I have taken a particular interest in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) phenomenon since my grandson, Sage, became involved in Occupy Boston. So far I have only published Sage’s explanation of why he is doing what he is doing.  I know the spirit behind the Tea Party, but I was worried about where OWS was coming from, especially since it sprang up full-blown in the major cities of the world on September 17.

Meanwhile S17 is surging ahead internationally. Simultaneous occupations of financial districts are now being planned in New York City, Madrid, Milan, London, Paris and San Francisco. With a bit of luck, this list of participating cities will expand.

If we can pull together just the right mix of nonviolence, tenacity and strategic smarts, S17 could be the beginning of the global revolution we’ve all been dreaming about for so long … wouldn’t that be lovely.

 

August 10:

A movement is suddenly springing up from nowhere (ah-huh) to take on the free enterprise, “capitalist” system. In America, they are especially targeting Wall Street, a place still somewhat constitutionally sovereign to the U.S.A. and not thoroughly controlled yet by authoritarian global collectivism.‘U.S. Day of Rage’ Being Orchestrated for ‘Worldwide Democracy’ (think pseudoanarchist, neo-Marxist, globalist) (read more)

This was posted on August 17:

A group of American radicals are planning a “day of rage” targeting Wall Street and U.S. capitalism.

The upcoming protests, replete with a planned tent city slated for downtown Manhattan, is closely tied to the founders of ACORN and leaders of major U.S.unions, including the SEIU.

There are indications the protesters are training to incite violence, resist arrest and disrupt the legal system. (read more)

See also Adbusters and The Brains Behind Occupy Wall Street.

By way of background on Days of Rage see this excellent documentary on the Weather Underground.

Sage has written on Facebook about his experience with non-violent protest:

Sage Radachowsky
In 2001 I was arrested for protesting the bombing of Afghanistan with wholesale civilian-killer bombs. A Vietnam veteran in his 50s was pepper-sprayed in the face and he couldn’t breathe. He had asthma and his throat tightened up .. he was gasping for breath. They also kicked him in the chest against a fire hydrant, repeatedly, and broke two of his ribs. That was Hartford, Connecticut, October 25th, 2001. We marched from Bushnell Park to Senator Lieberman’s office. I held a sign that said “Don’t bomb innocent people” and got two felonies for that “crime”.

They said I was throwing bottles and inciting to riot. I was just standing quietly with my sign. The cops lied, and I think it is important to note that this does happen sometimes. They apparently colluded to make their police reports match, and wrote the story about how the protestors were throwing things and being violent. They also took all of our cameras and destroyed the film and videotapes, so we didn’t have the visual evidence to dispute there story. I repeat the story just so people know that this kind of things happen, and not to always believe the police side of a story.

Sage.Rad
Thanks for the article. In regard to my arrest in 2001, I was simply holding a sign in front of Senator Lieberman’s office in Hartford, that read “Support Human Rights (don’t bomb innocent people)”. I was arrested by police who put me in a headlock, threw me to the ground and cuffed me and put me in a paddy wagon. I was given $35,000 bail so my friends ended up paying $3,000 to a bail bondsman that we never get back. I was on trial for 8 months for two felonies that were complete fabrications.

The following quotes are taken from Sage’s Facebook page. They are certainly not all-inclusive but are chronological.

I have visited Occupy Boston for a month and I have lived there for almost a week. I intend to live there through the Winter. I am on the Winterization team, figuring out the logistics and architecture. I love it. I also hate it, because it reflects the disfunction in our society, the underlying violence. The people who live there are largely the most disenfranchised .. the homeless, the alienated. These are the 99%, in fact the poorest 5%. You will find people drinking, using drugs, fighting. These people have internalized violence, have been abused and reflect it. Yet they are part of the movement and know what it’s about. It’s not pretty, but this is our society. This movement resonates. It is true. It has problems, but they are our problems. We need to uplift ourselves. How can we do this? Give me your ideas. Give me your thoughts.  (November 2)

Sage's Tiny House

Among those in Occupy Boston’s Winterization Working Group is Sage Radachowsky, a biochemist who conducts research at Harvard’s Girguis Laboratory. He’s been sleeping in what he calls his “Tiny Tiny Home on Wheels,” a coffin-like structure that he says has been keeping him “so warm that I often sweat at night and need to remove layers.”

November 8, Sage’s birthday:

The Occupy Boston Winterization and Fire Safety Working Group has brought together some of the best minds of the OB movement, and possibly in all of New England, to work as a single, well-oiled machine.

Sage Radachowsky, one of the group’s vital members, is a molecular biologist and engineer who’s worked for both Harvard and MIT labs. “We’re consulting with people who know a lot about a lot of different things,” he said. “There are some really good ideas in the works, and we’ve got a lot of great partners.”

