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Reverend Billy | Occupied Stories

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Sandy is Climate Change

New York, NY–Here in the Windsor Terrace area of Brooklyn things are pretty normal, except the children have been out of school for a week and most people aren’t going to work. The neighborhood feels terribly vital, if only because more of us are around and outside–cleaning up the streets and sidewalks, sweeping the stoops. In Prospect Park, just a few blocks from here, there are hundreds of trees down, mostly beloved old ones, and it’s hard to say goodbye; they’ve been here so much longer than we have. Down the road toward the beach things are far more grim. Coney Island and Red Hook got hit hard, the Rockaways is in shambles, Staten Island is battered… you’ve seen the pictures.

There is an amazing gift economy at work all over the place. You can have free ramen on 8th street in the East Village, fancy caramels down in TriBeCa, spaghetti in Alphabet City. People are on the street giving it away and it’s a joy to watch. And there is incredible anger too, some of it focused, some of it more of an atmospheric spray–the inevitable frustration of life without electricity and elevators and working toilets and food anxiety turning into outright hunger. There are all kinds of lessons for us here, though I’m afraid most people don’t seem to recognize the lines at the gas station as anything but inconvenient, so maybe it’s just too soon for a deeper reckoning.

Our immediate community is sheltered and safe, many of us have friends and family with lost homes and property. No doubt about, it the storm HIT. We have it in our bodies now. We are grateful for all your support and good wishes. Lets not be sentimental, let’s be strong and clear, let’s get down to some serious revolutionary skill-sharing, pitch in where we can and keep our Love on the Prize–EARTHALUJAH!

-Savitri D, Director of the Church of Stop Shopping-

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Reportback: No Pipeline Bike Ride Action

NEW YORK, NY–The event was in coordination with Occupy’s Another City is Possible national call to action.  The ride, organized by Time’s-Up, began at 2pm at Union Square south where about 40 cyclists gathered.  We read aloud the Sane Energy Project’s top ten reasons to not build the Spectra pipeline and then set down Broadway, our bikes decorated with windmills and colorful signs reading “Disrupt Dirty Power,” “Protect Our Commons” and “No Gas Pipeline,” and while the sound bike blasted music, we handed out hundreds of fliers to passersby in the village.

We arrived at Pier 54 by 3pm to be joined by a couple dozen more people.  We spread out along the Hudson at the pier with beautiful banners made by Direct Action Painters, costumes, bikes, folks from the neighborhood and from across the river, our partners in fighting the 16-mile pipeline that would originate in Jersey City and end in the West Village, storing fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale directly under the new Whitney Museum and the High Line Park.  Reverend Billy gave us a rousing welcome and handed over the People’s Mic to Denise Katzman from the Sane Energy Project, who described the details of Spectra’s plan and their spotty safety record.

We led a Plus+Brigade Training of mobilization tactics on the pier, forming a mass Wall and Melt, and then marched over to the High Line with songs like, “Can we get off of fossil fuels?  Oh how I want to be in that number when we get off of fossil fuels!” (to the tune of Saints Go Marching in) and “Get Up! Get Down!  No spectra pipeline in this town!”

Our procession now included a cymbal bicycle wheel, drums, a horn, and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir leading the songs along the smiling brunch-goers. We arrived at the end of the High Line at Washington and Gansevoort streets, and circled up at the base of the stairwell, police on all sides. Reverend Billy preached while police were dismantling our puppets and banners hanging from above. The choir sang: “It’s gonna rain.  Spectra pipeline, you’re killing this town.  People are angry.  People are proud.  Spectra Pipeline get out of town!”

In a moment of improvisation, after the police foiled our plan for “toxic frack chemicals” to rain down from the High Line onto a group of “unsuspecting West Village gallery-goers,” I set up a tarp behind the gathering and poured the black, yellow and orange paint over my head, as a symbol of the radon, carcinogens and other toxins the spectra pipeline would be releasing into our environment.

Two groups, on bicycles and and on foot, continued onto a garden clean-up and party at La Plaza Cultural in the Lower East Side.  We danced, visited the new Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces, chatted with gardeners and ate pizza as the sun went down.

The fight continues!  Let’s keep it vibrant, colorful, visual and loud!

-Monica Hunken-

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Reverend Billy Discovers a New Variation of The People’s Mic

PORTLAND, OR – Last night I was speaking at Occupy Portland, and an inebriated individual was standing next to me suddenly, preaching a duet with me. I had to fight through my defensiveness. Finally I gave him the mic and he commenced a peoples’ history of the song “Amazing Grace” and then began to sing it, but couldn’t remember the words. People from the audience one by one walked up and each sang a phrase until the great song was completed… “was blind but now I see.” And we all whooped – it felt like a poignant variation on the peoples’ microphone.

-Reverend Billy-

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