A first hand look at what Occupy Olympia is all about

Occupy Olympia is a political encampment based out of Heritage Park in solidarity with those in Zuccotti Park of New York City.

The occupation means different things to different people, so the question “what is Occupy Olympia?” does not have a single answer. Therefore, the best I can do is explain what it means to me.

Caring for those with hypothermia, feeding and sheltering the homeless, looking out for the safety of others, and sharing valuable knowledge are just some of the ways that the occupation has helped me, along with other people, establish a community of caring individuals who want change. That is what the occupation is to me: Caring.

The first thing one sees about the Occupy movement is that it is chaotic; there are no leaders. There are figureheads who do a lot of work, but they can never call themselves leaders of the Occupy movement. Having no leaders has a lot of pros and cons, for instance it takes a long time for something to reach consensus in the general assembly but anyone can propose an idea and explain their point of view.

To me the occupation goes beyond just a system of direct democracy and protesting against a corrupt system, it’s a community of like-minded and accepting individuals.

Teachers from The Evergreen State College are heading over to host “teach-ins” to offer their knowledge for free. In such a tight community people have a chance to share ideologies as well. Since the occupation crosses all political boundaries there are also plenty of interesting debates.

One thing I find attractive of the occupation is how badly they strive to be sustainable. Here in Olympia the occupation strives to keep away from big corporations, encouraging people to not just go to Wal-Mart and buy tents for the occupation because that’s against the point of sustainability.

We encourage people to buy food from the local co-op and local farms and donate things they already have so they aren’t supporting the system.

I have made many friends down at the occupation in 22 days. You find a place to settle in where you think you can help (for me that was the media committee), and you make friends with those around you.

There are those, however, who take our support and our community for granted. While we do provide a few valuable community services such as shelter and treating hypothermia for people who come in during the night, there are a few corrupt amongst us.

A few campers set up a tent in the corner of the park and we witnessed people coming up throughout the day and leaving shortly afterward, so in the morning we went to investigate. It turns out there was a drug dealer in camp and needless to say, we kicked him out pretty quick.

We take charge of our own safety in the community, if someone starts freaking out during the day or evening everybody comes running up. For those late night hours between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. there are those who stay up for the night with vests and radios ready at a moment’s notice to respond to a situation.

It is apparent that we have community support from those around us as well. Local businesses sometimes offer us perks if they see we are working hard in their business. Partly they are of course just trying to capitalize on the movement, but they are still showing solidarity.

Another amazing show of solidarity is the fact that the media team had office space donated to them. Free Wi-Fi, workspace, a couple printers, and paper goes a long way towards supporting us.

If there is one thing I am grateful for besides all the community support, peace and safety keeping things calm at night, and the media team spreading the message, it is the first aid tent.

People go there in the middle of the night to get blankets and warm clothes. I personally have been going there to get a burn on my arm treated that I obtained from a coffee maker, without that first aid tent my burn would have gotten infected.