Occupations in winter

Justin Elliot reports: Local occupations around the country are linking up through frequent, massive conference calls, tightening what is now an extremely loose national network that operates under the Occupy banner into a more focused force.

The effort, now known as InterOccupy, started out of Occupy Wall Street in New York in mid-October. It has since grown into an elaborate website with multiple weekly phone calls during which occupiers trade ideas, coordinate multistate actions, and plan for the future. Participants at about 150 occupations around the country (and a few internationally) have now participated in the calls, organizers tell me.

“The [weekly] national calls have brought people together, including people who are otherwise isolated in their own occupations,” says Nate Kleinman, an Occupy Philly participant and InterOccupy organizer. “There’s usually a strong particular culture at individual occupations. It’s immensely valuable to have a place once a week where people come together from across the country and share ideas and their hopes for what the movement can accomplish.”

Sometimes that has meant planning specific coordinated actions.

On Dec. 12, Occupy protesters on the West Coast held a day to “shut down Wall Street on the waterfront,” resulting in the partial closure of several ports. In the two weeks before the protests, there were six InterOccupy conference calls in which representatives from 25 occupations planned the day of action, according to Joan Donovan, an InterOccupy organizer and Occupy Los Angeles participant. Those calls covered everything from coordination of the timing of protests up and down the coast to lessons learned from Oakland organizers from a previous port demonstration to strategies to minimize arrests, she said.

I listened in on a recent general call and came away with two impressions: Despite the reduction in media coverage of the Occupy movement after the initial burst of interest and the evictions of physical occupations, there is an efflorescence of activism happening around the country that didn’t exist just a few months ago. And occupiers are planning and organizing in many directions at once.

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