WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC had its barn, the short-lived wooden structure that was put up and torn down on Sunday in McPherson Square. Occupy Washington, DC -- the protest formerly known as Stop the Machine that has been camped out in downtown D.C.'s Freedom Plaza since October 6 -- has its geodesic dome.
The dome, donated by activist George Ripley, has been up since November 27 on the eastern part of Freedom Plaza. It's a white half-bubble that looks like it's made of plastic pipes and FedEx envelope material; one can see the Capitol's own white dome above it in the distance.
The dome has a circumference of about 20 feet and is being used mostly for meetings -- it's quiet enough inside that the infamous Occupy "mic check" isn't necessary. It's lightweight and is kept from blowing away by buckets full of concrete.
"The Park Service was initially concerned when they saw us mixing cement," says Freedom Plaza organizer Kevin Zeese. "But we talked about it. They understood that we're doing it in a way that does not hurt the plaza."
On Monday morning, McPherson Square's barn is no longer standing, but the dome remains. Ann Wilcox, a lawyer who has advised both of D.C.'s Occupy camps, told The Huffington Post in an email that the dome has been left standing because "it is not as permanent a structure, and smaller. The 'barn' at McPherson was two stories and much more substantial."
Kevin Zeese is hoping to bring bigger structures to Freedom Plaza: some large tents and maybe a bigger dome. "McP had a wooden structure. There is no way the Park Service would allow that," he wrote late Sunday night in a text message. "We are negotiating with them to put up tents. We have an engineer reviewing plans to show the 18-by-32-foot tents will be safe. When structures are over 500 sq ft, there are standards to make sure they are safe."
But meanwhile, there is the one 20-foot dome, which is warm, lightweight and will be good in the winter, says Zeese, because snow will fall right off of it due to the all-over round shape. Yes, says Zeese, that does mean the demonstration is still planning to stay through the winter.
And it's fitting that a populist movement that finds a great deal of drive in the country's foreclosure crisis would embrace the dome. Buckminster Fuller, who originated the geodesic dome, was looking for a design that would be affordable and efficient, in response to the post-World War II housing crisis. Almost 70 years later, it could just be the time for Bucky's "modern igloos" to catch on.
Flickr photo by patti haskins, used under a Creative Commons license
Photo of the Eden Project's domes, in Cornwall, England. Flickr photo by elias_daniel, used under a Creative Commons license
Flickr photo by Angela Anderson-Cobb, used under a Creative Commons license
Flickr photo by cliff1066â„¢'s, used under a Creative Commons license
Flickr photo by Jim Linwood, used under a Creative Commons license
Buckminster Fuller designed the dome on Sainte Hélène island for the 1967 World Expedition. Flickr photo by guylaine_lheureux, used under a Creative Commons license
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