Sunday, November 6, 2011

Heating Things Up At Occupy Wall Street

How will they stay warm?

Here's my 10 minute rendering of an OWS that could last protesters through the winter.

original images from Wikipedia and

With last week's surprise snowstorm, Occupy Wall Street got an early preview of what the months ahead will be like and the NYTimes asked how long people can continue the occupation through the winter. While the perseverance of many of the occupiers is admirable, you only have to think back to last winter in New York to be reminded of how hard it will be to survive through February and March.

There are a lot of intriguing solutions being proposed including using a single candle, 2 bricks and cast iron skillet to create a footwarmer as suggested on the forum. There is also a group working to install electricity-generating bikes in the park, and while that is a sustainable solution to lighting demands after the city took everyone's generators away, it doesn't seem practical to use bicycle power to generate heat for the very cyclists who add to the system.

So what else is a possibility?

The ambitiousness of the infrastructural improvements Occupiers continue to make to their city-within-a-city is really inspiring. And it makes me wonder if they could develop a system to parasitically use wasted heat from the surrounding city infrastructure as a source of heat.

The artist Michael Rakowitz has done some inspiring, provocative work around temporary housing for homeless which utilizes the exhaust air from nearby buildings to heat temporary homeless shelters.

There are more permanent versions of this heat byproduct becoming a useful public resource. I recall an article in Metropolis awhile back where the town of Holland, Michigan used wasted hot water running in pipes underground and utilizing it to heat the sidewalks. They even built a sidewalk hearth that the community can gather around in the dead of winter.

Holland, Michcigan Public Hearth.

Imagine a temporary infrastructure that captures the wasted hot air of the financial service offices in NYC's Financial District in order to keep the protesters warm! I am writing this from the comfort of a warm home in Atlanta this week, and I haven't been to Zucotti Park, so take this proposal with a grain of salt. There are reports that some of the protestors are begining to install larger army tents that will keep them warm and protect them from the snow. How great would it be to see all of the OWS tents warmed by wasted heat coming from the banks they are calling into question? Does anyone at OWS know if this is at all feasible?