GA Minutes Sat Jan 07 2012

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Held at Community Church of Boston
Facilitators: Anna and Alex
Minutes: Matt
Jan 7 2012

Copied from


Community Wellness - Rachel: 4:30 E5 Monday for speak-out on the safety proposal concerning sex offenders. Comm Wellness meeting Friday at 6pm.

Ocupemos El Barrio - David and Brian: [David speaks in Spanish, Brian translates] We approved a document by proposal in OEB and have brought it to Occupy Boston, where it went through one round of consensus. It will come back , after it’s been worked on with people at ACLU. We’re going to have an open meeting to workshop the proposal. Friday in E5, w’ll bring it to general assembly the Friday after.Proposal is about stopping expedited deportations. Horrible thing ICE is doing. It’s a kind of privatized branch, people make money on this. American citizens are being deported. It needs to stop. Nothing happens if we take it to Obama, so we’re calling on local pols like Menino and Deval Patrick to do something about this.

City Life / Vida urbana - David: 6 on WEdnesdays, meetings at Parish St. speak-out next Wed at City Hall. City Life is a great organization.

Consensus WG - Sarah: We’re meeting at noon at City Place tmorrow for the first time.

InterOccupy - Farhad: Meetings are friday 7-9 at E5. Conference calls every week from InterOccupy Communications. These cover lots of groups. There are also mailing lists for a lot of these groups, Media, Food, Facilitation etc.

People coming in schoolbuses, coming to WG group meetings, so we can start collaborating on things, there will be a party, we need volunteeers for housing, we need tour guides to show people where WG meetings.

Also gossip: Occupy Philly now working on legitimate national gathering. No date set, it’s early in planning phase. DC has J17 things planned.

Direct Action - Will: JANUARY 11, 3pm, bring your own dodgeball to dewey Square for a game.

MassOccupy - :We just had a meeting, it was great, we’re gonna have a Mass-wide GA at Boston Teachers’ Union Hall Feb 18. Jan 28 preliminary meeting to plan the later meeting.

[question from audience] why were emails not sent out to OB lists? [speaker] I don’t know.

OBIT - Anna: I’ve been doing a little bit of tech support, I’ll be doing a lot more now and get people from tech to help with that. If you have tech trouble, I’ll be at almost every GA with a computer to help changing passwords, navigating group sites, etc.

Facilitation - Jorge: Me llamo Jorge. We meet Tues - Fri 5pm at Mass Transportation Building, Sat and Sun 3pm at same place. We’re here [Community Church] for ga tomorrow at 5, at Arlington Street Church Tues at 7pm, at Emmanuel Church Thursday at 7pm. Community Gathering scheduled for Mondays, St Paul’s Cathedral, a place for the community to come and talk about issues important to OB. Direct Action hosting 6 - 8:30pm this Monday.

[First-timers at OB called out]

Individual Announcements

Zach: OB Anarchists’ Reading Group meeting for first time Saturday, 1 - 3 at South St Mezzanine.

Elizabeth: Jan 30 [ OB skill share...didn’t hear this]

People of Color WG - Brian: POC meeting tom at 3pm at E5, 33 Harrison Ave, open to anyone who identifies as person of color, we’re working on community gathering for Monday the 16th, MLk day, we’ll do CG focused around MLK. What should OB learn from MLK’s ideas, campaigns and so on? we’re also working on Statement of Purpose, other initiatives.

David: I wanna do a sand mandala for OB so we can bring other kind of people to our movement. A sand mandala is a drawing of a particular house of a Buddha, with different color sands, one of my teachers taught me how, I’ll teach people how to do em, doesn’t take a lot of skill, I’m doing one too. There are instruments I can get. I’ll reach out to Spirituality and other WGs to get hlep from their stipends. Everybody can participate and take pics and bring friends.

Anna [Facilitator]: Get on Individual Stack to speak your mind, sometimes that’s at the end, sometimess it’s in the middle.


[Alex and Anna explain hand signals, process as a whole]

[poi from audience] whenever a proposal is made, ownership of that proposal is transferred from the proposer to the community, so it’s no longer the proposer’s but it’s the community’s proposal.

[Proposers ask for summaries of proposals on agenda tonight]

Firs tone is a GA adjustment a new hand signal, motion to workshop and table

General Strike wg - for OB to endorse international call for general strike on May Day.

