OccupyDC — As I See It. Change and Grow or Don’t and Die

OccupyDC at Night

Ralph Nader recently spoke in Washington DC at Freedom Plaza, the site of the “Stop the Machine” Occupation. He shared lot of interesting facts, but the two that I found most interesting were:

There are approximately 24,000 people participating directly in the “Occupy (fill in the blank)” movement here in the U.S.

There are approximately 14 million unemployed.

Those two facts have kept rubbing together in my mind the past several days. The “Occupy” movement – at least here in D.C. – is clearly approaching a do-or-die moment. Either the occupiers step it up to the next level by starting to attract the 14 million or the occupation in McPherson Square comes to an end.

There are some things that the occupation needs to do today to help increase the odds of, not only being around tomorrow but of seeing their efforts bear fruit.

Select a Spokesman – The OccupyDC prides itself that while there is not a spokesman, everyone is a spokesman. This results in the perception of a fractured and fragmented message. Only about 25% of the people currently in McPherson Square are “true” occupiers. The balance is either homeless individuals or hangers-on and may not be the best individuals to be placed in front of a microphone for an interview. A spokesman is needed who can help present a unified, succinct message.

Improve Outreach – While the mid west knows about OccupyDC, the average person five blocks away has never heard of it. I know. I did an experiment last week. Using McPherson Square as the center and going out about five city blocks, I walked a circle around McPherson Square. Every third or fourth person that passed me I asked them one question: Can you tell me where OccupyDC is being held? Only one person in ten had even heard of OccupyDC.

Start a Dialog – So far the occupation has been a monologue – and at times a diatribe. Sure, it’s easier to raise your fist and voice in anger at “the system” than it is to sit down together and talk. But talking with each other – instead of talking “at” each other has been proven to be the only true method of creating a lasting change…and I guess it’s change that the occupation wants. Remember, you can’t shake hands with a closed fist.

OccupyDC, the world is watching you. You’ve been entrusted at a unique convergence of time and events to affect a significant change in this country. What are you going to do about it? Which direction will you take?

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