Toronto protestors occupy yurts, battle the elements

As winter descends upon Occupy Toronto, walls ascend. Mongolian yurts are erected to house protestors.

If you're going to live outside, in Toronto, in late all-too-close-to-winter autumn, you might as well try to add a modicum of comfort.

Treehugger reports that a trio of yurts arrived at Occupy Toronto last weekend, so at least some protesters will enjoy the luxury of a real door and an even, dry ground upon which to rest their toque-clad heads.

Across North America, the Occupy movement is growing in scope, complexity and organization. Media, medical and library tents are being established. Protocols and communication systems are emerging. So better, sturdier domiciles are a natural progression.

Yves Ballenegger is the purveyor of the traditional Mongolian yurts that he probably never dreamed he'd be erecting in St. James Park in the middle of Toronto. And while his Groovy Yurts business is apparently a flourishing company, the structures arrived not on his own dime by through the donations of not one, not two, but seven unions, which are remaining anonymous.

Who gets the good digs?

These Occupy Toronto yurts aren't just your run-of-the-mill plain white circle. They've got gorgeous, delicately painted doors and support features inside. In fact, Groovy Yurts boasts its authentic products, which it procures directly from a Mongolian manufacturer.

When they're not housing the 99 percent, the yurts are sold directly, rented, or used for special occasions such as weddings, festivals and -- perhaps rather ironically -- corporate events.

So will protestors start occupying yurts in other Occupy sites? Maybe not. According to this story from Albany, New York, a proposal to erect a yurt there was shot down. The issue? It would be too much of a permanent dwelling, and thereby open occupiers to legal trouble.

But the snow is already falling. The Occupy movement is going to design something more substantial than nylon, tarps and Velcro to muster much longer.

Photos: Martin Reis

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