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This is a Facilitator Guide on how to manage an OccupyBoston General Assembly and to conduct the consensus process. The Facilitation Working Group is operating with the assumption that it will be presenting a proposal to the General Assembly with all the details for conducting a General Assembly.


GA Facilitator Roles:

Facilitators - 2,   Process Aide -1,   Stack Aide - 1,   Floor Aides - 4+,   Site Monitor - 1,   Vibe Monitor - 1 (can be combined with Site Manager, if needed),   Clerk - 1,   Timekeeper - 1

 Opening Announcements

  1. Opening Welcome to the General Assembly
  2. Define the GA
    Note: a time and place for OccupyBoston announcements and proposals, to exercise horizontal democracy, to ensure each voice is heard. Remind GA that by following our process we preserve horizontal democracy and set an example for how our world can operate peacefully. You invite the members of the GA to be as non-violent in their communication as we are in all of our group actions.

            Script - (to be read or paraphrased, at each GA)Occupy Boston is a non-violent movement that uses a consensus based,'non-hierarchical discussion and decision making process. All of us'have chosen to use this process, to ensure that all of our voices are heard. Please honor that choice tonight.'There are no police here to arrest anyone who breaks this process; we'are trying to get away from that model. That means the only way we can'succeed and be heard is if every one of us honors each other and'respect the choice that we have made to commit to this process'... and'demand that our neighbors do the same.

As Facilitators, we are here only to help General Assembly as a group'follow this process. We cannot enforce anything. We ask that you in'the General Assembly work together to honor this process and protect'your voices.

What this means is that we are asking all of us to learn and use the'hand signs instead of interrupting verbally. We are asking you to know'and respect the difference between a point of information or question'which needs to be answered immediately, and your opinion, which'belongs on the individual stack so that we can hear you. We are asking'you to respect your fellow Occupiers by getting on stack, writing down'your points if you need help remembering them, and listening to what'each speaker has to say while you wait your turn to be heard.

When you see or hear someone violating this process, they are'disrespecting our Assembly and our choices. We must understand that'they are hurting us all and taking away our voices. Please invite them'to stop, and help us all return to the process.

Occupy Boston is a movement full of people who want to be heard. In'order to do that, someone has to listen. We invite you to set an'example for each other and the world tonight and show us all a way to'communicate that honors all of our voices.

Can I get a temperature check on this?

  1. Define Working Groups, and invite everyone to find and join a Working Group (or start their own). Check the Calendar  and Wiki for times of WG meetings - also see the daily schedule board outside Media tent.
    Note: WGs provide an opportunity to work on solutions to problems, together with other Occupiers; refining a proposal in a Working Group consensus process results in better proposals that are easier for the GA to work on and bring to consensus as a whole.
  2. Invite the community to participate in Facilitation Working Group and announce meeting times: Mon to Fri @ 5:00 PM, Sat & Sun @ 4:00 & location: at Federal Reserve Plaza across Atlantic Avenue from Media Tent, or in South Station by Au Bon Pain. Also announce that the GA & Consensus Guidelines are posted on the Wiki and invite the Assembly to read and comment.
  3. Introduce the evening’s Facilitation Team, or ask them to introduce themselves.
  4. Review the Agenda:
    • Working Group Announcements
    • Camp Announcements
    • Individual Announcements
    • Working Group Proposals
    • Individual Proposals
    • Individual Stack  (Review how Stack works.)
      Note: Clearly State when each of these 6 stacks will be Opened for groups and individuals to join. Direct people in how to join stack. Invite ALL voices to be heard, especially from under represented and oppressed members of the 99%. Announce that a progressive stack is implemented.

            5.  Review Hand Signals - mention and distribute the handouts
                 Note: Remind people that these signals are used to streamline non-violent communication and make it easier for all of us to be heard respectfully.

