2011-11-09 - OWS With 15 Bike-Powered Generators - Gothamist

Occupy Wall Street Plans To Stay Forever With 15 New Bike-Powered Generators
Demonstrating how pedal power works
(James Thilman / Gothamist)


Fifteen newly built bicycle-powered generators are helping to power the movement at Occupy Wall Street. After the FDNY and NYPD seized generators and biofuels citing a fire hazard, clever and resourceful occupiers, with the help of Pedal Power NYC and Time's Up!, have developed a green and sustainable way to solve their energy needs. Though the confiscated generators were returned to protesters last night, winter's approach ensures that those living in Zuccotti Park will need all the power they can muster.

Should the gas-powered generators be taken away again, the protesters will be prepared. Old stationary bikes have been retrofitted with components that link to 12 volt batteries which are used throughout the park to charge laptops, cell phones, cameras, and small kitchen appliances. "Bikes are powered by human energy and we have plenty of that down here," said 26-year-old Lauren Minis. "The idea is that each area—Comfort, Medical, Media, the kitchen—will get their own bike so they can be self-sufficient. We also need to get our free wifi back which has been down since the police took our generators." Minis, originally from Staten Island, had been working for a sustainable living center in Oakland, CA before joining the sustainability working group at Occupy Wall Street.

Demonstrators at Occupy Boston shipped the first of the generators to New York, but volunteers are working off-site to build dozens more and many occupiers expect the idea to spread to other cities across the country. One of the biggest concerns voiced by those staffing the medical tent is avoiding cold-weather maladies such as hypothermia. "I think this is genius on so many levels," said one rather impressed passerby. "It'll keep them warm! And this movement is about giving power back to the people, and here they are literally creating it themselves."

Power isn't the only resource in demand at Zuccotti Park. Space is scarce and members of OWS Town Planning went tent-to-tent last week administering a census. Following the freak snowstorm on October 29th, signs appeared on tents indicating its occupation status and the number of people sleeping there each night. "A lot of people left after the storm," said Marsha Spencer (AKA the OWS Knitter). "People were freezing and need somewhere to sleep. They needed to know if any tents had been abandoned so someone could use them," she said while knitting a pink wool skirt for a woman who had been there since September 17. "I've made over 50 items so far. Lots of hats gloves, and now this skirt. I have one I wear in the winter and it will really keep her legs warm." Hopefully that skirt will come with a matching sweater set and a beard hat!