But the left can start by generating a bit of energy behind the cause. The Occupy Wall Street movement did that over the winter. And it is looking to do more of the same on May Day, calling for a national, general strike that it has dubbed "A Day Without the 99%"

The Providence iteration, building on a long tradition of Rhode Island May Day events, will begin with a 3 pm gathering at Armory Park on Dexter Street, between Cranston and Westminster streets in the West End.

A march — colorful, I'm assured — will hit some of the major symbols of unrest in the last couple of years: among them, the Providence School Department, which issued pink slips to all of its teachers last year in the midst of a budget crisis, Verizon, embroiled in a labor dispute, and Bank of America, a favorite Occupy target in the wake of the housing and foreclosure crisis.

Lambek, the youthful Occupy activist, is hopeful about the moment, however bleak it may be. "I think the crisis workers, both union and non-union, are facing right now is an opportunity," he says, "to rediscover the value of grassroots organizing."

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