    • I consent, I like, I feel good about this - hands up fingers wiggling upward
    • I’m neutral, I feel so-so - hands flat with fingers wigging forward
    • I don’t consent, I don’t like, I feel badly about this - hands down, fingers wigging downward
    • Move it along, we hear what you’re saying - roll fists around one another
    • Speak louder - with index finger pointing up, move arm up and down

      Note: Indicate clearly that the following signals will bring a Floor Manager over to you in order to review your point and put it on a "mini-stack" for bringing to the floor when the current speaker reaches a natural break
    • Clarifying Question - put index finger and thumb into ‘c’ shape
      Note: define that a CQ is not an opinion. It must be answerable by the proposer(s)
    • Point of Information - point index finger up
      Note: define that a POI is not an opinion. It is a fact relevant to the topic at hand.
    • Point of Process - place tips of index finger together in horizontal line
      Note: define that a POP is not an opinion, it is a reminder to the Facilitators or Speaker about a point of order
    • Friendly Amendment - “peace” sign
    • Block - crossed arms over head
      NOTE: Blocks are generally considered to be an extreme measure, only used when a member feels a proposal endangers the organization or its participants and/or the person feels so strongly about her/his position, s/he will walk away from OccupyBoston.

    6.  Timekeeper mentions that s/he will use the “Move It Along” hand signal, ten seconds before time is up and requests that the GA reproduce the hand signal so the speaker sees it.

    7. Start the Agenda


    What is Consensus

    Consensus is a process of nonviolent conflict resolution. The expression of concerns and conflicting ideas is considered desirable and important. When a group creates an atmosphere which nurtures and supports disagreement without hostility and fear, it builds a foundation for stronger, more creative decisions.


    NOTE: facilitators to also use the people’s mic so Livestream viewers can hear clarifying questions, points of information, strong concerns or objections, strong support, and amendments

    Note: if the proposer(s) need 5 or more minutes, start individual stack

    4.  Instruct the proposers to restate the proposal (whether changed or not)
    NOTE: this is done, even if there are no changes, to allow a refreshed hearing and to make space for people consider again whether they concerns, objections or amendments to offer. Don’t want to move on to asking for consensus until it feels as though all of this is expressed. </ol></li>

