Occupy Detroit Goes to Work

By Nathanael Romero for Occupy Detroit Media

The new Occupy Detroit camp structure
Occupy Detroiters worked hard Sunday to construct and move into their new shelter. Credit: John Kuhn

With all the media coverage depicting occupiers as a bunch of lazy, shiftless kids, it’s easy to overlook the fact that occupations likes the ones in Detroit and New York are, at their core, places where people come to roll up their sleeves and put themselves to work.

In a display of engineering prowess and community cooperation, Detroit occupiers erected a giant tarp structure Sunday to house the food, medical, and comfort stations at Grand Circus Park. Occupy Detroit enacted its own version of an old-fashioned Amish barn-raising, utilizing donated resources to construct a canopy structure at the northern end of the park. The size of a large house and anchored to park trees, the new structure is sturdy and able to withstand the wind and rain while serving as a space for both work and storage. Members of the Electrical Workers Union (IBEW) aided in its construction.

The operation Sunday was impressive for its spontaneity. Everyone joined in to move tents, equipment, and resources to the newly built structure from their old home at the southern end of the park. Many hands made light work of moving tents, setting up storage spaces for produce and supplies, and constructing a floor for the medical tent out of donated pallets and plywood.

In addition, the move went on without disrupting any of the essential services provided by the food, medical, and comfort stations. Occupiers munched on tamales and chips distributed at the old food station, even while volunteers set up the new one.

A few weeks back, a young man at Occupy Wall Street carried a sign that read, “I lost my job and found an occupation” These words captured the dynamic Sunday as Occupy Detroit put itself to work. Whether those involved were unemployed or using their time away from their day jobs, everyone joined in to occupy both their time and themselves with the building of the Occupy Detroit community. The political significance of Sunday’s effort was not lost on those at the park: the combined efforts proved that people — motivated by a desire to respond directly to the emerging needs of their community — put themselves to work in service of people rather than profit.

As the camp grows, the demand for volunteers and supplies will only increase. Visit the donation page at occupy-detroit.us for a list of supplies needed by occupiers. And for those who have yet to visit Grand Circus Park, stop by and learn how you can become involved in the rapidly emerging community at Occupy Detroit.

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