I was going to wait a day to post another one of these, but given the events of today it seems appropriate.
Time spent in Zuccotti Park: 4+ weeks
Resides: Moves around the park.
Zonkers (who wouldn't provide his real name due to a felony marijuana conviction) was enjoying a 10 AM breakfast of some milk, cereal and a vegan pastry. He was a traveler and a regular in communal living situations before he came to Zuccotti and unlike many of the other protestors, he didn’t have a set place to sleep or a tent. “I kind of float around and crash wherever. I do a lot of meditation so I don’t sleep as much. I do six hours asleep and 2 hours awake, so I just take naps regularly. I sometimes have a sleeping bag, sometimes I’ll use a blanket, sometimes I’ll lay down wherever for awhile, use my backpack as a pillow.”
On the community: “Things tend to be a bit on the chaotic side, but still things get done and they get done efficiently and they get done without any coercion. Really, what we’re doing is we’re creating an alternative society, a self-regulating community. We’re all fed here, we’re all clothed, we’re all given shelter, so we’re left with time to fraternize and discuss what should we do with our country, and learn and protest and read. [It’s] a living experiment, an example of the world that we want. The movement is a message; this is what we want more of. [It helps] not having to struggle just to get by and get fed and have insecurity over your next food source. A few days ago a Brazilian couple ordered us 100 pizzas.”
“The people here are a cross section of a society as a whole. You’re going to have one bad apple. What’s surprising is that given the population, it is so peaceful. I feel safer here then in any other part of New York City. There have been a few troublemakers. We just try to deal with them compassionately and deescalate the situation. A lot of people that come here are seeking healing. [There are] a lot of issues with addictions or drugs. It’s a mental health issue, and a lot of it is because of the alienation brought on by regular society, where they feel like people don’t care. We have an atmosphere of nurturing here and what is amazing is that these people that in other situations would be violent [are] not violent. We can all [get along] even though we come from a broad spectrum of ideologies and backgrounds.”
On coping through the rain: “[The rain] makes everyone a little bit stressed out and on edge. It gets bad. We try to use tarps. We have these safety bins. We do keep stuff dry, but a lot gets wet. A lot of these people aren’t used to sleeping under tarps or on streets. They’re coming here from their homes, so they’re not the most urban camping aware, but we’re slowly learning. Each rainfall we get better. People help out and build common structures and there’s a neighborly connection going on here. When it does rain we try to keep people’s spirits up. A lot of sarcastic back and forth [and] self-deprecating humor gets us through. It’s more the unspoken then the spoken, just a glance or two. Just seeing someone completely dripping, laying there in a puddle cause they don’t [care] anymore.”