For one protester, 'Occupy' becomes a way of life

Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:14am EDT
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Seven months after Occupy Wall Street's eviction from Zuccotti Park, the round-the-clock encampment in lower Manhattan that was once the movement's center, one protester has created his own version of the communal living experiment in Brooklyn.

The spacious apartment in Crown Heights where Austin Guest, a 31-year-old Harvard University graduate, lives with another seasoned protester is a far cry from the crowded, chaotic Zuccotti Park of last fall, where hundreds of protesters camped out each night.

Nevertheless, inspired by Zuccotti, with its free meals and free books, Guest said he and his friends are pursuing an Occupy-like experiment in mutual aid.

In the apartment, for example, the protesters follow a code of conduct designed to prevent one person from dominating a conversation. Guest, who majored in performance and media studies at Harvard, said he has had to "unlearn" the sometimes "impenetrable" rhetoric of the Ivy League.

"I was trained to speak in, like, five paragraphs at a time, with really clearly delineated, bulletproof arguments. And that kind of communication doesn't leave a lot of space. That's the point. It's impenetrable. And that's not how we talk in OWS," he said.


Guest, a California native with a slight build and a beard who prefers his trademark cap tilted to one side, called the Occupy movement "the best thing that ever happened to me."

It is not clear how many other Occupy Wall Street alumni continue to protest in New York on a full-time basis. Several hundred protesters packed into Times Square on May 15 as part of a coordinated action timed to JPMorgan Chase's shareholder meeting. Several dozen people regularly congregate in Union Square, especially on Friday nights. And there are several communal-living arrangements in Brooklyn.   Continued...

Activist Austin Guest guides other protesters in front of a police line in New York May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton