GA Minutes Tue Feb 21 2012

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Minutes for 21 Feb 2012

Details

Location: Arlington Street Church, 351 Boylston St., Boston
Time: 7:00pm --
Note taker: Steve

Summary

Tonights GA consisted of Announcements, and discussions about the GA process.

Minutes

Working Group Announcements

Occupy MBTA. We're having an action on Saturday Feb 25th, noon, at Copley Square. Our major upcoming actions are March 14th and April 4th. The April 4th action is the more significant one -- that's the day when MBTA funding decisions will be handed over to the state legislature. Next planning Meeting: Friday, 6:00pm at SEIU 615.

Info. We just revitalized the info group. Our goal is to enhance communications within the Occupy Movement. We'll meet Wednesday, from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at 29 Windsor Street. We're also trying to launch a new web site function, that features the top 3--5 campaigns that Occupy Boston is working on.

Logistics. There's a working party this weekend at the logistics house. If you're interested, email occupyboston.org for more details.

Signs. We had a great action yesterday with Occupy the Prisons. We need material donations. You can drop them off at E5. You can also email occupybostonsigns@gmail.com.

People of Color. The POC WG presented a quick video, highlighting yesterday's Occupy the Prisons action. Occupy Oakland put out the call for this action. The US has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized society. There are two more prison-related events this week. On Thursday, the movie "3000 Years and Life" is showing at the Community Church, 7:30 pm. There's also a rally on this Saturday at 2:00pm on the Boston Commons. For more information about that, see freetarek.com.

Social Enterprise. We're meeting tomorrow.

Non Violence. We're holding a meeting on Monday March 19th (location TBD), where we'll discuss the power of non-violence. Our next regular meeting will be at 3:00pm March 1st, at 7 Pleasant Place, Cambridge.

Spaces. We're looking for more people. If you're interested, contact eli@occupyboston.org.

Queer DA. We have an upcoming action: March Fourth on March 4th. Details TBD, but pay attention to the web site. Our next regular meeting will be held at Friday 8:30pm, City Place.

Decolonize. We're sponsoring Monday's Community Gathering. This will be held from 6:00-9:00 pm at Christ Church in Harvard Square. Child care will be provided.

SAA. The strategic action assembly meets Sundays at 5:00pm, at Community Church, 535 Boylston St. Part of the next meeting will be devoted to planning March 14th MBTA actions. We also need cardboard and paint for this weekend's action.

Direct Action. Saturday at noon -- meet at Copley Square to march down the Green Line E-train route.

Individual Announcements

Shane. The JRC (?) facility in Canton has tortured people for decades; electric shock, food deprivation, and prolonged restraint. We urge you to occupy the JRC. You can contact me at s.m.neumeier@gmail.com.

Chang. I believe there's a realistic chance for us to capture Washington, particularly over the next 3--4 election cycles. Contact me if you'd like to find out more, and maybe create a working group. You can reach me at ylc200804@yahoo.com.

Terra. Hundreds of towns and cities have enacted legislating denying corporate personhood. There's a teach-in this Saturday in Action, from 10:00 - 6:00. The teach-in will show citizens how to organize, and fight corporations. Contact terraf@compuserve.com.

Tim. Occupy Harvard occupied the Lamont Library for a week. See occupyharvard.net. We've started holding think tanks; these are discussions on pre-set topics. We did this twice a day during the occupations, and we'll continue to hold them twice a week. Everyone is invited. Look for the "Think Tank" page on occupyharvard.net. You can also write ohinteroccupy@gmail.com.

David. We're collaborating with organizations in East Boston. On May first, we want to shut these cities down. (May 1st is the general strike day.) I'd encourage all of you to do this in your own neighborhoods.

Nick. The April 2nd community gathering will be an open house. If your working group wants to participate, email me at nbokron@gmail.com. (If your working group wants to participate, then you'll need to have someone there on April 2nd.)

Ben. I'm starting a priority process procedure. Next Tuesday, I'll bring a proposal to GA to end American-Style Democracy. I'll send the proposal to facilitation before then, so that facilitation can post it on the web site. Contact me at ben@occupyboston.org.

Bill. Several people have asked about the book. Contact me if you're interested.

Alex I. A few days ago, ESPN fired one person over racial slurs directed at a basketball payer. It's one of the most honest conversations about racial issues that I've ever seen. I'm going to post links to a video on my Facebook at Twitter accounts -- I want everyone to go and watch this video.

Jay. The spokes council met to talk about the March 17th action. I'd like to invite working group representatives to attend our Sunday meetings. They're held at 8:30 pm (check occupyboston.org calendar of events). March 17th is evacuation day, and we've got several events planned. There will also be discussions on Wed. 6:00 pm at city place. Again, check the occupyboston.org calendar.

Matt. We're about to have a big discussion about facilitation. The facilitation working group meets Tues, Thurs, and Saturday at city place, two hours before general assemblies. (note taker: Matt rattled of a few other meeting times, and completely lost me. Check the calendar). We'd like more people to get involved in facilitation. Contact us at facilitation@occupyboston.org. Also -- if you have GA minutes, or links to GA minutes, then please send them to us for posting.

