This past Friday’s Family Sleep Over in Zuccotti Park, sponsored and organized by Parents for Occupy Wall Street (PFOWS), was considered a success in that turnout was higher than expected, and both parents and children actually slept. It was a resounding success, according to a local parent who attended, because she “found an amazing, living form of democracy” in Zuccotti Park.
South Orange, NJ mother, and publisher of The Parent du Jour, Lisa Duggan, visited the family-oriented Sleep Over in the midst of Occupy Wall Street to interview participants and assist another parent, Dana Glazer, a film-maker from Ridgewood, NJ, is filming a video showing the face of parents in the movement. Dana is donating his time and skills to create a professional video about Friday’s Family Sleep Over because he feels that the current media representation has been a caricature of who is involved with and passionate about Occupy Wall Street. He hopes that the video will provide a more relatable picture of demonstrators.
Lisa didn’t have her eight-year-old daughter along because she felt she couldn’t only rely on the media’s portrayal of Occupy Wall Street and its participants. Before bringing her daughter, she felt strongly that she had to see it for herself to assess the safety of the area. However, after attending the PFOWS event, she is confident in the ability of PFOWS organizer, Kirby Desmarais, to provide organization and safety for the children who attended the group’s events. Lisa and her husband plan to visit Occupy Wall Street with their daughter soon.
While the group hoped for 200 participants, by the end of the night, 500 parents and children had signed in to the Family Sleep Over area. About 100 ended up spending the entire night. You can read more here and see photos of the event in this photo set on Facebook. Families had to show ID, sign-in, wear badges, and check-in on the hour with organizers to make sure all children were accounted for during the night. While their children drew pictures, played, rested, or read stories, parents were able to discuss relevant issues with other like-minded parents.
Throughout Friday evening, Lisa Duggan shared photos and observations about the Parents for Occupy Wall Street group, including photos that showed the play area with arts & crafts for the children, media outlets arriving, and various participants. Also, CNN spent the entire night with PFOWS. Other participants posted up videos of Dan Zanes’ performance and the drum circle for the children. The event ended earlier than its scheduled 11 am conclusion due to an emotionally disturbed man scaling a structure to the side of where the children were sleeping.
Other local parents have brought their children to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations when family-oriented organization was not the focus. Thom Kennon, a Montclair father of five, took three of his children to Zuccotti Park to deliver pizzas to the demonstrators and show his kids what the “Occupation” looked like. As he describes what they witnessed: “A revolution fueled not by violent clashes…but by dread-locked white kids prepping lunch, professor-like custodians sorting sleeping gear, self-proclaimed “oddball” economists teaching the press…” The conversation he had with his children during the ride home showed that the experience had a deep impact on all of them.
Another Montclair family, Forrest Mulcahy and Emily Archer, made attending Occupy Wall Street a three-generation affair. They brought their two young children as well as Forrest’s mother to the demonstration. As to motivation, Forrest explains, “I hoped to add mass and morale to a movement which deserves to be recognized and discussed. I hoped to show others not-yet-involved, that Occupy Wall Street is indeed about the 99% -working families like ours – not just a fringe of ‘unemployed hippies.’”
Tell us what you think: Would you bring your children to experience Occupy Wall Street or any other demonstration?
(Photos courtesy of Lisa Duggan’s Twitter Stream.)