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Environmental Innovations, Impacts At Occupy DC

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Occupy DC activist Kelsey Tribble with one of the donate solar panels that powers their media tent.
Jessica Gould
Occupy DC activist Kelsey Tribble with one of the donate solar panels that powers their media tent.

Some protesters with the Occupy DC movement say they want to see changes in global environmental policies, but the protest is having effects that hit close to home.

Kelsey Tribble says she joined Occupy DC because she believes a wealthy minority is driving the environmental agenda, including the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

"There’s a lot of money to be made in destroying the Earth," she says. But, for now, she’s focused on promoting sustainability on a smaller scale: "So this is the heater. On the inside it’s just aluminum cans. They’re all painted black. It traps heat really well through this old vacuum tube," she says.

In addition to the homemade solar heater, protesters are using solar panels to power their media tent. And they hope to harness a new kind of flower power.

"We’re working on making contacts with local farms and community gardens so we can do some work-trade with them to be providing fresh, organic produce for ourselves," says Tribble.

The National Park Service spokesperson Carol Johnson says the grassroots movement is having major effects on -- well -- grass roots. Last year, the agency spent $30,000 of federal stimulus money on new sod at McPherson Square. Now muddy patches are peeking through the parkland.

"There are places where it’s denuded and places where it’s compacted and those are things that we’re going to have to look at later," Johnson says. 
Meanwhile, she says the protestors seem to be producing a lot of trash:"We have increased our pickup from twice a day to three times a day."

Still, she says activists are working with the Park Service to protect the land. And she says it’s too early to judge the long-term effects of the protest.  The full impact on McPherson won't be known until the future. In that way, the tent city could be a lot like the movement itself. When it comes to Occupy D.C.’s legacy, only time will tell.

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