New Haven Exports “Free”-dom To Occupiers
by Paul Bass | Oct 3, 2011 3:03 pm
Posted to: Occupy Wall Street
New Haven’s sending support to the growing anti-Wall Street protest in New York in the form of white crew socks—and an alternative-to-greed model of distributing merchandise.
That help is coming from organizers of New Haven’s Free Store. They’re working on setting up a Free Store outpost in Zuccotti Park—renamed “Liberty Park” by demonstrators who have occupied it over the past two weeks—to get needed items like clothing to the 300-700 people who are sleeping there, even in the rain. The idea is to build the on-site “store” into a self-sustaining enterprise that “sells” goods for free to the public at large in keeping with the larger theme of the protests.
That’s the goal of New Haven’s Ben Aubin (pictured). Aubin, a 26-year-old biofuels salesperson, founded New Haven’s Free Store earlier this year. He traveled to the New York “Occupy Wall Street” protests over the weekend. He brought 20 pairs of donated socks and scoped out what else organizers need for the burgeoning ranks of anti-corporate park occupiers in New York’s financial district. He started making arrangements with protest organizers to carve out a weatherproofed “Free Store” in the midst of Liberty Park, which organizers have subdivided into sections dedicated to, say, media, medical care, and book-sharing.
Aubin has been traveling back and forth between Liberty Park and New Haven. He was amid the thousands who demonstrated Saturday at the Brooklyn Bridge (pictured at the top of the story). He said he twice broke away from police lines when officers surrounded protesters and made mass arrests.
Aubin and other New Haven organizers are now meeting back here in town to finalize plans for the store and to explore how else to tap into the growing protests, which in the past two days have begun spreading to cities across the country as well as abroad.
“The intention would be to keep the occupiers supplied. It would also be a form of constructive direct action,” Aubin said Monday.
The protests center on the current economic crisis, on the role large corporations and sympathetic lawmakers and regulators have played in the rise in unemployment and foreclosures, the country’s increasing income/wealth gap, Wall Street corruption, agribusiness-sparked poisoning of the food supply, multi-million-dollar parachutes or bonuses to failing executives.
The protests began small, two weeks and two days ago, in New York. They leaped to national attention this weekend after the arrest of 700 protesters in a march along the Brooklyn Bridge, and as the numbers of park occupiers swelled in New York and inspired similar actions from Boston to Baltimore to Chicago to Los Angeles to Montreal and many points in between. (Click here and here for more on that.) Organizers hope to ignite an American version of Tahir Square and the Arab Spring, channeling public outrage into a mass movement for change.
Church Street Spark
Aubin and colleagues opened New Haven’s Free Store in a temporary storefront on Church Street in June. The store’s mission, inspired by the 1960s-era San Francisco Diggers: for-profit, no-price commerce.
It quickly drew lines of customers out the door as well as legions of volunteers and donors. The idea was to get people stuff for free—but within a model that could ultimately pay for itself rather than rely on donations, through creative use of the web and other marketing techniques for special services. Click here to read all about that.
The Free Store lost its donated storefront on Aug. 1. Aubin and the other organizers are in the process of raising money and planning to reopen it in a new location.
Meanwhile, they’re diving into the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Aubin put out the word via Facebook and Twitter last week that he was making an initial visit to Liberty Square. He assembled a few bags of donations, including the socks and rain gear. “We had some stuff that was stored from the previous Free Store. New donations were made by people” who knew he was going, he said.
On Friday he checked out the square, gave organizers the donations to distribute, and began making plans with them to create the Free Store space. The initial goal is to keep the growing legions of protesters supplied; they’ve vowed to continue occupying the park and holding protests indefinitely.
Then the Free Store would have two other goals, according to Aubin: To develop a model that organizers can replicate in other cities to support their own spin-off protests. And to move free merchandise to New Yorkers in general from the Liberty Park spot, in the spirit of the underlying message of the protests themselves.
“Basically what you’re doing is a pattern interrupt,” Aubin said. “People’s pattern is work to create income and then use the income to acquire what your needs are. What this does is it allows for people to fulfill their needs free of money, which then allows for them to think of other possibilities of perhaps fulfilling what their needs are. If occupants were giving out items of perceived value to people of New York who are quite aware of the rat race, it would be a great way of marketing the positive side of [Occupy Wall Street]—which is basically a different way of organizing the economy so communities take care of each other.”
Tags: Occupy Wall Street
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pretty sure the columbus house was in desperate need of socks a few weeks ago. i’m sure they and other places would be glad to have those socks…
It is so funny. Before even reading the content of the news article, what flashed through my head was: “This sounds like a job for the Free Store”.
With the cold months approaching, hopefully some of Ben Aubin’s largess will actually find its way to some needy hometown denizens.
This pudding is the proof the true motivations are naively political, and far removed from local realities.
And since when is twenty pairs of white socks news, anyway.
They were probably made in China.
The clock is ticking…anyone want to set odds on when Brad and Angelina will arrive?
Why so cynical? It’s true homeless folks here need this stuff, too. But why begrudge supporting people who are protesting against the Wall Street types who have put millions on the street?
At least these unemployed protestors who are doing something useful with their time that will benefit society at large. I’m taking off my socks right now so I can send them a little love.
New York F-ing City, and there’s a dire sock shortage?
