Mayoral Transition Tent 'Occupies' Familiar Ground

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Two years ago, Occupy Wall Street activists were arrested for trying to take over a parcel of land in downtown Manhattan. Now, the same lot is home to Talking Transition, two weeks of events designed to give everyday New Yorkers insight and input into the next administration.

Musician Mark Marone says he's been going to the the big, clear tent on Canal Street nearly every day to participate in talks about drug policy, education and the arts. He says he loves all the civic engagement, which reminds him of his time with Occupy, including watching his friends get arrested at that very spot.

"And it's poignant to see everything Occupy had done two years before be given this sanitized treatment," he said.

The events at the tent are sponsored by 10 foundations, and the property owner, Trinity Real Estate (WNYC's landlord), is letting them use the land for free. Organizers say the goal of Talking Transition is to promote transparency and dialogue, which does sound somewhat Occupy-ish.

But Trinity Real Estate president Jason Pizer says there's at least one big difference. "There was no dialogue between Trinity and Occupy Wall Street on occupying this site for anything," he said, noting that, unlike Occupy, this year's group got permission to be there.