General Assembly Minutes 2012-01-31

Agenda

Roles, respect check, donations, agenda – 5
Consensus review, welcome – 5
Announcements – 5
Working and affinity group reports and proposals – 15 (+25)
Occupy Gainesville news – 5
Other Occupy news – 5
Global destabilization break – 5
Open discussion – 15 (+10)
General proposals – 10 (+5)
Open floor – 10
Announcements, appreciation – 5
Ride on

Total time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Roles

Facilitator – Karin
Time keeper – John B
Vibe checker – Spike
Greeter/guide – Lars
Stack taker – Erin
Note taker – Walton

Lars and Spike checked our respect

John B gave us a fine consensus review

We welcomed Duane, from Tampa

Announcements

Internet admins, please review the guidelines for our forum and our Facebook pages, and provide any feedback you have in the Moderation Fishbowl. The goal is to compile a single, comprehensive set of guidelines soon.

Working and affinity group reports and proposals

Direct Action working group, via Kenzie

The DA group met yesterday, and will meet again next Monday at 6PM, here on the plaza (and will probably move to Maude’s from there).

The group made 3 proposals, all of which passed:

- OG will have a direct action on 13 February at the Wal-Mart on NW 13th St. at 5:30 PM. The focus will be on anti-consumerism and encouraging people to show more love instead of trying to buy it.

- OG will have another direct action on 29 February as part of the national day of action against ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Committee, a group of corporate lawyers that function as high-power lobbyists who write legislation to favor major corporations). Our own actions will most likely involve picketing and educating the public. Certain agreements (specifically regarding lawfulness and nonviolence) for this action will be decided upon before the day arrives.

- OG Emergency Response: the DA group will devise and implement a quick-response system to notify our members and coordinate actions in the event of crises like a US attack on Iran or police attacks on other Occupations. [NOTE: we DID NOT consent to a particular method or system; the assembly agreed to support the development of OG-ER.]

Arts and Culture working group / Design affinity group, via Karrie and Tommy

Proposal (passes): OG will participate in the 12 February Occupy With Art day of action. We will invite any and all local artists and artisans to the plaza from 1 – 6 PM to share their creative expression with us and the community. At 6:30, we’ll have an Art Party GA. Afterward, we’ll have an art parade direct action.

There will be a coordination meeting on 1 February at 6PM on the plaza; ideas will be discussed, a poster design will be agreed upon (so it can be printed on Thursday), and we’ll secure the lunchbox as a music venue. There will be a painting party on Saturday at the mansion at 4 PM; art supplies and good times will be provided.

SERCO affinity group, via Lars

The SERCO press release (the first of five) was sent out on Monday.

There is now a registration link on the SERCO site.

There will be a conference call on Sunday, at 8 PM, for the Southeastern region.

The next SERCO meeting is Sunday, 6PM, at Erin and Spike’s. It will be a potluck, so please bring some food to share. Firewood is also greatly appreciated.

Occupy Gainesville news

Spike hasn’t smoked a cigarette in over a week. Way to go, Spike!

Other Occupy news

Tommy visited Occupy Boston this past weekend. There were about 20 people from OWS there, so they broke into groups to decide, with this opportunity for interaction, what should be discussed and what should be done with the knowledge gained from such discussion. Tommy’s group’s discussion was similar to OG discussions and experiences. OWS has experienced the same sort of splitting between two groups due to different opinions and ideas, and difficulty communicating with the other group. Boston also uses a more elaborate proposal process, which Tommy will discuss with the process group. He’ll make his notes available online. He also got a button, which probably won’t be available online.

Open discussion

Topic: civil disobedience and violence

John B: consensus on a definition of “violence” isn’t possible; language can be violent, vibes can be violent. Our focus should be on guidelines for actions, and should limit our definition to harm to people and property. [Suggestions were made that this also include animals.]

Tommy: Occupy, as a movement, is about building, and destruction does not build. A corporation won’t be defeated by burning down a building; patrons of that business will see it as an attack on themselves, not just on the corporate entity or the physical structure.

John F: our perception of violence depends on context. If violence is absolutely necessary, we’ll know it when the time comes, and we’ll consent to it because it will be an obvious need. Group violence must be qualified by a larger situation of self-defense.

