GA Minutes Tue Feb 05 2013

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Minutes for 5 Feb 2013

Details

Location: Community Church
Time: 7-10pm
Facilitator: Bil
Stack: Carolyn
Note taker: Steve

Summary

We passed five proposals

  • To give $2625 to radio (six months of funding)
  • To give $134 to Linda for NYC legal defense
  • To give remaining food funds to Food not Bombs
  • To give $900 to Strikedebt for an event to raise awareness of student debt
  • To donate remaining legal funds to the NLG

Announcements

18 people at 19:10

24 people at 19:15

Diego. On Feb 17th, there's Protest in Washington DC, to propose tar sands pipelines. See 350newengland.org for more info. There are buses leaving from Alewife and Boston.

Carolyn. On Tue Feb 26th 6:30, Strikedebt is having George Caffentzis from OWS to give a talk about debt resistance. He's on a New England speaking tour. We'll have food, and we're planning to publicize this event.

Linda. On Feb 16th 12-5pm, there's an event at SEIU's office, 26 West Street. It's called love not jails. People will be strategizing about how to abolish the prison industrial complex.

Joe. This summer, we wrangled for a very long time over whether we should pass the hat and/or say welcomes at GA. Those ideas were thoroughly debated, and there were pros and cons. I found some old forms from Dewey Square, and I'll pass them around for people to sign. I've also got a hat to pass around.

Dana. Most people know about Strikedebt; they organized a project called the debt jubilee. It took them months to come up with idea. There's a group of OB people working on a similar thing. We're doing an event about student loan debt. Feb 11th 6:30pm is the next planning meeting. We want people to collaborate on event planning. We were hoping to grow a community of people to work on subversive campaigns involving debt. The event is Sat April 6th, 1--5pm at the Middle East.

Dan. The newest issue of the Occupier came out last Thursday. The theme is "War and imperialism". The majority of papers have been distributed, but we have around 2000 left. If you're interested in taking 50 or more copies, let me know and I'll get them to you.

Bil. Occupy Boston owns a button machine. We just did 250 buttons for a TSA event, and have material for around 800 more. I'll pass some buttons around; new people should feel free to take one.

Linda. On Saturday, there was a "TSA out of the MBTA" action. Quite a few OB members showed up. I walked along the Green Line from Lechmere to Boston Common. There were a good number of press people. It was really cold, but a good action. We passed out flyers and engaged the public. There's a Facebook page called "Defend the 4th". There's a meeting on Feb 25th, to debrief, and plan for the next action.

Matt?. The first batch of OB court cases will be heard on Feb 11th at 10:30.

Proposals

19:25. 37 people present.

Radio

Written copy: Proposal-radio-20130205.pdf

Radio's proposal is a rollover from the last GA. We'll use the discussion process.

David reads the proposal. The proposal requests $2549.70 for OBR funding. This will cover most of our essential operating costs for six months, and provide breathing room to work on financial stability.

We provide an internet-based streaming station. We've produced up to 14 original shows per week. Most of the programs are focused on the Occupy movement. All of the shows address topics of interest to the 99%. We encourage people to produce new shows. We invite interviewees and guests.

Aside from radio shows, we have one blog for the station, and several shows have their own blogs. A number of shows are available for download. Our major goal for next 6 months is to increase the amount of programming, in as many modalities as possible.

Our main costs is $400/month for rent. We need a physical studio. Our other major cost is is $25/month for audio streaming. The total we're asking for is $424.95/month, times 6 months.

Occasionally, we need to purchase or upgrade studio equipment. We'd like to put a real phone in the studio, to make it easier to take listener calls.

We've been raising our own money, and occasionally spending money from our own pockets. Most of our operating budget has been raised outside of GA. We intend to expand fundraising efforts. We could use a bit of money to put us on an even keel. We owe 3 months of back rent to E5, and it would be good to get that paid.

Question: We haven't been able to keep up with finances. Can we get a financial Summary.

