Meeting Notes

Included here are important meeting notes, beginning with Reasonable Solutions Working Group and its meeting with City of Philadelphia representatives. Additionally, I have included two process meetings, to discuss reshaping the General Assembly. Many have pointed to Occupy Wall Street’s structure of using a Spokes Council and General Assembly. Full Disclosure: I am a part of the Facilitation Working Group, have worked with the Coordinating Committee, and fully intended to attend the Process meetings to reshape the GA. I was unable to attend either. I have posted these notes simply for the sake of transparency. They are in chronological order, from most recent.

11/27/2011 Beyond Dilworth Meeting Notes

Greg – intro: things we already know

We decided at last night’s GA, we will be meeting at 4pm at Rittenhouse Square the day after eviction. We don’t quite know when eviction is gonna happen. There is also a chance we’ll be marching to Roundhouse if there are people in jail at that point. 2nd thing we decided is that all future GAs at Friends Center.

There are plans for a press conference occupy a foreclosed home on Tuesday to support Florence Mason.

[discussion of details/controversy, and rumor about Clergy support]

Occupy Spaces is another group looking into potential abandoned properties that we might be able to rehab.

Reasonable Solutions WG has signed a permit for Thomas Paine Plaza, does not include tents/camping/etc, and hours are limited from 9am-7pm.

Ivan – Homeless folks who want to move to Logan Square will be helped by OP at 4pm.

Greg – Harvey and Dennis are organizing a location for safe space for homeless. Not OP, but some of the folks living here have plans to go over there.

Rita – Friends Center is opening today at 5pm.

Jack – It’s open to all Occupiers who are not going to smoke, do drugs, cause drugs, and their camping gear must remain outside building. Must be respectful of pre-planned events there.

Pastor Pete – Will be open until 10pm tonight, if there is an eviction tonight it will be open overnight.

Dave – Not open indefinitely, just during eviction night.

Greg opens Stack, will point to hands.

Concrete plans that people are working on now?

Dave – CoC is working with Interoccupy.org to create and maintain list of committed Occupiers so we can have a network

Z – Recaps Trina from Chicago’s message:

[from 11/26/11 GA notes: Hello OP brothers and sisters! I come bringing love and support and solidarity from OC! We feel where you are right now. I want to tell you really briefly about our eviction history. We tried to take a camp in Grant Park. We had 3000 people march and rally. We tried to set up tents. 175 people were arrested. It’s not that scary. Did it again next weekend, had 130 people arrested, including 2 nurses from Nurses United who were providing medical support. Came back two weeks later with a smaller action and were evicted again, but we’re still strong and still fighting. Winter Building Chicago Spring: we spend the winter building an indoor community space and getting out to all the neighborhoods of Chicago, telling them who we are, why they should be with us, why we stand with them in all their struggles. Community service, Direct Actions in neighborhood, flyering, teach-ins in neighborhoods, taking this out of Center City to the greater city, so that come Chicago Spring, on April 7, that we can make a large showing that we’re still here! Chicago winters are cold, Chicago police force is nasty, but they can’t shut us out, can’t shut us down, we will still be there in the spring! We need you on April 7! In Chicago if you can, if not here. Our social media team would like you to tweet with #APR7, we’re trying to get the word out, trying to plan now, so Occupies can say “We are still here!” Love from Occupy Chicago!]

Jack – When you’re setting up your plans, do you want to start with everybody shifting immediately, or should be begin with infrastructure? Should it be pre-planned or evolve naturally? I suggest we have initial setup group and then invite in people to already.

Marshall – What’s been set up here has been a pretty organized infrastructure for beyond Dilworth. Working Groups have been established and will continue to function. Job of members of WG to come up with ideas to take OP in all these different directions. We might not have a camp anymore, but DA will still be planning marches. There are so many different options. Without the camp there isn’t as much ability to catch up on it and know it exists. Big issue: without centralized place, how to

Greg – Heard ideas about staying together online, also another physical encampment with legit infrastructure, and staying involved in WGs that continue beyond Dilworth. Other ideas?

Z – Occupy Homes and Open Home and how Occupy could have open Occupation, maybe an Open House on a monthly basis that would make it easier to find each other and connect/reconnect. In addition to community, one of real values of Occupation was it’s a fabulous place for organizing. Other idea: would like to see Occupation be everywhere, with window signs and yard signs saying “The Occupation is here” and whatever issue you want to represent. Open House and yard signs.

Pastor Pete – Deeply troubled by rift between RSWG and others. This presents a real opportunity to demonstrate our unity by attempting a reconciliation. I have talked to people from both parties and both are interested and willing to talk. I know that moving forward we are more powerful together than separately. RSWG has space we can use visibly and prominently. Interfaith WG are willing to help facilitate a reconciliation. If you’re interested in seeing that happen, please speak to me. We can have differences but still work together.

Diane (direct response) – They went behind our back and they lied and I’m not comfortable right now as to whether they can act honestly.

Pastor Pete (DR) – All I’m suggesting is we explore possibility of reconcilitation.

Ivan – Would like to have permanent location somewhere. OP more than any Occupation has worked with homeless folks in a way that is unprecedented. Don’t want to leave that behind. Concern: Homeless folks have organized and found out places they can go. If OP goes somewhere else, City will have succeeded in dividing us. We can do more if we work together and it also is important symbolically. Don’t know what that looks like, but it’s not just about our protest/demonstration, but in working around the clock in some capacity to support each other.

Greg – Should I open another stack on brainstorming ideas?

Marshall – We’re one of the last encampments left in nation. LA is getting similar restriction: new permit, different location, no camping. They also offered to buy off Occupy LA, they offered office space and farmland for a dollar a year. It’s a very valuable proposition. Since City didn’t offer that to us, there should be a WG devoted to finding office space as a place to meet and organize a campaign. For our media to meet.

Z – Jody (Legal) works in a building, was talking about setting up an organizing center in that building, should talk to her about that.

Bob – 1) Continuing organization, need to keep communicating. 2) Be very cautious about electoral politics and politicians.

Jack – Unless you actually intend to take down the system as it exists, and bring a literal revolution, the system that exists is what we have to work with. Can we find good people within it to work with?

Marilyn – My main effort has been bringing OP to people who aren’t here. Was easy first couple weeks, people understood and sympathized. That’s gotten much more difficult as media picture of OP has worsened. What OP needs to do as it moves into next phase is find ways for people who aren’t interested in encampment to be involved beyond donations.

Rita – I support ideas so far, including idea of not bothering with electoral politics. One way to stand in solidarity with homeless is to fight poverty by fighting wealth (which causes poverty), continue DAs against institutions that cause them.

Coby – If it does get to the point where we can not be somewhere over night, perhaps we could use a space like TPP to keep our signs up overnight even if we can’t be there.

Jack – As for TPP, everything needs to come down.

[Much support for lawn/window signs, keeping visible message 24/7.]

Connie – Investigate rental properties on first floor of City, a storefront possibly to maintain physical location for office space and visibility.

Z – 1) As for reconciliation with RSWG, we should implement Conflict Resolution WG to deal with that and other social interaction issues. 2) Use winter to grow our roots, perhaps have storefronts in different neighborhoods for outreach, cheaper than Center City.

Marshall – Jesse Kudler has been doing something that all of us can do, anytime an article is posted, he emails writer and factchecks them. This is important and we should all be doing it! Fact check articles by contacting the writer and editor. Local weeklies are most responsive. Jesse is now getting emails/call from writers/reporters and they’re asking him for legit people that they can interview. We all read news, have internet hopefully, if you see something that’s wrong, contact the writer.

Edwin – Article in Philly Inquirer, I emailed the author, it’s a good idea.

Silvia – Is there a person to get in touch to straighten out Northeast Times?

[Will put Silvia in touch with Jesse and Chris G.]

Pastor Pete – With dispersal of energy, will be more difficult to coordinate DAs. Need to leverage our energy by using cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, to continue DA events.

Ivan – Repeating what homeless folks have said at GAs: OP’s physical presence has provided safety for homeless. Would like to maintain physical presence.

Z – Right now we do not provide safety, we provide conflict. Worried about Logan Circle plan. What can we do to provide support to homeless?

Dave – We are committed to

Z – We should set up another OP Beyond Dilworth meeting.

Greg Straw Polls on wrapping up meeting. Meeting ends.

Z – If people send out emails, make a relevant subject line.

Individuals present at meeting:

Greg

Z

Rita

Jack

Dave

Marshall

Diane

Coby

Philly Bob

Edwin

Pastor Pete

Per

Silvia

Marilyn

John

Dennis

Kathleen

Ivan

Connie

Helen

[will send out to email list very soon!]

11/26/2011 PROCESS MEETING NOTES: Part 3
Held by Messaging in Arch Street United Methodist Church

Attended by 40 individuals, including WG members of Messaging, Facilitation, Radical Caucus, Media, Tech, Infrastructure, Safety, Committees of Correspondence, Economic Empowerment, Legal, Interfaith, and a visitor from Occupy Wall Street

Agenda
Intros
Spokes Council Structure
Revisions to Consensus Process
Proposal Submissions

Presentation of Spokes Council model
(note: Messaging moved this text here post-meeting so you all would read and review it.)

Spokes Council is a meeting between working groups (and caucuses) to coordinate inter-working group collaboration and logistical decisions for Occupy. It is a transparent meeting, meaning it is open to all and will be livestreamed regardless of where it happens. All occupiers are encouraged to join a working group Spoke, or to form their own occupier spoke within the council. Each working group chooses a Spoke, who has no authority over the group, but simply speaks the consensus of the group. Spokes sit in a circle in the middle of the meeting space, and behind each spoke sits their working group or caucus. Spokes rotate every meeting and can be recalled at any time. Individuals in multiple WGs are free to move around at will during the Spokes Council.

