Occupy Worcester, Lincoln Square, Day Sixteen

posted by Mike on November 30th, 2011


T&G: Occupy finds wintering ground: Missionary Society welcomes protest:

Worcester Area Missionary Society, a nonprofit church organization that helps the needy and the homeless, has granted Occupy Worcester permission to set up its small encampment on the concrete lot between the former Lincoln Square Boys & Girls Club and the old Worcester Vocational High School.

Occupy Worcester GA notes:

Just before GA, Sandra Johnson came to camp on behalf of the Board of Directors who own the parking lot we are currently occupying. Tenants are about to occupy their building, and the parking lot was resurfaced and lined for their use. Spaces 1-30 are spoken for, but in general Occupy Worcester will need to find new arrangements before Monday morning. General concerns about tents and tarps and the occupation happening there, there is probably not a compromise to be reached about any continued presence in their lot. Said that the understanding has always been that this was a short-term accommodation. Said back-channel discussions have been taking place amongst the Mission Society churches, possibility of a church being able to assist us. Best contact to pursue this will be Frank Kartheiser of Worcester Interfaith. Per Sandra, continued contact with the Board of Directors should occur through our lawyer, Beverly.


Occupy Worcester, Lincoln Square, Day Fifteen: Discouraged

posted by Mike on November 28th, 2011

If you drove by Lincoln Square today, you may not have seen any Occupy Worcester people holding signs. This is because their efforts have shifted to rebuilding their encampment in the parking lot behind the building.

People have been sleeping in that parking lot for some days now (see previous videos in this series). I’m told they’ve had actual permission to camp for about a week. Now the push is on to build a substantial camp with the gear from Lake Park.

And yet, the mood is one of discouragement.

Jeff Barnard, RIP

posted by Mike on November 28th, 2011

Remembering Jeff, who died a year ago today.

posted by Mike in Jeff Barnard | on November 28th, 2011 | Permanent Link to “Jeff Barnard, RIP” | No Comments »

First Sunday of Advent, 2011: And with your spirit, mumble mumble

posted by Mike on November 27th, 2011


Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of four weeks of Christian preparation for Christmas.

This year, it also marked the day when American Catholics began using a new translation of the Roman Missal, the first big change in what we say at mass in 40 years.

The rephrasing began with the second response of the mass. The congregation used to say: “And also with you.” Now: “And with your spirit.”

At St. Peter’s I’d say 0 of 200 people (including myself) were following the missal closely enough to override the habit of decades and give the new response. “And with your spirit” popped up throughout the mass. By the end we were at about 50% compliance with the new text.

As part of today’s homily, the priest observed that the spirit of Advent is “To be awake, to be aware.” To a Buddhist sympathizer like me, this sounds like mindfulness. This Advent I’ll be giving special attention to silent prayer, perhaps lighting the Advent wreath briefly each day. Since Dorothy Day’s published diaries, The Duty of Delight, are finally available as an e-book, I’ll be including them in my Advent meditations. The US Bishops have sometimes published an online Advent prayer guide; I can’t find anything like that this year, so until I do find something comprehensive, I’ll be working with whatever Susan Stabile posts that day.


Occupy Worcester: Lincoln Square, week two

posted by Mike on November 27th, 2011

Today I stopped by Lincoln Square to talk with Liz about the beginning of the second week of Occupy Worcester’s 24-hour demonstration there. Bruce “Snow Ghost” Russell joined us and showed how all the issues are connected.

Celebrate Advent with Agape Dec 3: “Gandhi Visits Occupy Wall Street”

posted by Mike on November 23rd, 2011

“Gandhi Visits Occupy Wall Street”
Annual Agape Advent Evening

Saturday, December 3, 5:30pm
2062 Greenwich Road, Ware, MA

George Pattery, SJ, a Jesuit from Calcutta, will speak. He is currently teaching a course on Gandhi and Religion at Holy Cross.

(This event conflicts with the Stone Soup anniversary party, unfortunately.)

City Council to Occupy Worcester: whatever

posted by Mike on November 23rd, 2011

Last night, the Worcester City Council voted 9-2 to support the City Manager’s handling of Occupy Worcester so far. Several councilors spoke to the issue, but none of the supporters addressed incidents like OW people being threatened with arrest for entering City Hall to schedule an appointment with the Manager, or the frequent policy changes about the use of Lincoln Square that have frustrated police and Occupiers alike.

