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Activist Communique: Occupy Toronto -- a story about volunteers

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Today, I went online to the Occupy Toronto livestream and made a pitch for volunteers, warning everyone that many current volunteers are giving their all and could use some help. For example, at the Logistics tent, without backup, volunteers have put in 10-hour shifts. This doesn't have to happen if only a few more people would step forward and help.

Occupy Toronto works because people work hard to keep it running: by prepping and serving food, marshalling, volunteering as legal observers and medics. And despite what Sun Media has to say about Occupiers (that the residents here are nothing but a bunch of lazy hippies), it's been a long while since I have seen people working as hard on a project.

I've seen strangers step up and form working groups and committees and eventually becoming friends. I've seen people of different religions help set up the free school for a religion services, and then staying for the service to support one another. I've seen skill sharing and people challenging gender norms and stereotypes as both men and women help out at the community kitchen. People can also volunteer by taking pictures or video for Occupy Toronto or by donating non perishable food items.

Occupy Toronto is a city within a city.

Unfortunately, remaining honest about what going down at Occupy Toronto, there are community detractors. Tonight, I was ‘scolded' by a gentleman who's livestream handle is ChronicTom for reminding people using a little bit of sass that while intellectual debate is great, Occupy Toronto could also use volunteers to help keep the camp running. Because, unfortunately, this movement suffers from the "Everyone wants the revolution but nobody wants to do with the dishes."

To confess, it frustrates me when I hear that the community kitchen here -- that feeds not only occupiers but anyone who can't afford a bite to eat -- has to shut down for a lack of volunteers. Surely, you can wash dishes and talk at the same time.

Also, think about it this way: helping out at Occupy Toronto is part of the experience, participating in building and strengthening a community. I won't get a novelty T-shirt from the experience and that's the best part.

To end, I would like to thank everyone who has stepped up to volunteer for these past three weeks.

For more information:

If you are onsite, listen/ask at the daily General Assemblies (12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) at the gazebo for announcements. Or check in at the logistics or info tent.

You can also email Occupy Toronto in advance or check the website for call outs: http://occupyto.org/

General Inquiries: [email protected]
Volunteer Inquiries: [email protected]
Media Inquiries: [email protected]

Occupy Toronto also sends out wish lists through Twitter. #OccupyToronto, @OccupyToronto @OccupyBayStreet and @Krystalline_k

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