FAWG - We’re thinking of propsoing to get rid of the stipends for the WGs until March.

Will - To require that a fter a certain amount of time we table a proposal. It seems necessary to enact another process to enforce b. Some proposals have gone through porcess repeatedly without conclusion.

First proposal - Noah: As this is a proposal for a new proces sin GA i would invite you all to experiment with using it for right now. Without further ado,

[Noah introduces proposal to workshop and table a proposal]

This proposal, along with Strategic Political Action Assembly proposal, offered as a 2-week trial. This is a living doc. We’re consider proposals come to ga not ready for consensus. When proposer can’t finish a proposal, there’s no option for moving onto next proposal. gaS serve lots of functions, not merely a decision-making body. Proposals are being workshopped whether proposer acknowledges it or not. No substitute for GA time for identifying propblems with a proposal. there is precious little time outside ga to work on proposals. We don’t want ga TO STIFle action-oriented planning. This is not a reaction ot a particular proposal, it’s about a variety of proposals that have played out in the same way.

[Proposer invites GA to use new hand signal introduced in this proposal during this proposal’s process. fAcilitator reminds propsoer we didn’t agree to do that. Proposer says he will just table proposal if he sees the sign after 30 min]

[Point of process, prpooser says thi sis nothing new, he thinks he has latititude to do it.]

We are proposing the following simple change to GA strucutre, a hand signal for tabling and workshopping a proposal which has a)too many ambiguities...[missed this, will post proposal in this space later]...Consensus will not be attempted during that GA. Use of this motion will be limited to once per section per round of a proposal. Any proposal that has gone to Priority Proposal Process is not subject to this motion. If you have a proposal on stack, you are strongly discouraged from using this motion. Any individual can only use this once per GA.

Clarifying Question: Is this the proposal you presented on Thursday night? Noah: There are some minor revisions.

[Discussion about whether this proposal should go through whole process, audience asks for what’s changed, Ariel explains, facilitator says we shoud begin with original proposal if we’re beginning in middle of process because this is a rollover proposal, discussion about this, Noah reads original proposal, asks crowd not to introduce amendments which were already incorporated in amended proposal he just read]

[Facilitator cals for statements of support] SOS: I think this definitely worth trying, it will make things more efficient and maybe better, might cause proposal to be pushed back further, will be crafted better at tend of this, people brought up things about blocks, all this other stuff. [Noah gives speaker laptop with concerns from lasst time] Over-blocking is something we should definitely deal with. Occupy Quincy doesn’t even ask for a block. It’s not like it’s some central aspect of our movement or somethign like that. I don’t remember a block being used right. Too much use of block reveals weak level of commitment to the movmeent. I think we should discourage blocks, I think this process helps. By experimenting with this, we’ll find out if this helps.

[point of process] I think you just went off on an individual stack rant.

Sos continues: Broader changes to the whole process can be done, that’s not th etable, I think this will be better if not perfect the process.

[Facilitator explains use of new hand signal in context of this proposal, confusion caused by this hand signal previously. Also mentions she will use progressive stack to allow shy and underreprented groups to be able to participate in conversation.]

sos: as a gropu we like to agree on a proposal that is well-considered, when a proposal is brought forward that is not well-consdiered, we tend to want to fix them. Composing a proposal as a gropu is very time-consuming. This proposal takes propsoals in that state and attempts to make them better so we don’t discuss them in ga.

SOS: GA is an experiment in horizontal democracy, we should experiment. Especially because they put the 2-week limit on we should do it.

SOS: I agree with previous points, I want to add that concern was expressed in previous discussion about giving any time if a proposal i sgoing to be tabled. I think it’s very importatn we have up to 30 min for people to get feedback on proposals.

SOS: I’ve done something similar for a proposal from OEB where I can’t amend it, and working on things in GAs works. Gives space to build a proposal instead of writing it in ga.

SOS: I agree that we should experiment and try new things. I see it as a step i teh direction away from a situation in which people can use the ga TO WORKSHOP a proposal. I think that’s not what the GA is for and this proposal takes us a step away from that. Workshopping is not the purpose of the GA.

Sos: I THINK THIS hleps members of our community who are not good at public speaking or are not good policy writers. I’ve seen good dieas behidn proposals that are not well-constructed.