4 Types of decisions the Spokes Council makes:

  1. Decisions related to logistical operations (day-to-day responsibilities pertaining to Working Groups)
  2. Approval of budgets and expenditures
  3. Addition or subtraction of Working Groups or Caucuses in the Spokes Council (subtraction due to continual disruption or bad behavior that violates core principles of the GA)
  4. Amendments to functioning of the Spokes Council

No decisions are made on proposals within Spokes Council that have not been distributed beforehand. Proposals have a 5-7 day warming-up period (save for emergencies) and must be written and circulated throughout OP. WGs discuss pros/cons of proposal until they find consensus, and then their Spoke voices the group sentiment at the Spokes Council. Proposals go through the official process of clarifying questions/concerns/amendments during Spokes Council.

As a result of Spokes Council, working groups stay updated on all other WGs’ initiatives, actions, and operations. Working Groups work together and build trust in one another. Agenda items consist of things like upcoming direct actions, outreach initiatives, finances, regional meetings, etc. Budget issues – small go to Spokes, big goes to GA.

Decisions in Spokes Council are made by modified consensus – there will be an attempt to reach unanimous consensus, but if it cannot be reached, a vote will be taken. At least 10% of the assembly must vote against a proposal for it to be rejected.

More resources:

http://www.nycga.net/files/2011/10/Spokes-Council-v4.pdf

http://occupyportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Spokes-Proposal-PDF-FINAL.pdf

***READ UP, GET INFORMED, ASK QUESTIONS, FIND SOLUTIONS***

DISCUSSION:

Jenna – In last two meetings, we’ve spoken about the GA in its strengths and challenges. We have been measuring problems against the Spokes Council model and discussing possible solutions. Spokes Council is designed for the coordination of WGs and allotment of funds. Consensus – 9/10ths rather than 2/3rds for Spokes Council.  Also we have a working Draft of new Proposal Form to hand out.

Ryan – CoCo could function as a part of Spokes Council (made up of every different working group that can work in clusters if they are small).  Idea is to free up the GA and use the GA space to work on more ideas rather than functioning so far.

Alex – Do we want to have something come out of this meeting?

Jenna – That thing might be a unique proposal because of the many WGs working on this and the idea that many WGs can voice that to the GA.

Larry – Justine has worked on another set of ideas that she brought to GA.

New person – What’s the latest about the eviction?

Iwanka – Reached out to Los Angeles.

Jesse – regarding small groups – some people may not want to join other small groups.

Sally – don’t feel overwhelmed by OWS and Occupy Portland models – they are just models made for specific Occupy sites.  We need to create our own hybrid that works for OP.

Alex – thank you and great proposal form. There is a certain tension among those who are not working in Working Groups, especially those who don’t have homes outside the encampment. This may create more tension. Will they feel excluded from Spokes Council?  How do we define what makes a Working Group – this may become contentious.  Great model but I’m hesitant about when it happens.

Lisa – OWS came up with basics – you have to have 3 people at least for a working group.  OWS tabled ones who didn’t have WG.

Larry – Request that we have an open stack for process ideas.  Open up to inclusiveness.

New Agenda Item on Ideas of How to Make our GA more inclusive

Jenna – From last two meetings, we pulled a list of issues from the living document of OWS and added to that list b/c there are issues that are specific to OP:

Physical access and inclusiveness
Transparency
Our numbers don’t represent city we work for
Functionality – occupation functionality versus occupation direction
Decision-making – how decisions are made impulsively or by consensus
Accountability – marginalization and dealing with empowerment and not cluster people but help find commonalities
Time for vision
Trust and solidarity

Jesse – 9/10ths

Justine – consensus – for or against. Small groups will feel pressure. New people are finding standpoints.

Glen – proposals – list of pros and cons posted visually for all to see and read.

Chris – how to make movement more inclusive

Mark – brought 3 proposals (1) GA post-eviction (2) Amending frequency of GAs (3) Formalizing the process around working groups.

Sally – reiterating importance of 9/10ths idea

Emmanuel – where there is lack of trust, you need more rules.  When you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly, you stop listening.  Develop a new process and become process-driven.  OP has too many people with too many different histories. Working groups are defined differently for different people.  We need consistency.  We need to build trust.  We have to get to this as our core.

Philly Bob – I don’t understand Spokes model – I hope in this time we figure that out.

Mike – Exclusion from meetings and not enough participation and only half of campers show up and WG people getting strung out because of lack of participation.  People aren’t stepping up to projects.

Ash – Spokes Council is just one model and a lot of concerns are covered in it.

