The woman behind Occupy Darien
After issuing an invitation to Occupy Darien, a local woman has been forced from the shadows of obscurity into the spotlight as attention turns to a two-day event scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.
Margaret Rague said while growing up, she witnessed her father's participation as a social activist, which then inspired her to get involved. One of her father's notable battles included fighting for women to have access to birth control. Rague said she remembered the Catholic church and other organizations denouncing his efforts as evil.
"I guess I was born with that activist look at the world," Rague said. "When I was 15, I tutored a Spanish-speaking child and then when I was 18 and 19 I worked as a counselor at the Goodwill Camps."
Besides volunteering her time, Rague was also involved in Vietnam demonstrations where she said she saw acts of brutality on the part of the National Guard as people were dragged across a perimeter line and then beaten.
"I saw what corrupt government could do and I started questioning everything," she said.
Once Rague graduated from college, she decided she wanted to work in finance and business law because she hoped she would be able to fix the way corporations operated. However, things didn't work out as planned and Rague found herself disillusioned by the corporate world.
"I wanted to go inside Corporate America to understand it and to change it but I didn't like the effect it had on me," she said. "I realized it wasn't what I wanted and I left."
As Rague gears up for the Occupy Darien event, she hopes people will attend so diverse viewpoints can be shared on a variety of topics. She said the one thing she really hopes is that people will walk away and make a vow to give more to the needy.
"I really want to raise the consciousness of the audience and hope people can walk away and think about what they are willing to give," Rague said.
In terms of turnout, Rague was still unclear on the numbers as of Tuesday night, but was hoping at least 500 people would attend, although she said she would be happy if 200 showed up.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Darien resident Samuel Schoonmaker voiced some concerns with the event's scheduling in terms of the impact on local businesses. Schoonmaker said he wasn't sure what the plans for the event were but hoped any participants wouldn't interfere with people while they try to shop.
"I used to work in retail and I know how important these days before Christmas are to businesses," he said. "I cannot tell whether the occupiers intend to be disruptive, but they are at least a little bit removed being at Tilley Pond Park."
Schoonmaker felt it would be unfair for demonstrators to interfere with the local businesses because they had nothing to do with the occupy movement for Wall Street.
"I just want to warn people about what is going on and to tell them to not be intimidated to if they are confronted by demonstrators," Schoonmaker said. "People should go out and do what they would do normally."
When asked if it would have been more appropriate to wait until after the holidays to host the Occupy Darien event, Schoonmaker said it would be helpful for businesses but it wouldn't help the demonstrators.
"They have a right to assemble in Tilley Pond Park and I'm not trying to interfere with anyone's freedom of speech. It would be less effective for demonstrators to wait until after the holidays but more appropriate for businesses," he said. "I just don't want innocent people to be hurt."
"My assumption from talking with Parks and Recreation is that the event will be isolated in the park," she said. "That's not a place where businesses are located and there isn't any parking for businesses in that area."
The only concern Wilder-Tamme had was if there was overflow at the park and people began making their way into areas where people are shopping. However, she said the possibility of increased traffic for businesses could be a positive.
"I haven't heard of any food vendor permits being given so the local restaurants could benefit from people going out to eat," she said.
She said the only concern business owners have mentioned is the possibility of hearing more activity coming from Tilley Pond Park.
"Some businesses do expect to hear more noise from the park, but I think everything will be well organized," Wilder-Tamme said.
Rolf Maurer, a member of the Green Party, said he would be attending the Occupy Darien event because he had been involved in a number of Occupy events around the area. He first met Rague while attending a press conference and they began discussing issues in today's society.
Maurer said he would be speaking at the event about class disparity and hoped to spark a dialogue between people about what everyone can do to improve the economy.
"I'm going to express some ideas for fixing the local economy. I want to talk about how people can take ownership of the economy and not let corporations take over," he said.
As far as criticism leveled toward the Occupy movement, Maurer dismissed the idea that it lacked focus and instead said many people don't understand the movement because it has been unfolding over a longer period of time.
"I'm wondering if we're so used to having things parceled out to us in five-minute sound bites that when you look at something like this it seems disorganized," he said.