The Occupy movement was criticized last Fall for doing a great job of highlighting the gap between the rich and the poor and near-poor in America without having any plans or alternatives. While it always seems a bit odd to put the responsibility for healing a sick system on the shoulders of those who are both outside it and oppressed by it, the criticism did point to a real problem: what to do next? The Occupied sites were something of a laboratory for change: new ways of holding meetings, making decisions, interacting with neighbors and well-wishers. Where would it go next?
The hallmark of Occupy is that it is local. It is not trying to create a new international economic system all at one fell swoop. In Duluth, it seems to have set up something of a swap location: people bring things they don’t need and give them to folks who can use them. They’re using a building condemned for habitation – with the owner’s permission (a controversial local businessman) – and also have a library, a few computers, and volunteers about four hours a day.
The Duluth News Tribune report sounds like the first experiments in coordinating the efforts of like-minded groups in town – on a community rather than a charity model. Interesting developments!