June19Minutes

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Occupy Boston General Assembly - June 19, 2012

Sailors and Soldiers Hill, Boston Common
Facilitator: Justin Almeida
Note takers: Noah McKenna, Gregory Murphy, Carolyn Magid and Joe Cuigini

Working Group Announcements

1) Occupy Monsanto -  60 to 70 people at anti- Bio-tech, anti GMO Rally, on 6/18, including OB, Occupy Monsanto (from DC), NOFA, Leah Collective, Ciclovida
2) Facilitation - a Facilitation skill share is on for the July 9 Community Gathering, 6:30 to 10:00
3) S17 - WG formed at Sunday's  (6/17) SAA to develop planning for S17
4) S17 $ - 1st meeting scheduled for July 7, @ 2:00 PM, email Tessa F if you want to join, she will create a mailing list.
 

Individual Announcements

1) Ellen F. - heading to Montreal, this coming weekend
2) Ariel N. - , NYC judge sentenced her friend Mark, of OWS, to 45 days at Rikers Island for D17 action winter occupation attempt at Trinity Church in NYC. He could have appealed but was facing a one year process (at least) and the possible outcome of jail time.  Discussion ensued: Trinity Church is the largest landowner in NYC and really exerted pressure for guilty finding.

Proposals

1) Joe C. - move all GAs to State House steps
2) Angela G. - add two pre-planning meetings to S17 WG schedule to deal with several issues related to the S17 proposal
3) Terra F. - reconsider S17 funding proposal
4) Kendra M. - asking for $600 to $800 for Bastille Day Art Festival funding
5) Jen M. - proposes S17 matching grants totaling $7000 to be given to local community organizations
6) John M. - asks for $60 week for OB day camp

• #4 & #6 remain in Proposal Bucket, thereby passed and accepted by General Assembly

• #3 pulled for Saturday, 6/23 consideration

• #5 pulled  (GM thinks)

GA decides to process #2, before #1

GA Proposal Process for #2:  

Angela G. - proposes to add two pre-planning meetings to S17 WG schedule to deal with issues of accountability, transparency, POC inclusion and political analysis. She "does not like how the proposal went down," and urges the community to accept these two meetings to do more comprehensive planning than we usually do, and to get the greater OB community "buy-in."  Her proposal is not about the $ aspect.

Noah - seems that the already scheduled S17 $ WG meetings would be a great place to have open dialog about intentionality. The S17 affinity group outreach was above and beyond usual proposal process including community forum and other list emails, and Facebook posting. The $7K can be spent in a # of ways and the intention is to bring in other activist communities, beyond OB. It's important to make sure this event (S17 and planning) is accessible to a wider variety of populations.

Angela - to Noah, your response to me reflects that you did not hear me. I like your thoughts, but one of my points is about establishing criteria and mechanisms of accountability, in regards to the $. Could this happen at the S17 $ WG meetings? She understands that the working group grew out of an affinity group.

Carolyn - at the SAA, the night after the S17 proposal passed, people formed an S17 WG. I am hoping both S17 WGs can create a common agenda.

Angela - asks for 2 pre-planning meetings before any WG or AG starts planning the action or how to spend the $. Let's really practice horizontal democracy and let's be accountable and fully transparent and include a deep political analysis. Such a mixture has been missing from much of what OB has done and how OB has approached actions, in the past.

Jen - wants to see the $ spent in Boston, not on travel to NYC.

Ellen - seems like pre planning meetings is natural for GA to do before it goes to working group for planning

Greg - reminds Angela that she initially also mentioned the importance of reaching out to other communities, especially people of color.

Noah - is this (A's proposal) about planning or about the $?

Angela - her proposal is about creating a step in maturity, about creating values

Ariel - help me understand. Is your intention to take a step back and have this criteria be applied to all proposals, retroactively?

Angela - (note taker is unsure of her reply)

Ariel - there are less people here, tonight, than there were Saturday (when S17 proposal passed). Do you think that we can (incomplete notes)?

Angela - again, it's about transparency and accountability, the $ is secondary, a political framework is the priority

Randy - asked Angela for an example of a proposal when we (OB) did not think this stuff through, as Angela is asking for, and there was a consequence.

