10,000 Harmonicas to Occupy Wall Street, Maybe


Today the New York Post goes all out expressing how truly over the Occupy Wall Street Movement it is. The criminals and their crimes! The drumming and the tambourines! Oh horrible most horrible! Just imagine what the Post will say when they get word of a project that would put 10,000 harmonicas in the hands of Occupiers. Dastardly harmonicas, the vuvuzelas of the Occupation! Also, we’re not kidding: There is a movement to put harmonicas in the hands of the movement. The brainchild is the idea of Being Beings, “a collaboration of all beings,” who have a Kickstarter funding the harmonica project. They write, “What we’re suggesting is to equip the entire movement with harmonicas. By breathing slowly through these harmonicas, the historic instrument of the underclass in America, the audible qualities of both the individual and the whole will become a call used for marches, demonstrations, and sit-ins. As thousands of people step together and breathe together, the sound that we emit will be impossible to ignore or argue, because it lacks words that can be skewed or manipulated.”

You had us at “harmonicas.”

We asked Being Beings some questions about their plan, which involves 1,500 harmonicas being played at Occupy Wall Street on November 5 (with 89 backers at the time of this post, they’ve raised more than $1,500), followed by a grander event on November 17 in which 10,000 harmonicas would be played, if the money can be raised. The minimum pledge is $1, which covers the cost of the harmonica plus shipping; harmonicas will be delivered in person. From human mic to human harmonica…

So, you see 1,500 people playing the harmonicas on the 5th? And…on the 17th, it will happen again, but with 10,000 harmonicas?
Yes, those are the goals. Of course the amount of people is variable, depending on who comes out. Also, we would need to raise an additional 8,500.00 to make the 17th happen with the goal of 10,000.

Where did this idea come from?
We’ve experimented with this idea on a much smaller scale in the past and realized the significance of a shared breath made audible. When we became aware of Occupy we saw the dichotomy that exists between the role of the individual and the whole, and we knew that this simple act of breathing would illustrate that idea in an affecting way.

How are you involved with OWS? Do they support the project?
We’ve been in contact with a few organizers and groups at OWS and they are aware and supportive. This movement gains its strength by asking individuals to identify with it as they can. This is how we identify.

What will happen on November 5th?
We can’t predict what will happen on November 5th because the experience relies on so many perspectives. Whether someone is breathing, listening, or even imagining, they will understand the event in a unique way. What we do foresee is a reinforced understanding of the importance of each and all of these perspectives.

Did you know November 5 is also the day some groups are transferring their money from big banks to credit unions, a/k/a, Bank Transfer Day?
We are aware of the bank transfer day, but have not used it as a catalyst for the harmonica idea. The harmonicas aren’t topical, but rather tied to the movement as a whole.

How many harmonicas will currently be delivered?
We have around 1,500 harmonicas being delivered. They were paid for entirely through donations to the project from people around the world.

We have launched a website to continue to raise support for the upcoming Global Day of Action on November 17. This is the day that we are trying to get 10,000 harmonicas down to OWS. There is a way to donate to the cause on the website.

Is there a time set for the playing of the harmonicas?
As of now, we don’t know an exact time. We will be there all day, and expect that it might happen in the afternoon, but this is not confirmed. It will all be pretty organic and decided upon as a group, much like an improvisational composition.

We would like people to know that this will provide an outlet for expression; if you feel something is wrong but you are worried you don’t have the right words, or are afraid of sounding insignificant, that these harmonicas will give you a voice.

The Kickstarter page includes some basic harmonica instruction:

1. Keep your breathing on the “low” end of the harmonica.

2. For rhythm, follow your inhale and exhale that is normal for you when you take deep breaths.

Any bets on what the Post will do if 10,000 harmonicas are played in unison on November 17?

Update: Being Beings tells us “it looks like a 2 p.m. start time on the 5th.”

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