The General Assembly. This is definitely not an event I expected to come across when analyzing Occupy Wall Street. I say this because I didn’t have much knowledge about the movement, minus what I saw on TV, read online, and experienced first-hand in Occupy DC. For me, these three sources only shed light on the outer shell of the egg, which contains the logistical embryo of OWS that many never see.
The General Assembly is OWS’s nightly congregation. It takes place around 7 p.m. every evening. Participants include individuals from different backgrounds: homeless, blue-collar workers, college students, you name it. In the “GA” as it’s known, people from all walks of life become activists for the night, if not longer. With diversity, comes companionship. It’s common for “food, packets of cookies or pretzels, or bottles of water to be passed hand-to-hand around the rows, shared by strangers who had just become comrades” (Writers 26). As a result, various perspectives are brought into the pot for ample analysis by all in attendance.
An interesting aspect of these GA’s is the role of facilitators, those who run the meetings. Somebody on the outside would probably classify a facilitator as a leader, but OWS ensures no such label insinuating hierarchy is attached. Facilitators are introduced by first name only and rotate responsibilities both within meetings and in between them. Also, seasoned facilitators are often paired with young, inexperienced ones in order to promote equality in skill level and speaking ability. They also aren’t allowed to lead more than one meeting in a row.
More next time on General Assembly and how hand gestures run the show…