OccupyWishList Launches, An Online Registry Connecting #OWS Needs and Donors
BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 25 2011
Here's another interesting online effort that's popped up around the Occupy Wall Street movement: OccupyWishList.org, a simple platform where people who want to give direct support to occupiers in need of things like blankets, batteries, sleeping bags and the like can connect with each other. Built and supported by MoveOn.org, the site is just starting to see some usage, with 187 items provided by 58 people to 8 sites so far. I spoke with Daniel Mintz, MoveOn's campaign director, who offered some background about the project.
"The big challenge is less on getting people to help; the bigger challenge is on getting in touch with all the occupations," to make sure actual needs are being expressed and met. He noted that such efforts were already taking place around the hashtag #needsoftheoccupiers, but said that such a decentralized approach had one challenge: "If someone wants to help their local occupation, they may not know how to figure out which one is the one to help, to find a list of what's needed. There's no comprehensive database of all the occupy sites, no hub where you can type in your zipcode."
Creating such a database would be a "Sisyphean task," Mintz added, given how fluid so many of these local occupations appear to be. The Oakland encampment was just broken up by police, for example, and the Indianapolis group appears to have fallen apart due to internal strife. "This is more about helping make connections quickly and easily before circumstances shift," he said.
OccupyWishList doesn't just make it easy for people to list their needs or their willingness to meet them; Mintz says the site will also work to ensure that connections and commitments are actually met, or a need will get relisted.
Why is MoveOn doing this? "Over the course of the last year, our members, like most Americans, have become more and more fed up with the discussion in Washington focused on a fake deficit crisis when there's a real unemployment crisis facing the country," Mintz replied. "The OWS movement is a real manifestation of anger and frustration that Washington isn't addressing people's real problems, and it's no surprise that MoveOn members' top priority right now is to find ways to stand in solidarity with those protesters."
"We felt like this was something obvious that we could provide. We're not looking for credit. We're much more interested in getting this out there and making sure that it really helps. We have developers and project managers, so we felt we could throw it together in a couple of days."