I think it's fair to say that each person at the #OccupyWallStreet demonstration has had his/her own answers to these questions - and the myriad answers have also varied in validity, coherence, and good sense.
My own answer, as was Dylan's in the midst of his own milieu, is blowing in the wind.
Revolution is fomenting in the financial district. This is our moment.
I was roped into the Wall Street Occupation several weeks before it was to occur. Freegan.info forwarded a message to me, originally from OWS organizers, seeking help to supply the soon-to-be encampment with a bounty of rescued food (that is to say - food rescued from the NYC waste stream). So I knew in very clear terms, nearly a full month in advance, what I was getting myself into:
"there has been a general call for thousands upon thousands of people to descend upon Wall Street… to set up for a long-term occupation of the space that is hoped will grow and grow to the point where the government and the financial sector are forced to, for once in their lives, listen to the people."
Now. Many have suggested that our occupation has not accomplished anything, that our goals and demands are too nebulous, that we lack unity and progress. But if our real aim was to simply occupy the financial district for as long as possible, to force people to finally pay attention, then I dare say we've succeeded more than even we could have anticipated. For in the mean time, we've also proven that it's not just politicians in the back pockets of Wall Street - our elected officials share that rich space with the media and NYPD as well!
On day eight there were 80+ arrests and countless examples of police violence and assault on the peaceful march to Union Square. Many of these abuses of power and authority were caught on camera, including an especially egregious incident where four young women, unarmed and already penned behind an orange mesh police barricade, were maced. It wasn't until one reporter (ONE!) discussed the incident and video at length (which had already gone viral on YouTube) that the media began to pay attention. Up to that point we'd been completely ignored by the media, excepting one NYC daily newspaper, even after at least a dozen absurd arrests had occurred at Liberty Plaza and during unauthorized (yet peaceful) marches.
But one media report was all that the Daily Show needed to finally cover this hometown story, one that they must have been itching to get their comedic hands on. Even then, the story was focused on police violence, not on the actual reasons that we found ourselves at Liberty Plaza, camping night after night in the cold and rain, risking arrest by an out-of-control NYPD, building community and democracy from the ground up.
Nevertheless, with news of our police showdown finally dancing across the boob tube, it was just a few days before we heard reports of as many as sixty six occupations cropping up around the country. Our own numbers grew daily. A new printed news source, the Occupied Wall Street Journal was printed and distributed to keep our demonstration documented (since the outside media were clearly not going to do it for us).
The headline on the first issue read:
NEW YORK UNITES! WEDNESDAY OCT. 5
This was the day that we were to march on the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the day that 700+ peaceful protesters were to be arrested. This was the day that I was to play Blowin' In The Wind, quickly averting mass confusion and arrests, hoping to avoid my own.
Perhaps my time is not far off...
One of the most striking qualities of the Wall Street occupation is our diversity - not just in terms of race, class, age, gender, etc. But really in ideas. Hundreds if not thousands of signs have been created, representing a plethora of views across the spectrum of "the 99%" (we hold freedom of expression and ideas very highly and would not abridge someone's rights to them). But this is largely the reason for the barrage of questions and confusion from passers-by and media reporters (it's about time!) who ask, legitimately, "what is this occupation all about?" Perhaps we've yet to supply a media-friendly answer. But the one question that nobody seems to have difficulty answering is, "how long will you be here?" My own answer has always been, with a smirk and a wink, "as long as it takes."
In peace and revolution, always.