At the edge of Zuccotti Park amid a sea of signs and a crowd alternating between snapping pictures of the cardboard handiwork and creating some of their own, a girl in her mid 20s walked up to a plain folded table covered in printed sheets of paper.
It was about 7pm on a Friday and the post-work crowd of gawkers and evening tourists had swelled the park population significantly so she had to speak up a bit to be heard over the din.
“OK,” she says, easing cautiously into an explanation. “I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do. I work 9 to 5.”
A girl behind the table stuck her hand out to interrupt her: “Same for me,” she says, smiling and nodding. She’s bubbly and energetic, wearing the kind of comfortable suit you might expect to see at a public relations staff happy hour.
“I’m an artist,” the first girl continues. “I have no money. I’m poor.”
Without missing a beat, the girl behind the table starts pulling papers out of the stack and makes an elevator pitch about a planned art exhibit outside the JP Morgan building that needed artists.
“Cool,” the first girl responded, seeming shocked to have found such a quick answer, and a place she could go.
Is this the central booking for all newcomers to Occupy Wall Street? Not exactly, because it goes a bit deeper than that. The table is staffed by a team of about eight professional, certified life coaches with the goal of helping newbies not just find something to do — after all, anyone can sling a plate of free vegan pizza at the chow line — but to tap into something deeper that draws out their life skills.
If Occupy Wall Street is meant to be a national come-to-Jesus sermon, this table is the private confession booth. Continue reading