Token Creek and 2013
In December 2012 Occupy Madison forms a non-profit (Occupy Madison, Inc or OMI) to pursue a cooperative solution for people facing homeless in Madison. In February 2013 homeless folks staying at Token Creek Park were asked to leave with no legal place to go. In March, Dane County extended the winter permit until March 17th, leaving no legal place to go until county campgrounds opened April 16th.
Token Creek
Initiated by the forced and bitter resettlement of camp from Lake View Park, remote and removed from the good will and support of outside advocates, wet and cold and dismal, the months spent at Token Creek may have been OM;s darkest hour for morale to date. Meetings were held in angry, smoky cold around the campfire, and tensions ran high between campers and advocates. One notable instance of this was when a camper placed a can of beans into the fire and it exploded. The camper was then kicked out of camp.
Despite the low spirits and the constant sense of crisis caused by the winter, the campers and their advocates found the time and energy to form a non-proft. Initially the non-profit was formed to enable to group to fundraise for and purchase a house that could be owned and managed cooperatively by the group.
General Membership Meetings and Board Meetings were held in the Social Justice Center. Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation were drafted to reflect OM's core values of participation. The first Board of Directors was entirely comprised of homeless individuals.
Initially it was difficult to distinguish between the governance of the camp and the governance of the non-profit. Many of these kinks were worked out over time, however, as OMI's mission became more and more clear.
Mr. Vang
After the campers' removal from Token Creek with no place to go, Koua Vang, who had visited the camp, stepped forward and offered his vacant land as a temporary solution. Before the move, the city threatened to fine him.
OM Build
OM Build became the new public face of Occupy Madison. It was launched in June 2013 when the group successfully leased a workshop in order to manufacture Tiny Homes. One major difference between OM Build and other manufacturers is that everything from design to cnstruction to fundraising is done entirely by volunteers. The product, too, is free- anyone who is homeless and identifies as "In Need" may get in line to recieve a Tiny House. The only requirement is participation.
OMI has a working Board. This means that the members of the Board of Directors were many though not all of the most active participants in the project, and were responsible for executing most of the day to day responsibilities of the group. The power invested in the Board has diminished as Working Groups have formed and meet consistently. One member of the Board handles all the financials. Board Members are active participants in Work Groups. One Board Member is writing these words...
Unlike the Board, Work Groups are absolutely open and voluntary to whoever shows up. They are the most legitimate form of decision making, and usually operate by something like consensus.