Alumni Influential in
Launching, Sustaining Occupy Movement
by Mariam Zakhary '13
After the success of the Arab Spring movements for democracy in the Middle East, the staff of Adbusters, including senior editor Micah White '04, wondered why a social protest movement was not happening in the U.S. White and magazine co-founder Kalle Lasn developed an idea to call for a protest.
In its 97th edition, Adbusters, a Canadian-based, non-profit, anti-consumerist magazine, suggested the date - Sept. 17 - and a place - Wall Street - for people to take a stand. Activists responded and now, in addition to Wall Street, the Occupy movement exists in dozens of cities around the country and elsewhere.
Among those who heard the call was Gwen Snyder '08, executive director of Philadelphia Jobs With Justice. Snyder has taken a leadership role within Occupy Philadelphia's Labor Committee, including coordinating initiatives with labor leaders.
"We're here because of economic policies that have benefited one percent of the country and taken advantage of the other 99 percent," Snyder recently told The Phoenix. "People have different opinions about how to fix this issue, but the theoretical message is consistent."
"There's hope that's really palpable [among the protesters] that they can actually do something about their situation," added Matthew Armstead '08, who has also been actively involved with Occupy Philly. "Creating a space is an action that allows people to reimagine what a movement can be. The space created at Occupy Philly provides support for people who do not feel heard."
White graduated from Swarthmore with a B.A. in philosophy and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in media and communications at the European Graduate School. Snyder graduated with high honors in sociology and anthropology and religion. Armstead earned a B.A. in theater.