No leaders, but many helpers


By Bob Krasner

One can be forgiven for thinking that the site of Occupy Wall Street is a chaotic scene. There are hundreds of tents and people and seemingly as many agendas. But while the conglomeration of tents that cover the grounds of Zuccotti Park seem to be a haphazard mess, there are a number of them that serve a specific purpose.

To the surprise of many, this disparate group has managed to set up an infrastructure that works. Stop at the info/press tent and the volunteers will direct you to the various tents that house the medical, food, clothing, sanitation, legal and finance services.

Chris Magasich, a 55-year-old furniture maker (not unemployed, homeless or addicted, he would like to note), was taking a six-month hiatus to hike in the mountains when he heard about the occupation. He now helps run the pantry at the food tent, where volunteers sign up for shifts and the operation is managed like a business. 

Sam Wood, whom they call “Captain,” is an unemployed 21-year-old from Long Island who has been here “since day one.” On day two he went to work in the medical tent, where he and volunteer doctors, nurses and paramedics deal with “a constant flow of problems,” from common colds to hypothermia. Vitamins are dispensed, 24-hour care is available and doctors are on call at all times. 

The scene is not without its problems, however. A new tent went up Saturday in response to sexual harassment of women in the park. Nana Terrie, of the Strong Women Rules Subcommittee, oversaw the erection of a “safe space” tent where women could not only feel comfortable but also get advice on what Terrie named as the three options for the unemployed among them: Go back to school, start a business or find a new job. The tent will be filled with bunk beds, dressers and a welcome table. Another table will hold a computer.

If you are still wondering why they are occupying Zuccotti Park, Magasich will tell you that it’s “because the government is not functioning for the people.” And the people there will tell you that they are functioning quite well for themselves.