The Occupy TO camp at King and Church faced it first major test last week as a rainstorm descended. Residents spent the entire afternoon preparing for the onslaught of wind and rain, pegging down tents, covering the info booth and library in tarps, tightening tent lines. Throughout the night the wind raged, and the campers awoke to find much of the area flooded, but the preparations paid off.
“We did excellent last night” said Bruce, who helped organize a contingent from Oshawa. “The people were prepared. If we survived this storm last night we’ll survive anything”.
“I couldn’t really get proper sleep because it was so cold”, said Sunny, who is living at the camp. Nonetheless, she thinks that camping out is worth it. “I’m here because I want to be actively learning the things I need to live communally. Normally I live in a single room in Kensington, but here I am living in a community which is something that reflects my values.”
Ana looked damp but enthusiastic. “There is lots of taking care of each other. We got soaked last night so one of the girls got some dry blankets .I think I just accept that I live here now, I pretty much only leave to go to work. “
A large puddle had formed near the centre of camp, and a young man jokingly made a sign which read “Lake Occupy” and pretended to fish in the pond. But by the next day the drains were cleared and ‘lake occupy’ disappeared. Swampy areas were covered in straw donated by rural residents in solidarity with occupation.
Josh Goskey told media coop: “Within the "occupied" St. James park, the residents often feel as though they are inhabitants of another land. Because of this, it's easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere of the camp ground.” But he added that the media tent keeps him connected to the outside world : “The media tent could be seen as the glue between the other camps to unify and create a world "occupying together."“
The weather is not the biggest concern to many at the ‘occupy’ site. “I’d rather face rainstorms than police batons” joked one protester, refereeing to the police repression experienced by many of the ‘occupy’ protests in other cities.
The encampment is gaining an air of permanence, and people are starting to winterize their tents with donated tarps provided by logistics. Food and media have power provided by generators, and a mini-society has emerged with its own medics, a safe space for women, and a school for workshops. The people’s library, which started out last week as a bunch of books on a blanket, has its own comfy tent and a well-organized collection that includes not only radical literature but plenty of fiction. There are now over 250 tents in the park.