, as their historic mission, their call. I don’t know. If they do, they may be right. Maybe the courage of their tenacity in holding the parks and greens is critical.

But part of the rationale for the police action in Denver was reported as two people having been hospitalized for hypothermia.

How can this serve the effort to rally people and cities and towns to get corporate money out of politics? How does it help in the effort to hold big corporations and their leaders accountable for their crimes? Doesn’t it just make it more difficult for marginal participants, visitors, sympathizers, Internet followers, and re-posters to find their own living connection to the occupations?

What if the encampments that are located in winter-affected regions were to work instead—or at least at the same time—to establish indoor sites, to sustain a daylight presence outdoors when weather permits and to move indoors for meetings, rallies and teach-ins in bad weather and at night?

I have seen it assumed that toughing the winter out will demonstrate the seriousness of the movement.


But maybe it also demonstrates folly and an idle and wasted heroics. Maybe seriousness can better be demonstrated by what best communicates with and involves the vast number of people who support the occupations more for what they express and stand for and create as self-organized assemblies than for the act of sleeping in a tent in a park.

I would like to see occupiers everywhere, especially those in climates getting colder by the hour, creatively contemplate the value and uses of mobility, the possibility of finding heroism in regrouping, and the opportunities a brave decision to let go of the land if need be could open up.