Cora. I do behind the scenes food support for Occupy Boston, to make sure that all of you get fed. (Lots of twinkle fingers) Tonight, we have burritos -- please take some!

(Time is now approx 8:05 pm)

GA Discussions

Tonight, we'll have two discussion sessions about different GA-related topics, followed by report-backs. Occupy Boston's GA and decision-making processes are something that we kind of jumped into; we'd like to have a more thought-out discussion about these processes. Tonight's goal: find out what the major issues are, and how we can address them.

We briefly break up into groups, and each group comes up with a few issues. There are lots of issues, which we organize into eight topics.

  • Consensus
  • Blocks
  • Community Guidelines
  • Anti-Oppression
  • Macro Goals
  • Proposals
  • Accessibility / Logistics
  • Facilitation

We break up into discussion groups.

Report backs:

Accessibility and logistics

  • Make accessibility a priority.
    • People with disabilities.
      • Try to get interpreters / signers
      • Post whether or not meeting places are accessibile, provide child care, have gender-neutral restrooms, etc.
      • Be mindful of more than one person speaking at a time as an accessibility issue.
      • Physical barriers
    • Issues with travel / time
      • Post agendas in advance.
      • Consider splitting proposals by day -- Tuesday things on Tuesday, etc.
    • Digital divide
  • Encourage further exploration of technology, where appropriate
    • Some meetings are about building the group that is present: for examples, some anti-oppression workshops. But other meetings could increase accessibility by allowing a digital channel for those not able to be present physically.
    • etherpad/google doc, chat, etc. and projector. things at a GA, so outside people can participate.
    • Designating a livestream computer as a report-back-able
      • *But deal with trolls...
  • Think about this tactically -- it could revolutionize democracy, if everyone could be involved.

Macro-GA discussion

  • The role of proposals and limitation of proposals as the primary medium.
  • Values of GA?
  • Consensus vs Autonomous Action... How to take consensus and follow action.
  • Purpose of GA?
    • Relationship between personal struggles/lives and this body
    • What role in community, movement, anti-corporate/beloved community? Common challenges?
  • GA more action focused?
    • Put through GA to collective action
    • Primary goal could be large actions
    • How to tailor GA to adjust it for shifting priorities?
    • Other outlets besides GA for things defined out.
  • Urgent: making the GA be regenerative, and not burn-out, is important.
    • Balance minutia of money, infrastructure, process with big issues.
  • Don't shy away from tech solutions.
  • Reduce wasting time.
  • Desire for GA's to provide more discussion time for ideas.
  • GA as a source for inspiration.

Proposals

  • How do proposals come to GA? What proposals come to GA? The lengthy process of getting through GA.
  • Have a small group to filter proposals?
    • Not a lot of comfort with that...
    • Do all of the proposals need to be here? Autonomous, small financial...?
    • Have a temp check first... but things still remain on stack.
  • Maybe better systems for writing proposals?
    • Make the proposals that get to GA well written. More work on front end needed.
    • People bring proposal to GA with intention of workshopping... but is not purpose... is it?
  • Priority Proposal Process, workshop outside... but is inaccessible. (Time, energy, space)
    • Once a week, use GA space to workshop proposals?
  • Is there a consensus on what we do in GA?
    • Body for making major decisions, or major body for making decisions?

Anti-oppression / Community guidelines

  • Writing down proposals is eurocentric.
  • Continuing a meeting without addressing harm that has been done
  • Progressive stack: needs to be more aggressively implemented.
  • Identity in progressive stack can be problematic.
  • Leadership in OB is predominantly white. Affirmitive Action for leadership.
  • Media, Financial Occupy Boston, etc. need to be diversified.
  • Without anti-opp aspect, does it belong in OB?
    • If there's no diversity in meeting, can it be a meeting?
    • Can we have a proposal if it doesn't include anti-opp?
  • Education: more workshops.
    • Try to get more education, and how dominant culture can be oppressive.
  • Ways of being: need to come from many perspectives.
  • Anti-opp ways of being
  • Making anti-opp non-personal
  • At OB, many people have families, that needs to be on people's mind
  • Invisible disabilities / discrimination.

Blocks

  • Why blocks are good:
    • It can turn the majority.
  • Confusion: math of blocks can be confusing.
  • Blocks do tyranny of minority; but protect minority.
  • Everyone owns the decision.
  • People can bully with a block.
  • Blocks can be misused for personal issues.
  • Could a block be a kind of concern, before it's voted on?
  • Order can affect decision making.
    • Support first, blocks second; or block first, support second?
  • Majoritarian/clunky edition of consensus.

Consensus

  • Bad:
    • Sometimes there's pressure to conform to the group.
    • The position of proposal is owner; gets in the way of consensus.
    • Should we use the voting system we use now -- consensus oriented, not true consensus?
    • Broken amaretto -- everyone gets behind something they don't like.
  • Good:
    • What we have here isn't that bad.
    • Encourages respectful discussion.
    • Use an open/situational model?
    • How do you resolve concerns?
    • It's important to respect dissenting views/disagreement.




(Note taker had to catch a train after the first discussion group.)