General Assembly Process Proposal - Draft
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.
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.