Thursday, October 27, 2011

National magazine writer describes Occupy Nashville as rediscovery of "humanity in the practice of democracy"

The Nation's JoAnn Wypijewski compares Occupy Wall Street (NYC) to its spin-off Occupy Nashville after speaking with several folk involved in the Nashville protest. She has some deeper impressions than many local reporters have divulged:

as a material fact, living in the streets, even collectively, is not utopian; it is a light set upon a lampstand in dystopia. Nashville underlines this. Here the movement’s ritualized homelessness bumps up starkly against the real. At least half the people encamped have no other home; many are young and troubled in a poor city whose downtown does not conceal this national disgrace. At Legislative Plaza “comfort” means providing not just food and supplies but consideration for people who are typically invisible even when seen. It means willingness on the part of homeless people to engage. No part of this is easy. Occupy Nashville has not added homelessness to any list of grievances. “That would be one grievance real easy to solve: sweep us out,” a 24-year-old named Christopher, with six years’ experience of the pavement, on and off, and still at arm’s length from the occupation, told me. The project has, instead, created a structure and space for both groups to move toward each other, to speak and think anew, and rediscover humanity in the practice of democracy. It is not romanticized. That is its special grace. Thirty years ago in New York a body exposed to the elements was shocking. Today in Liberty Square it is phenomenal. In Nashville, it is what it is, and Occupy Nashville confronts us with the pain of that inequity and the price of our accommodation.

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