In the land of NASCAR and Bike Week, a small and persistent group is bringing the Occupy movement to the former Spring Break capitol of the world – Daytona Beach, Florida. Known amongst onlookers and participants as Zuccotti by the Sea, in a town full of churches and rebel flags where activism is a rarely heard word, there are folks committed to spreading the message of class warfare. Without a centralized downtown or a consistent occupation location, members of the Occupy Daytona Beach movement, like members of the Occupy movement nationwide, struggle to find a home.
For the past two weekends, the folks of ODB have spent the weekend camped out in Tuscawilla Park. Occupying a corner of the grounds, adjacent to the disc-golf course, members of ODB wave signs and encourage drivers on International Speedway Boulevard to honk their horns in support. By 6pm on Sunday evening, tents are packed away and the park is cleaned. Throughout the week, ODB relies on Facebook for communication, and when in-person meetings are needed, a General Assembly is held at the food court in the Volusia Mall.
Without a physical space to occupy, Facebook emerges as a centralized location. All organizing is done online and the multi-user nature of Facebook allows everyone to contribute to the movement’s growth. Although half of the participants of ODB are retired and prior to their involvement in the movement, only used Facebook to see pictures of grandchildren; the other half of the protestors are college aged students whose lives have been shaped by social media.
The democratic nature of social media mirrors the mission of the Occupy movement and nowhere is this clearer than amongst members of ODB who rely almost entirely on social media to organize. On Facebook, everyone can be an organizer, a leader and a journalist documenting change. While social media activism is criticized for creating a network of ‘weak ties,’ as compared to past movements in which organizing was more structured and happened in person thus creating ‘strong ties,’ for a generation criticized as apathetic and over-indulged, ODB proves social media’s capabilities to produce homegrown democracy.