Steve. We have around $20k in the bank. $5745 is legal funds. $2842 is for a Boston Occupier resolution passed last week. There are other proposals with money remaining. I think that MAWG (mutual aid working group) has $2500+, and there's something like $1000 for direct action. And a few smaller passed proposals with balances remaining.

Question: What are our fixed costs?

Linda: Around $550/month. Our storage space costs around $160/month; we have rent costs for meeting space. We're paying $200/month for several Clear hotspots. Quickbooks is $45/month. Web hosting (Mayfirst) is $100/month. And we've been spending $100--200/month on food, etc for various events.

Question: There was a $5k radio allocation a while ago. What was that?

Sara: That was for Banned in Boston, which moved to Unregular Radio. It's completely separate from OBR.

Question: How many listeners do you have?

David. It's hard to add up the different modalities; streaming, podcasts, downloads. Each show has from 3--10 live listeners. We'd like to get more listeners, but we need to promote, which costs time and money.

Later this month, we're planning to hold a radio camp. We'll focus on getting radio infrastructure built up.

Question: How many people are involved?

Sara: Around 25 people total, among different hosts, producers, and shows.

Question: Could you talk about upgrading the streaming servers?

David. It's not about capacity. Our streaming server is very difficult to use. We want to go to a easier, more flexible version. That would let us focus more on radio and less on tech.

Question: Is six months what you really need to feel secure?

Sara: That number's pretty important, since we owe back rent.

Question: Is three months forward enough?

Sara: It's what we felt comfortable with. We admire the Occupier for coming down on their proposal. We were originally going to ask for a year, but decided to come down, given the money situation.

Should we discuss this proposal in small or large groups? We decide to discuss in a large group.

John Dwyer: Would more money or other help allow you to better plan for the long term?

David: We believe we can get our own fundraising together in time. We raise 2/3's of our money internally and from fundraisers. We'd like to be able to look for foundation grants. I think there's money out there.

John Dwyer: OBR has raised money with more vigor than any other group here.

Allie. Capital is dead labor which sucks life out of living labor. I'm ready to pass this proposal. I support this.

Steve. I'd like to toss out a different idea. Instead of providing radio with three months of funding, Is there a way we could treat OBR's expenses as monthly costs; the same way we treat web hosting or storage space rent. At the last GA, we talked about ways to allocate resources fairly, and this might be a way to do that.

Linda. I like Steve's idea, but I don't think we could do it tonight. I support this for now. We're still trying to sort things out with money and fiscal sponsorship. It's great that there are 25 people involved. Want to continue to support you folks.

Sara. I love Steve's idea, but I feel a little cautious about it. Occupy Boston funds need to go to so many places. I like the idea of supplementing and helping, but maybe not paying all expenses.

Allan. Rocks on son. Have a hook. Radio-free Europe had a really good one.

Carolyn. I'd have some questions about building it into a core expense, because it's a specific group. It might preempt other possibilities w/o further consideration. I have less hesitation about proposal as it stands.

Joe. If the better technology costs another $25/month, then I'm sympathetic with Steve's idea. You're very high on the worth list. Id support the extra $25/month. Rich says it's not a core thing, but I think it is. You're our radio station.

Carolyn. You're saying give another $25/month?

Joe. They've asked for $25/month for streaming, but the better tech is an additional $25 (total of $50/month). I'm happy to go for that.

Carolyn. I'm happy to add on the cost of the better server.

Allie. Can I get a temp check on the amendment of adding $25/month to the proposal? ($25 * 6 = $150 for streaming).

The total dollar amount for the amended proposal would be $2625.

