We ventured downtown yesterday to ask Occupy Baltimore protestors how they’re faring three weeks in. At McKeldin Square, at Pratt and Light, we met plenty of nice, idealistic young people — camping temporarily on a concrete landscape dotted with colorful tents and food stations, the scene decked with makeshift signs. A band was setting up, too. It’s creative democracy at work.
Why have you come to Occupy Baltimore?
For our generation. For those of us who have graduated from college and can’t find a job. We can’t pay our student loans back. We live with our parents. My mom is living paycheck to paycheck. We just need a voice.
Do you have a job?
I have been cut back to two days a week at an organic grocery store. So yes, sorta.
Do you sleep here? Is it safe at night?
You should come back tonight! That’s when all the people who make an honest living during the day show up. The teachers, coaches, bus drivers, taxi owners etc. who all work but can’t pay their bills. And it is safe. We have a buddy system.
Where do you work?
I write copy for websites.
What brings you to Occupy Baltimore?
A girl named Ashley and social injustice.
Are you accomplishing anything?
Well, this protest has brought people together who would otherwise be isolated. Together they are creating concrete forms of social change.
The production and distribution of food. Food is being donated. People are learning how to cook here and feed people in an effective way. Basic needs are being met. Society induces people to compete and not cooperate with each other. We are trying to change that here.
So it’s not all about finding jobs or making money but working together to make a difference in society? Not the high unemployment rate or the imbalance of salaries in this country?
Wall Street is out of control. They are “gaming the system” of money and law to get more for themselves and corporations as opposed to using the system to benefit the needs of others and their community.
Will you go to New York?
Maybe on my way home to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. I’d like to see it. But I really like it here in Baltimore.
In in email to BFB editors this morning, here’s what our talented photographer, Lee Kriel, had to add about Occupy Baltimore: “The people we met were inspiring and bright. Elise was adorable and articulate. Vulnerable and kind. I worry about her. She lives with her mom and her grandfather. Her mom works full time for a company she has worked for for 20 years but she is in debt. Her mother also cares for Elise’s grandfather. Stuck in the middle.
And Leo…such a bright young man. Beautiful words flowed from his mouth. Seriously. (He asked if the Fishbowl was hiring!) I smiled at the end when we told Leo we were there for the SartorialBaltimorial. He quickly took a look down at what he was wearing and smiled and said, “Really?” He had a great story about his coat. A teacher who comes in the evening, offered to take all of Leo’s clothes home to wash and dry after the rain. But Leo declined because he thought it was too much of an imposition. So the teacher gave him the coat off his back.”