According to Radachowsky, the group’s goals include “energy solutions, specifically renewable ways to provide electricity and heat…ground solutions to get people’s bodies and feet off of the cold ground…[and] solutions for structures, within the constraints that we have….We’re not allowed to bring in any wood…and anything that’s too rigid is not a good idea.”

****When asked how he thought the camp would fare through the winter months, Radachowsky went much further than merely predicting its survival. “The camp may become smaller, and so the environment might become more intimate — think of people getting together in common space and talking and playing cards and things,” he said, “[but] the vibrancy, the culture, is going to continue. We are the seed of a new society that is going into the dormant season. And when spring comes along, we’ll see what flowers.”“This is an opportunity for people to do something that is somewhat brave. It’s a struggle and something you might not [ordinarily] choose to do — sleep in the middle of a city with no house for an entire winter,” Radachowsky said. “But there’s something kind of poetic about it. I feel very fortunate to finally have something challenging in my life that I feel is worth fighting for. This is a nonviolent army, and we’re winter soldiers.”

“A lot of people are going to learn a lot of different things that will be useful to them for the rest of their lives,” he said, and it’s going to bring out the best in them.

“I just bought an American flag for the first time in my life,” said Radachowsky. “I went to Lowe’s yesterday and bought a bunch of flags, and I hung them up around [camp], and I put a big one in my wagon. It’s the first time in my life that I ever hung up a flag because I thought, ‘There’s something to be proud of, and there’s some hope.’”

“Until now, I’ve never felt completely proud of this country, and now I finally do,” he said. “[This movement] is something that I’m so, totally, proud of.
Enter the geeks. At Occupy Boston, a short walk away from the site of the (actual) Tea Party, a ragtag group of revolutionary biologists, engineers, and architects from MIT, Harvard, and beyond are fighting to keep the movement alive and warm.

 

Radachowsky, 37, was drawn to technology at an early age. He got his first computer in 1980—a Radio Shack Color Computer that boasted four kilobytes of memory—and spent his spare time programming. As he got older, he lost interest in computers and “started focusing more on human beings than technology,” dropping out of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute after one semester. After 9/11, while pursuing his master’s degree in sociology, Radachowksy was arrested in a protest against the war in Afghanistan. Charged with two felonies for his conduct—Radachowsky disputes the charges—he was on trial for eight months and set free on $35,000 bail.

After many years of working as a carpenter, Radachowsky returned to the tech world in hopes of climbing out of his massive debt. He worked as a volunteer on MIT’s solar car project, and soon got a full-time job working at a small company that built electronics to harvest energy from microbes. After the company was bought out, he followed his boss to the Girguis Lab, where he is currently working on developing clean liquid fuel.

Radachowsky fashioned his Tiny Tiny Home (an extreme iteration of the growing Tiny House movement) out of a TV cabinet that he found in the trash, plus plywood, Styrofoam, and three layers of clear polyethylene sheets—which create a transparent dome to let light in. The entire project cost just $100, making it replicable for other protesters. The structure is elevated, creating distance between the icy ground and Radachowsky’s body. And unlike the three-season tents most Occupiers use, the Tiny Tiny Home is insulated and has a sturdy roof that will resist being crushed under the weight of heavy snow. Most importantly, Radachowsky is able to skirt the ban on solid structures at the Occupy Site because he added bicycle wheels and a tow hitch. Technically, it’s not a “permanent structure,” so it’s allowed. Radachowsky says the General Assembly is weighing his proposal for a $1,000 allocation to build 10 more Tiny Tiny Homes for Occupiers, and he’s optimistic that it will be approved.

Tiny Tiny Home inside
Meanwhile, MIT Professor of Architecture Jan Wampler, another member of the Winterization Working Group, is organizing MIT students and alumni to develop immediate strategies to combat the cold. For Wampler, who has been called the “People’s Architect,” Occupy Boston is latest chapter in a long career of cause-related design: In 2009, he developed models for sustainable villages in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and he’s led similar projects in China, Honduras, Turkey, Ecuador, and Sierra Leone.

“Have you ever been in Boston during the winter?” Wampler asks me. When I tell him I grew up in the city, he replies, “So you know how serious this is. The clock is ticking, and I thought architects and engineers could help.”

Wampler recruited about 15 of his students to collaborate with half a dozen alumni, emphasizing that it would be extracurricular, non-credited work (“I’m a veteran of the Vietnam protests, so I’ve learned from the mistakes that were made”). Because of time and funding constraints—not to mention the ban on flammable materials—they are focused on low-tech solutions. Engineers are testing various materials to wrap heated bricks that would give off heat without burning skin. They are also exploring different methods of keeping water hot over long periods of time beyond a simple thermos, which maintains, but doesn’t radiate, heat. And they’re experimenting with different canopy materials to keep snow off of the roofs of tents and create dead air space, which boosts temperature.

