in Arts & Culture
The Face of Occupy
Who is the 99%? Are you one of them?
OCCUPY WALL STREET / jehan's Begging Bowl
OCCUPY WALL STREET / jehan's Begging Bowl

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What is the most accurate description of the people I found at Occupy? I don't know. After all of this time thinking and sifting through photos and memories, I continue to ponder the question.

With that being said, here's what I remember. There were a lot of young, energetic people at Zuccotti Park. There were also a great number of older, mature, accomplished energetic and dedicated people at Zuccotti Park.

The people that I remember most? I remember the people who taught me the skills necessary to survive the four years since Occupy. What they taught me is priceless, but they didn't ask me for anything.

Brendan is 20-something years old, tall, blonde and blue-eyed. He taught me how to stand in front of a stranger, without fear or shame, and say truthfully what I needed.

Josh & Adash are 30-ish, ambitious and intellectual. Josh is a young professional that chose to give me his bedroom as he slept in the walk-in closet. Generous. Adash is a young, politically active veteran and vegan who had just completed a tour of duty in the military. Without having ever been introduced to me, Adash appeared at Zuccotti Park to escort me to Josh's home in Brooklyn. Gentle and caring. Josh and Adash housed and cared for me for several weeks after the original encampment had been cleared. They taught me that there are men in this world that women can trust, that brothers can be found in the most unusual circumstances.

There are numerous people who, by example, showed me the way. Silent sitting. Making signs. Use to exhaust. Waste nothing. Gratitude. Frugality. Generosity. Love without compromise. Being true to oneself. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

How did I find Brendan, Josh, Adash and all of the other teachers from Zuccotti? Jonah Levi.

Jonah is a 60-something year old, strong, bearded and passionate attorney. He taught me how to sleep on the New York City sidewalk. "Two layers of cardboard and you won't even know that you're sleeping on the pavement," he said. He was telling the truth.

Do you see yourself in a 20-something year old "hustler"? 30-ish young professional with the best of intentions? A young veteran, shifting gears from a tour of duty to return to his education? Or a 60-something year old attorney who rode his motorcycle from the deep South to New York City because Occupy spoke to his heart?

Maybe you see yourself in me, but who am I? I am the person in the photo with Jonah Levi. That's who I am.

The Face of Occupy / Jonah Levi / jehan

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