SOS: I think if we’re here to get things done, if we can move things along a little faster and get more things done, this is a way of doing that.

[SOS thumbs up]

SOS: I think this will keep people from bringing up poorly prepared and rushed proposals.

[Facilitator asks for amendments]

[from audience] Since all concerns were stated at last meeting, could we hear concerns?

[Concerns are read]

[Facilitator asks again for amendments]

Amendment: I amend to say that anyone who has a proposal on stack cannot use this signal. I think people will want to use this to move up. Instead of “discouraged,” I say make it “cannot.”

Am: I agree with concern proposal addresses, not sure this is the solution. I amend that proposer gets more time outside of ga. Many of us have written proposals a bit before GA. My amendment is that you don’t get 30 min that day, the proposal is tabled for further work, when it’s back if it’s good we’ll put it through consensus.

Am: I would like for when you want to table a proposal, whoever is calling has to give a reason why they want it tabled.

Am: For the reasons given why to raise the symbol, I remember first one is language is ambitious, I had introduced this amendment as concern that we make those a lot clearer and remove any language that would seem hostile ot proposer like “inadequately thought through”

Am: I feel like this will be used well if someone hasn’t worked enough on a proposal, but if someone has and the ga won’t consider it, I think we should have an allotted time that the proposer can continue to present...There should be a threshold for how much time they have to rpesent proposal before tabling it.

[Facilitator clarifies amendment]

Am [continues]: there should be a certain amount of time that proposer gets to present.

Am: Tryign to build on previous amendments, seems purpose of proposal is to avoid wasting time on unfinished proposals, seems strange then to give 30 more min to a proposal that GA realizes is unfinished. So I would amend we either table it or say 30 min maximum, not beyond when signal is offered.

… Am: I think rationale for workshop is that it forces proposer to hear objections, that’s why we want this to happen at GA, same thing applies to priority proposals, where people only hear objections from people who are willing to work on it. So I say don’t exclude Priority Process Prposals from this.

Am: I heard concern that if a minority perspective is presented, it won’t get heard b/c of this proposal. This is supposed to be about proposals that are not well-prepared enough. I amend that someone has to say out loud why proposal is not well-prepared enough.

Am: I think that’s very true, it’s tough to word stuff properly, lots of people ramble, I don’t know if maybe considering some kind of writing it out beign a necessity

Am: My concern is if we do get rid of 30 min thing, if someone brings prposal that’s not ready, could be new to OB, if they don’t get 30 min the proposer will not get feedback and learn how to make it better. My only concern is someone comes, has been at OB for a week, si told they’re not ready, they don’t know how to make it better.

[Facilitator encourages everyone to speak]

Am: this may have been addressed, I propose a specific procedure after the 2 weeks, I propose to introudce a new proposal before GA two weeks hence if this passes to continue hand signal. Make it explicit in proposal.

Am: I heard concern this siganl could be used to indefinitely table a proposal, I think maybe there should be a limit on number of times you can use this signal.

Am: You should state how it’s not written properly and what parts may not work. We don’t want to discourage people bringing proposals who don’t the same education level as others here.

Am: Simply having a workshop period...I think it’s importatnt proposer don’t make proposals by themselves...

[Facilitators move to Individual Stack]

Terra: I’m Terra Nova, I want to get a temp check and not step on toes of food WG. I had an idea of having a progressive potluck whenever we have a gathering. Means are varied across our membership, and rather than have sign-up sheet, I know there’s a collection that goes around. I’d like to brign food but can’t afford to bring food for everyone. If people were coming, maybe they’d just bring food to share. If you have the means and want to bring food to share, that’s my idea.

[response from crowd] that sounds like a great idea. I would use this to workshop it, if you’re gonna announce it, you need a time, place, etc. [points of process, tumult, general confusion, no one jumps out the window, David clarifies that this is individual stack and requirements for an announcement don’t apply]

Elizabeth: Hey guys, so, took a little autonomous action, talked with someone to which someting happened in the past week. Chief’s in the hospital, had a seizure or heart attack in front of Trinity and wasn’t found around camp, there is very little brain activity. I’m collecting tiny tents and cards to take to the hospital. There’s talk of raising money for funeral costs. He was a Marine, so maybe that’s covered. If you want to talk more about what we can do for Chief.

