from times square to madrid and beyond

As Zora and I were rolling home across the Great Plains states on Saturday, the Occupy Wall Street movement exploded in 1500 cities in more than 80 countries around the planet in a global “Day of Rage.” Check out this photo essay in The Atlantic to get a sense of the growth of this movement.



One thought on “from times square to madrid and beyond”

  1. This may fall into the category of “OWS Trivia”, or… it may show another facet of how widespread the movement has become! (I’m not sure if you can see all of the article here or not….)

    ■ An out-of-work Nebraskan created the site that now links protesters worldwide.



    LINCOLN — Ella was all packed with nowhere to protest.

    The 25-year-old Lincoln resi­dent had planned a road trip halfway across the country in mid-September, ending in Zuc­cotti Park in New York City, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    Then, at the last second, a seri­ous snag: Her ride fell through. She wasn’t going anywhere.

    This is how Ella, an out-of-work artist and designer, came to be sitting in front of her computer one month ago today, frustrated and determined to do something to aid the embryonic protests.

    This is how Ella, with the help of friends in Lincoln and Omaha, came to build and then run a wildly popular website that has helped to connect the Occupy protests as they spread across the United States and the globe
    By Oct. 3, roughly one out of every 2,000 Internet users in the world had clicked over to, according to Web traffic analysts, looking for information on the locations, times and firsthand accounts of protests.

    That day, the brand-new, homemade website had about 10 times as many visitors as, official website of the Nebraska football team.

    “Had I gone to New York City, I’m sure we wouldn’t have started this. But I didn’t go, so we did,” Ella said. “That’s when everything started becoming a little bit surreal.”

    Nearly 1,500 people marched in Occupy protests in Omaha and Lincoln last weekend. Dozens continue to camp out near the State Office Building, leaving to go to work, then returning. Their 35 tents stretch from south of the State Office Building to the edge of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

    Protesters are angered by myriad issues, including unemployment, the growing gap between rich and poor and the relationships between politicians, lobbyists and business leaders.

    But the state’s largest contribution to the Occupy movement has come online, with a hastily designed website that now lists protests or meetings in more than 2,000 cities and towns in every continent save for Antarctica.

    It features video from the large protests in New York and San Francisco. It offers dozens of free posters, designed by people all over the world, that can be downloaded and used at rallies. It hosts a freewheeling public forum where, on Thursday, users discussed the meaning of democracy, the two-party political system and whether or not the dollar and the Federal Reserve should be abolished.

    It connects prospective protesters in Moscow, Idaho, to one another — and to protesters in Moscow, Russia.

    “Our initial expectations were that we’re going to help out in some small way,” said Sam, who co-designed the site. “Then this small thing we started … it just exploded.”

    This was the first extended interview that Ella and Sam agreed to hold since starting Occupy Together. They spoke to The World-Herald on the condition that their last names not be used because of security concerns, given the controversy of the movement. They also said they don’t want to take the spotlight in what is a leaderless movement.

    They say they brainstormed the idea and began designing the site about 8 p.m. one night, Ella said. They finished about 3 a.m.

    Occupy Together went live Sept. 23. Almost immediately, its server started to strain under the weight of tens of thousands of hits an hour.

    It crashed, and then crashed again and again, until a donor who wants to remain anonymous gave them $1,000 to buy more server space.

    As they tried to keep the website from crashing, they also tried to keep it updated with every new protest location and bit of information from the larger protests.

    But soon they were getting hundreds of emails a day. Then thousands.

    They posted a frantic call for help. Now a core of six volunteers, mostly from Omaha and Lincoln, helps Ella run the site. (Sam has returned to his full-time job.)

    One volunteer runs the Twitter account. Two more moderate the forum. Others comb through the emails and search the Internet for news to post.

    Some work four hours a day, others eight, they said. Ella said she’s logging 12-hour days.

    “I’m an unemployed workaholic, so that works out for me,” Ella said, and laughed.

    Liberal firebrand filmmaker Michael Moore has tweeted about Occupy Together. Left-wing TV personality Keith Olbermann has mentioned it, and progressive website has linked to it.

    That sort of attention makes Ella and Sam a little bit uncomfortable, they said — they don’t want the website, or the Occupy movement, for that matter, to be co-opted by celebrities or companies or political parties. Their low point may have come when other protesters ripped into them for being a puppet of these established organizations, Sam said.

    Ella said they have declined every donation (except to buy server space) and have declined to raise money.

    The high point? That might have been Oct. 15. That day, Ella logged onto her computer and watched as protesters filled Puerta del Sol square in Madrid. She read reports of protesters arrested at a Citibank in New York City. She watched the minute-by-minute account of the estimated 10,000 protesters who marched from Zuccotti Park into Times Square.

    At least some of these people had been stitched together by Occupy Together.

    “It’s been incredible,” Ella said. “The great thing about all of this is that anyone can step up and use what they have to help out in the bigger picture. It’s been really exciting to see how that actually works.”

    World-Herald staff writer Chris Dorwart contributed to this report.

    Contact the writer:


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