Questions before answers

Took a stroll down to City Hall this morning in search of Occupy Philly.

All I had to do, really, was follow the sound of the police helicopter hovering over the site, which by 9 a.m. was filling with a variety of protesters, their signs calling for an end to capitalism, change in Washington and the firing of Andy Reid.

That last critic wore a Phillies uniform and his sign was two-faced: "End the War" on one side and "Phire the Phat Man" on the other.

The speeches were getting under way, and a small circle of friends was singing along to an acoustic guitar, an energized call and response:

"What does Democracy look like?"

"This is what Democracy look like."

And it looked young and old, multi-colored, with babies and gray hair, sporting union labels and police badges - all fairly orderly and refreshing actually, to someone who hadn't seen so much action in this space since his last Phillies rally. 

At the western edge of the crowd, along the steps the lead to Market Street, two women were printing large letters in pastel chalk. 

A visual artist named Zoe (she gave me her card with her last name, but said this was about "we" not "me") was adding a little teal to the white outline of the phrase "How Will You Participate?"

I watched for a while, and after snapping her photo, asked  what had brought her out to City Hall on such a pretty day.

"It's a long list," the 32-year-old West Philly resident and mother began, and started ticking off corporate greed, the pillage of the middle class, the excessive influence of business on government policy....

"But if I had to create one banner," she said, it would read, "End Corporate Personhood."

I thought of Mitt Romney and that now-infamous "corporations are people, my friend" exchange with a heckler at the Iowa State Fair.

"In the past 10 years, we've given corporations the same rights as human being," she went on. "That just gives me the chills."

 And with that Zoe the visual artist excused herself to return to asking questions on the center square.