Occupy Madison Prepares For Winter

Organizers Build Structures To Help Keep People Warm

MADISON, Wis. - The Occupy Madison movement is now in its fifth week camping out at 800 East Washington Ave., and members are preparing for winter weather.

Organizers know the winter months may have an effect on their numbers. They are working to build structures to help protect people from the winter cold.

"This is a hoophouse design," said organizer DB Pederson, who was building the structure Monday. "We had a different one that had wood siding, but the fire department came along. It was exquisitely built."

Organizers are building structures to withstand Wisconsin's winters.

"So we're building winter housing to keep the residents safe," said Pedersen.

"(It's going to be) a day warming space where people can meet," said organizer Justin La Plonte. "We can prepare food here; we can keep it heated. It's just a bigger building we can all meet in."

The group hopes to build a military tent as well. The wood flooring must not exceed 4 inches to comply with city fire code. And for the organizers, compliance is top of mind.

"The compliance is from both sides," said Pedersen. "We formed a good relationship in how people can get along. And hopefully we can export that message."

"I think what we've seen is that it's an evolving process," said Lt. Kristen Roman, of the Madison Police Department.

Roman said the relationship between the city and Occupy Madison has been one of mutual understanding.

"What we communicated to them was that we were not interested in obstructing their cause in any way," said Roman. "Rather, our goal was just to ensure that everybody remained safe."

"It's been a very positive relationship since the beginning," said Pedersen.

Occupy organizers said the structures they are building will only be covered with tarps, and sealed with a fabric fastener or other adhesives.

And as far as services go, Occupy Madison receives weekly city trash pickup, but takes care of its own waste and sanitation.

Occupy Madison said about 20 people are spending the night on site.

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