What's happening on Wall Street? An ongoing protest, now in its second week, has brought together a wide array of participants from political newcomers afraid for their own economic security to veteran activists who pull upon a range of culture jamming techniques to celebrity endorsers, including Roseanne Barr, who made her way to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. And today, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore joined in.
There is an inter-generational quality as economic insecurity has shown little respect for age. There is determination as well as anger, creativity as well as earnestness. And while there are themes that rise up again and again - that corporations have too much control over our lives and our political process, that Wall Street is still reaping profits while our country is suffering, that there needs to be accountability for those who caused this financial crisis - there is not one single chant. The Occupy Wall Street effort has been intentionally leaderless, in a way confounding both to the authorities and the conventional media.
The New York Times has received its fair share of criticism for its limited ability to understand the events (and Allison Kilkenny of the Nation offers a healthy alternative take. And more sensational moments of police violence have attracted a greater share of attention than the messages of the protesters.
Twitter reports have recounted police asking to speak to "whoever is in charge" to the amusement of protesters. The media coverage of the first week of protest was scant, perhaps due in part to the absence of official spokespeople. While Michael Moore has shown his support and the organization Adbusters is credited with some of the inspiration, the actual events unfolding aren't following Moore's script or Adbusters' scheme - it's something more organic bubbling up, a petrie dish for dissatisfaction and frustration and mobilization, the result of which won't be known until after this process runs its course.
Which is counter to how many protests work - with scheduled speakers, officially printed signs, organized buses. But as those marches on Washington have found less and less traction in the media and the public imagination over the years, maybe something less scripted has a chance to break out.
While Occupy Wall Street has not found its narrative in mainstream media yet, it has resonated with other activists around the country and the world who are launching similar ongoing protests in other major cities. Twitter has been able to communicate the diverse, at-times cacophonous range of experiences and expressions at Zuccotti Park better than conventional media reporting - and in that way, a story is getting told that is inspiring more activity. Where all of this energy leads - into more street action or political change, into a new movement or nowhere at all - is a story still being written 140 characters at a time.
Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."