Housing Complex

D.C.’s Parks, Finally Occupied

#OccupyDC Shows Washington How Livable Downtown Parks Can Be

There’s a very traditional way of protesting in Washington: People come with their signs, parade up and down the Mall or Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and then move on, like a cloud of locusts passing over a field. The only way of measuring impact is through crowd counts. Usually, lawmakers aren’t even around to see those numbers.

This month, protesting has evolved. Two groups of demonstrators on McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, which arose separately and remain independent from each other, have made camp for the foreseeable future on their respective plots of federal land. Since establishing themselves in early October, both have grown exponentially, with tents filling in the rectangles and infrastructure becoming more solid and complex. Residents wave off questions about their departure date. Why even acknowledge the end of an occupation before it happens?

The explicitly political content of the occupation shows up on signs and during daily forays into surrounding areas for protests. But the occupiers don’t actually spend much time talking about what they want from government. Having specific demands would just legitimize the system, some say—not to mention alienate participants who might not agree with them, and set the standards by which they might succeed or fail.

What they do spend time talking about is how to keep everyone housed, fed, safe, healthy, and entertained. With this protest, logistics are political too: By creating a self-contained, self-governing, radically transparent and egalitarian community, they’ll model how the rest of society ought to work.

The Occupy movement is all over the United States by now. In Washington, though, it carries a special significance. Controlled by the National Park Service, the District’s downtown parks have always functioned either as manicured show spaces or staging grounds for transitory protests. But they never felt lived in—think of Franklin Square, which is still like a black hole in the middle of the central business district—until the occupiers broke the rules. And that’s a revolution D.C. residents should get behind.

—-

Not all occupations are created equal, of course. The District’s two encampments are subtly different beasts, in large part due to the nature of the space they inhabit.

Consider McPherson Square. Its layout mimics the form of a city: There’s more earth than concrete, which allows a separation between the “residential” areas and paved spaces for transit and discussion. The mature trees serve as landmarks—“Meet by that oak,” you might say—and as shelter from both the sun and the rain. It’s surrounded by restaurants, residences, hotels, and offices that are all open to the street, creating a natural circulation of people who stop and stay a while on their way to lunch or appointments or the Metro.

That layout has helped the square develop its own internal geography. The west side is the most cosmopolitan, with communal tents for food, supplies, information, and medical help lining both sides of a wide pathway that serves as a main avenue. Other tents house media, technology, and finance along a side street. These thoroughfares are the most congested, as passersby stroll through, browse at the lending library, sit on a bench, or stop to chat at the information station without getting in anyone’s way. There are a few clever plays on the building blocks of urban life: A plastic bin with dry socks functions as a “sock exchange” and a water fountain has been converted into an “aqueduct” for filling gallon jugs using split bamboo poles, duct tape, and string.

Most of the encampment’s public business takes place on the park’s southwest lawn, which is clear of tents, creating plenty of room for the 50-odd people who crowd in a tight circle for each evening’s General Assembly. Until recently, when they started building a wooden-framed base of operations near the center of the park, the “de-escalation team”—charged with defusing any conflicts and policing the park for drugs and alcohol—had been posted on the park’s northern boundary, where they could intercept nighttime partiers coming off K Street NW.

The park’s makeshift housing is organized as well. A plan for marking tents with street addresses is in the works, and one concrete path has already been named “Gandhi Avenue.” The original inhabitants lived in the northwest corner, but rain took its toll on the grass. They moved to the park’s central panel and tried to re-seed the mud. The fringes of the park are more suburban, where people have moved to get away from noise and activity in the middle of the park at night. The southeastern corner is a planned community, having been outfitted with large Coleman tents for visitors and the homeless.

The most bohemian district is right next to the statue of McPherson, marked by a drum circle that’s continuously populated with dancers, smokers, and musicians.

“This is my neighborhood,” explains Christina McKenna, a young woman with big brown eyes and a gentle manner. Tents are arranged around a central circle where her two small children can feel at home; one is running around in a dinosaur suit. They’ve arranged a small kitchen area where they cook their own meals, since the food tent was getting “too authoritarian.” (Sometimes, the neighborhood concept goes too far—at Freedom Plaza, the general assembly had to evict a woman who had tried to enforce a woman-only district within the tent city.)

McKenna is one of the leaders of the Sleepers Committee, which is charged with preparing those who’ve really made the square their home—and don’t have a roof to return to when it rains—for the long winter. That may come with breaking even more rules, like making campfires to stay warm, or laying down flagstones to create paths through the muck.

