GA Minutes Tue May 7 2013

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Minutes for 7 May 2013

Details

Location: Community Church
Time: 7pm - 9:10pm
Note taker: Steve

11 people attending.

Summary

One of the Natgat 2013 organizers stopped by, to fill us in on plans for the 2013 National Gathering.

We endorsed "Stop the Cuts", a rally sponsored by Budget for All.

We're changing the GA schedule to once/month.

We had a discussion about working with other Boston Activist Groups

Announcements

Occupy DC (Fred). I was involved with last year's National Gathering (natgat), and I'm helping to organize this year's event. We have a national gathering proposal, and we're trying to get endorsement from as many occupy groups as possible. We want to re-energize the movement; Occupy 2.0. We've identified five convergence areas: economy, environment, peace, media, and local issues. Education should probably be in there too. We're planning to spend about a day on each topic. This year, we'd like to come up with draft principles for each area beforehand, so we're not starting with a blank slate.

There are three crosscutting issues: (1) the role of race, color, gender, and class, (2) what would it take to resolve issues, and (3) how to mobilize more effectively as a political action.

National Gathering will take place Aug 21-25 in Kalamazoo, MI.

About 400 came to the last year's event. Around 250 participated in visioning work.

To find our website, search for "National Gathering 2013".

We need more outreach to different occupy movements.

Are you using interoccupy to help with planning?

There is an interoccupy hub, called natgat II. Aside from the hub, there are weekly calls, Wednesday nights at 8pm. You're welcome to sign up for calls if you care to.

We're asking people to endorse the event, and we're also looking for people to participate. Move to Amend has agreed to bottom line one of the convergence areas.

If anyone wants to present, or to help organize, we'd like to have you. It will take a lot of outreach to get the word out. The vision statements are open for comment and fine tuning.

Budget for All (Carolyn). Budget for all did a ballot initiative during the last election. They put a very progressive budget on the ballot as a nonbinding question. It passed in all 91 towns where it was on the ballot. Budget for all is planning an event for Thursday May 16th at noon. It's at the Tip O'Neill federal building, 10 causeway street, followed by a visit to some of our tax dodging corporations. Event is called "Stop the Cuts".

Paul Shannon asked if we'd like to endorse this event. Lots of groups have already endorsed it, including many that we work with.

Poor People's Campaign (Kendra). This is 50th anniversary of the Jobs and Freedom March, and the 45th anniversary of the poor people's campaign. There will be a March from Baltimore to DC on May 11th. If you're interested, I can give you contact information. See http://peoplespowerassemblies.org and http://iacboston.org

A bus will depart from Roxbury Community College on Fri May 10th, and return early morning Sunday May 12th. This action is designed to Bring attention to fact that there is still a poor people's campaign that needs to be waged. Put people back to work, put a moratorium on home foreclosures.

OBIT (Steve). We've been working on a project to downsize our hosting, which will save about $1000/year. We're almost done. As part of this, we've been cleaning up old websites, mailing lists, and email accounts.

During the process, we've collected a lot of digital memorabilia. See http://archive.occupyboston.org if you'd like to check it out.

Finally, we're planning to teach Linux classes at the South End tech center. That should be a lot of fun. We've rebuilt the rest of the computers from the storage space, and we'll work with SETC to give them away.

Arrest Report back (Linda). I'd like to give a report back on the court date from my Westboro arrest. I was in court with the 8 students who chained their hands in Transcanada's office. It was good to meet them. They're getting a place in Davis Square to use as the basis for organizing work. I took a deal this time around.

The eight students have to pay $4600 of restitution, due to heavy handed response by Westboro police. The police brought in jaws of life to break the protesters chains, and they broke the jaws while testing them out.

My (S17) case in NYC was dismissed, due to violation of my right to a speedy trial.

I've learned something every single time I've been arrested. I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to go through these experiences.

What was the situation from your S17 arrest?

I was being obedient and standing on the sidewalk. The police pulled me off the sidewalk by my hair and arrested me. You can expect to come back to court 4-6 times before you get to the substantive stuff.

Strike Debt (Rich). We had an event on April 6th at the Middle East. There were 75-80 people, a couple of bands, a couple of speakers, and a skype chat with a debt striker in Oakland. We're hoping to go forward with research, analysis, and making videos and outreach materials. Our next meeting is May 21st at 7pm. Location TBD.

Funeral For Capitalism (Dana). The Mayday funeral for capitalism was really fantastic. 100+ people participated. The puppet workshop brought some amazing stuff, like big brooms to sweep up the miserable system. At the end, people were giving away seedlings. It was very festive.

