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Michael Levitin was on his way to Berlin via New York City late last month when something came up.

The Occupy Wall Street movement was in its early days, and Levitin, a journalist and activist who grew up in west Sonoma County, was drawn to Manhattan's financial district to see what the commotion was about.

Levitin already was booked on a flight the following day, but the intensity of those involved in the fledgling occupation immediately sucked him in. He stayed late that first night and would end up camping overnight in the days that followed.

"I just felt the power instantly, the power of these people," Levitin, 35, said during a cellphone interview this week.

He soon learned that demonstrators needed help editing a newspaper that was reporting the events unfolding in Lower Manhattan. The Columbia Journalism School grad who learned his early newsroom chops as editor-in-chief of the El Molino High School newspaper wanted not only to be part of history, but to document it as well.

"This is not a protest," he said as he walked toward Zuccotti Park, a half-acre public space sandwiched between ground zero and Wall Street's financial monoliths that is the nerve center of the effort. "This is the birth of the movement of our generation that's been a long time coming."

The driving theme, which has spread to more than 100 cities, is the belief that the economy and America's political system have come to serve the nation's wealthiest Americans. The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976, according to the New York Times.

On his first night as a volunteer in a tiny office in Greenwich Village, Levitin joined a half-dozen others who were wrapping up what was to be the first edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal, a four-page, full-color broadsheet newspaper supported by donations. Although it is not the movement's official publication, it quickly is becoming an important voice for its adherents.

"I got brought in the night of production (Thursday, Sept. 29)," said Levitin, who was handed a stack of "copy" and directed to begin editing. He worked until 6 a.m., slept for four hours and returned for eight more hours until the paper was finally sent to press.

The first edition had an initial run of 50,000 copies that went quickly and was followed by 20,000 more, Levitin said. A second edition started with 50,000 copies and an additional 50,000 will be distributed this weekend.

The paper's third and fourth editions are in the works, with Levitin and others involved looking to go national as the "Occupy" movement spreads across the country. Occupy Santa Rosa and Occupy Petaluma events are planned for Saturday.

From her home in Forestville, Levitin's mother, Barbara Baer, couldn't be more proud.

Baer, a writer and the owner of Floreant Press, which features local literary talent, said the newspaper has given her son the opportunity to combine his activism and his talents as a journalist. "We thought it was great because it was a really good way to apply his skills," she said.

Back when he was editor-in-chief of the Lion's Roar, Levitin led a staff of more than 25 students and was its driving force, said El Molino English teacher Pamela Porter.

Porter, who was the paper's journalism adviser from 1992 until it was closed down two years ago, said Levitin was a good writer and great leader who "really held things together."

After graduating from El Molino in 1994, Levitin went off to UC Santa Cruz, where he studied European history, graduating with honors.

He began his journalism career in 2000 while in Bolivia, where he wrote for an English-language newspaper in La Paz about the violent protests sparked by a government proposal to allow an international business consortium to operate the country's public water system. He became the paper's editor before returning to the United States to attend graduate school at Columbia University.

After graduate school, Levitin did a stint as an Associated Press reporter in Puerto Rico. He's worked for a number of publications on assignments that have taken him to China, India, the Balkans and Latin America. From 2005 to 2009, he worked in Berlin as a global affairs analyst for a TV news program and also as a freelance correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, the Daily Telegraph and others.

His latest endeavor was working as an editor for the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit public-interest newspaper.

Porter, his former journalism advisor at El Molino, recalled Levitin as a "super bright, mature kid."

"I'm not surprised at all that he's doing something like this," she said. "It's always been in his blood."

In an op-ed article he wrote for New American Media, Levitin likens the movement to a rebellion, not a protest. And he discussed the growing solidarity between unions and the occupation.

Levitin said Tuesday that the third edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal will be a graphics issue, "something college people can hang on their door."

The fourth issue, he said, is being planned as a national issue, with stories from occupation movements from around the country.

"We're sure shooting high," he said. "These moments don't come along often."