Proposal passes

New Proposals

  • Linda. I'm asking for 134. I have a trial in NYC in a week (from S17). I have two witnesses who will come down and testify on my behalf, if I can help them with bus fare. (Written copy: Proposal-linda-20130205.pdf)
  • Strikedebt (Rich). We're proposing to hold an event around student debt on April 6th. We're asking for $900, but we're hoping to return $400 of that. (Written copy: Proposal-strikedebt-20130205.pdf)
  • Food (Matt). I propose to give unused food funds to Food Not Bombs. It should be $500. (Written copy: Proposal-food-20130205.pdf)
  • John Ford. I'm asking for $5800 from the legal fund to be turned over to NLG along, with additional along with an addition $4000. That's $10k total, to be handed out during the Feb 8th fundraiser at Jillian's. (No written copy)

We take clarifying questions, and decide what stays in the consent bucket.

Susie. Are there any students involved in Strikedebt?

Yes.

Linda: Who's representing people in the remaining trial cases?

John Ford: Everyone was assigned different lawyers. We can pick and choose who we want to work with, and build relationships with. They offered to help train us for individual or co-counsel representation. NLG are the ones who actively seek to protect you. It won't be a specific lawyer, it will be the NLG.

Joe. Will Linda's proposal come out of legal fund?

Linda. Yes. Although it's a legal expense, I still wanted to bring it as a proposal to GA. I wouldn't feel comfortable just taking the money.

More about strike debt: We have to put down $400 to rent the Middle Easy, but we expect to get some of that back. We've budgeted $200 for T-shirts, $200 for outreach, art, supplies, and $200 for guest speaker transit. Our guest speakers may provide their own transit, but we'd like to offer to pay their bus fare.

Linda. POI. The two times I've been arrested with Occupy, NLG did nothing for me. It's my direct experience. That's not everyoness experience, but it was my experience.

Allan. Is there anyway that people in legal trouble can fake an apology, and maybe get off the hook?

John Ford. Id rather cut my hand off. I'd rather die.

Allie. POI. The continuing legal situation is really complicated. The bureaucracy of the legal system is extremely complicated. I've heard (from an NLG employee) that they're really strapped for cash.

Rich. I'd like to take NLG out of the bucket.

Three proposals remain in bucket: Linda's, Strikedebt, and Food not Bombs.

All three pass in the consent bucket.

Legal Fund Proposal

We'll use discussion process.

Kendra. Can we get some accounting of what (money) we have left?

Steve. We have around $20k in the bank. We granted $2625 to radio, $2842 to the occupier, $134 to Linda, and $900 to Strikedebt. And we're proposing $10k to the NLG.

There are older consented proposals with outstanding budgets; assuming we canceled all of those, then we'd have around $3500 left. With $500/month in expenses, that's around seven months left.

Linda. There's also a potential civil suit against BPD.

Joe. Is there a statement or request from NLG? Is this something they asked for, or an idea that we came up with?

John Ford. They put out a call for money. But not from OB specifically.

Carolyn. How did you come up with $10k?

John Ford. I talked with Rita and Ursula. It seemed like a tidy. easy amount to deal with.

Matt. I'm looking at NLG web site. In a fundraiser flyer, they talk about the October 10th raids. They don't explicitly ask for our help, but the hint at it.

Patrick. Would it be possible for OB to set up a call for contributions on our web site?

Kendra. Is this fundraiser separate from annual galla?

Matt. From this flyer, it looks like emergency fund to pay their rent, separate than the gala.

Joe. How much has OB given to NLG so far?

Kendra. It was between $250--500.

Eric. There were also legal funds, which went directly to defendants.

Dana. Steve's analysis implies a crisis point, where we have to become self sustaining, or shut down. This could happen in seven months, a year, or two years. I'm comfortable with that deadline being set for seven months from now. For me, we could fund this proposal as-is. I understand that it causes people anxiety, but eventually we'll come to that point.

Joe. I see recent decisions of money as pointing in the other direction. This month, we've allocated over $5k (radio and occupier). We couldn't have done that without funds. We've never had an OB fundraiser. This would not be a good time to give something like $10k.

Rich. The NLG does great work, and they've done great work for decades. And they've done it for decades without us. Hopefully they'll outlast us. I feel dubious about the remaining $4k (beyond the legal fund).

