More than two weeks have passed since Occupy Wall Street's flagship encampment was cleared from Zuccotti Park. Part of me misses the 24-hour spectacle of signs, songs, debates, tarps and kitchen queues. Through the fall, I planned my schedule to include visits to lower Manhattan, knowing I would always find something of interest in that city park that captured the world's imagination. Now, a visit to Zuccotti involves barricades, unwelcoming security guards and overly zealous maintenance staff ensuring you can't get comfortable -- much less radical -- in the once-public sphere.
But the movement didn't vanish with the tents. Rather it traded in the sense of place for a sense of boundlessness, and those same weeks have felt like a transformation from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Everywhere.
The change in New York allowed focus to shift elsewhere around the country. The activities in Oakland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia gained more attention, in part, because they weren't sharing the headlines with New York. They showed that this movement has countless leaders and takes many forms, and that there is no one place where authorities can unplug it. The shift from camps to campuses signaled a new front, as UC Davis and Baruch College became central battlegrounds, and students everywhere began organizing against corporate recruiters and the college debt racket.
Furthermore, OWS always had more supporters than occupiers, more people who were awakened than who actually camped out. Those people are now finding an increasing number of actions in the spirit of Occupy that don't involve sleeping bags and general assemblies. In Iowa, progressives are launching Occupy The Caucus (http://occupythecaucus.org/), a week of activities leading up to the first GOP contest that will call attention to the influence of corporate power on our society. In New York, the Knock the 99% canvass is pushing for the Millionaires Tax. Next week in Washington, actions around a fair and just economy are feeding off the Occupy energy while not being tethered to encampments.
Even GOP thought-leader Frank Luntz has warned Republicans that the public has caught Occupy fever, a sign that while we may no longer Occupy Zuccotti, we are continuing to Occupy the Debate.
Just before the NYPD raid, the Adbusters team that sparked OWS had suggested it was time the movement take a new form. The evolution is underway. I may miss the constant political block party downtown, but this important critique of corporate-controlled politics is still occupying the headlines…and may Occupy the Ballot before another year is out.
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."