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Occupy DC arrests beg question: Who can fix foreclosure problem — occupiers or our government?

How can you help bring attention to foreclosures. Story about Dec 6th Day of Action on Foreclosures: here.

Occupy DC built a wood structure for warmth and meetings. Police evicted them and made 31 arrests. That story at CNN: here.

Why did Occupy DC build a wood structure in McPherson Square? That story at Occupy DC and below:

Pull quote:

In a culture and city with chronic homelessness and foreclosures, this structure is a symbol of what people working together under principles of mutual aid can accomplish with limited time and resources. The police response demonstrates that our system is not committed to building up–they’re only concerned with tearing down.

Statement: The Wooden Structure
Posted on December 4th, 2011 at Occupy DC

At 12am Sunday morning Occupy DC began assembling a prefabricated wooden structure that had been designed by professional architects and engineers to provide shelter, warmth and space for General Assemblies during the winter months. At 11am Federal Park Police arrived at McPherson Square to order that the structure be disassembled within the hour. Occupiers held an emergency General Assembly to determine whether the structure should stand or be taken down.

Before the 12pm deadline police surrounded the structure and informed all inside that they were at risk of arrest if they remained inside the structure past the deadline. A police line was erected to encircle the structure. Anyone who stepped between the structure and the caution tape was subject to aggressive arrest. As of 3pm 12 people have been arrested for crossing the police line, including three inside the structure. Police insist the structure will be taken down despite the presence of at least 20 people on or inside of it. According to a source within the Park Police, they are contacting a certified inspector to determine the safety of the structure, after which point further police action may be taken.

“The police response seems completely disproportionate. This camp is peaceful. They are not saying why people are being arrested or what they will be charged with” says Siobhan McGuirk, occupier.

A symbolic, safe and practical structure

The modular structure was designed by professionals ‘to code’. It meets all health and safety requirements and is fully accessible. It is non-permanent, has no foundations and is not tethered to the ground. It’s designed to be movable every four days to protect the grass beneath the structure. The structure is fully sustainable–it is built to be entirely passively solar-heated and will feature a hydroponic irrigation system on the roof.

Occupiers consented to its construction at a General Assembly during the week of November 7th. It was deemed important to have shelter in order to protect the health and well being by preventing the risk of hypothermia or illness of those who come to the square to peacefully meet in the coming winter months. At a time when thousands of native District homeless struggle to survive in extreme weather conditions, Occupy DC feels that the structure makes a positive statement for equal housing opportunity and sustainable living.

Robert Stephens, occupier, says “In a culture and city with chronic homelessness and foreclosures, this structure is a symbol of what people working together under principles of mutual aid can accomplish with limited time and resources. The police response demonstrates that our system is not committed to building up–they’re only concerned with tearing down.”


5 Responses

  1. The structure was built on public property-without a permit I’d assume. It wasn’t anchored down, which made it a hazard should strong winds blow though. Being that it was made of wood, it was also a fire hazard. Not to mention the warping that would soon occur to the plywood or pressed particle board they used for the exterior.

    There are much better alternatives available. PVC and canvas would be one. However, I think they do not want Occupiers taking over public parks.

    Surely there are vacant buildings that the city (ies) could find to subsidize for these people until the winter is over.Provide security as it seems these Occupy camps bring in the criminals along with people wishing to come up with solutions.

    If they are homeless, they do not need to make a statement. They need to keep warm and be fed. Perhaps being arrested should be part of their strategy.

    • Thinker Belle,

      Thanks for your opinion.

      I disagree with a lot of what you wrote.

      It is funny, you said that the DC occupy structure was not anchored down, so you say that made it a hazard.

      But, I read up on the story and the structure. A father-son team of professional architects made the structure. It was well designed. And, the reason it was not tethered is because it was designed expressly to be “to code” by not being a permanent structure. Also, it could be taken down in one hour — so if there were reports of high winds, it would have been taken down.

