#OccupyBoston One Month Anniversary Update: Safety, Winterization, and a Call for Hot Food

It's a fair trade vegan anniversary cupcake - we swear!

While everything is fine and sunny down at Dewey Square today, the beginning of this weekend was hellish, as rain, sleet, snow, and even hail howled down on tent city. As happens every time the weather fouls up in these parts, new challenges arose and tempers got tested. There are some natural nightmares that all the tarps on earth can't repel.

After a day of marching through the rain and announcing to everybody within earshot that they plan to stay through winter, Occupy Boston returned to their soaked camp at around 3pm Saturday. From there, the focus fell on winterization – whether that meant individuals securing their own tents, or committees holding formal meetings to devise strategy.

Owly Images

Through it all, I made a point to pay attention to the range of occupiers – from homeless degenerates, to the helpful homeless, to the educated thirty-somethings who tend to anchor working groups and make decisions. There are glaring disparities between these elements, and they're becoming more obvious as days get shorter and nights colder. A lot of full-time campers don't even attend General Assemblies.

I arrived at yesterday's winterization meeting in South Station about an hour late, expecting to hear plans for a cool igloo, or at least an incredibly dynamic snow-shoveling strategy. Instead what I encountered was a contentious powwow that somehow addressed important issues in painfully granular detail and not at all. I swear five minutes were dedicated to the merits of wool socks.

Owly Images

In the end they seem to have worked some things out – the group okayed buys like boots, scarves, gloves, and waterproof suits, and they'll also be getting military grade tents for working groups. Still I was amazed that last night's GA wasn't entirely devoted to comforting full-time squatters – I suppose that wouldn't have left time for the announcement of an upcoming Occupy Philosophy group.

Perhaps the only thing less surprising and more amazing than their lack of focus in the clutch was the arrival of perennial public office candidate Doug Bennett, who appeared out of nowhere at the Saturday GA. His beet red melon swaying back and forth, Bennett interrupted at least five times, saying nothing of consequence and making few friends in the process.

Of course there were some critical agenda items besides winter. The issue of security – a concern since day one that's been highlighted in the media recently – came up in several forms, from changes in safety crew shift lengths, to sentiments regarding a need for an eviction process. “I can't just sit around listening to time bombs threaten people nightly,” said one member of the Direct Action group.

And then there's the lack of hot food. At this point only two restaurants are donating regular meals to Occupy Boston – The Middle East, and Life Alive, a new veggie joint in Central Square. I'm not sure why places are holding out, but I hope it's not because they're afraid of yuppies getting mad at them. Dummies simply don't attend to such details.

Owly Images

On top of a lack of participation from local eateries, occupiers are enduring hostility from South Station vendors. Whereas Au Bon Pain, for example, used to hook up leftover croissants, that's no longer the case. And the same goes for some other places. It's unclear whether the change is a result of police pressure or corporate policies, but it certainly makes camp life more difficult.

All that said, Occupy Boston is here to stay through the winter. The resolve is so strong among so many occupiers that I'd almost dare a force to move them. If they can evict foul elements and heal the strain between disconnected factions, they even have a chance to grow through the cold months. Their critics can at least count on that, and on having Occupy around to bitch about indefinitely.


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