Despite recently haven been declared dead in the press, Occupy has recently launched two major new projects. In Brooklyn, Occupy Sandy has put on a massive aid effort, coordinated at a completely grassroots level, with very few capital resources, and by some reports outperforming the Red Cross. (When you factor in that the RC has, probably, 1000 times the resources to devote, ...) See also this, this, this, and perhaps most amazingly this
which is described here.
Here is a report on another creative project in which folks buy up distressed debt and forgive it.
But the real question I want to raise concerns the reaction that academics and journalists have had to Occupy. though there were a few notable exceptions, the vast majority have dismissed the original manifestation out of hand as unfocused and unlikely to have any influence, while not a few on the left have denounced it as violent and unstrategic. A few have offered sage advice from the sidelines, something that seems to be growing with the renewed energy in NYC, for example here. But my experience in DC, together with reports I've gotten from key organizers in NY and Oakland suggests that very few academics have thought it important to actually join in, spend time with organizers, learn the intricacies of what is going on. I think this raises rather serious questions about the proper role of academics in social movements. Is our main contribution to write books, articles, and op eds about the organizing that others are doing? What presuppositions about acceptable pedagogy are implicit in this practice? Is this a viable way to build an alternative community, assuming that at least some of us see that as a goal?
A friend who is an organizer with Occupy in Brooklyn had this to say about the Guardian article linked just above: "What makes me crazy about this article is that it shows the media mouthpieces crawling out from under their respective rocks to offer Occupy advice -- as though the movement isn't, this very second, instructing the National Guard on how to best support neighborhoods the State shamelessly abandoned in the wake of Sandy. The people doing this work are doing just fine, sorting it out on their own. Either join them or fuck off, you tool bags."
That may be a bit harsh, but I certainly understand the frustration.