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OWS' 'Spring Awakening' in Central Park Will Kick Off a Season of Activism, Attract New Faces

This Saturday's family-friendly event will draw some new individuals into the movement while also energizing existing Occupiers and facilitating cross-organizational cooperation.

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The Spring Awakening will also celebrate OWS's achievements. Back on September 17th, no one knew how big this movement would get or how long it would last - let alone that it would transformed the national discourse and scare corporations so much that they would feel the need to buy off the NYPD in an attempt to shut us up. While looking forward is essential, it is also imperative to look back and celebrate our accomplishments. Live music, food, discussions, and other festivities will give us the chance to reflect and appreciate our victories.

OWS organizer Colby Hopkins commented, "One of the greatest accomplishments of Occupy Wall Street is that it has pushed to the forefront the reality that the root of all of our social ailments is the same....Knowing we have a common enemy reminded us that we need a collective solution. Spring Awakening 2012 will build this movement, in part, by combining peoples' efforts around various issues and focusing them on our common enemy."

Another function the Spring Awakening will serve is as a mechanism for interactive movement building. The facilitated assembly, taking place at 3pm, is essential, as it will be a space for a variety of organizations and individuals to unite on initiatives. Various organizations are submitting campaigns that they are currently working on and will form clusters, which will in turn work on strategic visioning for their collective initiatives over the next three to six months. The hope is that organizations doing similar work will network, combine efforts, and find ways to collaborate on their work moving forward. This will serve as a model for a "clearinghouse" that we hope to establish for organizations, at which groups will be able to share their work with each other.

How to Participate

There will be an abundance of things to do all day during the Spring Awakening. Participants looking for teach-ins, discussions, or more information about different Occupy groups should visit the open space taking place on the south side of the park (west of Wollman Rink, near the 6th Avenue entrance) between 1pm and 6pm. Be sure to bring a blanket; there will be picnic-style "blanketing" so we don't face any issues with having tables at the park. Numerous groups and performers have confirmed attendance for the open space, including the Commission on Voluntary Service & Action, La Union, Women Occupying Wall Street, and Such As Us.

If you'd like to participate in the facilitated assembly at 3pm, you can do so under the umbrella of an organization, or join any campaign cluster that sparks your interest. A few, out of the many, organizations and groups that have committed to the facilitated assembly include the Manhattan Free School, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, ACT UP, and Healthcare NOW! NYC. There will be an info booth at the park with more information on where to go.

If you're completely new to Occupy, the Spring Awakening also has a place for you. Keep an eye out for "occu-mentors" walking around the park. They will be ready to have a discussion with you about how your interests match up with OWS and how you can get plugged in to the movement.

The event is also meant to be family-friendly and help parents get involved in OWS. The day is planned in a way so as to avoid the police confrontation that often comes with Occupy events. An OWS activist mom, Rivka Gewirtz Little, says "It is families who are living under the effects of crushing debt, foreclosures, joblessness, public school closings, and police harassment against their children. We as parents want to get involved with Occupy Wall Street, but we don't always know how, and frankly it can be scary to bring our children into the unknown. Yet we are natural community organizers. We bake enough cookies to support entire school programs, and pressure the Department of Education like no one else. Spring Awakening 2012 will show parents how to take these organizing skills and plug into Occupy Wall Street and other community based organizations to make change."

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