Lisa – Consensus is huge – there’s a misconception on what consensus is –it’s not voting.  Proposal form – “Please see the back for instructions”

Ryan (beard) – for participation and marginalization.  I think GA efficiency actually declined after PA system brought in. Reinstate the people’s mic.

Iwanka – greatest concern is for trust and solidarity because that’s the root of all of this.  Getting information – some have more info than others and they use it as a tool.  Communications – emails need to be synchronized.  Web presence needs to be cohesive with dedicated people that we can send ONE email to and not fall off the face of the earth.  Conference calls to synchronize.  OP now has Maestro conference call. We need to develop the common good.

Alex – The Spokes Council is still unclear – let’s try to explain it at this meeting.  The current GA model adopted from experience with Students for a Democratic Society.  Concern: block and 9/10ths is wrong direction because it’s frustrating for people who don’t have the time. You get attrition and only people who have time make it.  Influence of group to vote with the group – this is worse with 9/10ths.  2/3rds is a supermajority.

Jenna – The 2:1 supermajority is unrepresentative in large groups. The gap is only going to grow if we don’t come to consensus.

Larry – Suggests playing out the Spokes format in the room to demonstrate. Also, we need to keep a Code of Conduct on the table, as well as a definition of CoCo.  Should consider Mark’s proposals.  Blocks. What it would mean to move to Spokes Council.  CoCo – Spokes having everyone behind them.

Justina – Concern: This meeting is pushing for Spokes Council model, but there are other restructuring ideas around. Must consider all. Also, people at camp don’t know about these meetings, aren’t informed on-site. This must be announced around camp, to groups of people.

What do people want coming out of this meeting:

  • 9/10ths vote
  • Reducing the number of GAs
  • Formal Recognition of Working Groups
  • Formal Process for Accountability
  • Smoother process
  • Proposal form
  • What IS the Spokes Council model?
  • Participation – people doing things
  • Transparency and Inclusiveness
  • GA for discussion on IDEAS and expand the circle
  • Get rid of Microphone

Roundtable, “What do we want”:

Ash – To go over the Spokes Council model.  So much of what has been listed can be covered by Spokes Council.

Nate – Let’s try to figure out “easiest” tasks we can accomplish today – e.g., 9/10ths and reduced number of GAs

Roman – Would like to look specifically at OWS Spokes Council Model, go through and understand.

Mark – Lisa’s proposal for proposal form could conflict with his 3 proposals for GA.

Bob – Do a run-through of Spokes Council right now.

? – Warming-up process for proposals to CoCo.

Mark – No Proposals for CoCo about what we are doing post-eviction right now!

Emmanuel – if we don’t define what the process is, it won’t seem fair.  If Spokes is made up of WGs and we haven’t defined them, it won’t look fair.

Nate – there are some proposals that can be seen as emergency proposals.  For today, just have a proposal to come to GA to have a discussion.  GA was decided by small group that people weren’t happy with, we don’t want to replicate this!

Jesse – Why cater to people who aren’t trying to be constructive?

Question – what about groups that don’t show up to Spokes Council?

Bob – Proposals have to go through Spokes Council to GA.  Not the other way.  There should be a sign to identify each Spoke, so people can identify and join easily.

Response: Also, Working Groups and Caucuses must each write a Mission Statement in preparation for first Spokes Council, stating

Sarah – Like CoCo, would you bring proposal but also like a report back too?

Emmanuel – when Spokes Council meet does everyone from WG attend?

Ryan – At the beginning, hopefully, but as we get better, just necessary to have one or more WG members present.

Question: What about Coco?

Ash – Spokes Council would incorporate responsibilities of CoCo and facilitate proposal process to GA.

Concern: Lack of accountability and lack of transparency – we may need to define what makes a WG.  Seems like your legitimacy is based on your showing up.

Response: Your spoke needs to show up – if attendance lags consistently, your WG would be put on temporary review, let’s say “purgatory”

Ash: Warming-up period for proposals so Working Groups can have time to weigh pros/cons and come to consensus before Spokes Council. Alleviate stress on GA.  Logistics go through Spokes Council.  If you don’t have anywhere to go, there is a Spoke for Occupiers.

Suggestion: At least one person in your WG must join on GA Facilitation. Must cap number of proposals.

Glen – what about Tech (off site) groups or small groups?

Response: Clusters consist of smaller working groups with like-minded agendas or initiatives. Maybe tech would join media and messaging, for example.

Nate – Spokes Council model would replace CoCo as it’s the most problematic of all OP.  Problem with OWS Spokes Council – don’t like the chopping up of decision-making.  Maybe Spokes should only handle budgets below $100/WG?  Spokes should primarily to be a place for WGs to collaborate.  There still needs to be a mechanism for proposals to come same day, emergencies.

Sally- addressing Alex’s 9/10s skepticism, 9/10ths places weight on WGs to have discussions in local communities.

