Neil Gaiman believes that our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming. Many Occupy sites included libraries to serve community needs. Folks in New Cross, London, inspired by the occupy concept, decided to occupy their shut-down library. In post-earthquake Chile and in post-Sandy New Jersey, libraries provided essential post-crisis services. Co-working spaces, hackerspaces, makerspaces, hubs, and fablabs are springing up all over the world (small sample: Africa). A member of HacDC, Julia Longtin, has built a 3D printer from cast-off 2D printer parts. Yep. From garbage. Researchers have found that while we like our mobile phones, we also need each other. And that many of us go to places like cybercafes and libraries explicitly to work together — even if they’re set up for a 1:1 computer/person experience. Access to each other over the net is not enough.

Cory Doctorow sums this all up rather nicely in his latest novella, Lawful Interception:

We kept things going as much as we could: after all, we were online, so who needed to actually physically see each other anyway?

Us, as it turned out. So much of what had made Occupy Seneca work was in the place. A place where we could meet, where kids could be brought for classes. Where we could look each other in the eyeballs and solve our differences. A place where you could get a free computer, or learn to build a computer out of garbage. A place to keep garbage from which to build computers, along with a million other kinds of donated stuff that was carefully cataloged and available to anyone rebuilding their lives to get along.

Occupy Seneca had been the physical embodiment of mutual aid. It didn’t matter if the disaster that clobbered you was an earthquake, the economy, your deadbeat ex-husband, or something weird with your own brain chemistry, we were all there to help each other get through it all.