Carolyn. Dana's projection makes it sound like we're going to tread water, without having any large calls for money. We want to be prepared for the possibility that some big mobilization will come along, and we'd like to participate in it. I'm willing for legal fund (less Linda's proposal) to go to NLG, but not the other $4k. The NLG does great work, but we can do work too.

Linda. I'd like to build on what Steve said was in legal fund. I propose $5745 - $134 = $5611 to NLG (remainder of the legal fund balance). I think everyone would be okay with that.

Do we do like what we've already done tonight? Radio is us. NLG is also us. Someone can come back in 4 weeks, and say "we're in a different position". We can get rid of the storage space, we can get rid of hotspots, which will change monthly costs. I'm hoping there will be a good turnout on Feb 16, because that's us too.

Jenn. I feel uneasy by how reluctant we are to liquidate our assets. Dewey square was a fundraiser. I feel it's counter-productive to have this crutch of money. I personally think that it would be best to have no money.

Kendra. Would it make sense to free up funds by getting rid of the storage space and the hot spots.

David. I support NLG. I think they have a great mission. In order for them to do work, they need activists like us. So it doesn't make sense to pare down. I'd suggest half -- $5000.

Allan. We could ask Pocahontas Senator Warren for some money.

Mike. A lot of us who where there from day one came back to this GA. The NLG was there from the very beginning too. If the NLG wasn't there, we'd have to spend all our money on legal fees. In NYC, people were arrested and have done time. No one in Boston has done time.

Susie. I hear a lot of people being concerned about funds. If you want to be an activist, you have to end capitalism, or fundraiser.

Diego. I'm new to activism as a whole. The NLG seems great. I think we have a big big issue of planning; what we're looking to do six months from now, and how we'll do it. I think we're throwing money around impulsively, without planning. Good causes, no doubt. But we need planning.

? As far as fundraising goes. There's a rally with 350.org. Chances are it will not be covered by media. It's our responsibility to cover it. We should become a resource for people. As far as operating costs, taking time out of work is a big one. It's hard to arrange babysitters, food, transportation. If we can be a resource, then we can generate more traffic to our website, and that can generate more donations.

Allie. I'm trying to figure out how to say this for several months. I've been involved with trips going to different places. I've been to Washington DC, and to NYC, from OB. I felt like having this money was a huge organizing detriment. Lots of stuff was thrown together at the last minute. That's the reason why I'm here. I don't think that the Occupy movement, or GA is a functioning thing anymore.

First phase ended on Oakland move-in day. I think we can give the funds to people who have a proven track record. I feel that we've shown that we're not able to handle money properly. We have a bunch of marginally valuable crap in a storage space. The defining aspects of the occupy movement were (1) camps, (2) social connections, and (3) GA. Now, none of these things work. My feelings need to come out. I can't be part of GA.

John Ford. Allie said a lot of stuff. This feels like a board meeting to me. I feel anxious. I apologize if I've offended anyone. I've been arrested a lot, and I've paid lawyers more than what I'm asking for tonight. Most trials cost at least $10,000. There can be several hundred dollars in filing fees. I know that people are worried about future of GA. It got money because it was dynamic. If it's not dynamic, than the money will run out. We have not reciprocated our responsibility to the NLG. I think it's very important that we not worry about the immediate future. We have a robust community, but this isn't Occupy.

John Dwyer. When we had $60k, we should have given $40k to the NLG. I understand people's anxiety, but I think we're correcting a mistake here.

Joe. I heard rumors that there was a proposal that would remove all of our funds. But I think there is a hidden agenda -- to kill this organization. This organization is in a precarious situation. If we're not Occupy, then why are you coming here and trying to bankrupt this organization.

We've been trying to do a lot with very little money. I'm tired of hearing "money is a crutch", and then seeing people come in and ask for money. The amount of money we have left is what CLVU would spend in a month. God bless you if you were here from day one. There are new faces at GA. There is new energy. Strike debt is interesting. Please come in and join us. We can't fix all of NLG's problem.

