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On 110/21/11, members of the Facilitation Working Group consented to the "Priority Process Proposal."  On 10/25/11, at a public meeting, attendees amended and consented to the FWG's "Priority Process Proposal."

Priority Process Proposal

For Occupy Boston proposals to: reflect more voices and broader ownership; strive for an inclusive process; allow the Assembly to be more informed about and better prepared for hearing and voting on proposals; to help Occupy Boston participants plan to attend specific General Assemblies so they can vote on proposals of interest; help those making proposals gain practice presenting; and to better the likelihood of passage; the Facilitator Working Group recommends a Priority Proposal process.

We strongly encourage everyone to make proposals, particularly those from historically oppressed communities. We think this process helps to ensure that your voice will be heard.

Please note that emergency proposals, e.g., from Safety, Medics, Legal, etc., will continue to get immediate attention.

We propose the following steps to achieve priority status for your proposal:

  1. Decide if you want your proposal to receive priority status at a General Assembly.
    Anyone, whether a group or an individual, can make proposals and gain priority status.
    Pre-announced, pre-posted, pre-scheduled proposals which have had publicly announced meetings and passed consensus at a public meeting, will be considered prior to other proposals at General Assemblies.
    Working Groups and individuals may still bring any proposals to the GA, without submitting to this new process, they simply will not have priority status on the agenda.
  2. First Steps (at least 4 days prior to presenting at GA):
    1. post the proposal on the OccupyBoston wiki and make physical copies available at the camp library;
    2. schedule and post online, the date of the GA at which the proposal will be presented;
    3. do outreach to all WGs to let them know you have a proposal in the pipeline and would like their input;
    4. schedule and post online, with 48 hours notice, the date of a public meeting (which must be at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled GA), at which the proposal will be reviewed and taken through the consensus process. (Individuals can host meetings)
      (On non-GA evenings, facilitators will be available at the 5pm Facilitators Working Group meeting to assist with all of these steps, including typing your proposal and helping you write, to the best of our ability.)
  3. Announce at the earliest possible evening GA,
    1. that you are preparing a proposal,
    2. the subject of the proposal and that it is posted online,
    3. the date of the public meeting,
    4. and the date the proposal will be presented to the GA;
  4. Conduct a full consensus WG meeting where you
    1. state the need the proposal is addressing;
    2. first assess whether the proposal requires consensus at a General Assembly;
    3. Document all objections and amendments.
    4. Explain how objections were addressed
      (Objections must remain on a public list so that, if the proposal cannot address them and is still consented to, the community knows that there are outstanding concerns/objections to address.)
    5. Explain whether or why not amendments were adopted.
  5. If the proposal has passed consensus in the public meeting, present at the pre-scheduled GA;
  6. If the proposal did not reach consensus at the public working group meeting, post that result online and announce at the next available GA that the proposal will not be presented on the previously scheduled date OR that you will still bring the proposal to the GA, but it will not be given priority status.

Occupy Boston General Assembly Process Proposal

This proposal is intended as a draft for the OB Facilitation Working Group to review, discuss, and reach consensus on a version to be workshopped in at least one public meeting before being presented to the general assembly for consideration.

As it stands, the GA consensus-making process is in danger of evolving into an overly complex, rigid, majoritarian voting process that leaves little room for quieter voices to be heard. This proposal is an attempt to replace this process with one that makes room for each and every member of the GA to contribute their ideas, while still keeping the GAs running as efficiently as possible. It is inspired by both CT Butler’s Consensus for Cities of 100,000 and the OWS Structure Working Group’s “spokescouncil” proposal.


General Assembly Process

The process of introductions, working group announcements, and individual announcements are left unchanged and up to the discretion of the OB Facilitation Working Group. This proposal details how proposals will be considered by the GA.

1. Presentation  -  The individual or working groups will read aloud their proposal and provide written copies as current guidelines state.

2. Clarification  -  The floor will be open to the general assembly for anyone to ask questions of clarification and offer points of information

3. Small Group Discussion  -  The facilitators will divide the GA into groups of approximately 10 people, depending on the size of the GA. If possible, the facilitators will also divide the group that presented the proposal among the groups. These groups will discuss the proposal as presented for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Facilitators should monitor the process to ensure that groups stay on focus and that every member has a chance to speak.

Consensus  -  The group agrees that passing the proposal is in the best interests of Occupy Boston. The group has the option of presenting any objections or concerns raised that remain unresolved to be addressed at a later date.

Amended Consensus  -  The group reaches consensus on the proposal with amendments they have agreed upon. The option to register concerns remains.

No Consensus  -  The group fails to reach consensus on the proposal or any potential amendments.

4. Regroup  -  The GA regroups in the “spokescouncil” arrangement. Each small group designates a “spoke” to present their consensus (or lack, thereof), to the GA, with other members groiprd directly behind. Spokes have no authority and are not decision-makers; they are responsible for presenting the diversity of their group’s views, and can be recalled at any time. Facilitators are free to encourage discussion among the spokescouncil and can check for consensus if one is apparent. If not, facilitators can call for a return to Small Group Discussions, with the cycle to be repeated as long as the GA requests.

5. Check for Consensus  -  Before moving on to consensus, the facilitators will explain and ask for blocks. The rules for blocks remain unchanged; a 75% vote is needed to ensure a block is defense of the community’s principles and 10% is needed to confirm it. If there are no blocks, the facilitators can ask the spokescouncil for a formal consensus with a show of hands. The proposal will be shared and publicized as usual, including any registered objections or concerns.


This proposal should be considered a working draft and is open to revision. In particular, facilitator roles will need to be revised, and it is suggested that the facilitator introduction be modified to clarify the following points:

  • The role of the General Assembly is to represent Occupy Boston as a whole and define its relationship with the greater Occupy movement, as well as make important financial and legal decisions related to the movement.
  • The goal of the GA should be to pass any and all proposals presented to it; all members should cooperate to improve them and make them more inclusive of their needs.
  • Any proposal presented to the GA does not belong to its proposers, but rather to the GA as a whole. The proposal process is a peaceful, cooperative, and safe environment.
  • Proposals (and blocks) should be considered within the context of the community’s stated values and goals.