Mayday Events (Kendra). There was an afternoon event in East Boston on May 1st. Around 70 people came to the city hall rally. The IWW had a prominent presence and spoke about the Bangladesh factory collapse. Several marches took place in East Boston; the biggest march had maybe 500 people. Bil was there taking videos. All in all, it was good day. My new favorite protest chant: "Obama, Obama, don't deport my mama".

Bangladesh Incident (Linda). There are a bunch of actions being organized around the Bangladesh incident. There's a planning meeting at E5, Thursday 5:30pm. Also leafleting campaigns being organized. Bangladesh workers solidarity network; made up of several different local organizations.

There's still things going on at Meridian Hotel. Potential action in late May or early June.

Handouts:

Proposals

We give a brief summary of the consent bucket. There are three proposals tonight.

  • (Carolyn) Endorse Budget for all's "Stop the Cuts" march.
  • (Carolyn) Move to 1 GA/month, on the first Tuesday, with a Potluck at the beginning. 6pm Potluck, 7pm GA.
  • (Carlos) I'd like $500 for an economic equality working group campaign.

Original proposals: ga-proposals-20130507.pdf


Endorse Budget for All

Who's sponsoring the proposal?

Carolyn reads part of a long list. The list is, well, really long.

What does endorsement involve?

We encourage people to participate in the rally, and we're added to the list of endorsees.

Proposal passes in the consent bucket.

Change GAs to 1x/month

Does this imply that GAs are indoors?

I hope that would be a separate consideration. We could have them indoors our outdoors.

What's the rationale for going to 1x/month, from 2x/month?

We have low attendance, and a small amount of business to take care of. I'm hoping that 1x/month might improve attendance, and keep people engaged.

Proposal comes out of the bucket.

Economic Inequality Working Group Campaign

We had a war of independence, not a revolution. The French had a revolution, we had a war of independence. I want to educate people about this.

What's the money for?

To pay people. Speakers, printing, leaflets, go around the schools and talk to the groups.

Who are the members of this group?

I have plenty of people. They're homeless, and they stay in my house.

Proposal comes out of the bucket.


We order proposals. GA, then Educational campaign. We'd planned a discussion topic for this evening. We'll have the discussion first, then come back to proposals as time allows.

Discussion: Working with other activist groups

I wanted to see if we could organize some social gatherings with organizations that historically worked separately, but came together with the Occupy Movement. With the disillusion of the encampments, these groups have gone back to working by themselves. For example, IWW, and Socialist Alternative.

The IWW pushes for one big union. Socialist alternative is more like a traditional socialist party, and they want an analysis about class, society, and revolution. IWW might not subscribe to Socialist Alternative ideas, but I'd like to see if there are things we can work on together.

I'd like to get a sense of whether people think this is a feasible idea, and what kind of social contexts would be work.

I'm meeting with Socialist Alternative. They're running a candidate. I've also talked to a few people in the IWW. The IWW gets a few things done, but not much union organizing. Socialist alternative isn't that much better. It's one thing to want to change the world; it's another thing to stick your neck out and do it. If this is going to be a fashion show, I don't want any part of it. The same perspective that got you into your situation won't get you out of it. There's a lot of sexism, racism, classism in these organized. You have to be open to new ideas, and different points of view. Those are just my experiences.

I had a similar experience here. I was exposed to things, and that caused me to re-examine my personal beliefs. I haven't always had the best experiences here, but I'm glad I've been involved to the extent I have. It's good to not be in an echo chamber. You want to hear different points of view. I'd urge you to expand that list of organizations. I'd like to see some union people come in and talk about their past experience. Or Move to Amend, third parties; not just on the left, but all of them. Greens, libertarians, socialist party. It helps this group as well. This is a good idea, but I'd urge you to expand the list to other groups.

I'd like to expand this list, and include as many groups as possible, to the extent that there's a chance of us working together. The idea isn't to attend other groups meetings; they're not about to throw aside their convictions. We're not asking these groups to join us; we'd just talk about things we can work on together. It would be nice to have contacts from each of these groups.

Put an invitation on the main web page, and invite them all out. I have to go catch a bus.

I'm pulled in different directions. The Lucy Parsons center has potluck dinners for some groups. I like the idea of having a neutral location and a social event, with the idea of discussing what would draw us together. 350.org has some of these qualities. I'd love to see them involved. Having a place is what drew us together, but there are other ways. Getting people together in a safe environment where we can do creative brainstorming about actions to address connected issues. We have to go out and talk to people. We need to be present, and ready to listen.

What do you think the invitation should sound like? Some groups have strong mindsets and might not want to change. But we could share numbers.