Matt. I called NLG to get them to show up at planning meeting. We didn't have any money then. When I started with FAWG, one of my thoughts was that we shouldn't raise money. We should have goals, raise money to fund them, and then do it. Like the generator fund. The money has corrupted us, and it's made us more reluctant to get in the streets.

Rich. For someone who thinks that the movement I'm part of is dead and irrelevant, and that I am defunct as a political organizer. I find that incredibly arrogant. There are people doing stuff.

I was not there the first week. I wasn't there until 3 weeks in. I've been here since then. I don't do gradations that well. I put in a lot of time. I feel I've made useful contributes, and we have useful contributions to be made. I donated money to Occupy, not to the NLG. I donated separately to the legal fund. I would like my donation to a political movement to be respected. I have friends in NLG. They've existed for a long time. Money is not a crutch. Money is something that helps you organize.

I've seen bus trips where people paid there own way -- can't pay, can't go. Our crutch allowed people who couldn't pay to go. I think GA is still vital.

Carolyn. I've been a political activist for 40 years. That affects my assessment. We're in a marathon, not a race. We have ebbs and flows. Those who are hanging in there and feel like we're doing good things, feel that being there is value in catching the next wave. I feel that what we're doing has a purpose. At the moment, we're actually about to break through on several areas, like Strike Debt.

We can work small and then break out. I believe that we have a future. What we're talking about here ... I see the $4k as saying that Occupy Boston might as well disband. Everyone has sung praises of the NLG. Does OB have a future? Does it matter that some of us are hanging in there? We think we are something. You're entitled to your opinion. I think it's a mistake. If I thought OB wasn't going anywhere, I would have left.

Steve. I say this with respect and deference to everyone who's spoken already.

Sunday night I went to a GA with Occupy Arlington. We had 18 people there, despite the fact that the super bowl was going on at the same time. We had a few really good discussions, and it felt like a productive evening. At the end, one guy pulled out a guitar, and we spent the last 15 minutes singing songs. I know there are people who have very negative feelings about GA; I acknowledge that. But there are other occupy groups where GA is social, empowering, and where lots of planning gets done. I agree, we're in a different phase than we were in during Fall 2011, but the occupy movement is still very much alive in places like Arlington, Winchester, Middlesex county, Newton, and Salem.

At at Occupy Arlington's last GA, I think we finally broke $200 in our general fund. It sits in a coffee can on one woman's kitchen counter. Every GA, she gives us a report on what's in the can. That's what we have, and we work with it.

I agree with what Dana said earlier. If we're not sustainable, we'll eventually run through our resources; that might happen in 7 months, a year, or two years. But I think that's okay. People who want to stay involved will stay involved, regardless of whether there's money or not. We might have to do things differently, but we can still do things.

Linda. I've been involved since October. My shoulder was torn on Oct 11th, and it's a permanent injury. I don't feel like a have a property right because I've been through that. I don't feel comfortable when people aren't involved in other activities, but come to GA with their friends and ask for money.

New people come to every single GA. They've been coming 1, 2, 3, 4 at a time. It's an entry point for new people. People get hooked into different things. Our network is stronger than it was before. We are trying to hold a space for people to enter into, and catch a wave when it comes, and be open-hearted. I've been disappointed, because when I called (the NLG) from jail, no one made note of it. I support the NLG, but they're not nirvana. I feel like the people who don't show up are trying to make decisions about our future without knowing what's been going on -- it's hard to bear.

Eric. I've been engaged with email groups, and I feel like I have an understanding of what's going on. We've passed other proposals that people did not give money towards. I think the notion that there's a hidden agenda is fucking bullshit. That upset me. People say if we donate money, there won't be OB. But OB started with no money. When people came in, they didn't argue about money. People who are participating are putting in earnest effort. Money didn't bring us together, but it's pitting us against one another.

