Occupy Town Square Kicks Off at WSP Sunday (Photos)

Reverend Billy and Choir 'Bless' The Event

Sunday, January 29th. Great job by Occupy Town Square. Love to see the Park utilized in this way. Bustling, great energy, lots of people (the photos don’t quite reflect that). Music, speak outs, teach-ins, free food, information tables, and many places and ways to come together. A thank you to the Parks Department for allowing this to move forward in this way. And all was good with NYPD during the day (apparently, not later on a march).
Photo #2: Robert Christine
Photos #4 and 11: Johanna Clearfield
Rest of Photos: Cathryn / WSP Blog

Yesterday’s WSP Blog post featured “Occupy Town Square’s Statement of Intent & Guidelines” (+ a few more photos).

Statement of Occupy Town Square: “We need to reclaim and re-invent the purpose and relationship of democratic public space”

A Look In...

Occupy * Unity

"Liberate the Commons" (at the Dog Run)

More photos coming from yesterday’s Occupy Town Square at Washington Square but this “Statement of Intent & Guidelines” by Occupy Town Square is so well done I felt it needed publishing (this is slightly amended).

To fellow neighbors, the local parks department, government officials, and the press:

This is an open notice of self-permitting by the self-organized informal group known as Occupy Town Square an affinity group with Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Being part of a people’s movement without legal identity, we cannot hold a permit for an event. Moreover, the loose, informal, and boundless structure of OWS is incompatible with the concepts of personal and organizational liability on which this city’s permitting system is based.

Unable, therefore, to sign on to a permit, we commit to follow its spirit. We commit to uphold the sanctity of the commons, to maintain the cleanliness, safety, and beauty of our public spaces, to guard them from vandalism, to use them peaceably, and to share them lovingly with our fellow citizens.

Over the next few months, mobile, daytime, pop-up occupations, called Occupy Town Squares, will be held openly in parks and other public spaces, indoor and outdoor, around New York City. For a few hours a week, these events will bring the spirit, joy, and civic-engagement of the Liberty Square Occupation to neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. We will create places to discuss timely issues of equity, dignity, and justice; there will be info tables, teach-ins, trainings, brain monsoons, radical dreaming, and political discussions.

For too long the contests over public space have been resolved on the side of top-down control, passive use, and commodified consumption. We need to broaden the notion of public culture, public space, and public commons. We need to reclaim and re-invent the purpose and relationship of democratic public space as we advocate for our cause. We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people— whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth— is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. Communities in need are not free communities.

In calling these events, we relinquish them to the unpredictable river of city life– they are no longer “our” events, but the broad-based decentralized Occupy movement’s events, the people’s events.

In solidarity we ask our neighbors and government officials to guarantee that our rights to freely associate and meet in public space is without discrimination and oppression of any kind. With each Town Square, we aim to create a safe, peaceful, celebratory environment, accessible and welcoming to people of every age and background  (a section of principles removed. To see full text, go here.) …

Whether you consider yourself a supporter of the movement or not, we want to meet you: come to this town square and share your ideas and stories, learn about the movement, argue with us, debate with us, collaborate with us. If you’re already active in Occupy Wall Street, this is a chance to exchange information, to coordinate between working groups, and to get to know our brothers and sisters in the movement.


The Occupy Town Square affinity group

(Full text here at Facebook group.)

** More photos coming. Sorry for delay. Short on time this afternoon … **

Top 2 Photos: Cathryn

Bottom Photo: Jeff Smith

Occupy Town Square Comes to WSP for Kick-Off Event Sunday, January 29th


Well, first, Occupy Wall Street came to WSP for a General Assembly, then we had our own Occupy Washington Square group (which I would have liked to see last a bit longer, but fizzled out around the time Zuccotti Park got raided) …

Next up: Occupy Town Square which is choosing Washington Square as the site of its first event this coming Sunday, January 29th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The group has been flyering at the Park lately, even in the snow (see above!), to get the word out.

Interviews with the organizers and more information coming later today or tomorrow

Update: Will write more post-event. It’ll be fun with talks, community, yoga, performances, music, comedy, workshops on social justice and animal rights issues, and more! Swing on by —

Here’s a brief description:

On January 29th, join us at the first OWS “Town Square” in Washington Square Park. In the coming months, pop-up Town Squares will bring the spirit of Zuccotti Park to parks, community centers, and other spaces around New York City. There will be info tables, teach-ins, trainings, political discussions, speeches, and assemblies. Come share your ideas and stories, learn, argue, debate, coordinate, collaborate!

Hopefully the Arch will remain un-barricaded. (Occupy the Arch?)

Nearby In the Media …

Recent stories of interest:

* If you were looking for a primer on NYU’s proposed expansion, check out this NYU Local piece: How NYU Plans to Expand in the Village: The Struggle for the SuperBlocks

* Corruption behind the scenes of the High Line — From The New York World: High Line builder showered city officials with forbidden gifts – and pays no price

* This Crain’s NY Business title isn’t 100% accurate; the Rudin/St. Vincent’s plan still needs to be approved by the City CouncilSt. Vincent’s redevelopment gets green light

* Washington Square Hotel on Waverly Turns 110 via PR Newswire

* Remembering the Tiffany Diner on Sixth Avenue; now a Bank of America Vanishing New York

* City Council Holding Hearing Monday January 30th on Safety in NYC Parks (public participation invited) from A Walk in the Park Blog

Topics of Blog Coverage Question for Readers

What topics do you like to read about here?

