Monday, October 17, 2011

A Visit to the Occupation

Regardless of what you may or may not think about the Occupy Wall Street movement and all of its branch-off movements, despite the fact that it's not exactly a perfect system, I still think it's pretty remarkable. It's a movement that is difficult for the media to track, tricky for many Americans to even understand.  Hell, I will be completely honest with you in that I don't understand everything about it yet, but I do think it's pretty great.  I went to see Occupy Philadelphia for myself this weekend.  I ended up joining a march and getting an unexpected surprise. 

City Hall, Philadelphia PA (photo by me, Oct. 2011)
On their Facebook page, Occupy Philadelphia was asking for various donations, and one in particular caught my eye: Glucometer and strips.  Knowing that people were planning on living outside of City Hall in Philly for weeks, knowing that there were medical tents treating not only protesters but the homeless in the area, I felt like I could help out.  I have a bunch of extra meters in my closet, as many of us do these days, and I just happened to have some extra unexpired test strips for that meter.  I bagged everything up in a freezer bag, tucked it into my purse, and set off for the city.

I paid almost an arm and a leg for parking and set off for the west side of City Hall.  This is where the tents are.  Most of the protesters had already cleared out by the time I was approaching, off on part one of a two-part march on Saturday that was to end at the anti-war rally being held on Independence Mall.  They had probably started marching while I was scrambling for a place to park.  The Philadelphia police tend to block intersections to let the protesters march in the streets.  It's better than the alternative, which is police brutality and Occupiers forgetting they are there to protest peacefully.  I think Philly's demonstrations have been very successful in avoiding confrontations. 

I could hear hand drums in the distance.  I looked down JFK Boulevard, and coming up the street, stretched across all 4 lanes, was the group.  I watched as they came closer, then figured, what the heck.  I've never marched in a demonstration before.  I took off, jogging across 15th Street and down JFK, and I'm a terrible jogger.  I was winded as I approached the oncoming crowd, but I jumped right in.

"WE.  ARE.  THE 99%!  (And so are you!)" we chanted all the way down and around City Hall again.  As a cop car came to block the intersection for the next leg of the march, I ducked out.  I do support what the Occupy movement is doing and the way it attempts to bring people together.  I marched next to a man who was only a few years younger than my dad would have been this year.  I passed a bunch of women who appeared to be in their mid-70s with a banner that read Grannies for Peace

I grabbed my donation from my purse and headed off to the medical tent.  There was a volunteer working the table, which was relatively organized for having little formal storage space.  There were multiple bottles of hand sanitizer, a shelf with bandages, a few OTC pill bottles, bandages, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc.

"Excuse me," I said to the volunteer, who greeted me cheerfully back.  "I saw on your Facebook page that you were looking for donations of glucometers?  Because I've brought this one for you.  And there are some strips and lancets too."

"Oh, um, okay thanks," said the volunteer, who was probably younger than me.  The doctor (who was actually a med student and not an official doctor quite yet) finished talking to his previous visitor and noticed the volunteer putting things away.  "Check it out, Brad!" the volunteer smiled.  "We got ourselves a glucometer!"

Dr. Brad froze in his tracks and looked relieved.  "Oh my God, that's great!  From who?" he asked.

I grinned and waved.  "From me!" I said.

He took a few more steps toward me.  He had an equally silly grin on his face.  "Would it be okay if I gave you a hug?"

"I love hugs!"  And with that, I got a big squeeze from Dr. Brad.  I apologized that I didn't have more that I could have brought for him.  He reassured me that just having that glucometer helped, as they had none before, and they have a lot of diabetics around.  Between the number of protesters, the uninsured and the homeless who take shelter around City Hall, that came as no surprise to me.

It did my heart good to know that so many people of varying ages and backgrounds are trying to bring about positive change.  It felt great knowing I could directly help some PWDs in need.   And hugs from cute med student doctors who are close to my own age?  Well, it's not every day a doctor thanks you for anything.

Also, in the laughs department, I say my fellow PWDs should occupy!  99% of your beta cells have nothing while there's a mysterious 1% that drops your blood glucose for no good reason.  Occupy your pancreas!


  1. This is great Hannah! I am so glad you headed down with a meter and strips! I should collect some stuff and head down. March on sister!

  2. I love this.
    The power of group psychology.
    The power of Facebook.
    The power of helping people we care about.
    And the power of hugs.

    NIce post.

  3. awesome post, thanks for sharing! i'm glad you were able to help in your own way. if we all did just that much, imagine how much change we could cause!


Remember to use your commenting powers for good, not evil. Excelsior!