      It seems like you have good ideas about how to build things, and how to get occupiers to approach the homeless situation. You should dive in and help the movement by joining a local occupy, or signing up for the working groups and forums at nycga.net. They need lots of help and ideas as they plan their bold, noble, society-altering actions.

      Peace and struggle,
      Kimberly Wilder

  2. Okay. I appreciate that you didn’t chew me out in retaliation. Lol!

    So, this is a contest for homeless shelters, is it? I wouldn’t go with wood among all those high rise buildings. I’m betting they are steel and brick.

    If it is a non-permanent structure they seek, heck, Rubbermaid has the market corned on that one. Lol! Snap it together and ….taaaadaaaa! You can find them in the shed section of any home improvement big box store.

    Of course, the old travel trailers still work well. But, everyone will drudge up the FEMA stuff again.

    I doubt you could set either in a public park, though. And, it costs to rent a space, too.

    Perhaps this could be used for ideas: http://www.archdaily.com/159763/paolo-soleris-arcosanti-the-city-in-the-image-of-man/

    Of course, I’m sure the weather is much colder in D.C. and New York than Arizona.

    I read about a man that made a house out of old tires. He filled them with sand and they were stacked to make the walls. He needed little heat or air as I recall. I forgot where that was. Maybe New Mexico. I think it was west.

    If it’s in a large city, perhaps setting up recycling centers to retrieve the materials needed would be a good start. Example: glass for artisans,tile chips from setters and stores for mosaics, collect cans to make tin can men and sell,newspapers for insulation or tiling into the ground (black and white),Pepsi bottles will stack nicely filled with whatever,old patio doors and windows for solar frames (cold frames), and I once saw a oven made from metal with glass on top for cooking.

    But, they need a place to put it. Doubtful it would go over well inside D.C. But, outside the area…and some type of shuttle…you get my drift.

    Why can’t they just negotiate for the use of a large building that is vacant? Let them see what can be done with that as a prototype. It would be not only gracious of the owner, but also advertising for them, too. Maybe solar panels on the top. Or, a rooftop community garden. A system of recycling waste.Or, if there’s a new form of energy they can produce that would power it up.

    Just off the top of my head and I’m sure you’ve already thought of it, too.

  3. I found this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2011/12/occupy_d_c_builds_a_fort_cops_tear_it_down_did_they_send_a_message_about_foreclosures_.single.html

    They used $1400 worth of wood, then complained when it was hauled off-as they knew it would be.That’s not environmental friendly at all!And, why use wood if you are just going to cover it with plastic? Needing something lightweight? Wood isn’t the answer.

    Here is a lightweight alternative: http://www.fiberglasssheets.com/2-1-2-Standard-Corrugated-Panels/6oz-clear-corrugated-fiberglass-panels-2-1-2-corrugation-26-x-96

    Put that on a metal or plastic type frame and it would be light, durable, and less expensive than the wood.But, don’t do it and know they’ll dump it! I’m not sure just how recyclable fiberglass is.

  4. I said it was a fire hazard, and that’s what happened! You don’t have to be an architect to figure that one out: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2011/12/building-code-occupy-dc-sunday-standoff/642/ (if you’ve ever gone up in a ball of flames, you’d think about this stuff)

    Now here’s a statement: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/30/occupy-dc-agnes-bolts-bubble-brings-transparency_n_1121568.html

    Funny, but innovative!

    You guys best stock up on pantyhose to help keep warm. Men, too. Under pants, they are like thermal underwear…cheaper, too. $3 each will spread a lot of warmth. I read there will be buses unloading protesters soon.

    Though I may not agree with the full content of Occupy, I’d like to see people stay safe and warm. When taking a consensus, maybe a little Murphy’s Law would come in handy: What could possibly happen to this around all these people? Not to be pessimistic, but, let’s face it…if it can be done, they’ll do it.

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