Statement of Occupy Town Square: "We need to reclaim and re-invent the purpose and relationship of democratic public space"

A Look In...
Occupy * Unity
"Liberate the Commons" (at the Dog Run)

More photos coming from yesterday’s Occupy Town Square at Washington Square but this “Statement of Intent & Guidelines” by Occupy Town Square is so well done I felt it needed publishing (this is slightly amended).

To fellow neighbors, the local parks department, government officials, and the press:

This is an open notice of self-permitting by the self-organized informal group known as Occupy Town Square an affinity group with Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Being part of a people’s movement without legal identity, we cannot hold a permit for an event. Moreover, the loose, informal, and boundless structure of OWS is incompatible with the concepts of personal and organizational liability on which this city’s permitting system is based.

Unable, therefore, to sign on to a permit, we commit to follow its spirit. We commit to uphold the sanctity of the commons, to maintain the cleanliness, safety, and beauty of our public spaces, to guard them from vandalism, to use them peaceably, and to share them lovingly with our fellow citizens.

Over the next few months, mobile, daytime, pop-up occupations, called Occupy Town Squares, will be held openly in parks and other public spaces, indoor and outdoor, around New York City. For a few hours a week, these events will bring the spirit, joy, and civic-engagement of the Liberty Square Occupation to neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. We will create places to discuss timely issues of equity, dignity, and justice; there will be info tables, teach-ins, trainings, brain monsoons, radical dreaming, and political discussions.

For too long the contests over public space have been resolved on the side of top-down control, passive use, and commodified consumption. We need to broaden the notion of public culture, public space, and public commons. We need to reclaim and re-invent the purpose and relationship of democratic public space as we advocate for our cause. We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people— whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth— is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. Communities in need are not free communities.

In calling these events, we relinquish them to the unpredictable river of city life– they are no longer “our” events, but the broad-based decentralized Occupy movement’s events, the people’s events.

In solidarity we ask our neighbors and government officials to guarantee that our rights to freely associate and meet in public space is without discrimination and oppression of any kind. With each Town Square, we aim to create a safe, peaceful, celebratory environment, accessible and welcoming to people of every age and background  (a section of principles removed. To see full text, go here.) …

Whether you consider yourself a supporter of the movement or not, we want to meet you: come to this town square and share your ideas and stories, learn about the movement, argue with us, debate with us, collaborate with us. If you’re already active in Occupy Wall Street, this is a chance to exchange information, to coordinate between working groups, and to get to know our brothers and sisters in the movement.

Sincerely,

The Occupy Town Square affinity group

(Full text here at Facebook group.)

** More photos coming. Sorry for delay. Short on time this afternoon … **

Top 2 Photos: Cathryn

Bottom Photo: Jeff Smith