Elizabeth: [Reads a statement from Occupy the Farms] We do need to get rid of current food supply systems.

[POI from audience]: my uncle’s a sustainable organic farmer in Tennessee

[POI from audience]: there’s a farm being evicted in Roxbury, we should do someting. someone was talking about urban farming, Kendra, if we can find land we can figure out how to do that.

Elizabeth: I encourage everyone to go to a meeting for Occupy the Farms.

[Facilitator clarifies we don’t have talkback during Individual Stack]

Sam: I just campe up wit this on way here, I found a bunch of Charlie cards, getting around the city sucks, since we do have some moeny, why don’t we make Occupy $5 Charlie cards and throw ‘em places. this [this card] doesn’t have $5 on it...

Walter: Republican Primary in NH, tomorrow i’m ddriving up from Harvard Square, I can take stuff or people.

Steph: This is a little raw, but it feels important. I just wanted to name tht at the beginning of the lsat proposal there were some interactions that seemed intimidating and bullying and out of spirit with the tings we’re doing here, kept me from beign able to concentrate and focus on proposal. I think we want a process tht’s safe for everyone and we have to think about our energy in order to have that.

David: City Life/Vida Urbana gets huge lists of people being foreclosed upon, they need manpoewr to help. Meeting willbe at 10am at 524 Broadway, at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Everett.

[Proposers return, facilitator clarifies next part of process]

Noah: We weren’t able to incorporate all amendments, someone directly contradicted, we kept it at 30 min b/c of concern it could be used to silence proposals, we shoulnd’t allow that to ultimately happen, though I don’t think it will b/c I have faith in GA. We didn’t want to have persoan making signal to table state reason proposal is not prepared, b/c we have specific lnaguage in this proposal for the facilitator to state.

[Noah re-reads proposal]

Noah: Reason we didn’t incorporate amendment to do it only in concerns is sometimes points of information...

Ariel: REason we kept didn’t decide to make Priority Process Proposal subject to this is becasue we want to encourage people to continue to use that process.

[Facilitator asks for POIs and Clarifying Questions]

CQ: Does it say ‘plurality’ rather than a hard number for consensus on this?

CQ: Is consensus needed to table the proposal?

CQ: Is all of that motivation part you read included i the proposal, or only the ‘we propose’?

A: Just the ‘we propose’ section.

cq: i’ve seen proposals that take an hour for POIs and CQs, if someone asks to table ti we still give another 30min?

a: I think this would be clear before we get that far in a proposal. We didn’t feel we had to change it based on that.

CQ: If it has already been discussed for an hour, there is no way to stop it immediately?

A: We chose not to incoroporate that in order not to allow people to silence a proposal from a minority perspective.

CQ: Proposal that is tabled, this is done already in other forums and is brought to this GA to determine if this works [I can’t understand]. Is it know in other GAs that it’s beign done here? Is it done in this GA and then brough to other GAs? How do teh other GAs know if this is tabled in this GA.

A: A lot fo people are at each GA, we hope there’s enough diversity...

cq: Proposer can choose to workshop proposal him or herself?

A: Prposer can choose to go into workshop propcess or table.

CQ: How does that prevent me from workshopping my proposals in GA intentionally?

A: We feel that that’s already happening, this proposal limits that to 30min.

CQ: What is the difference between tabling and workshopping?

A: [didn’t hear answer]

[someone offers motion to table, no consensus to table this proposal]

CQ: IT happens only once a cycle, what does that mean?

A: …

CQ: was there a limit put in on number of times it could be used on a proposal?

A: once for proposal twice per cycle (?)

CQ: This is confusing, you said we’d do this for two weeks?

A: Yes

cq (continues): that sounds fine

[Question for facilitators]: I’ve seen proposers voluntarily table a proposal, can that still happen?

Facilitator: Sure, propbably doesn’t happen enough.

[Nitpick from audience] A plurality means...

Noah: It’s been amended...

[Facilitator takes temp check on breaking into groups]

[Process manager rails against not breaking into groups by default, takes a seat]

[Facilitator clarifies that small group discussion more a default option in first round of process]

[Faciliator asks for objections or concerns]

Ob/Concern: What if all 5 proposals are tabled/workshopped in one GA? I’m concerned this might cause people to bring unfinished propsal b/c they know it will get 30min of workshop time in ga.

