People Are Awesome: Meet the New York Mom Who Made the OWS 'Bat Signal' Possible Meet Denise Vega, the New York Mom Who Made OWS's 'Bat Signal' Possible

New Yorker Denise Vega opened her home to the activists who projected OWS images onto the Verizon building last Thursday.

A couple of weeks ago, activist Mark Read was preparing to project a message—now dubbed the "bat signal"—onto the Verizon Building for Occupy Wall Street's two-month anniversary. He had gotten a 12K lumen projector from an anonymous donor. He had secured collaborators Max Nova and JR Skola of the art group Dawn of Man. But in order to sustain the projections for more than a few minutes, he needed a room to set up shop. He posted signs in the public housing complex across the way from Verizon, offering $250 for three hours of window use.

"None of the calls seemed to be working out," Mark Read says of the days leading up to last Thursday's protest. "I was preparing to just go back and stalk the building or the lobby."

That's when he heard from Denise Vega, a native New Yorker and single mother of three who was down for the OWS cause from the get-go.

"A couple of times I got off the train station where people had the tents," Vega says. "I had walked through so many times and was like, 'Wow, this is emotional, this is awesome, I'm so happy this is going on.' I thought, 'It'd be nice to get involved with this.'"

When Read visited the apartment and realized her bedroom window had a perfect view of the Verizon building, Vega told him, "Let's do this." She and her sister agreed to take the money, but after she saw the coverage of Zuccotti Park's eviction on the news, she had a change of heart.

"I called [Read] back and said, 'How 'bout you don't pay me? This is for the people,'" says Vega, a customer service agent for a national company. "It's not about the money. It's about being together and trying to fight what's right. We've got millions of people looking for work. It's bad out there."

For Vega, the night of the protest was intensely gratifying. "Everybody was excited," she says. "Even the cops downstairs, they were looking at the projector and taking pictures." Two of her daughters, ages 17 and 22, were by her side, too.

"That was the best part for me," she says. "At one point my older daughter turns and says to me, 'Mom, you are the bomb.'" We couldn't agree more.

Photo courtesy of Mark Read.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less