A mid October Winnipeg poll showed that sixty seven percent of New Yorkers supported Occupy Wall Street. There have been other polls, taken at different times with different numbers, but with the same results: New York City supports Occupy Wall Street. These numbers, though encouraging, are somewhat invisible.
I have many friends who vocally support the ideas behind Occupy Wall Steet. It is great to hear their support, but it would be even more heartening to see them at Zuccotti or in a march. Many people, however, have told me that they would feel outside their comfort zone in a march or at Zuccotti. While it is not essential to go to a march or Zuccotti to support the 99 percent, I do feel that there are a lot of learning opportunities to be had at Zuccotti and that people are missing out on that.
A great many people, though not enough, support OWS in their own quiet way in the privacy of their own homes. They support the 99% by going to the farmer’s market, by buying recycled clothes at Thrift stores, by rejecting consumerism, by riding their bikes, etc.
In some ways, I feel like this kind of quiet activism should be the ultimate goal of OWS. Such quotidian habits as supporting the organic farmer rather than Monsanto, by relying on our own to legs to get us to work instead of by relying on fossil fuels, people are cutting off the supply of money to the 1% while also reducing one’s carbon footprint. It often happens that the less you give to the 1%, the smaller your footprint.
I am proposing, therefore, that OWS organizes a series of house parties, to happen all over the globe, initially on one specific designated date (it would be cool it if turns into a monthly ritual). The goal of the house parties would be manifold: they would display the strength of OWS’s numbers, they would raise money and raise awareness in a setting that people feel comfortable in.
It is an unfortunate fact of human nature that we more eagerly listen to our peers than to people we don’t normally bump into in our sphere of existence. The house parties, however, would provide a way for people to get educated within their own comfort zone. The more educated/interested in the movement, the more the comfort zone will expand.
A house party would offer teachable moments in the food that is served, how it is served, and the discussion that follows in a non-didactic setting. For example, hosts might serve food they bought at the farmer’s Market, or only drinks that have no high fructose corn syrup. They might encourage guests to bring their own drink receptacle to discourage the use of disposable dinnerware. Hosts in non-pedestrian cities would encourage their guests to carpool. Indeed, the organization of each party would be customized to each community involved. Guests can also learn about OWS events at house parties.
Each host would also keep track of the number of guests they have and the amount of money raised. At the end of the day, it would be very powerful to state how much money was raised and how many people all over the world attended.
Aside from setting aside a date for house parties, it would also be important to establish a working group or think tank to discuss ideas on how the house parties can truly provide opportunities for learning.