The most impressive structure in the encampment so far belongs to Sandra Alcoorn, a weatherbeaten old woman with no apparent teeth who had been staying in an alley before joining the new village. She was given a small tent, and covered it with tarps that are tied down with strips of an old sheet that have been wrapped with duct tape and staked out with the ribs of a broken umbrella. Inside, Alcoorn has bedded down with sleeping bags and a thick furniture storage blanket for insulation. She’s even got several wooden palettes to create flooring for when it rains again.

“I’m the kind of person, I like to settle,” she says. “I like to put my roots down.”

At McPherson Square, she’s got everything she needs.

—-

Freedom Plaza, despite nearly indistinguishable ideology and infrastructure, is a dramatically different environment.

The location was picked, months in advance, to draw a parallel with Cairo’s Tahrir Square, center of the demonstrations that brought down Hosni Mubarak. “It was symbolic,” says Udi Pladott, one of the original organizers, nodding to the Capitol dome in the distance. “I don’t think for tenting you would choose marble and concrete.”

He’s right about that. Freedom Plaza, built in 1980 to mimic the original plan of Washington, is totally inhospitable. There’s no place to sit, with only the barest excuse for a bench around the edges. Grassy spaces are microscopic, forcing tents to bleed out onto the concrete. Communal services, like food, medical supplies, and media, are clustered in a corner; the central walkway between them is narrow and divided by a staircase, which makes it difficult to navigate. There’s a somewhat awkward segregation between the occupiers and the homeless, who cluster in a walled-off circle of benches on the northeast corner, rather than integrating with the crowds the way they do on McPherson Square.

Worse, there’s nothing of value around the plaza: There’s the fortified wall of the Reagan Building, the usually dark National Theatre, a blank office building, and the monumental staircase of the Wilson Building, D.C.’s city hall. The tourist-heavy crowds have no reason to amble through Freedom Plaza unless they’re curious about something inside it, which leaves the campers isolated on their elevated plinth—not a great strategy for engaging the public.

Perhaps that’s why the Freedom Plaza encampment doesn’t have the same energy of its sister protest in McPherson Square. Besides the fact that it came pre-organized—meaning organizers lost out on the community-building function of creating infrastructure from scratch—it’s in a place with no internal magnetism. Pladott says he thought people would come intentionally, drawn by the news of the protest gathered elsewhere. But it hasn’t gained steam like he’d hoped. “There’s less support than we would have wanted,” he admits.

Of course, Freedom Plaza was designed with a specific purpose: To be a launchpad for marches and a venue for shouting at the federal government. But if the more powerful message of the Occupy movement is the act of building a new kind of society, it makes more sense to be near the beating heart of Washington. And at the same time, the occupiers are showing Washington what its parks could be even after they leave—the city’s living room, not its parlor.

Photos by Darrow Montgomery. Map of the encampment here.

Got a real-estate tip? Send suggestions to ldepillis@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6928.
#OccupyDC Shows Washington How Livable Downtown Parks Can Be
#OccupyDC Shows Washington How Livable Downtown Parks Can Be
#OccupyDC Shows Washington How Livable Downtown Parks Can Be
#OccupyDC Shows Washington How Livable Downtown Parks Can Be
#OccupyDC Shows Washington How Livable Downtown Parks Can Be

  • Frank

    You write about the city's parks: "But they never felt lived in *** until the occupiers broke the rules. And that’s a revolution D.C. residents should get behind." Are you suggesting that our parks should become permanent camps for squatters instead of parks? I am not getting behind that revolution!

  • Skipper

    I'm willing to bet there are far more tents than actual people sleeping in the tents.

  • Mike

    The entire "movement" sounds a little like a bunch of people just trying to live in public parks across America. They seem to have done an excellent job with this based on setting up necessities and basic infrastructure (except an answer to the waste issue). But to call this anything other than that is just silly.

  • Mrs. D

    What fun! I love to see this type of passion go into the parks of Washington. If our government had more people like this working for them we wouldnt be in the mess we are in now.

  • Dean

    I think this:

    "the occupiers don’t actually spend much time talking about what they want from government"

    pretty much says it all. At least the guys who've been camped out in front of the White House for the last thirty or so years have an explicit goal: complete nuclear disarmament. What do the Occupy protesters want? How will they know when their demands have been met? At what point will they consider their movement successful?

