Wall Street Encampment Is Turning Into a Tiny Town

A library, newspaper, and public services, but not permission to stick around

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The Occupy Wall Street protesters announced on Thursday that they'd started a "winterization committee" to prepare for an indefinite occupation of the park where they've set up camp near the nation's symbolic financial capital of Wall Street and Broad. Police on Wednesday said they couldn't close the public-private Zucotti park, and the protesters plan to stay there until their demands are met. On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sounded skeptical of the long-term plan, telling radio host John Gambling "we'll see" if they get to stay. But the protesters have already started setting up a little community, with the upstart amenities vaguely reminiscent of a budding small town. It reminds us of the plot of Deadwood.

The Newspaper: On Thursday the Yes Men had startedKickstarter account to raise money for the Occupy Wall Street Journal to serve as a newspaper for the encampment. By Friday they had surpassed their $12,000 fundraising goal, and plan to start publishing the four-page broad sheet with an initial print run of 50,000.

The Library: After Brooklyn librarian Betsy Fagin joined the occupation a few days ago, she thought the stacks of books and newspaper lying around could use some organization, she told The New Yorker's Alexia Nader on Thursday. She suggested they start a lending library, and started soliciting donations of reading material. "Since then protesters, bystanders, and even Wall Streeters have been stopping by the park with stacks of books," Nader reported, and Fagin keeps them in order, pushing some Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to the fore.

The Media Center: Adrianne Jeffries, a New York Observer reporter who wrote up her overnight visit to the protest on Tuesday, described "the always-lit hub of information and electricity" as "the cornerstone of the encampment." It's where they keep the Occupy Wall Street website updated, and serves as the link between the protesters and the online world.

The Call Center: In addition to the media center, the protesters have set up a land line and have a working postal address at 1 Liberty Plaza. Runnin' Scared reporter Rosie Gray called the information line "and a perky Occupy Wall Streeter named Leia picked up. She said that they take turns manning the info line based on whoever is in the 'info booth' and confirmed the package delivery. 'We're encouraging people to put Liberty Plaza as their home address for deliveries here,' she said."

The Food Source: Early in the occupation, a pizza place called Liberato's became, largely due to the coincidence of its name, what Gawker termed "the official caterer of the revolution," when supporters worldwide started calling it to order pizzas for the protesters. The restaurant embraced its role and offered a special pie, the OccuPie, which has its toppings in a circle around the crust and then a line across, like a "no" symbol. Jeffries noted that the food gets handled and distributed via the encampment's kitchen, which she described as "two rows of marble benches laden with pizza, fruit, dry noodles, bean salad and hot vegetarian chili with bread."

The Hospital: At least one trained EMT staffs the medical table, and told AlterNet's Sarah Jaffe "that they have a full committee of people with some sort of medical background to be prepared for emergencies, as well as all sorts of medical supplies, some donated and some bought with money that Lily said was being donated from all over the world." They mostly give out donated bandaids for blisters and cough drops for sore throats.

The Public Services: In addition to physical facilities, the encampment is broken up into committees to provide crucial services. As The Atlantic Wire's Elle Reeve reported in her Tuesday conversation with an organizer, "there's a safety committee, a health and sanitation committee, a media committee. And the operation is decentralized." As the organizer told Reeve, "womeone who's working like 24/7 on the media committee will be like, 'who the fuck is Mary?' "

The Bathroom: At the nearby McDonald's. Where else?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.