Sunday I decided to stop out and deliver some coats to Occupy Flint camp center. At first glance it really looks like a tiny campground more than a protest headquarters but after spending some time there I found out that it was so much more. An old friend from high school decided to meet me at the camp; he had been there before and is quite the activist himself.
A couple of guys from the encampment greeted us at the entrance to see why we had stopped in, apparently not everyone that swings in is excited about the groups presence but because we came bearing gifts we were welcomed right in. What I saw from the outside was a nearly empty refugee camp, what I saw in the inside was focused individuals with a purpose and plan. Although it was simply a city lot they were camped on and they use the space very well. I saw at least three port-a-potties, a pop up camper, an old motor home, 16 or more tents and parts for another large tent had just come in. They were spending part of the day moving things around because they have just received a large trailer to use as a command center and needed the room near the large brick wall opened.
This trailer will give them a dry place for all of the computer equipment for Flint’s live feed systems and give them a larger area for meetings out of the rain or snow. They also have several solar powered systems setup currently to charge cell phones and other small devices. While talking to some of the people there I had discovered that they are in the process of designing and installing a radiated heat system to help everyone stay warm throughout the winter. They hold truly democratic meetings to make decisions and everyone respects the group as a whole. They police their own grounds due to it being private property and as long as they follow the same rules as the housing in the area they will never have an issue. I have also seen that there are designated people there to get arrested if needed.
Most of the time all you hear from others is how uneducated the protesters are or that they are just homeless bums, well I have now met several people who are there to support the efforts and they head home in the morning to shower then to work just to finish their days back in these cold tents. This camp is mostly filled with the employed including working professionals like lawyers.
They spend most of their time educating anyone who will listen and helping the people of Flint by donating extra coats or food to by-passers.