Bob – broken vote, minutes and proposal model

Nate – Should form a Process Working Group to run a website for GA and Spokes Council that will have notes. Minutes, vote tallies.

Roman – People who are responsible for things make votes.  Logistics of Spokes Council – more productive to say we believe Spokes Council is needed for x y z reasons.  Larger meeting to discuss this.

Nate – Proposal for GA tonight: 30 minutes at GA to discuss process.  Monday – a clear distinct proposal.

Ash – any other questions regarding this model?  Suggest we bring forward proposals.

Emmanuel – We didn’t get anywhere!  Can Messaging bring something like a proposal?

Mark – Let’s make a contact list for online collaboration on Spokes Council discussion

Roman – Spokes Council meeting, Wednesday 5:45 Friends Center

Jacob – bring Mark’s proposal to GA tonight to have GA 3 days/week and 3 CoCos per week.

Mark – re: inclusion – Sundays would be Open Mic night!

Chris – Trust and solidarity – maybe this can happen on Sunday nights?

11/19/2011 PROCESS MEETING NOTES: Part 2
Held by Messaging and Facilitation at the Friends Center

36 individuals present, including members of the following Working Groups:
Messaging, Outreach, Facilitation, Legal, Training, Dilworth Plaza WG, Grannies for Peace Brigade, Friends Center WG, Interfaith WG, Committee of Correspondence, Radical Caucus, Labor WG, and Medic

BASIC AGENDA
–       Discuss our current GA process, focusing first on its strengths and its potential to be more effective and inclusive
–       Discuss the challenges of our current GA process

STRENGTHS OF GA:
–       Consistent meeting time
–       Ends on time
–       Attempt to include so many voices, attempt to hear
–       Basic consistent structure, people know what they’re getting
–       Inclusiveness
–       Everyone appearing together, in person, solidarity even in disagreement
–       Pieces that are replicable: in working groups,
–       Place for dialogue
–       Educative, tools for facilitating, teaching people the process to use elsewhere
–       People’s Mic, inclusive of many voices
–       Livestream, allows people offsite to feel connected (development)
–       Empowering how inclusive it is, being able to speak up in powerless corporate conditions
–       Still making decisions despite debatable unity
–       Fact that you can come for first time and have a voice, participate, join a conversation
–       New presence every night (pro/con) Fluidity
–       Transparency: livestream and notes

CHALLENGES WITHIN THE GA (outlined by OWS living document):
–       Access
–       Transparency
–       Participation
–       Functionality
–       Decision-making
–       Accountability
–       Marginalization
–       Time for Visioning
–       Trust & Solidarity

OUR ADDITIONS (CHALLENGES WITHIN OP’s GA):
–       Lack of continuity, new participants and new agenda each day
–       Time concerns in the GA – lack of consideration for people’s work- or family-related commitments, ageism
–       Limited voice from the larger community: incorporating suburbs, workers, parents
–       Why 2/3 majority?
–       Lack of specific voting days, no set schedule
–       Alienation
–       Lack of cohesion among Working Groups
–       Hearsay at the GA that distorts factual information
–       Unclear information for how to join a Working Group
–       No chance for people with proposals to respond to concerns during the process
–       Transparency (circulation of GA notes)
–       Trust
–       Communication
–       Proposal process flawed, aside from information
–       Our composition does not represent city of Philadelphia well
–       No GA website!
–       Unbalanced distribution of work to get through from day to day
–       No common objective

POTENTIAL IMPROVEMENTS:
–       Implementing GA “strong days” on which votes are made, or fewer GAs per week
–       Fact-checking for proposals and posting-up of factual information
–       Distinguishing Working Groups from the GA structure
–       Networking between WGs, cross-WG support,
–       Outreach to larger community
–       Livestreaming, updating from/to the GA (shout-out to Philly Bob for monitoring the livestream chat)
–       Calendar of proposals to circulate in advance of a GA vote
–       Centralized list of Google groups for people who want to join (this will be compiled during the current process meeting)
–       Improved proposal process:
o   First state the problem.
o   Address why is it a problem (specifically to OP and in the larger community).
o   Present possible solutions.
o   Then present the proposal for attaining the most viable solutions.

ADDRESSING THE 2/3 VOTING MAJORITY:
–       Occupy Philly passes a proposal on a 2/3 majority, whereas other occupy sites (including all of the major city sites) work on the basis of unanimous decision-making, and only if needed, go to the 9/10 vote. While a unanimous or even 9/10 vote seems unrealistic for OP at the present time (considering how dividing we, at times, are), there is an argument for this:
–       If we restructure the GA around the larger goals of the movement, and create space for working groups to network and support one another, it will be more realistic to reach agreement on proposals and OP direction.