    I doubt many--if any--of the protesters could answer that. meanwhile, they seem content to simply camp out in a park and make it largely inhospitable for anyone else who may want to spend time there. Urban parks aren't designed to be "lived in," they're designed to be brief, refreshing oases from the otherwise suffocating urbanity surrounding them. They're places to spend a bit of time in before moving onto something else. They're a pleasant distraction. But they're not meant to be a kind of refugee camp. I may find myself nodding in agreement with some of the statements made by the Occupy protesters, but if you're asking me to celebrate the fact that a group of people have assumed de facto control over a public park for no apparent purpose and no timeline for leaving, I can't do that.

  • Biff Gordon

    Same sad DC story -- different neighborhood.

    These gentrifying protesters forget that these parks were occupied before they came to town. Now they are driving up real estate values and demanding expensive amenities like sock exchanges and lending libraries.

    The displaced residents of McPherson Square have no voice. Who is speaking for the long-time residents of these parks against the gentrifying protesters moving in from outside the District?

  • Dominic

    My worry with the Occupy DC branch of this larger movement is that we are expected, due to our proximity, to direct our protest at the federal government. Unfortunately, most of the city is employed either directly or by extension through the federal government. Getting DC residents to come down and protest against their own livelihoods is a hard sell.

    NY has Occupy Wall St. but all the other movements are Occupy "Your City". If we are going to Occupy DC, lets do it to DC. Lets direct our energy toward the city government . Better yet, lets crank it up to Occupy the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia for outsiders). Our surrounding counties were recently ranked the most wealthy of the entire nation and have been in the top tier for a long time. Inequality is rampant in our city and our metro area, e.g. PG county versus Montgomery.

    None of the movements want to engage the government, because they believe government is the problem. So lets stop looking the feds and start looking to our mayors, like so many other Occupy branches in Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

  • Typical DC BS

    Nothing but squatters who need to be evicted. You want to protest, fine. Show up every day, protest, then go back home and do it all over again the next day.

    There is no right to camp out in OUR parks. Once again, our idiotic city councilmembers / mayor / moronic "shadow representative" have abdicated their responsibility to the community and allowed people to live in our parks. These people should be treated no differently than anyone else. If the homeless decide to erect a tent in our parks, they get moved along. The same standards should be applied to the "Occupy" protesters as well. NO EXCEPTIONS.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hoosteen Justin Jacoby Smith

    Hi commenters!

    I'm Justin, part of the Occupy DC media team, and I want to clarify some of the misconceptions I'm seeing here in the comments.

    Yes, it's true that we don't spend all of our time at the park discussing reform. Along with working to bring attention tothe need for change via direct action, petition, and publicity, we're also working hard to maintain our spontaneously generated infrastructure, and that's a task that takes time and effort. With that said, I'd like to remind readers that we have regular teach-ins on the issues we're facing, the strategies of those who've come before us in movements of peaceful protest, and the tactics to make change happen.

    When we're not actively teaching about the values we'd like to see in our government, we're trying to live those values in a community we've built. I don't know about you guys, but I'd hope that people in my neighborhood wouldn't spend all day talking about campaign finance reform, even if it was something we cared about a great deal.

    And let's just say you can expect more to come from our action committee soon. ;)

    Thanks, Lydia, for a well done and fair piece.

    Justin
    @hoosteen
    #OccupyDC Media

  • http://www.twitter.com/hoosteen Justin Jacoby Smith

    Oh and Biff Gordon--

    I'd like to point out that most of the homeless who lived in McPherson Square prior to our arrival are actually still present at the park--they've taken up residence in some of the donated tents and are joining us on committees and actions regularly. There's more detail on that here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/protesters-get-mixed-reaction-from-dc-homeless/2011/10/21/gIQAz7G0FM_story.html

  • Mike

    Hey Justin I think it is time you come in from the outdoors. No one gives a shit if bums approve of you squatting in a park. It isn't their park either. It is everyone's park. GIVE BACK THE PARK!

  • Charles Carlin

    I appreciate this thoughtful analysis. This occupation is much bigger than simply asking Congress or Obama for a specific legislative outcome. Congress and the president have had their chance and have done little to address major systemic issues in our government.

    The occupy protests speak to the desire to create a different kind of society with a different kind of participatory democracy. The camps are labs where the occupiers live out these ideas and model them for others. To disparage them as squatters not only misses the point, it demonstrates the deep cynicism that too many Americans have fallen into.