“None of this is rocket science,” says Wampler, who recalls how his grandmother would place a hot brick next to his bed for warmth in their unheated farmhouse in rural Ohio. “We’re just bringing back ideas this country had years ago and have since lost.” And Wampler stresses that while the MIT cohort is applying scientific rigor to optimize these low-tech solutions, many of the lay members of the Winterization Working Group are devising, and implementing “very impressive” strategies on their own.

Radachowsky, with support from Wampler’s team, is also building a large inflatable teepee made out of polyethylene tubing that he hopes can be used as a communal “living room” for occupiers. Beyond its symbolic value, the teepee design is highly functional, he says. “Because it’s inflatable, it has some give, so if wind hits, it will flex back up,” Radachowsky explains. “And the steepness of it means it will shed all of the snow.”

Wampler and Radachowsky hope that the innovation at Occupy Boston will spread to other sites. “The whole spirit of this movement is to share as much information as possible,” says Wampler. “And if we can design something absolutely beautiful, it might help with the image of the movement as well.”

I ask Radachowsky the obvious question: Why not just go inside?

“I think it’s very important that we continue to occupy outdoors,” he says. “We’re showing that we really care – that this isn’t just ‘Occu-stock’ where we’re out here just having fun. A lot of us feel like we are planting the seeds of a new kind of society. So we need to hold this space; we need to keep developing our ideas and forming new structures for the society we envision. We’re making our democracy a democracy again, and in a sense, we’re Winter Soldiers.”

A few days ago, Radachowsky bought his first American flag, which he hangs from his Tiny Tiny Home on Wheels.

Photos by Leah Madsen

Sage Radachowsky

I spent an hour at the Occupy Harvard general assembly last night. It was the initial self-definition conversation. Who are we? Why are we here? Are we non-violent? What are the messages we want to put out? It was formative. I added some thoughts to the conversation. We should be holding teach-ins and lectures, so knowledge comes from the grassroots as well as behind the bricks. We will involve members of Harvard Business School, to make the point that business and fairness and real democracy can all coexist. We will be nonviolent, and that includes our demeanor and way of acting toward others, not just refraining from physical violence. I was pleased with the nature of the discussions.Harvard locked down Harvard Yard, so only those with ID cards may enter. Therefore, Occupy Harvard will hold general assemblies at one of the gates, so that people who cannot come inside can still take part. It will be a striking symbol of exclusion as well. The university’s response is inconveniencing tourists, community members who like to walk through the yard, and students. It is a small defeat already for Harvard that they felt the need to lock down the Yard, I think for the first time since 1969 if an older gentleman I spoke with is correct.

I stopped by again this morning, and helped to stake down tents, and to arrange the ground cloths properly. People don’t really know how to camp, not even the basics. Teaching Harvard students how to camp is not easy.

At Occupy Boston, we have been having regular tent workshops, as well as announcements in all the general assemblies, about how to lay out the ground cloth and rain fly to shed water, instead of letting it pool up. Proper clothing layers, proper diet for the cold. There are some people who just don’t care, and will lie in a puddle until they freeze. We don’t want to enable people to death. Therefore, we have agreed as a community to a set of community standards. People need to know that this is a movement, and they need to contribute at least a basic level, or else they can’t take up the valuable space and resources. We need to space the tents further for the Winter, for snow removal. We need an indoor common space (the large central teepee greenhouse) so we need space for that. We need to make a drainage plan, with channels and pathways.
Boston Globe 11/18
In a crowd that stretched about the length of a football field, hundreds of Occupy Boston protesters marched through downtown this evening — drums, tambourines, and bagpipes in tow — in a “Day of Action” protest against what they view as corporate greed. Their signs conveyed their reasons for braving the drizzly streets on this cold night: “Peace,” “Affordable education,” “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” For Zach Plouffe, 22, who hails from Holyoke, today was his first day at Occupy Boston. But the rainy, chilly weather didn’t faze him.

December 10 Sage Radachowsky
The police said to me, Hey Sage are you going to wheel your home out of here? I said yes. They said thank you.

 

December 12 2011

i am going to do the city’s homeless census tonight … i am assigned to Dewey Square, South Station, and the streets around there. I have 50 space blankets, thanks to Helen Marie Ingersoll, and lots of chocolate. I wish i had a huge thermos of hot soup. I wish i had a huge thermos of love given by many people. I wish i had a couple dozen foreclosed houses to take over and house people. Did you know that there are a lot of homeless people in this country, but there are more foreclosed houses than homeless people?

Shoot .. i am double-booked to be on a radio call-in show and a TV show tonight at the same time! then do the homeless census with the city of boston .. busy times

FINAL POST ON SAGE AT OCCUPY BOSTON

Sage is back home in his Gypsy Waggon and with his chickens. 

Yes, i am happy to be back home, too .. so good to have a home sweet gypsy waggon … though i will sleep in the tiny tiny house in the city tonight, in honor of all people without homes .. and to make my commute shorter tomorrow morning. (Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 11:49am)

~~~

 

This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. — Hamlet