Are there things you are more interested in than others?

I’m giving some reflection on the future direction of the site and am curious.

You can write to me privately at cathryn.be -at- gmail.com or comment here.


New Posts Resume Next Week…

but there’s many many posts (over 800!) in the archives, check ’em out!

NYU And Washington Square “Core” Area Expansion

Continued… Some refreshers on NYU’s Expansion Plan 2031 — Recycled Entry * Originally Published March 11, 2011

From Crain’s NY Business, March 4th, NYU Wants to Polish Its Silver Towers:

New York University is preparing to present landscaping plans for the landmarked Silver Towers block in Greenwich Village to Community Board 2 on Monday [3/7]. The improvements are part of the school’s ambitious 2031 expansion plans. The school officially filed the plans with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Thursday [3/3].  …

NYU’s plans to add 6 million square feet of space over the course of the next 25 years, half of which will be in Greenwich Village and areas surrounding Washington Square Park, has generated criticism from the Greenwich Village community, who believe that the school is altering the character of the neighborhood.

NYU on Washington Square (the area it considers its “core”) from its 2031 Plan website:

At its heart, NYU 2031 recognizes the primacy of the University’s central location at Washington Square. It’s home there is fundamental to NYU’s identity and mission.

(I couldn’t help but notice this really simple grammatical error in the University’s second sentence.)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg from NYU site:

It’s very hard to differentiate where New York University stops and New York City starts.

Well, that’s certainly true. No wonder NYU President John Sexton was so quick to advocate for Bloomberg’s third term.

March 11, 2011

Previous WSP Blog Post: NYU’s “Marketing of Washington Square” Equals $$

Photo: Buck Ennis

NYU Proposed Expansion Plan 2031 — Is the Fix ‘In’ With the Bloomberg Administration?

I’m posting previous WSP Blog entries as refreshers on NYU and President John Sexton’s “vision” for the University’s Expansion Plan 2031. It’s a very critical time right now.

It raises the question — is the ‘fix’ in with the Bloomberg Administration? Given this Admin’s history over the last seemingly gazillion years (will his term ever end?), that would not be much of a surprise.

If so, how to stop it?

If her statements at the Community Meeting on NYU Plan 2031 earlier this month were any indication, Council Member Margaret Chin likely does not have the strength to stand up to Bloomberg and Council Member Quinn who will put pressure on her to go along with it.

More at WSP Blog on NYU here.

On NYU’s Proposed Continued Expansion Throughout the Village

* Series On NYU’s Proposed Expansion Plan 2031 * 

Recycled Entry * Originally Published March 26, 2010 (edited version)

With news of N.Y.U.’s proposed plan to expand their New York City campus by 40%, this photo shows us what the view through the Arch would be like if there was no building at 58 Washington Square South (which NYU acquired and plans to make 6-7 stories – it was previously two – next to Kimmel Center) – right now, you can actually see through to West 3rd Street!

Speaking to the New York Times about the proposed expansion, New York University President John Sexton (reached in Qatar, near N.Y.U.’s new Abu Dhabi campus) responds as if he is new to the scene. He states, “It’s clear that N.Y.U. had a history of moving forward without listening.”

Just how long has John Sexton been President of N.Y.U.? Since 2001. Though a lot happened in previous years, still, a lot of that “moving forward without listening” occurred on his watch.

The paper informs us:

Between 1991 and 2001, the number of students living in N.Y.U. housing tripled to 12,000, from 4,000, as the university raised its national profile. (In the early ’90s, 50 percent of its students came from the metropolitan area; now that figure has declined to 10 to 15 percent.) By 2031, N.Y.U. expects its total student body to grow to 46,500 students, up from the current 41,000.

Further, The Times reports: “In its Washington Square neighborhood, the university will be creating the equivalent in square footage of a little more than the total floor area of the Empire State Building.”

Mr. Sexton, who alarmed me when I heard his perplexing speech in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to overturn voted-in term limits (as I wrote at the time: “More Bloomberg. More NYU.”), stated: “For New York to be a great city, we need N.Y.U. to be a great university.”

Actually, I’m sure many would argue in order for New York to be a “great city,” we need a bit less N.Y.U., at least less N.Y.U., in the fashion it currently operates.

Fewer N.Y.U. flags planted amidst every inch of our communities and neighborhoods. And historic spaces like the Edgar Allen Poe House and Provincetown Playhouse as well as cultural spots which added to the vibrancy of the neighborhood like The Bottom Line preserved – not demolished – by the overreaching arm of N.Y.U. expansion.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, stated: “N.Y.U. seems to have worked on their P.R. machine quite a bit, but the reality of what they’re doing — which is taking over more and more of the neighborhood — doesn’t seem like it’s changed very much. They’ve given everybody the opportunity to say what they think and then they’ve largely ignored that feedback.

March 26, 2010 (edited)

Previous WSP Blog Posts:

* Isn’t there anyone who can outbid or outmaneuver NYU? 58 Washington Sq South Goes to the Dark Side

* NYU: “Thanks for your patience”; the University Continues Its Unregulated Building, Ignoring Community Agreements on Provincetown Playhouse

Photos: Cathryn

Seen on the Fountain Plaza

The other day … there was a lot of chalking going on.