    Most of us, like myself, either do not have the privilege to leave our daily lives and join the camps, or, because of our privilege, we pretend like these camps aren't necessary. I have the deepest respect for citizens across the country who are holding these spaces. They are acting as citizens and patriots in the highest sense of the word. They are working to live and construct our democracy so that we can all live in a just and equitable America.

    Also, thanks to the author for providing such a thoughtful analysis of the geography of the occupations. The author's willingness to look beyond the easy and crass critiques allows us a view into the deeper meaning of the occupation. Folks, it's easy to criticize and say no. It's takes far more courage to say yes, we can live a different life. Occupiers say yes and demonstrate that life to the rest of us.

  • http://www.amamimus.com/solutions.html AMamiMus

    Gee...I wonder why no one thought to occupy the Mall, Hains Point, Anacostia Park, or Malcolm X Park.

    DC is more than just those two downtown parks...What is the point of limiting the "occupation" to a couple of spots in NW DC?

  • Dean

    "The occupy protests speak to the desire to create a different kind of society with a different kind of participatory democracy. The camps are labs where the occupiers live out these ideas and model them for others. To disparage them as squatters not only misses the point, it demonstrates the deep cynicism that too many Americans have fallen into."

    That's all well and good Charles, but the question remains: to what end? Are you guys going to be around next month? Over the winter? Next year? At what point do the citizens of DC and visitors to the nation's capital get their park back? And what kind of condition will it be in when you leave?

    The lofty ideals and desire for profound change are good so far as they go, but there are real-life implications and consequences to what you're doing. It doesn't seem like the movement has any clear goals or objectives--it looks to me like some people who decided to assert a claim to residency in a public park to live in a hippie-style commune in order to model a "new democracy". In which case, fine, find someone with a farm or large plot of land on which you can work through your experimental democracy lab. But taking control of a public space for an indeterminate period of time for no discernable end or purpose makes your movement's participants no different than the homeless who congregate in the park. And the homeless are not permitted to camp out or live in the park, so I fail to see a reason why the Occupy protest should be treated any differently.

  • Charlie Brown

    Hi, I'm Justin Jacoby Smith!

    Yes, it's true, I dont sit around talking about reform because I know nothing about it! I'd like to remind our readers that I dont have a degree in teaching but I'd like to take my best shot at it.

    I dont know about you guys but I dont want people I associate myself with sitting around all day educating me with facts and useless information I could use to maybe actually change something I obviously feel so strongly about, wink wink ;)

  • Mike

    The leaders of the occupation have made it abundantly clear that there is no goal in mind rather than a hodge podge of random thought. So far we have a social experiment, social inequality, and the mean and greedy corporations. The social experiment is stupid in that you can just go live with a tribe in a undeveloped country. It works for them and they seem happy based on the Nation Geographic and Discovery channel. I wouldn't jump off the top of the tower though. The vines are getting weaker because of global warming. There is social inequality but I don't think there are many industrial nations that don't have this. So tough shit. And finally the nasty greedy corporation. You are right. Exxon having record profits sucks but guess what, consumers use their products and until they stop. They make money. But that isn't all bad since they hire people too. Shit a double edged sword.

    PS. I want a Unicorn

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  • http://www.twitter.com/hoosteen Justin Jacoby Smith

    Hey Charlie--

    I don't lead the teach-ins. We bring in people who actually ~are~ experts in their field, like Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the team behind the Sunlight Foundation for Transparency in Government, and the point people for OpenSecrets.org.

    I'm just the media monkey.

    And Mike--not sure who you're talking about when you refer to "leaders." Come visit us at McPherson and you'll find that there are none.

    Have fun here, guys--no interest in arguing with comment trolls, just clarifying facts. Hope to see you at McPherson.

  • softrefrain

    Nasty, nasty comments people. Need I remind you that the protesters are merely exercising their 1st amendment right to assemble to address grievances with the government? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say they have to have a 500-page plan detailing how to fix all those problems in order to assemble.

    I think it is enough...for now...that these protests are drawing attention to some serious issues that have been plaguing Americans for decades and have now reached a boiling over point: income inequality, corporations putting profits over the needs of the people and the ridiculous influence of money in politics. 20,000 people could march on the capital in a day, go home, and be forgotten by next morning's news cycle. Not so easy to ignore this, is it?

    If having your nice pretty lawn back is all you care about, then I have to say you either don't fully understand the issues or are lousy, shallow and selfish people.

  • Dean

    "If having your nice pretty lawn back is all you care about, then I have to say you either don't fully understand the issues or are lousy, shallow and selfish people."