Concern: Why would we give 30 more min to something we’ve already decided is not ready? This proposal doesn’t accomplish its aim of saving time.

Concern: My concern is not about the 30min, it’s about how many times it can be used in process. I would like to remove it from teh amendment phase, if we’ve gotten that far and people say proposal isn’t ready, that’s too late.

Concern: Non-popular people who bring proposals may get the workshop sign a lot.

Concern: I have concerns about abuse of this, accidental or malicious.

Concern: I feel so strongly about the potential for abuse, I’m echoing concerns we’ve already heard. As a community I don’t think we havae the maturity yet to do well with this.

Concern: My concern is also that it could be used as a way to bully someone. Someone’s been missing from GAs since last week, and I feel he may have been a little bullied and that’s why he’s not here.

Concern: I’m concerned that other people want to table a proposal for other reasons.

Concern: I’ve been operating under assumption that we’re all trying to learn together how to become a consensus-making body, and there’s something about this proposal that doesn’t serve that. When members bring proposals, they’re addressing a concern. In the spirit of consensus-building, we help people to develop their proposals. I know it’s intimidating to stand up there, and the way our process currently is, there are moments of tension. to pass this proposal is to create another moment ripe for tension. I think it’s possible to use this to stifle momentum towards building consensus.

Concern: This proposal seems to have been developed in large part due to concern that the other process proposal may not pass. Though it may have evolved from there...addressing something from the back door doesn’t work in my experience.

[Statements of support called for by facilitator]

SOS: This is the in-between that might be the best we can do in teh way of consensus. I think it might be teh best compromise we’ve come up with so far.

SOS: I think fact is it’s just for two weeks makes this worth trying. We’re a long way from understanding consensus, I think this an interim for two weeks is worth trying.

SOS: Two-week period will show us demonstrably whether or not this works. I think it’s important to remember conflicting idease do exist in this movement, we need to allow them to be synthsized in teh process. You need to be outside your comfort zone here, it’s better for the movement. When outside your comfort zone, you become stronger, better.

SOS: I think this the best compromise we have for the process, I understand teh criticism, but I think we can all be mature enough to not use it in a negative way. I don’t come to GA just to be an asshole.

[Facilitator announces that Chief has passed away. Elizabeth says he passed away 8:10, a vigil will be held at Dewey. Facilitator calls for moment of silence. Does temp check on continuing with process, there is support to proceed]

SOS: Reason why I support this is we have so many proposals that take up one or two GAs and get rolled over, a lot of voices get drowned out, a lot of voices of people who are not as vocal or forthcoming, b/c they have to wait for a while. A lot fo folks drive long distances and lots of other folks make great sacrifices for teh ga. Our current system basically keeps people from bringing proposals who are in certain similar situations.

SOS: If during trial period, some proposals get tabled/workshopped, maybe it will encourage others to work harder on their proposals.

SOS: I’m really happy there’s a limit on a proposal being tabled twice.

[Facilitator calls for amendments]

Amendment: If we go to a round of clarifying questions, points of information and amendments, you will not be able to use the new sign.

Amendment: Limit this to CQs, POIs and Statements of Concern. We wouldn’t even include it in SOS or Amendments.

Amendment: I’m concerned with what happens proposals that are workshopped several times...

Am: I just wanted to throw Brian’s proposal out there again, I like idea of overall 30 min max, so we can limit this.

[Point of process, someone is having a hard time hearing]

[Facilitator introduces Individual Stack again]

Martin: I just wanted to address something I’ve seen over last 3 months, moreso over last 2 weeks. I know we’re all here, I think one of the bueatuies and strengths of the Occupy movement is that people have come here form a lot of different backgrounds and viewpoints. Some have a higher place of privliage, I think that’s the great thing about this movement. Problems we are facing are large and very complex. We can’t fix them on our own. Many of us have worked for yeaers in our own little organizations. I think the great thing about the Occupy movement is how all these different people came together, organized and said we’re going nto take our poewr back. This is one reason I don’t like the “leaderless” mantra. While we all have our own ideologies, our own opinions, issues that we really want to fight for passionately, I would like us to recognize that as human beigns, we are very dpeendent creatures from teh tiem we’re born until we die, and we need people from different backgrounds with different opinions. All this infighting, my issue is biggest, mine is strongest, mine matters more is probably not the right focus. Right focus is how do we work together to achieve systemic change.