Occupy came together around a tactic. If we came up with a creative tactic, that might draw people together. Maybe new fresh people would come if we had something interesting going. I can imagine getting together around a set of ideas, but maybe that makes us a narrow group. Maybe a tactic more than ideas.

Occupy was a participatory membership organization, and not a staff-led organization. I really liked that. Budget for all seems like they're trying to have some umbrella organization that brings together several issues. They're putting on events, you can attend meetings in person, and you can attend meetings by phone. They seem like a really good group. Who are the groups that have some kind of analysis that brings together other groups.

I'd like to go back to a common project. That might be likely to bridge different groups. The tactics would follow from the ideas. I'd always hoped that Occupy could be a coordinator, or an umbrella group. It's sad that didn't work out. The IWW factionalized about a year after they started. I like the idea of our version of a Lucy Parsons center; a place where we could have specific campaigns, collaborate, and add to each other's numbers. Could we put together a list of names and organizations, and then talk to these people? It'd be cool to have a place where we could bring 400 people together.

Similar discussions are taking place in other Occupy groups, coalition building and such. Move to amend is trying to do this. They've defined a zone of coalition building around corporate power. They're trying to work with other activists, but not other party organizations. It's in alignment with this kind of discussion. There's an interoccupy strategy group that's been trying to do the same thing. This kind of discussion is something that several occupy groups are looking at.

I'm hearing a lot about competition between groups, as opposed to collaboration. Our society is based on competition, and that competition brings about a lot of animosity. On some level, we have to address the culture we live in. It's hard for people to get out of these mindsets, even in activist communities. Either support another group or don't, but don't be mad at them.

I think that's true. I can't help but think that's changed in some ways. The funeral for capitalism had a huge IWW contingent. Flyers we've seen tonight give evidence to that. I'd like to graph out all of the groups, their goals, and the relationships between them. There are different ways that we can uncork the fountains of creativity.

I don't imagine building a giant coalition. There's competition for building a coalition like Occupy was. Some people have a lot of bad blood with Occupy. I don't think any group would join the other. This is would be more of a social brainstorming effort, not an invitation to join Occupy Boston. It should be more personal. And maybe only a few groups, kind of like a spokes council. Have pizza and talk. I'm thinking small, 25 people or less.

I'm not interested in making giant lists and graphs with lines. I've done that. I'm not sure what we're targeting as a practical thing, and I share the sense of frustration.

Can a few of us start bringing these ideas with other groups? (Yes)

Groups that people volunteered to contact: Massachusetts Teacher's Association, Lucy Parsons Center, Budget for All, Mass Pirate Party, Occupy Arlington, SEIU, IWW, Socialist Alternative, Bangladesh Workers Solidarity Network, Central Boston Clergy, DSA, and Mass Uniting.

Back To Proposals

Change GAs to 1x/Month

We discuss the proposal to scale back to 1 GA per month.

I'm not sure that moving to one Tuesday per month is a good way to increase attendance, and Tuesday is not an optimal day of the week.

Sundays might be worse in the summer, because people go away on weekends.

I don't see an immediate burst of attendance. But this can help us maintain a holding pattern while we figure out what to do next. We only have a modest amount of business to talk care of, and this gives us a place to take care of that business.

It might be a burn out, to keep coming to small meetings.

Many of the people who left have their own groups, and they're happy working together. I don't see them coming back. I want to work with people that I enjoy working with. Once a month is fine with me.

If we find there's a need to increase GA frequency, then we can increase GA frequency. If there's energy for something else, then there can be more GAs. In some parts of the occupy community, ex-post-facto, the people who've left think we're shit. If we resuscitate things, it will be with people who are better.

Strike debt is chugging along. It's not a big group, but it's a vibrant one. And there are active people who've had no other part in occupy. I'm attached to GA, but I think that 1x/month would be easier to manage. For me, this is just a reality.

I think Dana's idea is the way to make GA meaningful. Groups A and B coming together to talk shop. That could be revitalizing. It would excite my interest.

There's nothing to prevent people from putting on educational events. We can do other things in the off time, just not GAs. There are other interesting things we could be doing.

If people have to wait a month, they might value it more. It can be too much of a good thing. As a small group, we've accomplished a lot. Even more than we did as a big group. I'd like to see people come to be productive, not come to be characters.

I think that new initiatives are the way to go. But if we go to 1x/month, I think it will be hard to get that momentum.

There are social media activists who say a lot of things about us. But during the Honk Parade, a lot of people were very positive about seeing Occupy. We have a better reputation outside of the group than within the group.

Proposal passes. Next GA one month from now.