    If that's how you distill down those who are questioning the purpose and duration of the protests, you aren't doing a particularly good job undertaking a thorough examination of the issue.

    No one--at least not seriously--as questioned the right of these individuals to protest, or even to protest from a public park. For what it's worth, I think they're undertaking a noble cause, and I'm in relative agreement with many of the statements made by the protesters.

    But what I, and others, are questionning is how long the protesters will be permitted to unlawfully occupy a space that others are routinely prevented from doing--particularly when the protesters themselves can provide no definitive goals for their protest. Camping in McPherson Square is illegal, there's no arguing around that point. I think the DC Council and others in the city have been remarkably lenient in allowing the protests to continue there for as long as they have. But setting up a tent city in a public park denies the public the freedom to enjoy and use a park that they pay to maintain and own. The First Amendment may guarantee freedom of speech, but that guarantee is not without limits.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hoosteen Justin Jacoby Smith

    Hey Dean--

    I'd like to take the time to respond to your comment. I'm on my way out of the office for the moment, but please swing back by this page tomorrow and (workload permitting) you'll see my reply.

    Justin

  • Judith Claire

    If you actually live and vote in Washington, DC, you know that our delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton has no vote in Congress...so, you need to get the voters in "States"who have Congress persons who can vote...Just Do It!

  • evandery

    I'm happy to see people activating for change on both the left and right, but their alleged attempt to show us how to live differently in McPherson Square seems identical to how we live now, just without roofs. A CBD, a bohemian area, quiet suburbs, police enforcement, social services to provide health care and shelter for those in need, a lending library... Sounds a lot like life in DC. Even the many ducks who have long occupied that park were gentrified to an outer corner by the young, white, educated population moving in from elsewhere.

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  • evandery

    "There is no right to camp out in OUR parks. Once again, our idiotic city councilmembers / mayor / moronic "shadow representative" have abdicated their responsibility to the community and allowed people to live in our parks. These people should be treated no differently than anyone else. If the homeless decide to erect a tent in our parks, they get moved along. The same standards should be applied to the "Occupy" protesters as well. NO EXCEPTIONS."
    ----
    These protests are actually on federal properties managed by the National Park Service. City government has little control over what happens on them and, by extension, they are paid for by all taxpayers in the country, not just DC residents.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    When and where's the poetry slam?

  • Corndog

    I wonder what percentage of the "occupy" movement will remember to vote. This may be the only real difference you folks will be able to make (besides changing the green grass in to dead grass). When the party is over, you all need to hit up the polls if you can make it. I assume you will have some spare time. The tea-party (tweetle dee)is the conservative version of you guys (tweetle dum), but at least they make it clear that voting is the most important and practical way to make a "change." I just can't wait for it to be uncool to act like a homeless person for a while. You guys are changing nothing and soon not even the media will care. Enjoy your vacation, smellies. That's it...back to work.

  • Typical DC BS

    @evandery: Good point. I stand corrected. But my statements still stand. THERE IS NO CAMPING ALLOWED IN THESE PARKS. Why are the protesters being treated differently than the homeless, who would be booted out of the parks if they tried to set up tents at any other time.

    The protesters have NO RIGHT to camp out there. They absolutely have the right to petition and demonstrate.

  • http://prop1.org/protest/elijah/nature.htm Elijah Alexander Jr. (@0NatureBoy)

    Great back shot of me! Had the photographer asked they could have gotten face, side or any other shot of me, they didn't have to sneak it.

  • evandery

    @Typical DC BS - It doesn't bother me as much that they're camped out for a while to make a statement that normal protests can't, but this article proves that they're basically living the same way we are and aren't going to make any grand shift in culture from their demonstration. So, I think they really need to establish a clear objective(s) and petition for it or they'll continue to lose attention. The Arab Spring has been successful because of clear goals. Many are young so perhaps think that their ideas are new or unknown to the rest of us. The system will not go away and they're basically promoting an idealized, uncorrupted liberalism. As the Tea Party's vision for idealized uncorrupted conservatism proved, politics, as corrupted as it's always been, actually does change outcomes and the economy.

  • Kara Harkins

    @evandery: The typical pattern to the arab spring protests was to grow a critical mass (often led by students) saying 'we are fed up' and THEN they made a demand when they were big enough.

    Two crucial differences:
    The Arab Spring protests were isolated to one country. There were sympathy protests in other places of course, but they were focused on that country. Meanwhile occupy is all over the world (as http://www.meetup.com/occupytogether/ shows) ... each wanting to affect change locally vs just a sympathy protest with the US.