Pattie: Not sure how many saw our ad in this week’s Metro. Mallory’s responsible fro the design. Show everyone you know.

[Proposers return]

Ariel: We’ve incorporated a few things, we don’t take the issue of abuse lightly. We trust the ga. THIS IS why we hvaen’t changed it as some would like. There’s a few things we’ve changed this time to get it closer to something we all feel comfortable with.

Noah: It can no longer be used in the second round of a proposal, can only be used in first round of a proposal on a given night. It’s also not to be used after concerns. If used duing concerns, you are guaranteed 30min of concernsI call is made in concerns section, you are guaranteed minimum of 10 min and max of 30 min. If you’re an hour into concerns, you get 10 min more. If it just started, you get 30min.

Ariel: We took out the word ‘plurality’.

[Proposer re-reads proposal]

[Facilitator asks for blocks]

[There is a block]

Block: I have serious concerns that there’s a ton of merit in this, but I just feel this proposal is getting rushed, is falling victim to things that they need to address, I don’t have enough info about this proposal to give it up-twinkles.

[Points of information and comments offered from audience, facilitation calls a huddle]

Facilitator: We don’t have a process for cross-examining a block, so we’re going to ask if this is principled.

[Facilitator restates block as he understands it]

Block (continued): I think this is getting dumped on our laps very quickly. I have concerns with this helping out with that as it is. I think clunky GAs keep epople away from being involved in this stuff.

[Clarification claled fro from audience]

[Audience member clarifies definition of blcok as she understands it]

[Facilitator further explains the block]

[Facilitator calls for vote on whether this is a principled block, block is not determined by GA to be principled]

[Facilitator calls for another block]

[There is another block]

Block: I’m concerned about this process. Consensus-building is about confirming people’s concerns, this seems to me like it is a very dangerous precedent to set. This person just blocked, was sincere, and we couldn’t confimr his block.

[Audience member wants clarification on this block, thinks it’s not related to proposal]

[Blocker clarifies her block]

[GA does not confirm block is principled]

[Facilitator calls for vote, consensus is not achieved]

[audience member makes announcement in interim]: Some of us were at Dudley for the 3 Strikes legislation session. There are opportunities to do a lot of actions around this. I’ll talk about it at the next GA.

Proposer: Occupy Boston supports call for an international General Strike May Day 2012 in support of the following causes [ reads causes].

CQ: This sounds like autonomous action, is this so we endorse it?

A: Yes

CQ; Is this language from somewhere else?

A: We borrowed some stuff from Occupy LA.

CQ: What do you think is actually going to happen?

[Point of process]

POI: May Day is an international things, everybody’s on board, let’s do this.

POI: May Day is the holiday of the 99%, if we don’t pass this, I’ll be fucking pissed.

[Discussion about whether we break into small groups, facilitator calls for 3-minute breakout in small groups]

[Facilitator calls for concerns and objections]

Concern: General Strike term is beign watered down. General Strikes that have happened this year have not been actual General Strikes. I’m concerned an acutal General Strike will not happen on May 1.

[Facilitator calls for Statements of Support]

SOS: This proposal is broad enough that we can get other people on board [lists several unions and orgs].

SOS: A lot of people are already talking about this, other countries have passed this resolution, LA as well.

SOS: There’s a long history of doing things on May 1, I’m glad we’re participating in that history.

SOS: I strongly support this because we’ll have more than a week to plan it.

SOS: I support it being connected to May Day, helps bring Occupy Boston away from liberal middle toward radical left.

SOS: General Strike is only way to work against climate change.

SOS: Unions are essential, they protect workers from retaliation if they choose to go on strike. Reason everybody has to be involved is to protect ourselves.

[Point of process]

[Facilitator explains how this is out of propcess]

SOS: I’ll get to wear my Flower Fairy costume and go around the May Pole.

[Facilitator calls for amendments]

[No amendments]

[Faciilitator calls for blocks]

[No blocks]

[Facilitator calls for consensus, proposal passes]

[Facilitator adjourns GA]