Angela - (note taker did not write her answer down and forgets what how A replied to R's question.

At this point, Facilitator  asks small groups to form, followed by

Group report back

Group 1 -

1. Overall we thought it was a good proposal, and supported the basic idea of having a discussion very soon about how OB deals with larger money requests. 
 
2. We thought that the issue of whether Angela's proposal applied to the S17 funds was beside the point; we thought the discussion should be about possible new procedures for all larger requests.
 
3. Members strongly endorsed the idea that making distinctions between the many smaller money requests and the very few really large ones was very proper and legitimate, especially in consideration of the rapidly shrinking OB account.
 
4. With regard to specific questions raised by the S17 proposal as a current case of a very large money request: many group members were concerned that this was a large request for money to be spent outside of Boston; it was also pointed out that very cheap transport to NYC is available, that in general OB has expected members to raise money to cover their own transport costs, and that the money requested seemed to be well in excess of the amount that would be needed for only basic transit expenses.
 
5. Members believed that OB should be Boston-focused in its spending; members noted that there are many immediate and longer term needs, including a place for OB meetings after the summer. Members noted that OB will have a birthday of its own to celebrate around the time of OWS, and that most of OB members would be here and that  planning our own Dewey Square birthday should have priority.
 
6. Members hoped that OB would take more initiative in putting together positive, community building projects in the metro area, of the type that will help build our support among the rest of the 99% that are not Occupiers. We would like to find ways for Occupy to play a positive role on issues like housing, education and unemployment, issues of immediate concern to "plain Bostonians."
 
7. Looking at the types of requests that ought to have priority, members expressed preference for solid, well defined projects with clear and realistic objectives. Members recalled the limited results of actions like "Shut Down the Corporations Day", which shut down no corporations. Again with reference to the S17 proposal, aimed at "Shutting Down Wall St.", it was doubted that this was a realistically achievable objective. Questions were also raised about whether the actual shut-down of Wall Street should it be accomplished, would actually be well received by the 99% - or whether they would be angered at actions that might in the short term worsen the state of our already troubled economy -- and so, the actions may further the distance between Occupy and the 99%.

Group 2 -

1. Values are important and should be discussed.

2. Set aside 2 GAs for these conversations

3. Each person from OB who wants to go to S17 needs to earn $30 to pay for the trip.

Group 3 -

1. It's important to establish criteria, we have horizontal democracy but it is hard to do.

2. OB has done limited values work, before, reference statement of Purpose, Nonviolence, etc.

3. Values is a difficult topic, but if the community took the time to go through a process it would help us become a tighter community and would guide our decisions and actions. In tight anarchist groups who have done values work and have agreed upon guiding principles, when someone acts autonomously, there is no concern, for all members of the group trust each other to act in accordance of those values and principles.

4. concerns raised that we can agree on tactics, but not on actions

5. $ and values are two separate topics and too big for one discussion

6. the proposal is about discussing political framing for organizing, though there is no certainty that we will agree, yet this also establishes values for spending and promotes accountability

7. let's create an anonymous survey on OB's politics to get a sense of the range of opinions and ideologies

8. OB has been active, and coherence is important. Planning for S17 can help with that, analysis can happen, but (at times) our discussions are adversarial. We need to plan to keep people coming and looking forward to it. We are dead if we can't keep dispersing $ and planning, if we slow down we may die. Let's find a pace we can all work with.

9. OB GA needs to take a break and retool.

After small group reports:

Angela withdrew it as a formal proposal in favor of a temp check that was positive (although not unanimous) about having two meetings to discuss the topics Angela outlined.  It didn't seem easy to identify times and places that the group all thought would work on the spot, although SAA and GA were likely places.  Angela took responsibility for convening a group to work on planning and coming up with times to meet.  She said this week was too soon to have a meeting because more planning was required.
 

On proposal #1 : when note taker joined the discussion, Joe had changed the proposal to ask that we have all future summer GAs near the fountain on the Common, not at the State House (and the revised proposal may have been made jointly with John Murphy?).  We had some questions and concerns raised but there was then a quorum call and the group did not think we had quorum.  his proposal has rolled over to Saturday, 6/23.