Occupy's upcoming first birthday, known amongst its busy organizers as "S17" (Sept. 17 -- Get it?), will definitely be different from its original emergence on September 17, 2011. Just how different is still being threshed out by a time-pressured 60-plus member team.
Whatever they come up with, you can be certain that S17 won't be your daddy's 9-17.
Distinctions and comparisons are inevitable and even helpful, so let's examine the past and see if we can divine the future with a variety of scenarios.
First, the 9-17 birth was seemingly a random explosion of frenetic activity. It just "happened" and people just "showed up." The city's government and its enforcers were caught unprepared and undisciplined.
Overnight, the national dialogue shifted from (what was it -- something about "we're broke?") blaming the economy on the public and its spendthrift ways to blaming the economy on the true villains -- Wall Street banksters.
In retrospect we know that OWS was formulated over several months with the instigation of Canadian activist group Adbusters and carried out locally by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts (NYAB) who earlier had camped out near city hall in "Bloombergville" tents. What wasn't expected, and what blew its originators away, was the firestorm produced by their creative sparks.
Secondly, 9-17-11 could be characterized as the Seventh Wave (surfers say that the seventh wave rolling in towards shore is always the largest and best to catch) of a middle east Tsunami that rolled across the Atlantic from Tahrir Square.
OWS reflected -- and amplified -- a worldwide revolt against authoritarian control and the ravages of unchecked greed by what has been identified as the 1%. Powerful stories, and a powerful backdrop.
Today, with the exception of Syria, the middle east is catching its breath and retrenching. That appears equally true, with the exception of the student rebellion in Quebec, for demonstrations and activism in the U.S.
Another important element and attention-getter was the 9-17-11 theme: Occupy Wall Street. Well, we've done that. This moniker no longer has impact and will eventually take its place in history books right up there with "Workers Unite!"
Adbusters, Occupy's father (or, co-parent?), appears to continue in its role as thought leader in responding to this need for relevancy. On the front cover and as the final thought on the inside back cover of their Sept./Oct. 2012 issue, appears the likely next slogan:
#Occupy Main Street
Yep, towering above the many alternate phrasings argued at S17 (Occupy Education, All Roads Lead to Wall Street, 99%ers United, etc.), this is the likely successor. And, there's probably not a better one to reflect Occupy at age one.
The movement long ago outgrew its Wall Street crib. Active #OWS groups exist in scores of cities across this country. Its diapers have been changed in countless GAs (general assemblies) and it has kept its foster parents awake late into the night in towns as small as Ashland, OR and Jackson Hole, WY. Occupy is not only global, it is quite decidedly local.
Where's the Party?
So, back to the birthday celebration -- where will it be held? The answer: Everywhere.
It doesn't require a trip to the Big Apple to honor September 17 any more than it does a travel to Philadelphia to celebrate July 4th. As elaborate an OWS party might be in NYC (along with the equally elaborate and possibly brutal police efforts to contain it), it can be just as energizing in your home town... and possibly even more important. Grow where you are planted, a good gardener will tell you.
And, next year?
Once this birthday has passed, and corporate America, Wall Street, and the paramilitary of insecure governments breathe a sigh of relief, I will promise you that this will not last as they see into the future of this precocious Child of Our Times.
Ever heard of the "Terrible Twos?"