This past year has been a year of emergent democracy, one that has gathered in public spaces working to rally, petition and attempt to define one’s own system of government to express frustration and disappointment. Master builders formed these public institutional spaces through designing their institutional buildings, but that common space has become a symbol for protesters around the world. It makes sense to everyone—the apathetic passerby, the government officials, the advocators, the proponents—to use this setting as an appropriate space to protest. These spaces were built for everybody to use, but what we use it for is far more complicated. Is it okay to eat a picnic there? Sure. Is it okay to camp out for weeks on end and yell stuff? I can’t really answer that. These spaces were built as part of our cities to be used for the public, but if people are using it in ways that it wasn’t intended who is right? The public officials or the public? From Oakland to New York, the movement was extremely successful in terms of starting a conversation and getting people to think of things far more important than Twitter and that one Kardashian, people started becoming aware of the large financial systems that firmly grasp our society. The movement turned on some light bulbs and stirred sincere, passionate citizens to bring change to the system. The inappropriate use of occupying the public space draws the attention that the people can use it as so they please. The government creating the boundary between public and semi-public quintessentially explains the relationship between government and citizen in society.
Photo – Occupy Wall Street circa late October 2011, by Saam McBride-Adams