Kendra. It was disappointing to hear people who haven't been actively engaged to say that "this isn't a legitimate group". Maybe we should think in terms of a compromise that works for everyone. Maybe $7500?q I want to go home at some point. There's a bigger picture than this room. It will be a good day when the money's gone. Let's just give the money, and get it over with. People who don't want to be here will leave for good, and the rest of us can get on with what we want to do.

Bil. Money is a sensitive topic. It drives us crazy.

David. We should be careful with talk about hidden agendas. But I think that different people have different visions about what OB should be. I think the money supports some valuable things on an ongoing basis. Web site, mailing lists. Space to hold GAs. I don't think 5--6 months is a long planning horizon. I think we should do fundraising. I think we should support the NLG. I don't think we should give them so much that our operations are really threatened.

Sara. I want to thank everyone for donating to radio. I'm going to say something personal. When we come into a room and criticize a system that we've built, that's bullshit. Don't say you don't play politics. Everyone plays politics. But we need some structure.

Bil. I'm under the impression that everyone likes NLG. Yes? (agreement) I'm also under the impression that everyone one is okay with giving legal fund (around $5600) to NLG. (agreement)

(Note taker takes a quick potty break)

Mike. If we wanted to shut down OB, we'd put the proposal out for all of the money. What we are trying to do, is to right a wrong. The NLG's executive director (who's a lawyer) only makes 60k/year. That's unheard of for a lawyer, and less that other non-profit executive directors make. I think it would be reasonable to cut proposal down to $8k.

Susie. I think it's agreed that we want to give at least the legal fund to the NLG. For people's lives to go on, this meeting should end as soon as possible.

Dana. I propose that we give the remaining $5611 from legal fund to the NLG.

This part of proposal passes.

Now that that's out of the way, we can have a discussion about the other $4000. But all of our issues are related. When we talk about one, they all come out. But it's about the dollar amount. I hope people can respectfully come to a compromise about the dollar amount, so we can go home.

John Ford. There's a thing to say "I've been ..." You guys are schizophrenic. I will not lie out at your feet. You're disgusting.

Eric. The proposal has merit to it. I think some of us have support, and I don't want that to get muddled. People who don't come to GA try to stay engaged in other ways. I think there's been some head butting, and it's gotten a little emotional. But I love everyone in this room.

Carolyn. I just want to say, that the person who had a different agenda was Allie. He was explicit about that. He said he wanted Occupy to end.

There's a call for a quorum check. We still have quorum.

John Dwyer. I support this because I think it corrects something in the past. Leaving GA with a few thousand for the rest of the year, like a working group, seems okay. I don't think that GA is Occupy Boston; it's just the part that holds the money. It's okay for me to vote where I think money should go. And I think it's okay to leave GA with a little bit, to form a new identity.

Dana. I come to GAs, and I don't care about money. We want to keep connections, so we can rekindle the fire.

Joe. I like what JSD said. I like to hear that people are doing stuff without coming here.

Matt. Because of emotions in this room; it's not my intention to disband OB. I think OB has a place in world, but its different than it was in September 2011. Strikedebt is a great example. They started without a budget. OWS hasn't had money since march. I think that OB can do the same thing. There's a tsunami coming up in America over the Aaron Schwartz thing. It doesn't take money to be an activist.

Rich. I respect your opinion, but I disagree with it.

Caroyln. Troubles me that people thing OB is the GA. GA is a 2/x month function for organizing stuff. We had a great GA two weeks ago, and it was all about money. I think it helps to have a little. I'm not willing to support any additional funds to the NLG.

(Heated yelling between John Ford and others in the room).

Linda. I'm so upset that I'd block anything. Take a look at the number of women who are left in this room. This is not a safe space for women if you keep acting like that. That's destructive male energy. This needs to be heard, and people need to understand it.

Discussion tabled for tonight.

Video Footage:


GA ends at around 10pm.

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