The Council also, by voice vote, withdrew their own request that the Manager have people meet with OW to answer questions and address concerns.

So the Council voted a “good job” to the Manager while withdrawing any previous suggestions to him. I am pretty sure these votes had zero effect on anything.

You would think that Councilor Konnie Lukes, who last week complained that “we’ve sort of turned the tables around where the CM is leading and the City Council isn’t doing much of anything” would be opposed to measures shirking leadership, but you would be wrong—she was a strong supporter.

I couldn’t help but think of Dianne Williamson’s recent satirical postmortem on Councilor Barbara Haller while watching this meeting. Haller co-sponsored the resolution supporting the Manager’s OW crackdown, and this might be one of the last high-profile things she takes on as a Councilor. Haller’s behavior at this meeting echoed Williamson’s sarcastic portrayal of her as someone who’s a “liberal” in her own mind but who the unfair public see as “not progressive enough”.

(Williamson has started doing a sort of Stephen Colbert thing with her column, which I fear is a little insidery and subtle for non-Worcesterites. For example, in this column she misidentifies One Love as “vegetarian,” framing the “Dianne Williamson” character as “ignorant outsider” in the very first sentence.)

Sorry if this post is disappointed and angry—I usually avoid watching the Council meetings because I don’t like feeling this way. Happy posts coming soon.

Occupy Worcester: one week in Lincoln Square

posted by Mike on November 20th, 2011

Today marks one week that Occupy Worcester has maintained a 24-hour demonstration in Worcester’s Lincoln Square. You will remember that OW tried to set up camp there after leaving Lake Park. Camping hasn’t been permitted, so OW has been standing around on the sidewalk, conducting other activities as allowed by whichever police are on duty.

OW has been doing all sorts of good things. The camping, and now marathon demonstration, are the one aspect I’ve been skeptical of. I’m not sure this sort of public presence is worth the effort. On the other hand, Worcester’s City Manager has mounted a publicity campaign against OW, and Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes thinks the attempts at camping have created “a difficult situation.” The local powers-that-be evidently think OW has been more than a minor nuisance. Maybe OW is onto something.

Also, Joe Scully says they had a late night poetry marathon. Now that grabs my imagination.

Pictured: Stone holds forth at the one-week anniversary General Assembly in Lincoln Square.


Packing up: Occupy Worcester, Lincoln Square, day three

posted by Mike on November 16th, 2011

This rainy afternoon, when I stopped by Lincoln Square, there were three hardy souls in the Occupy Worcester camp.

During the taping of today’s video, Worcester police stopped by and asked them to pack up all their gear and remove it from Lincoln Square.

More commentary on last night’s Worcester City Council discussion of OW: It’s @BizarroLukes’ world, we just live in it

Update: Nothing brings another dozen Occupiers in a hurry like camp drama.

Occupy Worcester, Lincoln Square, day 3

Occupy Worcester, Lincoln Square, day two

posted by Mike on November 15th, 2011

A couple dozen people were in Lincoln Square when I stopped by to visit Occupy Worcester this afternoon. They tell me that at least some authorities have determined Lincoln Square is not a park, and that they are being allowed to set up sleeping bags on the grass within 3 feet of the sidewalk.

A couple locals stop by with signs.

When word got to the camp that the City Council might consider an anti-OW item tonight, most of the OW people headed down to City Hall. This was just as the weekly antiwar vigil, now ten years old, began in Lincoln Square. I took some video during this crossover time.

Update: Apparently Konnie Lukes asked for the Council to publicly support the city administration’s response to Occupy Worcester, and the Council was like, “Maybe we’ll think about it.”

Worcester Magazine:

“I have concerns that the city council…has not taken any action to either support or criticize the City Manager.” She says they shouldn’t be letting him hang out dry alone because “he takes orders from the City Council…we’ve sort of turned the tables around where the CM is leading and the City Council isn’t doing much of anything.”


She introduced a resolution in which she called on the council to go on record in support of the manager’s efforts with Occupy Worcester as the city’s chief conservator of the peace and his efforts to respect the movement’s constitutional rights of free speech.

But District 2 Councilor Philip P. Palmieri exercised his right under the council’s rules to table Mrs. Lukes’ resolution for one week. He said such a delay made “good sense” so the council can have time to get a report back from the city administration regarding the questions that were raised tonight.

Mrs. Lukes, meanwhile, said only two of her colleagues were willing to support her resolution.