    The problem is systemic. It is not as simple as 'oust this leader' or 'redo the country's government'. Complex answers are usually not even known at the stage where people say there is a problem. In fact coming up with a solution to ask for will probably come from someone not even in the movement yet. The most efficient thing that can be done right now is to build the base for someone to put the statue of the idea on.

  • evandery

    @Kara Harkins - Then your movement will peeter out without any lasting impact, as enthusiasm and interest is already waning. The benefit of living in the United States is that we have the ability to create policies that can have a global impact because our economy is twice the size of the second largest.

    The 60s brought the ideas you all are promoting into mass consciousness before fading away. Putting them into action is the next step before you all fade away as well.

  • Kara Harkins

    @evandery Oh, I doubt you will see them going away any time soon. They constantly are getting larger and more organised so we can observe the 1st derivative of the movement is increasing. The second derivative, the acceleration, appears to be a positive value as well, but the seasonal fluctuations of the weather plus camp populations varying up and down make it a bit trickier to measure as well. My guess is the movement will continue to grow, but for the next few months the people outside every single night will be a core group. Remember, not all aspects of the movement involve being in parks 24/7.

    Comparing this movement to the 60s or pretty much any other modern movement is a false parallel. The closest matches are Gandhi's protests but even they are not exact. You are basically looking at something new and the old books on how to deal with protests do not work.

  • Billy Mo

    Not lived in? What about all the homeless people who've been occupying McPherson for decades?

  • http://occupydc.org wes

    I'd just like to add a few thoughts for those who may happen to still stumble upon this - few day old - post. First, we are living with the homeless in the park. Second, this notion that we have no right to sleep or indefinitely assemble in that park is ridiculous. First, I would question the very notion that we have laws that prevent those who are the most down-trodden in our society to rest and sleep in a public space. Especially when you consider the number of beds versus the number of homeless in Washington and other cities across America. Secondly, you have no right to enjoy a public space. You have no right to not have to deal with the messiness of democracy, which includes protest and petitioning of government for grievances. The protester - regardless of his political ideology or purpose however, absolutely DOES have the right to speech, assembly, etc. The very notion of curfew laws, closing times in public spaces, anti-camping laws etc. are absolute infringements on these first amendment rights. To that end, most of these laws were enacted to ''deal with'' the homeless, and you're absolutely right to call out the contradiction and hypocrisy of allowing us to sleep there but sending out the homeless. But, as I stated I question the morality of sending away the homeless in the first place.
    As for the protesters not having a purpose or goal? You've got to be kidding me. The purpose is to draw attention to the ills that are occurring in our society. The goal is to alter our society in a way that is more just, equitable, and addresses the needs and rights of all citizens without preference for class and other notions of privilege. And you know what? It's working. Obama has introduced new student loan policies. The media is covering issues of income disparity and wage stagnation. We have stopped talking about deficit reduction in terms of what valuable health and education programs need to be cut and instead in terms of why are the rich not paying their fair share. Bank of America has cancelled their debit card fees. Etc Etc.
    We are there, we are working toward a better society, and we are slowly achieving results. If you think that we can't handle winter while fellow protesters are handling rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash grenades you are sadly mistaken. I suggest if you want a nice park to visit - Franklin is one block east, Farragut 2 and a half west, and Lafayette one block south. Don't be cynical and dismissing as if there is no where else for you to ignore and escape the problems our world is facing.

    -An Occupier

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  • Happy Camper

    My family and I are looking for a good place to camp in Washington, D.C. We never heard of any campgrounds and find this new camping availability in our Nation's Capital just fabulous... and FREE to boot! Can we reserve a campsite for our pop-up camper? I heard there are even water connections and public bathrooms!

  • Sally Q. Taxpayer

    Visited the McPherson "Occupy" settlement for the first time this weekend. I have to say it was a filthy amalgamation of vagrants. The Freedom Plaza "camp" was a bit more posh with their own set of porta-potties, a city janitor cleaning up, and a fully functional kitchen! Are there no laws that prevent this sort of thing on public tax-supported ground? I for one am appalled that the DC City Council would support and condone this. It is one thing allowing right to free speech and right to assemble, but I don't know anywhere in the Constitution where it provides the right to squat on publicly owned space indefinitely! Why don't you all pick up and go home. Your cause is doing little but to make make you out to be a vial group of vagrants.

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