Thursday, November 17, 2011

Firedoglake's Inspired Occupy Supply Initiative

The progressive blog Firedoglake has launched a brilliant initiative to not only keep Occupiers warm this winter but, as Glenn Greenwald says, "creat[e] an amazing new template to help sustain" the protests.

[U]sing nothing more than reader donations, FDL designed and then purchased a full line of winter clothing for free distribution to the various Occupy sites around the nation: hats, sweaters, scarves, gloves, socks, blankets, jackets, thermal underwear, face masks, and more. Every penny FDL raises — 100% — goes exclusively toward the manufacture and free distribution of these products to Occupy protesters. 
What makes this effort particularly impressive, according to Greenwald, is that instead of merely dropping off the clothing at various Occupy encampments, "FDL has built a network of liasons and representatives to ensure that it goes to the places that need it most, and that it reaches those who will use it for its intended purpose: primarily, the “sleeper” protesters, largely impoverished, who form the backbone of the camps."

As FDL founder, Jane Hamsher explains:
We rely heavily on local FDL member liaisons in each city to interact with their occupy community, determine their needs and communicate them to us, and then deliver the goods we send directly to them and report back about how they are used. Staying in personal contact with each community has helped us to be quickly responsive to their unique needs, which can change very fast. 
In addition, Greenwald writes, FDL has worked hard to "ensure that the goods it distributes are manufactured not in Chinese sweatshops but rather entirely by American unions — a difficult challenge in this age of disappearing American industry — which in turn ensures that the workers producing the products enjoy health insurance, living wages, and a decent standard of living: aims of the Occupy movement itself."

If you are interested in becoming a liason you need to first join FDL here and then sign up here.  As Hamsher notes, "many cities (especially the smaller ones) don’t have any liaisons yet, so if you’re looking for a way to help your local occupation, it’s a great way to be of service."  You can also donate to the FDL Membership Program’s OccupySupply fund here.

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