What Has Occupy Done? Rolling Jubilee Project, Occupy Sandy, and More
Here's some proof that the Occupy movement is far from dead: Rolling Jubilee, a project set up by Occupy's Strike Debt group, announced this week that it has paid off $15 million worth of debt for random citizens in just one year. Rolling Jubilee is just one of the several projects that have continued under Occupy's name, post-Zuccotti Park occupation. Here, we take a look at five very alive-and-well projects Occupy activists are working on:
1. Rolling Jubilee
Rolling Jubilee's mission is stated simply on its website:
Rolling Jubilee is a Strike Debt project that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it. Together we can liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal. Debt resistance is just the beginning. Join us as we imagine and create a new world based on the common good, not Wall Street profits.
To have bought off the personal debts of so many Americans is an accomplishment in and of itself. But what's even more amazing — and at the same time, more alarming — is that the Occupy project bought $15 million of debt with only $400,000.
"Very few people know how cheaply their debts have been bought by collectors. It changes the psychology of the debtor, knowing this," Andrew Ross of Strike Debt, the organization behind Rolling Jubilee, told the Guardian.
"So when you get called up by the debt collector, and you're being asked to pay the full amount of your debt, you now know that the debt collector has bought your debt very, very cheaply. As cheaply as we bought it. And that gives you moral ammunition to have a different conversation with the debt collector."
Once the Rolling Jubilee organizers pay off the debt, they send letters to the former debtors informing them their debts have been relieved. While Rolling Jubilee says it doesn't often hear back from the debtors, when it does, the recipients tend to be lower-income, uninsured citizens who incurred the debt in situations like a hospital emergency.
Is your faith in humanity restored yet? We hope so.
Hey, maybe your student loans will be drawn at random one day (you never know). You can follow Rolling Jubilee on Twitter here.
2. The Illuminator
Bat signals aren't just for Batman any more. The Illuminator has been busy projecting the 99 percent signal onto buildings from a personal van.
The Illuminator activists team up with leftist political groups, NGOs, and non-profits to project their logos and messages onto different parts of the city. "We typically operate out of a van, but last month we finished a projector bike with two seats on back, one for the person with the project and one for a content manager DJing," Kyle Depew, an organizer for The Illuminator, told Bustle. "It's a green alternative and you can go places where a van couldn’t go."
On November 18th, The Illuminator will be unveiling another project for Code Pink, "at an undisclosed location," adds Depew.
You can follow The Illuminator on Twitter and check out more images here.
3. Occupy Sandy
A year after Hurricane Sandy, the neighborhoods it destroyed are still struggling to rebuild.
Thankfully, Occupy Sandy existed in the hurricane's aftermath. In the aftermath of the storm, many Occupy activists turned their efforts from protests on Wall Street to the disaster zones in Rockaways and New Jersey. The relief effort helped organize hot meals, donate blankets and clothes, and facilitate clean-up and rebuilding.
4. People's Puppet
Using puppets for social justice? Well, People's Puppet is another Occupy side-project created in September 2011 to do just that.
"We've had hundreds of puppet shows on everything from immigration, healthcare, education," Kim Fraczek, a member of People's Puppet, told Bustle. People's Puppet typically performs on the streets 2-3 times a week. If you're in New York City this Friday night, you can check out a performance at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club about Wikileaker Chelsea Manning.
"We'll be using a marionette puppet and shadow puppets to show drones flying in the background," Fraczek said. "We're showing how the U.S. military is coming down on innocent people."So ... why puppets? "If we can bring large-scale visuals and songs, we can convey the message better," Fraczek says. Plus, um, puppets are kind of great.
5. Occupy Wall Street Screenprinters Cooperative
"Bringing the art of the occupation to you" is Occupy Wall Street Screenprinters Cooperative's tagline. The group uses screenprinting and simple white-t-shirts to spread Occupy's messages.
So to those in the media who like to insinuate that Occupy is dead, we here at Bustle would ask you: