GA Minutes Thurs Mar 1 2012

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Minutes for 1 March 2012

Details

Location: Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St Time: 7:30pm; failed quorum at 9:30pm Note taker: Charlie

Summary

  • Announcements
  • Proposal to lend the food tent to Occupy U-Mass Boston: PASSED
  • Proposal freeze proposal: TABLED
  • Temp check for future GA time to discuss "fee and dividend" carbon taxation: approved.
  • Proposal for future GA time to discuss budgeting: ROLLED FORWARD.

Announcements

March 8 is International Women's day. We'd like to do a different meeting structure then.

This sunday March 4, 1:30-3:30pm. At the Democracy Center in Cambridge, in Harvard Square. Is a forum on the occupy movement, with Chris Forone of the Boston Phoenix, Katy Budowsky, and Betsy ... from Occupy Newton and Occupy the Burbs. http://obr.fm -- free skool university every Wednesday night, various topics of interest to the 99%. details

Women's Poverty discussion: this Wednesday, March 7.

Free Skool working group meeting at the Harvard School co-op.

Financial Accounting Working Group

Passing the jar -- we need a collection to pay for rent for tonight. Give what you can.

Conversation about Participatory Budgeting started at the last GA, and there was a sense that the conversation needs to continue. We'll bring a proposal on behalf of FAWG called PB&J -- participatory budgeting and justice. To continue this conversation, we're asking for 1 hour to be set aside next Tuesday.

Q: Is this the same as the working group spending freeze?

A: It's related. FAWG feels a responsibility to have something to guide us for the end of the freeze budget-wise; this could be the solution to that.

Food

A reminder that food is in the works of reforming yet again. Will be meeting Tuesday at 5:30pm at Arlington St Church (inside or out, TBA).

Livestream

Training on Saturday at 2:30pm at E5. We need volunteers to run livestreams, and people at home to produce. If you're at home in front of a computer, you can help.

All you need is a smartphone to broadcast -- but you don't need one to learn and participate; we have phones to lend out.

Queer Direct Action

QDAWG -- meeting tomorrow at 5:30 at City Place. We have an action coming up that it would be great for you to participate in. Come and join to find out more.

Occupy the MBTA

Meeting tomorrow at SEIU at 6pm. The new chief financial officer of Mass DOT is a privatization expert. It's not looking good. Help us out!

Interoccupy

There's an awesome conference call and campaign tomorrow. How many of you want to see B of A fall apart? Tomorrow, 1pm eastern, http://interoccupy.org/bofacall . Bank of America is a criminal, but is also weak. We're starting a broad-based campaign to break up Bank of America.

Climate Action, Sustainability

Next Monday, a protest outside Scott Brown's fundraiser at 5:30pm, in Copley Square, meet at the Boston Public Library steps. The theme is to dress up like a lobbyist or contributor to Scott Brown. While they party inside, we'll party outside. Calling attention to the money he's been taking from fossil fuel industries.

We're also planning another campaign outside the Office of America, protesting it's influence on Obama.

We're putting together an event as a teach-in about taxing carbon (fee and dividend). Hosted by Gary Razinski, part of citizen's climate lobby. Educational event.

GA Process and Purpose

First meeting tomorrow at 5pm at City Place. We hope to define what the group is.

Individual announcements

  • Tuesday, H1371, an act to regulate and tax the Cannabis industry is being heard at the statehouse. I'll be meeting up with some people at Dewey at 12:00 noon.

Thankful Thursday

  • Today a student group had a march. We blocked the streets, the cops got mad, and they started using a loud siren we'd never heard before (maybe a small vehicle-mounted LRAD?). It made me feel really good to get out in the streets again.
  • I got a new job, and have a new corporate overlord. I'm thankful because I get payed a little more, which provides the illusion of progress the capitalist system needs for me to continue participating. I'm joing the ranks of the new proletariate, the data enterers of the world.
  • Looks like I'm gonna survive the bureaucracy I've been in for the past 3 months. I'm gonna be OK.
  • I was in court today (bankruptcy) when I heard Occupy Boston outside the window, marching past. Everyone looked at me. This is the second week in a row that I've heard that. I love it. I think y'all should do stuff every Thursday during business hours so I personally can hear it.
  • I'm thankful for Gorge's blog, hiking the AT.
  • I'm thankful for a nice Occupy the MBTA video on the website.

Proposals

Two rollover proposals:

  • Lending food tent to Occupy U-Mass Boston
  • Proposal freeze proposal

Summaries of the two new proposals:

  • A request to set aside 15 minutes at some future GA to do a short presentation and question/answer about fee and dividend carbon taxes.
  • A request to set aside 1 hour of GA time next Tuesday, March 6, to answer the question: should OB create a budget, and if so, what process to use?

Occupy U-Mass Boston Spring Break

Occupy U-Mass Boston is holding March 15th-185h an "Occupy Spring Break" from March 15th to 18th. We want to borrow the food tent. We have permission from the administration, and a guarantee that there will not be a raid, and they will not take our tent.

Q: Where will it be set up?

A: Either in front of the campus center, or in front of the quinn building.

Q: What are the dates you wan thte tent for?

A: The 14th to the 18th of March.

Q: Would y'all coordinate transportation of it?

A: I think that's going to be part of the proposal -- the only person with a vehicle in our group doesn't have a truck. We could reimburse someone, even if we have to pay out of pocket for it.

Q: So you'll add to the proposal that you'll reimburse transit costs?

A: Yes, we'd like OB to help with a truck if we can't find other transportation.

Q: Are there going to be other tents? Could this be bigger?

A: We're inviting people to come and set things up. We just want the food tent as the centerpiece. There'll be music, teach-ins, etc.

Q: Is anyone here from logistics, or have y'all talked to logistics? I don't know anything about where the tent is, etc.

A: The last time we spoke to logistics, they were holding the tent, and waiting to move the tent until this proposal is resolved.

Facilitator: since there are so few people here, do you want small group discussions? (no...) OK, moving on to statements of support.

support: This is a fantastic idea. I support it also because of your radio tent t-shirt.

support: I support it because we have it, and should use it.

support: I support it because it makes OB visible again, even via U-Mass.

Facilitator: Any statements of concern? (none) Amendments? (none) Questions, information, concern or support? (none) Any blocks? (no) PROPOSAL PASSES.

Proposal freeze

Proposal: That the Boston GA put a freeze on all proposals, statements of solidarity, etc., and other action besides announcements, until we shut down at least 2 banks.

Q: Why do you want this?

A: To bring to light that there should be more action proposals brought to GA. OB hasn't done as much direct action as it could be.

Q: When you say bank, do you mean bank branch, and for a temporary amount of time?

A: That could work.

Q: Do you care how the bank is closed?

A: No. I'm not trying to get people arrested, or encouraging others to get arrested. If someone wants to, that's their perogative; but I'm not encouraging it. Personal autonomy is important. Diversity of tactics.

Q: What would constitute shutting down a bank, even if just for 5 minutes?

A: One example would be preventing people from coming and going.

Q: I heard your reason for doing this is your belief that we don't have enough action. Have you been on individual stacks to talk about this before coming with the proposal?

A: No. But part of it is that I feel that there's a lot of bureaucracy going on, and this could pave the way for more action-oriented proposals.

Q: Do you think that doing other kinds of organizing are preventing people from having time for autonomous action?

A: No... but I think the people who go to GA's are at most GA's. This speaks to getting direct action out of GA instead of SAA or other venues.

Information: Banks are closed during the time of GA's.

Q: Do you feel that the bureaucracy you were talking about is only at General Assemblies?

A: No.

Q: Then why only ask about GA's? Why eliminate GA's specifically?

A: Because it would be counter-intuitive to stop the Strategic Action Assembly. I don't think it would be fair to shut down working group meetings. All decisions are ultimately made at the GA.

Q: Have you thought about just planning actions and organizing people around them?

A: Yes. And I know people would come... but I think it's a good discussion to have in GA about the process of the GA. I think it's worth the time to have a discussion about action-oriented proposals that wouldn't happen in a working group meeting or SAA.

Q: What is the aim for shutting down the bank?

A: Because it stops the bank from making money. We came together because of banks, and I wanted to redirect attention to that.

Information: Banks make money whether they're open or not.

Q: I need some clarification for why you chose to do it this way, instead of bringing it to working groups, instead of the small population that comes to GA. Even if you were to say that it's 100 people who hear it, why would you move to halt the GA instead of organizing actions?

A: I don't know how many people follow the GA, or how to keep account of that, via notes, past proposals, etc. More pay attention than those physically present. It's not specifically my cause; I'm bringing it to the community for discussion, and the GA is a good place for that.

Q: There are a bunch of working groups who've brought proposals to repurpose GA time. Why instead of halting GA, don't we repurpose GA time for action planning?

A: To set aside time to plan for an action at GA would be counter-intuitive; that's what SAA is for. But my point in bringing the proposal is to spur this discussion.

Q: How specifically would banks be shut down, and once we've done it, what's the longer-term aim?

A: There's no way to shut down a bank completely, it's impossible. But: there is a way to shut down transactions at a branch for a short time. This is infinitely small in the scheme of things, but could spur more action in general, and change the tone and expectations of GA.

Q: My experience as an organizer is that taking to the streets is great, but without other structure to support it, can be counter-productive. Do you think it's productive?

A: Yes, I think it's productive.

Q: Is this two actions, even if unsuccessful?

A: Yes. The proposal is just that OB take direct action, not that the action succeeds.

Q: Are you saying that GA would endorse, or cold endorse, actions as GA rather than autonomous actions out of SAA or other working groups? Is this distinguish movement-wide actions from working grou pactions?

A: Yes. GA has endorsed actions before. We did that Saturday. There was a nationwide action against ALEC yesterday. We also endorsed a Worcester action.

Q: Would you consider amendments to not shut down the whole of GA?

A: Possibly. I worded it very basically, knowing it could be modified.

Q: The proposal isn't to expose corrupt lending or something, but to close it specifically?

A: Well, you could do the direct action in any way which results in closure.

Q: Who judges if an action is an intention to close the bank? Are there some qualifications that would have to be met?

A: Well, it could be announced in GA, but security culture would say don't do that. I think we as a whole would be a judge of whether or not an action counts.

Q: What would be happening during a GA?

A: Annoncements only.

Q: Do you already have plans to share?

A: Yes.

Q: If you have these plans, why shut down GA?

A: The proposal is here to spur this conversation.

Q: If this proposal passes, do we just get up and walk out, because GA is suspended?

A: Yes. The meeting would adjourn immediately.

Q: Do you think it'd be more productive to issue action-oriented proposals rather than shutting all proposals down?

A: Maybe.

Point of process: It seems that these questions really have an undertone of concern. Maybe we can move on to concerns?

Point of process: One reason for questions is to give a chance to articulate responses; where concerns don't get direct responses.

Point of process: The process serves two purposes: to inform voters, and to make sure concerns are addressed as much as possible. Asking questions can alleviate your concern.

Q: Since every action is on livestream, and you just announced something tomorrow, doesn't this defeat security culture?

A: It's just an example, not an actual plan for action.

Q: What happens if we decide to have GA anyway? Is there a punishment?

A: We'll all feel like jerks. I'll call a point of process.

Q: Could we just announce 'the decision making body' meets, and call it that?

A: You could do that, but I'd be unhappy.

Q: Do you really want this to pass, or just for us to talk about it?

A: I really want it to pass (but the talking is important).

Q: Don't you think that shutting down GA delegitimizes other people's concerns, and making yours the only valuable one?

A: Yes. Someone has brought me this concern already. I don't think this delegitemizes other people's opinions. Honestly; if it passes, I don't think we'll miss the GA.

Information: Since it would have to be passed by a super majority, and could be blocked by 10%, the maximum percentage of people whose opinions could be delegitemized by this is 9%.

Q: What about emergency proposals, like bail money?

A: I think that would be ok.

Q: Would this be focused on retail bank outlets, as opposed to Deutsche bank or something? The former is the easiest to shut down. Is tha the focus?

A: That would be my focus, because it's easier. But if others chose to take a different action, that's their choice and I'd support it.

Q: If you amended the proposal to have a GA in a bank, would the question of having action-oriented proposals still stand?

A: Well.. I wouldn't encourage that, because it would probably result in arrests.

Q: Do you think there's a subtext of anti-intellectualism in this proposal?

Point of process: That was clearly a concern, not a question.

Q: Would you consider legal actions if they were as effective?

A: Yes. Legal actions are fine. Occupy Oakland bought ice cream, showed up to a bank, and it closed.

Q: Is the ice cream vegan?

A: Knowing Oakland, probably.

Information: There've been a lot of questions that seem framed to express concern. But as a point of information, I like this proposal, and I don't think this is anti-intellectual.


Breakout into small groups


support: I support this proposal, with the expectation of amendments. I appreciate the spirit under which it is brought. It would be terrific for GA to do some direct action out in the world together.

support: I think the proposal is awesome!!!

support: I also support the spirit of the proposal, with several amendments. I support the concept of the GA or the community as a whole doing coordinated action. I think there was a lot of fruitful discussion that we had here, such as Occupy Boston becoming splintered groups. This proposal could provide an opportunity to do it the right way.

support: I support this because I think it's awesome!!

support: I support it but in a more nuanced way.

support: I support the idea of having time in a GA for groups to discuss potential actions together.

support: I really like the proposal and the discussion that's come from it. I like how it illustrates what we've been lacking since we got kicked out of Dewey. I'm not sure that this decision making process is the best way to go about doing it, but I'm glad for the conversation.

support: I support this because it would be beneficial to be more focused on actions. I believe actions are what piques people's interest. The beginning of occupy had so much energy and positivity.

support: I like that this recreates a different place from SAA, and creates the idea of Occupy Boston being action per se, rather than in mini group actions.

support: I want to add on to that: I support the idea of moving back towards more action. Occupy Boston itself at Dewey square was one direct action, a massive statement.

support: I support it not because it prioritizes action over discussion and thoughtfulness, but for its ability to make the actions more thoughtful by bringing more people together.

support: I support this because it prioritizes this activity -- whipping up outrage at the naked greed that is behind the economic disparities impacting the 99%. We're trying to model a just, equitable, and fair set of social relations. Implied in the proposal is an indictment of the introspection in the GA -- but I prefer a focus on the former, rather than the latter.

support: I support this because shutting down 2 banks makes way more sense than coming to GA on Saturday.

support: This proposal seems really awesome.

concern: I like hte idea of having GA's be able to focus more on a range of things, including large scale collectively-determined actions or activities. I'm very concerned that the penalty of cancelling GA's except for announcements is really, really, really, really, really, really bad precedent.

concern: We've built potential, and we don't want to squander it. We need to do something to reignite our passion again. It's not nearly as powerful an action as it ought to be, however -- which could constrict our ambitions. Only announcements at GA isn't as good as providing time at GA to discuss actions.

concern: I don't think our problem is not enough action. There's been all sorts of action around occupy MBTA, education, student activity, etc. Clearly not as much as when we were together 24x7 in a sustained group for months. Eviction definitely presented a large challenge that we haven't fully overcome yet. It was never the case that we planned actions at GA; they were planned outside of it. I understand where this is coming from, and I share concerns about the direction OB is headed in. I don't think this proposal solves it. We need to think big picture and holistically about our strategy and goals. We're not a train, we can stop this thing and turn it around. But we need to have a bigger conversation. I'd like to see more of that, rather than the focus on a couple bank closures as compensating for our issues right now.

concern: My main values as an organizer is anti-capitalism and non-hierarchical democracy. Instead of voting, people get together and organize themselves. Getting together and making decisions is incredibly important -- movements that are just in the streets arent as powerful. This feels undemocratic and coercive. I think it's more functional and practical to bring up proposals for action. It's like saying "my organizing is important", and yours isn't, which feels wrong. Spokes, SAA, and others are good venues for planning actions. I'm excited in direct democracy. How can we make a decision making process we can use, to build a better world? I think I'm too annoyed to be as articulate as I'd like to be.

concern: I'm concerned that this self referential and pedantic concern isn't self referential and pedantic enough.

concern: I have a number of concerns... one is that I don't think this plan is that well conceived or articulated. In particular, shutting down a branch for 5-10 minutes hurts customers more than it hurts the bank, unless it causes some kind of public relations benefit. My biggest concern is that I do not think it is appropriate for one General Assembly to tell future GA's what they may or may not discuss. If we want more action-oriented discussion, there are several ways to do it -- one is to bring action-oriented proposals to GA, and argue them articulately. If we can't argue these proposals on their merits, who are we to tell people that they can't discuss anything else? We could procedurally amplify action proposals.

concern: You can have an action that hinders your cause. This proposal asks for an action so ill-planned that it hinders the cause. If you ask for a bad action, you threaten the loss of something.

concern: I think it's kind of wack how it's in the form of an ultimatum -- no this until that.

concern: My largest concern is that there are necessary things that happen during GA. It's the head of the movement right now, and where people can bring concerns. I feel like that's fundamental to the survival of this group right now, in a critical transitional period.

concern: Whether it's the intention of this or not, it'll feel disrespectful to say that bcause we need to be action-oriented, we should stop solidarity. It feels horrible to me. I also dislike the ultimatum format. To come into a conversation and not be straight forward (like "I want to talk about this thing...") feels extremely disrespectful. To bring it as a proposal feels dishonest. As someone who values integrity a lot, I'm very concerned that this has happened not just because it's happened, but because others might think it's an OK way to go.

concern: Diversity is important; It's poor not to be able to express international solidarity. If you're going to do things, plan carefully. As someone who does legal support, it sucks -- just plan well and you won't need to.

concern: I'm concerned that we don't have enough people here to be well-received by the wider community.

concern: I'm concerned about the ultimatum nature as well. It gets to something that irks me from "the coming insurrection", anarcho-hipsterism, get rid of organizational structure and just do actions. I dislike that trend because we live in a society with a lot of hipsters.

proposer: Calling quorum.

Q: If we decide we don't have quorum, discussion ends now?

A: It means we can't conclude this proposal; but we could continue to talk.

Q: Will we continue to talk?

A: It's up to y'all.

proposer: Can I table this and let the other proposals come forward?

A: You can always do that. Are you no longer calling quorum?

proposer: I called quorum based on the concern. There might be a different judgment of quorum for the other proposers. I withdraw my request for quorum, and table the proposal instead.

concern: I'm concerned with how this conversation is going. What's been proposed is very different from what's been brought to GA before. There's been personal criticism of the proposer; and I hope this won't chill other proposers from bringing proposals to ask the GA to take unified action. We limit what can be said here by having an agenda and structure, and we've lost people over that. This is a novel approach to how we could come toether as a community, and hope we can continue to have positive reception to it in the future.

concern: Even though he withdrew his call for quorum, I'm concerned with the small number of people here.

facilitator: Are you calling quorum?

concern: no, I'm leaving, I don't really care.

Fee and Dividend discussion proposal

Are people interested in setting aside 15 minutes of a future GA to talk about fee and dividend carbon taxation? The reason to bring it to a GA is to get a sense of people's thoughts and concerns before we bring the presentation and question/answer session for it. There are different methods for implementing carbon tax, and along with localized efforts, is one of the national strategies for rapidly reducing emissions in this country. There's reason to believe that if the US did this, other countries would follow our lead. There's a time limit -- if groups and people aren't motivated and educated to take action on this in the next few years, we're locked into a major climate change by 2020 if not before, which is a threshold point for catastrophes we may not be able to adapt to as a species. Just 15 minutes to discuss it at a future GA.

Q: Which GA?

A: That's up in the air. I just want to get an idea; and then I'm scheduling an expert to come and talk to us.

Q: What's that term?

A: Fee and dividend. You tax carbon when it enters the atmosphere, and distribute the dividend, according to whatever way specified by the legislation.

process: I have to leave, I'd like to call quorum.

facilitator: Are you asking for a specific time at a specific GA, or in general?

proposer: If people are interested in a guy not with occupy boston coming, that could be next week. But if it folks want a representative from the environmental committee, it might be next week.

faiclitator: temp check for next week: general approval.

facilitator: temp check for the following week: general approval.

facilitator: call for quorum: Quorum is if you believe that a fair representation of Occupy Boston is present. At this time, raise your time if you believe that you do have quorum?

facilitator: I see 3 hands. We don't have quorum to continue to hear proposals. We have space for another hour; we can keep talking, but no proposals can be decided.

(NOTE TAKER HAD TO LEAVE HERE)