    Working Group Announcements

    1. Camp Announcements
    2. Individual Announcements
    3. Working Group Proposals
    4. Individual Proposals
    5. Individual Stack
    6. Ask the group or individual to state their/her/his proposal.
    7. Ask the proposer(s) to stand aside while you direct the Assembly to break into pairs, for three to five minutes, to discuss the proposal and to check in with each other to see if either of them have any of the following issues to declare: clarifying questions, points of information, strong concerns or objections, strong support, and amendments. During this time, floor aides are available to be consulted by the pairs, if needed. After the appointed time is up, start the below process. Explain to the Assembly that the pair person who has the issue, lets her/his pair partner call the facilitator’s attention.
    8. ask if there are any clarifying questions, if so, proposers have the opportunity to answer them,
    9. ask if there are any points of information,
    10. ask if there are any strong concerns or objections
      NOTE: during this section (except for part a) there should be no direct responses. People will feel most safe expressing concerns and objections if they know that they will not have to immediately hear rebuttals or ideas.
      - “before we share concerns, let's remember that in a consensus process, when you share a concern, it becomes a group concern. We will all be responsible for making sure the concern is addressed before we vote.”
      - ask that concerns & objections be stated with the assumption that the group will attempt to resolve them,
      - we are only listing concerns or objections, not addressing or resolving them at this time, that opportunity will come later (that is what amendments and the proposer’s consideration of changes are for),
    11. ask if there are strong statements of support with the following explanation:
      - “the statements of support are directed to the proposer(s), not to anyone who stated a strong objection or concern.”
    12. ask if there are any amendments to address the expressed concerns and objections.
      Note: The amendments offered are the response to concerns and objections. That proposers have the opportunity to consider amending their proposal is a way of addressing or resolving concerns and objections. The goal is to keep it non-confrontational and to focus on building solutions together by assuming that every input is a brick in a building and the next input is a brick placed above the foundation all the other bricks already laid.
    13. Ask the proposers how much time they (s/he) need to consider whether they will address the concerns and objections, by doing any of the following:
      1. explain how any concerns or objections are already addressed,
      2. withdraw the proposal,
      3. amend the proposal based on concerns & objections,
      4. adopt any of the suggested amendments, or
      5. keep the proposal as is.
    14. Repeat steps 2 & 3, a second (and final) time :
    • ask for clarifying questions</li>
    • ask for points of information</li>
    • ask for strong objections or concerns</li>
    • ask for statements of support</li>
    • ask for amendments</li>
    • after allowing the proposer(s) time to reflect ask s/he, them to restate the proposal (whether changed or not), unless they, s/he have decided to table it.
    • Blocking</li>
      1. Define a block
         NOTE: Blocks are generally considered to be an extreme measure, only used when a member feels a proposal “endanger[s] the organization or its participants” (from Wikipedia) and/or the person feels so strongly about her/his position, s/he will walk away from OccupyBoston.
        NOTE:  In some models, the phrase “or violate[s] the Mission of the organization" is included in a definition of a Block, at this point in OccupyBoston’s growth, a Mission Statement does not yet exist.
      2. Ask if anyone has a block
      3. If anyone has a block, s/he, them states it aloud to the Assembly
      4. Ask Assembly if it is a Principled Block (temperature check)
      5. if 75% of assembly confirm that it’s a vaild block (whether they agree with it, or not), then ask how many people want to support the Block.
      6. if 10% of the people support the Block, the proposal is tabled.
      7. if less than 10% of the people support the Block, then the proposal can move forward for consent.
    • If not blocked, ask “Is this a proposal you can live with?” and ask for a show of hands.
      NOTE: Consensus is supposed to be about getting to a decision that everyone can live with. It doesn’t mean everyone agrees, it means they consent. It’s important that we make the distinction between consent (hence, consensus) and agreement.
    • If there is 75% consent, state, “I see consensus, do you see consensus,” i.e., confirm with the Assembly that all see 75% consent, then announce that consensus is reached and the proposal is adopted.
    • (If necessary) if there is not consensus, and the proposal is not blocked, you can move to indirect consensus.

      INDIRECT CONSENSUS - involves mini-presentations and possible break out groups:
      1. Ask the GA for 3 people who support the proposal and 3 people who oppose it to each speak for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, alternating the supporters and the opposers.
      2. Ask the Proposer(s) to restate the proposal
      3. Ask “Is this a proposal you can live with” and ask for a show of hands.
      4. If consensus is not reached, instruct assembly to break into small discussion groups for 5 minutes to discuss the proposal.
        Note: there are different kinds of discussion groups. We can decide to use one or have a menu to choose from based on what the facilitator sees as most fit
      5. Call participants back to assembly and . . .
      • ask if there are any clarifying questions,
      • ask if there are any points of information,
      • ask if there are any strong concerns or objections with the following explanations:
        - we will allow some silent time, the more challenging the topic, the longer silence we will allow to make room for everyone to think and express,
        - we are only listing, not addressing or resolving concerns or objections in this moment, that process will come later,
        - ask that concerns & objections be stated with the assumption that the group will attempt to resolve them
      • ask if theere are statements of support
      • ask if there are any friendly amendments.
      1. Give the Proposer(s) a moment to consider whether they want to:
        • explain how any concerns or objections are already addressed,
        • withdraw the proposal,
        • amend the proposal based on concerns & objections,
        • adopt any of the suggested amendments, or
        • keep their proposal as is.
        1. Instruct the proposers to restate the proposal (whether changed or not).
        2. Define block and ask if there are any blocks. 
        3. If not blocked, ask “Is this a proposal you can live with?” and get temperature check
        4. if consensus is not reached, you can repeat steps 1-8 or send the proposal back to a working group. (if it was made by an individual, the individual should be directed to work with a working group to reform the proposal.)</li>