ADDRESSING OCCUPY PHILLY’S COORDINATING COMMITTEE (CoCo):
–       The assumption is that a Spokes Council will dissolve the need for CoCo

Concerns with CoCo specifically:
–       Lack of transparency – no notes! There is an idea to start livestreaming Coco meetings
–       Agenda is formed according to individual whims on any given day

Question: If we move to a Spokes Council model we would still need CoCo for GA – right?  Someone must decide what will go into the GA agenda.

Input from Facilitation: Restructuring the GA might take time – there must be a technical fix for a transitional period of time. The problem with CoCo is not participation; the problem is subjectivity: often, people only go to CoCo when they have a proposal (biased contribution)

2 kinds of proposals should go to GA (because they require consent of GA):

1.     Decisions that affect the entire GA

2.     Decisions for big picture visioning

Proposal to immediately disband and restart CoCo under NEW NAME with specific guidelines and requirements that need to be met to go directly to the GA:
–       New-CoCo must evaluate the criteria
–       Will include “Spokes” into the name so it won’t become entrenched

DISCUSSION OF THE SPOKES COUNCIL MODEL:
Visuals from Occupy Portland:


For more detailed description, see: http://occupyportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Spokes-Proposal-PDF-FINAL.pdf

More resources:
OWS Spokes Council Minutes: http://www.nycga.net/category/assemblies/minutes-sc/
OWS Final proposal: http://www.nycga.net/files/2011/10/Spokes-Council-v4.pdf
From the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns http://wri-irg.org/node/11059

LOGISTICS: Spokes Council frequency: 3 times per week and GA occurs on the 2 alternate days per week. More info to come.

ADVANTAGES OF SPOKES COUNCIL:
–       The Spokes model attempts to be as inclusive as possible
–       Attempts to do away with arbitrary decision-making
–       Lends more structure to decision-making process

Concern: Spokes might answer questions we have about our current process, but clarity is an issue: we have detailed written materials from other Occupy sites, but we need to direct and demonstrate the process for our own GA.

Concern with Spokes Council attendance and Accountability: Will we transition in our process from completely voluntary to mandatory attendance?
–       What happens if only one person is present to represent their entire WG?
–       Will there be more personal accountability than in CoCo?
–       Who is accountable to go to Spokes Council meetings?
o   If we’re not holding each other accountable for being present, we need to adjust so that people can be present at those meetings (this has been a difficulty in CoCo–time concerns of 5pm)

This is the beginning of an important discussion about restructuring the Occupy Philly GA and instituting a Spokes Council Model in the service of Working Group needs and finances.

We will meet again on Saturday, November 26, 2pm
Location TBA! Check back here

11/18/2011 PROCESS MEETING NOTES: Part I

Held by Outreach in the Friends Center

AGENDA

– Discuss current GA process, problems and pitfalls

– Consider Spokes Council documents

– Develop talking points for restructuring the GA process for greater efficiency, involvement, and inclusiveness

–       Problems (via OWS—more info in the OWS living document proposal):

Access

Transparency

Participation

Functionality

Decision-making

Accountability

Marginalization

Time for Visioning

Trust & Solidarity

– What’s missing from consideration?

Must consider the FRAMEWORK of our process (the vehicle of our vision, message)

Social & economic injustice should preface or imbue our process

It was nice when, during the few first GAs, a GA member presented a 3-5 sentence mission statement that reiterated our reason for gathering in the first place. Why did this fall off?

Checking in on Coco – What is the deal?

–       Coordinating Meeting – a precedent has been set that anyone can bring a proposal

o   Problem: has become a mouthpiece to GA, based on who shows up

o   People only show up when they have proposals to share

–       Spokesperson Council Structure alternative

o   How can this fulfill the needs of CoCo and more?

Subjects for argument building:

–       Issues in the existing process

–       Needs we are trying to meet Occupy-wide

2 components are confused in our current GA process:

Occupation functionality vs. occupation direction

–       functionality (nitty-gritty): finances, logistics, practical solutions

–       direction: spirit, vision, handling of political injustices

A step in the right direction: Inter-working group meetings (meets Sundays): day-to-day operations that need to be done in order to pursue greater issues

These include:

–       Working group coordination

–       Finances

–       Message/Media coordination

–       Camp logistics

Remember: Our internal relations are contingent upon codes of conduct and policies (theft, violence, drugs, bad behavior)

–       Solution: A policy proposal must be implemented!

Learning from the Veterans for Peace process:

–       State the problem and possible solutions

–       Then state the proposal

In thinking about how we present the restructure proposal – We can implement this by stating the problems of the current process, possible solutions to the dysfunction, and then the proposal for GA’s consideration. CONTEXTUALIZE FIRST.

