Nicole Carty and her twin sister Jill Carty have been arguing about politics since they were teenagers, so it's no surprise that Occupy Wall Street has become a contentious topic of conversation.
Nicole majored in sociology at Brown University and is now an organizer with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. Jill has a degree in international studies and business from the University of Pennsylvania and she now works for a financial consulting firm.
Walking down Park Avenue on her way to work one recent morning, Jill revisited the first time she challenged her sister Nicole to explain what the OWS movement was all about. "A few weeks after she started getting really involved … I asked her, 'How will you know when you've reached your goal –- how are you defining success here?' And she got into the philosophy behind it and telling me there is no one goal … and I got really frustrated with that," Jill said.
Back in August, when the Occupy movement was still in the organizing stages, Nicole was having a lazy summer, laying low in her Brooklyn apartment. But when protesters took Zuccotti Park in mid-September, her interest in the occupation happening just across the river began increase. "I did a lot of activism in college, and I hadn't done any since I graduated in 2010. So it was kind of this void that was in me as far as organizing and effecting social change," she explained.
Soon after visiting the park, Nicole joined the facilitation working group and began helping to facilitate the consensus-based decision-making process employed by the movement. "The reason I'm in facilitation is because I knew that the way the process was implemented would be make or break as far as the whole movement is concerned," she said. "I knew that in order to be successful we needed to keep stressing inclusivity, we needed to keep stressing cooperation, and we needed to make sure that marginalized voices were being heard and all of that seemed to be happening in facilitation."
After the park was raided by the NYPD on November 15th, Nicole, like many of the organizers, took a short break from participating in the day-to-day actions to reflect on the experience of that night. According to Nicole, who was pepper-sprayed at close range, the emotional and physical wounds from the experience have had an irreversible impact on the psyche of the movement.
"People have been kind of jumpy and really angry and hurt, and there's a lot of grief that's been unaddressed," she said. "We've been trying to redefine our culture of facilitation in the wake of this trauma."
Meanwhile, Jill is monitoring the movement from afar and has gotten tired of arguing with her twin sister about it. She believes Occupy Wall Street has increased awareness, incited passions and created outrage, but has failed to offer any viable solutions.
"I think they've kind of damned themselves," Jill said. "They've agreed that they're not going to have a unified voice on what the solutions are or what the problem necessarily is, and that's where you lose the impact of moving from the awareness to the problem-solving step."
Nicole's response to her sister's conclusion provides a harsh lesson in political philosophy: "You're asking us to solve the problems that have been created by centuries of capitalist oppression in two-and-a-half months. Like really, I mean, think about what you're trying to ask us –- that's a huge ask!"
Watch the video above to learn more about the Carty Sisters and their feelings about Occupy Wall Street.