This past Friday evening, Bill Mettler of Wyncote led a story sharing session as part of the impromptu teach-in currently occurring at Occupy Philadelphia (on the web at and on Facebook at OccupyPhiladelphia). tent city at occupy phillyTrainings are on-going in subjects such as non-violence, permaculture, the monetary system, direct action, and Harvey’s Homeless Walking Tour.

When we arrived, there was a cool drizzle and we circled the plaza, debating the improbability of organizing a story swap in the rain. Since our last visit just 4 days ago, we witnessed many more tents, neatly in rows on the City Hall plaza with Occupiers claiming space beside office workers and the homeless. We ran into Ben (working to bringing an  alternative currency called Equal Dollars to the region), Bill (a green architect working with the climate change campaign), and Rabbi Julie, organizing Friday night Shabbat services outside a Sukkah.

We decided that the Sukkah, a temporary structure open to the elements, was an appropriate setting for our Story Sharing session. Though we began with just a handful of people, by the end our circle had expanded and included quite a diverse group, some stopping by with plates of food served up by volunteers at the Friends Center, with the weather clearing up.

Bill started off with a story from his childhood, about Hurricane Hazel and his initial awareness of their household’s dependence on electricity & water. An unemployed Iraqi veteran talked about how nice the Iraqis were, and how simply most families lived there, a young woman wondered why her generation was so obsessed with texting people when there were people right in front of them.

Memories of a summer camp where she got a chance to live in a teepee and as simply as Native Americans, a young mother repeated that that experience of living simply was just more interesting than any other summer camp option.   One fellow reminisced about the time he spent outdoors in North Dakota, Celeste Zappala spoke about the rainbow viewing celebrated in her family, and especially the double rainbow at her son’s (Sgt Sherwood Baker) funeral, while Bill Marston sweetly sang a song from Sunday School that he experienced as an epiphany, about God being in the rustling of the grass. 

The Story Sharing melded right into the Shabbat services, where we invited ancestors we’d like present – today, on the City Hall plaza, at Occupy Philly.

I enjoyed the graceful public space our City Hall plaza has become, bringing such a diverse set of people together.

Meenal Raval, one of the 99 percent | 267.709.3415