The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has withstood political pressure, bad weather, police violence, and over a thousand arrests, and is continuing to grow in New York City a month in.
It has spread to over 100 cities in the U.S. and many more worldwide, and is linking up with popular movements in Europe and the Arab World, and connecting itself to long-existing community organisations.
By now OWS has been featured on the news all around the world, and there is no shortage of analysis regarding its potential political impact. But the internal organisation, structure and functioning of the occupations are at least as noteworthy.
The story here is centred on the original Liberty Plaza, a.k.a. Zucotti Park, occupation, but there are many commonalities between this and other occupations, and most of them have similar structure. Still, each occupation is autonomous and run uniquely based on its own area, issues, demographics and situation.
OWS is open, both literally and figuratively, and voluntary. People come and stay either because they believe in the message - that the economic system of the U.S. is fundamentally flawed and in need of radical change - or because they are victims of that system who are less able to live elsewhere, but either way the sense of community felt at Liberty Plaza is palpable.
"The way OWS is structured is really open, anyone can come in and take part," Uruj Sheik, who has been organising with the occupation since its beginning, told IPS.
"The way you become part of the occupation is by showing up and taking on a role – you can join any committee or come up with an idea of ...