Many of the GA’s issues generate from issues of structure and time allowance

–       Structure: nitty-gritty swallows up the bigger picture, working group needs unmet, echo chamber/myopia syndrome

–       Time allowance: exclusiveness, packing in too much for too little time, impracticality for working individuals and/or parents

Because the GA plods along every night, many of its functions are reactionary

–       Decisions made on basis of hearsay, local media influence, distraction from bigger picture

–       Maybe the GA can occur less frequently (once a week? Twice a week?) and if it takes on less responsibility, can occur with more direction and focus

In order to implement the Spokes Councel: must eliminate CoCo.

WORKING DRAFT FOR SATURDAY’S TALKING POINTS:

–       Discuss problems in the GA (briefly! Using OWS concerns as they apply to OP!)

–       Recognize the GA as a space for movement building and defining our vision

o   This is incredibly important!

o   In the OWS proposal docs, it is wholly underestimated. To frame our argument for Spokes Council Representation, we must make clear that the GA will more effectively empower working groups to carry out essential tasks, while providing newcomers (Outreach heaven) and all the rest with space to proactively articulate the vision of Occupy Philly

–       Possible ways to work through vision:

o   Structure individual GA gatherings around certain issues

o   Invite experts to come up and share knowledge on issue

o   Invite GA members to share first-hand experience (people’s mic)

o   Exercise rights and make them known: by inviting people to write to congress, etc. on-site for us to send, education & action

–       GA must be a source of education, an issue-focused forum for the larger community

We must emphasize that “restructuring” does not mean implementing rules or restrictions! On the contrary, we are opening up the process for more inclusive points of opportunity for individuals, working groups, community organizers, educators, and activists.

TRANSPARENCY IS KEY:

–       OWS took criticism of Spokes Councel for lack of transparency, amended by livestreaming the meetings

–       We should livestream from the get-go!

A good question to consider:

Why are people unwilling to empower committees to do a certain amount of the work?

–       How can we build trust?

–       How can we keep transparency in mind?

–       How can we improve access?

–       How can we boost efficiency?

–       How can we strengthen lines of communication?

Thank you, all who participated today! Looking forward to continuing this conversation, 2pm on Saturday 11/19 at the Friends Center (there’s been some confusion over whether the center is closed, so Messaging will check and resolve this tomorrow morning before the meeting. If you are uncertain about the meeting place, go to the Friends Center and we will swoop you up.)

Reasonable Solutions meeting with City Representatives

MEETING NOTES: 11/15/2011

Friends Center, 4 p.m.

Meeting notes (paraphrased, unless in quotation marks)

Representing the City:

Mike Reznick (MR) – Director of Public Safety

Shelley Smith (SS) – City Solicitor

Jazelle Jones (GJ) – Deputy Managing Director

Bob Allen – ?

3 Police Officers/Commissioners

Speaking with the City:

Reasonable Solutions Working Group (RS) (around 10 reps)

Working Group Members (around 10 reps)

Meeting led by Joe from RS, who opened discussion:

–       We apologize for the leaderless phase of Occupy that allowed for the co-opting of the GA

–       There are reasonable people in this occupation

AGENDA: Discussion of Mayor’s concerns, relocation, and city permit acquisition

  Mike Resnick: The mayor supports the original intent of the occupation. His concerns are for public safety, reconstruction project, and the window-replacement project

Reasonable Solutions: We share those concerns.

RS: addresses the 11/11 GA decision to stay at Dilworth:

–       Many felt disenfranchised by the GA decision

–       The homeless are not interested in conflict/confrontation

–       Many felt that the collective voice decided to play a game

–       Many came to vote for moving (and for a cooperative effort with the city) but left because they thought the proposal would be tabled for the next day

–       The length of the GA cut out the working family members among Occupy; by 11:30, people needed to go home

RS: The Reasonable Solutions petition to “disqualify the General Assembly’s authority on the proposal to remain at Dilworth Plaza… [and] hereby assert our rights to relocate” had over 550 signature votes (on-site and online combined)

RS: We wonder, is there a way to hold another vote on this decision?

–       However, the process is broken: involvement in working groups is overlooked in the current process

–       The vast majority supports working with the city

RS: We have reservations about continuing the process through the GA structure. We may attempt to disassociate from the GA – we have no control over the Radical Caucus but they need to uphold standards of nonviolence

–       There have been constant elements motivating the occupation that we did not agree with

–       Considering moving toward a working group structure, but nothing is finalized

These intents are worded into the Reasonable Solutions petition:

“We declare that what happens at Dilworth Plaza should be considered the sole responsibility of participants in the direct action of protest against the renovation. Direct Action and the arrested have set this precedent themselves in previous incidences of jail solidarity at Police HQ’s & Comcast, and in return Occupy Philly has stood in in unity with them. We feel it is only right they uphold that same responsibility to the movement in regards to Dilworth Plaza, therefore allowing us to obtain a new permit and relocate at the end of the current permit.”

