“I Want…” -an Occupy Wall Street photoessay

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Occupy Wall Street is shrouded in uncertainty. Did the NYPD lull the protestors into mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge, or did a small gang of OWS participants take a risk without considering its impact on the other participants? Is OWS moving towards a multiclass movement, or did its initial base of young college grads render its multiclass vision impossible? Is it Tahir Square or the left’s Tea Party? Polarized sides of the debate, from OWS’s official news source occupywallstreet.org to dismissive mainstream sources, have drawn lines in the sand on these and so many other questions related to the movement. All the paper is certain about, however, is that these questions do not have hard-and-firm answers.

To move closer toward some critical truth, paper contributor and Fordham student Rachel Dougherty has been investigating Occupy Wall Street since September 17. To cleverly engage her questions about the event and its participants, Rachel explains in an essay published in this week’s issue of the paper:

“I walked around Zuccotti Park (henceforth referred to as Liberty Plaza) and gave each person a note card and a single instruction: write the words ‘I want’ followed by one thing that brought you to the occupation. Once people finished their note cards, I photographed them, and we chatted about what sort of society they envisioned.”

This photoessay is the result of her work. Visually gripping and provocative, it contains around 100 completed notecards.View them individually and check out interviews and audio recordings from Zuccotti Park after the jump

Audio (recordings and descriptions courtesy of Rachel Dougherty)
This is a 17 year old girl who has been coming to the occupation everyday since September 17th.
A high school teacher from jersey who has come to support the occupation sporadically and plans to discuss the occupation with students in his politics course.
Every evening there is a drum circle that helps boost spirits in the plaza.
Twice a day we have a General Assembly. These General Assemblies are the way that we discuss any issues concerning the occupation. We discuss things like creating “quiet hours” in the park, allocating our funds to certain projects, compiling our demands, etc. The General Assemblies are facilitated by certain people, but these people are NOT the leaders, they are simply facilitating to make sure the assembly follows the process. At the assembly everyone has the opportunity to talk. However, we are not allowed to use bullhorns or microphones to amplify our voices, so we use the “people’s mic”. This means that the person speaking will talk in 4-to-5-word phrases and the people around the speaker will repeat what has been said so that everyone is able to hear. In this recording you can hear one committee present a proposal. They are proposing a method for us to use to compile our demands. The process can take some time, but on the up side, no one’s voice is ever excluded. Therefore any finalized decision we make has been approved by everybody, not just the majority.
What do you see as the future of Occupy Wall Street? Share your questions, critiques, and observations in the comments.

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