Tuesday, December 20, 2011

99% (The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film)

By Stephen Dotson 

As I Occupied in Philadelphia, I came to believe that the People's Mic is a blessed tool of the Holy Spirit. I cannot think of anything more humanizing and compassionate than being willing not only to listen to one another, but to literally lends one's own voice to amplify the message of another. As a Quaker I've participated in many consensus-like group decision-making events, but none that demonstrated such faith in the gathered body. Today, I work to capture that experience of the People's Mic (and so many other moments) into the People's Story thru film, and to do so in a manner congruent with the spirit of those General Assemblies. Now, when people ask me if Quakers make oatmeal, I get to say, no I make movies, wanna help?

99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film is a feature length documentary film made collaboratively by more than seventy-five (and growing) independent filmmakers, photographers, videographers and editors across the country. We have come together and pledged our time, skills and energy to cover the events taking place in NYC and around the country as they happen. We are crafting this film with many diverse voices to tell a cohesive story about the Occupy movement, how it began, the people who are part of it and the economic, social and political environment that fostered and sustains it.

This film will be a compelling, cinematic, and honest portrait of the Occupy Wall Street movement, told from many perspectives, but unified and woven into a single, resonant portrait with a collaborative ethos that mirrors the movement itself. I became involved by sharing one small clip of 20,000 people in Times Sq. on Oct. 15th, lifting up a message of Light and hope in defiance of the lustful consumerism that surrounded us:

What do you have to share? Can you give a minute of footage? Can you give $10?

We will only do this together. Founded by filmmakers Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites just weeks after the first encampment in Zuccotti Park, New York City, 99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film now involves scores of filmmakers, editors, producers and many with other important skills from around the country. We were deep in the democratic processes of Zucotti Park when it was in full swing; we were there when tear gas canisters rained down in Oakland. We were there during the evictions in LA and NYC; we were there as thousands marched, prayed, and were arrested for the sake of their conviction. We have talked to organizers, economists, veterans, clergy, and followed individual stories throughout the tumultuous and important first months of this historic movement.

99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film will strive to capture the big picture of a movement that is one of the most important in generations and create a film that can reach across America and beyond. I would never have imagined that I would be involved in something like this, but it feels exactly right, and so I continue to walk, trusting that God will guide my steps along this mysterious and adventurous path.

More info is available here

Stephen Willis Dotson is a member of Goose Creek (Va.) Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He does youth ministry among Quakers in Philadelphia, is a volunteer videographer for the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), and serves on the boards of Friends Publishing Corporation and the Global Nonviolent Action Database project of Swarthmore College.

1 comment:

  1. Re Occupy & Trinity Church: You don’t need to be religious to understand -and embrace- the idea that "Whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." But many of the 1%, in blind greed and endless schemes, have forgotten this. They have closed their eyes to what the word "society" should really mean, what it can mean. But due to Occupy Wall Street, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding m-o-r-e budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured, for all too long. Instead of talking about even m-o-r-e cuts in the taxes of millionaires....we are now talking about fairness and justice - about an economy and a political system that is increasingly run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s going on in this country, and why. The attempt by OWS to occupy Duarte Square (the empty lot owned by Trinity Church) is much more than a plea for sanctuary. For like Zuccotti Park, it’s an attempt to carve out a protected space, a living conscience for the city, amid the repression. A a city where control-freaks would sweep us under the rug, and out of the way. In a city where they would pen us in, and permit us to death. In a city that tells us to “move on, move on”..... you don’t belong, you don’t count, you don’t have a right to be here...don’t assemble, don’t block the street, don’t trespass, don’t EXIST! They would deny us, deny our lives, deny our very futures. IF WE LET THEM. But OWS responds, both in word and in DEED: it says we’ve had ENOUGH - we BELONG, we STAND our ground, and we DO matter! This IS our land, and we want it BACK! The word OCCUPY...says it all! That’s why OWS has captured our imagination. That’s why a living breathing OCCUPIED public space is important for OWS. Like Lady Liberty’s never extinguished torch that burns in our harbor, OWS needs to have a concrete, persistent, in-your-face presence.. continually remind us of what we’ve lost, of what we are, and what we can be; a protected place to affirm, to illuminate, to defy...and to inspire. Trinity Church, with its oft-proclaimed ideals (and its huge land holdings), should look deep into its collective soul, do the right thing, and help OWS secure a sanctuary. Not merely a space of refuge, but one of hope, non-violent change, and compassion. And dare I say: a space of love - love of country, love of your fellow man and woman, love for the poor and oppressed. Can thoughtful Christians argue with these simple Christian / human values? For if Christ were physically with us today, as He was 2000 years ago, He would be among the FIRST to climb those fences, and occupy Trinity’s Duarte Square. Of this I am certain. Let us pray that Trinity Church -and others -hear the call, and respond. For the old ways are not working...