Wall Street Protesters Turn Boston Park Into A Village

The Occupy Wall Street movement has sprung up in scores of U.S. cities over the past month. The size of the demonstrations have varied depending on the day and who showed up. But in Boston, protesters have used their own freewheeling version of democracy to organize a village — one they're not planning to abandon anytime soon.

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The people behind the Occupy Wall Street movement think there's entirely too much money in politics and in the bank accounts of America's CEOs. The movement has spread. And in Boston, protestors have used their own free-wheeling version of democracy to organize a village downtown. NPR's Tovia Smith tours that instant infrastructure.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: It's hard to imagine just two weeks ago, this was an empty park. Today, thousands are camped out in tents, all arranged in rows, even marked with street signs.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Guys, out of the road.

SMITH: Take a left off Beale Street onto Sacco and Vanzetti Avenue, and you pass the medical and legal tents. There's also a library, recycling center, a lost and found, and a tent for yoga, Bible study and meditation.

JASON RODIGER: I think that we're feeling good and we're doing well. Yeah.

SMITH: Jason Rodiger, 25 and unemployed, has been watching and helping this mini-municipality evolve.

RODIGER: The very first night, when rained on us, we put out Twitter that we needed dry socks. We started getting so many socks, that we had to tweet out stop bringing socks.

SMITH: Indeed, this is not your grandfather's sit-in.

RODIGER: No, it's certainly not. We - I mean, I guess it is a different feel.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: Yes, there are guys running around with long hair and bare feet, but there are also guys like Rodiger, in a pressed shirt and tie, banging out press releases on their MacBooks and posting video to the protesters' own website.

Hi.

PHIL ANDERSON: Hi. I'm Phil. How are you?

SMITH: Tovia Smith. What's your last name?

ANDERSON: Anderson.

SMITH: And your official title?

ANDERSON: I don't have an official title. I - we're not really big on titles, here. It's a volunteer...

SMITH: Their aversion to rank and corporate constructs, however, hasn't cramped their ability to make things happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Please join.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Please join.

SMITH: Everything here seems to run on an odd cocktail of anarchy, adrenaline and volunteer spirit.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Also, they need help...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Also, they need help...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: ...cleaning up at the sign tent.

SMITH: Their so-called human loudspeaker system seems fitting to demonstrators, whose big beef is that their voices are not being heard. It's just part, says Anderson, of the representative democracy they're reinventing.

ANDERSON: We have general assemblies, usually twice a day, where things are voted on directly, with a vote of hands. It's open mic. People can get up and talk. And that is usually how we make our decisions.

SMITH: They seem to have it all figured out, except an official list of demands.

EMILY MCARTHUR: We are working towards unified goal, building our process of horizontal democracy. It takes a long time.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: To 22-year-old Emily McArthur, the means is kind of the end in itself.

MCARTHUR: We've created this intentional community where we take care of everyone in this community, and you have a voice. So for us, living this process was the best example that we had of what our fix was.

SMITH: Protesters insist they're here for the long haul. Just ask their winterization committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: A lot of us are New Englanders. We know what the winter is like. But I don't think the Occupy Movements will give in lightly.

SMITH: When it does, it may take longer to break this village down than it did to build it up. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

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