What is the Occupy National Gathering?
The National Gathering (NATGAT) is a great experiment in direct democracy across the country. Occupy activists from around North America have participated via conference call in a process designed to build consensus from the ground up around the idea of gathering in one place at one time in order to put our principles of direct democracy and community into practice on a mass scale.
When and where is the NATGAT?
The NATGAT will take place in Philadelphia from June 30th to July 4th 2012. While activities will take place around the city our main hub will be on Independence Mall.
What will take place at the NATGAT?
The Occupy Movement is based in the idea that if communities come together across traditionally dividing lines then we can work together in a safe space to envision a more just and equitable society. Therefore, to that end we plan to spend four days in community and movement building exercises including workshops, skillshares, presentations, and games. Primarily, we plan on providing a space where concerned citizens from all over the country, and the world, can meet together, eat together, and bond. Our gathering will climax on July 4th when we will take part in a visioning process designed to allow every voice to be heard while allowing repeat visions to organically rise to the top. Through conversation and facilitation we are inviting the entire country to come and have their voice heard. Together, with all those who choose to participate, we will craft a Vision of a Democratic Future.
Is it the intent of the Vision for a Democratic Future that it be representative of the Movement?
No. The Vision will only represent those who choose to participate. It is in no way binding or representative of the movement as a whole. It will simply be the product of thousands of people dedicated to the democratic process who have chosen to have their voices heard at this momentous event.
Where will people sleep?
In true Occupy fashion we are planning on occupying the streets and parks of Philadelphia with our tents and our sleeping bags as a collective expression of free speech. Philadelphia was founded upon the principles of freedom of speech. We plan on exercising that right en masse. We have an Encampment Strategy Sub-Committee that will lay out a safe and effective demonstration of solidarity and strength for all of those wishing to encamp.
Additionally, we are reaching out to local community organizations such as the faith-based community to ask for sheltered space for all of those who do not have the ability or the desire to sleep outside but still want to participate. We plan to have one to five churches available per day, depending on turnout, for sleeping, safe space in the event of police action, meal preparation and bathroom use. The goal of this gathering is provide all of those who are willing and able the chance to meet face to face and discuss what a better world would look like. In our experience, we communicate best in a community setting. Our community has been the streets and we plan to make them home for these five days in July.
What will people eat?
The National Gathering Working Group has worked out a logistics plan where we are going to ask for in kind donations for the gathering in addition to the money that has, and will, be donated for the event. Additionally, we are reaching out to local food justice groups such as Food Not Bombs, The Philly Socialists, and the Hare Krishnas to request food supply for dinner. We also request that those attending, if they are able, to budget ten dollars a day for food. Philadelphia during the July 4th weekend is bustling and there are an abundance of restaurants, groceries, and food carts that folks can utilize.
In order to cut down on waste and keep this gathering as sustainability-minded as possible we are also requesting that attendees, if they are able, to bring their own eating and drinking mechanisms such as bowls, forks, spoons, and water bottles.
Where will people use the restroom?
At the registration table of the NATGAT we will provide a map of public restrooms in the general area of the gathering. July 4th weekend is a very busy time in Philadelphia and the city will be prepared for a mass convergence on their amenities. Our “People’s Map” will direct people to restrooms, encampments, and banks for #banksleep.
Who is responsible for cleaning the areas we occupy?
While the city will be hosting several cleanups as a part of their 4th of July activities we in Occupy Philly are of the persuasion that we are all sanitation. Therefore, we will be setting aside a block of time everyday where we encourage folks to pause what they are doing and clean their immediate area. We do not intend to cause any unrest or mess while we occupy.
How are donations being handled?
The working group responsible for handling finance for the gathering is committed to practicing our principles in terms of transparency, horizontalism, and inclusion. All budgeted items and earmarks will be posted to the website so anyone can see where donations are going. We will be accepting in kind donations on site, collecting through a link on the website, applying for grants, and selling donated t-shirts from FireDogLake.com.
How are people getting to the gathering?
NATGAT organizers are working in coordination with the Occupy Caravan, which plans to organize four separate legs of a national road trip that will end in Philadelphia. More information can be found at OccupyCaravan.com
What about the folks who cannot attend?
Since the beginning of our project we have recognized the difficulty of travel. For those who cannot attend in person we are developing an online platform that anyone can use to participate in the visioning process. We will be utilizing the infrastructure that Occupiers from all across the country have created and synthesizing them into one coherent and user-friendly forum.
Will there be a sound system?
The Occupy Philly “chapter” of the National Gathering Working Group has been empowered by the national group to decide whether to get a permit, which would be necessary for any staging, lights, or amplification. While we are exploring sustainable alternatives such as solar power and bike generators, in the spirit of our movement, we plan on having a lo-fi gathering. This is not a conference or a concert; it is a time to come together and share our dreams and skills.
Will there be art & music?
We encourage anyone who has artistic skills to bring their talent and their passion to share with everyone at the gathering.
What should I bring?
We encourage everyone who is coming to bring the following supplies, including, but not limited to: a tent and/or a tarp, sleeping bag, note pad, food, medical supplies such as aloe and sunscreen, stainless steel plate and utensils, a water bottle, and supplies for any skill share, workshop, game, or project you may be bringing to share.
Will there be direct actions?
Of Course! We encourage planning of actions by regional groups that will then coalesce to plan actions in person the week before the event begins.
Will this be a hippy love fest with lots of drugs and booze?
Our experience with the park service thus far in Philadelphia is that they are extremely strict about monitoring the crowd for drugs and alcohol. While we believe it is everyone’s autonomous right to treat their bodies as they wish, our legal team will not represent, bail out or in anyway defend any person that is ticketed or arrested for such actions. Additionally, we respectfully request that those using faith based spaces/community spaces respect those spaces and the guidelines that they set forth.
My city’s occupation is sending a group, what can we bring?
In order to supplement costs, we are asking each occupation to send a kit including but not limited to: Dry food (1 large bag of rice, cans of beans and vegetables), a radio (we are pursuing an independent radio broadcast) and batteries, a canopy tent if possible, 1 flip chart and chart note pad if possible, markers, duct tape, a few tarps and cleaning supplies (cleaner, rags, garbage bags & a broom).
What will the schedule include each day?
The schedule for the first four days will include workshops, actions, teach-ins, lectures and arts during the day time and visioning meetings in the evening and festivities at night. The fifth day, July 4th, will be dedicated to crafting our vision.
Twitter: @OccupyNG #NATGAT