(Full text: http://occupyphillymedia.org/content/occupy-philly-relocation-advocates-petition-move)

RS: acknowledges rude and immature behavior of multiple individuals – but they are not representative of vast majority. We appreciate the job Philly police force is doing (Sgt. Craig Smith shout-out)

RS: Many of the people (who exhibit rude/immature behavior) are not from Philadelphia. They do not share the pains and interests of Philadelphia residents

MR: understands. Replies that he sees individuals who were arrested commending officers in the papers, good response on both sides

RS: We would love to meet with the City every week. This is about working with govt. for positive change.

ON THE TOPIC OF EVICTION

MR: We [at City Hall] cringe when we see pictures of other areas, violence

RS: We’d like to be the best occupation in the world.

Clarification from City Hall on status of Dilworth encampment:

–       Dilworth Permit will naturally expire at the start of construction

–       The city is still finalizing the equipment necessary for the project, but it will happen soon

–       The city will not issue two permits at the same time

–       The city will not provide specifics about terms for a new permit until they see what we propose it will look like

RS Concern: There is no way for the whole of OP to make a 1-day move. We need at least 3 days for a move to be implemented and for people to follow in an orderly way. There is a lot of fear on-site of imminent eviction.

SS: Point taken. City will do its best to provide adequate notice of eviction. City not planning to raid OP, as has happened in other cities

Media WG: Camp is cognizant of the outside media. We request that the City make a public statement of how eviction notice will be carried out.

Concern for Homeless:

Interfaith WG: Concern for those without permanent housing. Need proper notice from city in order to make provisions.

MR: Noted. The City is in touch with Deputy of Opportunities and outreach organizations for that purpose, also Dr. Schwartz (contact info pending) of Office of Mental Health. However, unless there is a code blue, there will be no forced movement of the homeless indoors.

RS: Working Group members are working with Act Up Philadelphia and Project Home. Four indoor gyms have been offered as shelter for the winter, plus other short-term alternatives

Direct Action WG: Does the City have suggestions for how we can differentiate between the city’s point-peoples’ positive involvement and actions in OP and others’ negative involvement?

MR: There is no way for the City to tell between the two. But the answer is: communication and access. Need for consistent communication. This is challenging when the movt’s essence is, “No one group speaks for us”

RS: We apologize for that. The Radical Caucus made us lose communication with the city

MR: Don’t apologize. It looks like you are moving to a new structure.

RS: Thoughts for OP improvement:

–       Weekly meetings with L&I

–       Sanitation cleanings are in process – “this is our city too”

Info rep: It’s as simple as assigning point people for the City, and no one else.

MR: Agreed.

Logistics for Permit:

RS: Is there electricity and water at Thomas Paine Plaza?

MR: Electricity: YES, Water: NO (park waterlines shut city-wide during winter to prevent freezing)

RS: If we were to re-brand, would you still recognize us for the permit?

SS: Yes. The reality is, only one group is allowed a space. The City controls the space and the permit process. Whoever gets to the space first gets the permit. Give us a vision of where you’d like to go and provide specifics. We have permit applications with us. Fill it out and provide details of what OP will look like.

–       No location specified by the City – OP must decide for itself, without City consultation – “it depends what your vision is for the best occupation in the world” – your “Ideal Occupy”

–       Give descriptions of activities that will take place

–       Occupy Philly ought to contemplate, will this still be a 24-hr encampment? Factor this in when preparing the application.

SS: City hall sees problems with OP’s 24-hr encampment:

Homelessness, drug use, sanitation issues. “Co-existence with the homeless has always been a concern.” We’re at day 40 now, but at day 38, both sides needed to re-evaluate – reflected by what the Mayor and Reasonable Solutions have both said.

RS: After 40 days of infrastructure building, we can go in ready

SS: Once the permit application comes in to us, we will have another conversation

RS: An infrastructural map already exists for TP Plaza.

RS: Can OP fill out multiple permit applications with different options for the City to consider?

MR: Yes. Give as many locational alternatives as you feel comfortable with.

Concern about Nutter’s press conference:

SS: The mayor is not talking about the larger message. He is talking about responsible use of public space.

RS: (to be fair) OP gave crime a point of visibility, but these concerns are citywide. We want to solve these problems internally, but we want you to solve them citywide.

MR: Think about the permit with an eye toward resolving problems and managing impact in the new space.

RS: We recognize issues we need to work on

RS: Concern raised about Nutter’s negative tone toward the movement

SS: Let me give some perspective. As we see it:

–       This began as a movement for which no one spoke

–       The City attempted to communicate issues, received no response until a big meeting where OP replied, “we disagree that we have issues”

–       No consistent communication until now

–       When the only voice for the movement (GA) spoke, it said “screw you, we’re not going anywhere.”

–       You agree that the process was co-opted.

RS: We will act on the permit in short order. If the City has questions concerning the permit, we can answer them. We can make the permit so that “you can judge it properly”

RS: We want weekly meetings. Thinking of keeping Joe as point-person.

MR: Agreed.

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