Is there an actual message here, besides we’re really pissed off at banks/Wall Street/capitalism? Is there an alternative being suggested other than tear down the system? Because the clock is ticking on the media’s interest in a group of protesters in a park, and if they want to get a coherent message out, now’s the time. Don’t waste this opportunity with a lot of “we’re not going to have actual leaders or spokespeople here” nonsense.
I was part of the Saturday march. These protesters are dedicated and very organized, despite what you may have read. They put out a weekly newspaper, have a website, live-streaming video and are coordinating with other groups around the country via a “command center” of at least eight computers.
There is no one leader or group of leaders. Decisions are made after debate and a consensus is reached.
The camp is also very organized. It has a sleeping quarter, information area, kitchen, library and General Assembly area. All of this seems to be self policed.
Overall it’s quite impressive and gives hope that someone in the Justice Department will wake up and go after the criminals on Wall Street.
ps The article isn’t about socks or anticipated celebrity sightings.
I think what the protesters in NYC are doing is FANTASTIC! I wish I could be there. It’s about time Americans started to protest the insane greed in this Country. In their own way, the ARE helping the homeless & the working poor. Voting is not changing things ~ hopefully, this will if it continues. I also commend Ben for ALL he is doing! Politicians spoke “glowingly” about the protesters in Eygpt, etc. & their right to protest. Unfortunately, the same is not true for the American protesters here in the US of A, the alleged “LAND OF THE FREE”!
People really need to wake up. It isn’t Wall Street that is screwing society, it is the Fractional Reserve Banking System headed by the Federal Reserve. End-The-Fed has been protesting for months now and hasn’t gotten the headlines. Occupy Wall Street is backed by no other than George Soros (aka Media Matters), and we all know how he made his billions (devaluing currencies around the world - which is currently happening in the US). Wake up America and read the fine print.
I work around the corner from Zuccotti park and have seen these kids every day since sept 17th. They are slightly more organized than the media might let you think, but they are still “those kids in the park with the multiclored hair that are mad their art degrees arent paying off” as a coworker noted yesterday. I understand that there is a HUGE gap between rich and poor in this country and it should be addressed but demonstrations like this probably wont help. Some of these kids probably went to the same ivy league schools as the bankers they are protesting. Good idea, Bad execution.
Its not so much the idea of fractional reserves, its the reality that the cash not in reserve is being used in irresponsible ways; i.e. being put into casino style derivatives like naked credit default swaps. World GDP ios about 60 trillion dollars but theres $680 trillion dollars of derivatives, much of it garbage and its mostly unregulated.
That was kind of my point. This debt wasn’t created by taxpayers directly. It was created by the fractional reserve 9 to 1 system. For each dollar deposited into bank B from bank A - bank B is allowed to loan out 9. And the cycle continues. Say what you want about fiat currencies, but these banks should have been allowed to fail. How as taxpaying citizens do we owe this debt created by a handful of banks and very bad fiscal policy (the trashing of Glass-Steagall)?
The repeal of provisions of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933 by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act effectively removed the separation that previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks. Some economists believe this repeal directly contributed to the severity of the Financial crisis of 2007–2011 by allowing Wall Street investment banking firms to gamble with their depositors’ money that was held in commercial banks owned or created by the investment firms. - Wikipedia
posted by: Occupy New Haven on October 4, 2011 11:56am
Occupy New Haven - First Planning Meeting
Tonight, Tuesday October 4th @ 7 p.m.
Cask Republic on Crown Street between Church and Temple.
At least 50 people will be there, probably much more. WE ARE THE 99%. WE ARE LEGION. EXPECT US.
I hope the anarchists and socialists running Cask Republic are ready for the legion. Better call in extra servers.
Ha.. the unemployed meeting at a place that charges $10 for a beer. Classic.
WE ARE LEGION. EXPECT OVERPRICED CRAFT BEERS AND HALF PRICED APS FROM 5-7!
posted by: Occupy New Haven on October 4, 2011 3:06pm
Future meetings will probably be on the Green or at another public space. The Cask Republic idea was a spur of the moment idea, and once the idea took root, we did not want to change it because it might have confused people. We acknowledge that the temporary meeting place may be viewed as not inclusive enough for the general population, but no one will be required to purchase anything to attend the meeting tonight. The space was more or less donated by Cask Republic. A big thank you to them for their generosity!
You know, this isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
WE could actually close down Wall Street! (in New Haven).
Naples can supply the pizza & beer, Blue State Coffee, the caffeine, and the tuition free Yale Music School, the soundtrack.
Who’s gonna bring a frisbee?
That new pot law is officially on the books!
And if someone could come up with a clear list of demands, that might be a start. Here are four reasonable ones to start with. Someone can take credit for them, if they want. Just not Ben Aubin.
1). Interest free loans for all college students, funded by the money printing Fed.
2). Capping all predatory interest at reasonable percentage above the prime lending rate, well below the 23.99% imposed by most credit card loan sharking operations. How bout 2 points above the thirty year fixed mortgage rates?
3) Aggressive prosecution of the banking hucksters who defrauded the American people. REMEMBER SILVERADO!?! We are still paying for it.
4) Free Everything for Everybody All the Time.
(alright Ben, I’ll let you run with that one.)
I was going to get you a Quarter Pony, but two bits don’t buy so much these days. However, as a future promise of my good intentions, I bequest unto you this magic box of manure.
Happy to read someone actually understanding the problem. It really is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully others do the research and understand the true issues at hand. Thank you!