Juan Carlo: OG should reach group consensus on a definition of violence, in the interests of deniability if/when violence is falsely committed in the name of OG.

[Baton-twirling fellow in the hat; sorry, I didn’t catch your name]: rule-setting like this is the cause of OG’s lack of diversity; setting rules automatically excludes people. We should allow things to happen, and then deal with them when they occur. On nonviolence, Lao Tzu contrasts the person who absolutely refuses to kill, and the person who kills to ensure the safety of others, and the impossibility of deciding which is ethically superior.

Lars: OG rules describe common agreements that would otherwise be invisible and favor the majority; by making them visible, we open them up for discussion and hold ourselves accountable. Regarding nonviolence, the more useful topic is commitment to transforming our society and ourselves. Our culture encourages us to hold a special definition of violence based on social hierarchy; violence that a higher level inflicts on a lower one is normalized and made invisible (ie, pollution, brutality); violence by a lower level against higher ones is met with shock and horror (ie, flag burning). In this sense, it is important for us to establish specific agreements regarding acceptable actions.

Kenzie: property destruction isn’t violence. Harm to a living being is violent. Predisposition against property destruction protects the state and its interests.

Spike: it’s important to consider personal boundaries and what you’re willing to do. But our conversation about our own violent actions leaves out our own preparedness for attacks on us. When it comes down to it, we’re going to have to deal with violence.

John F: one evening’s discussion won’t resolve these issues, but it’s good to have this discussion because most of us have been conditioned to passivity and to feel guilty at standing up for our rights. You can plan a violent action down to the last detail, but plans immediately break down when violence commences. Nonviolence is what you do to cope with a situation in which you must be violent.

Karrie: there is a difference between violence and defense. Violence is relative, and its definition depends on closeness or connection to the action. We should watch each other’s backs, and each other’s actions; if you feel someone’s becoming too violent, try to talk to them, but if they resist and persist, let them be their own person. You won’t be able to stop them, and you don’t want to become the object of their actions.

General proposals

Proposal (passes): The Florida conference call (1 Feb, 9PM) and the Southeastern regional conference call (5 Feb, 8PM) will be OG sanctioned events.

Proposal discussions (no decisions reached)

There is no more money in our fund at the co-op for Food and Comfort. The proposal was that we transfer some money from the donations fund. This led to the following ideas:
- encourage our friends to donate to the fund at the co-op
- set out a donations hat specifically for the F&C fund at the co-op
- set out a donations hat specifically for meals, suggest $1 - $3 donations
- get donations of non-perishable items from farms and foodbanks
We passed a hat to collect some funds for F&C. Lars and Denise set up an OG account at the credit union; Lars will help develop a budget and a sustainability plan for F&C; there will be a discussion at the next GA.

Brooks proposed that OG support public financing for political campaigns. Politicians would campaign solely with government grant money, so that they couldn’t be bought. This would require an amendment to the state constitution. This was deferred into a new affinity group that will campaign and raise awareness about this issue.

Open floor

Tommy: At Occupy Boston, a facilitator asked everyone to consider why we’re here and what we will accomplish, and how we’ll act on those goals.

John B: There’s a tendency (especially online) to focus on what’s wrong. We should focus on what’s right, and what our visions, hopes, and dreams are. Spend some time contemplating, meditating, and considering what we want on the human and planetary levels.

John F: dichotomy between the people discussing ideas and making plans, and the people thinking about how to eat and get through the night and staff the shelter; there’s a big gulf. There’s not a strong interpersonal connection between the groups. We (the first group) haven’t defined our role in relation to the other. John tries to encompass the welfare of both groups; he would like an integration of the groups to take advantage of everyone’s talents and reduce the feelings of alienation. We (that first group again) should spend some time at the booth. One of our goal is to negate the systematic and institutionalized exclusion of those who don’t fit into our current mass culture.

Announcements and appreciation

Wednesday
-5:30 PM: Move to Amend meeting, at the CMC
-6 PM: Occupy the Arts meeting
-9 PM: Florida conference call

Thursday
-6:30 PM Good Lovin’ and Building Healthy Relationships GA

Friday
-Move to Amend meeting

Saturday
-12 PM: non-OG march from UF to BDP protesting war in Iran
-4 PM: painting party

Sunday
-3 PM: Strategy meeting
-6 PM: SERCO meeting
-8 PM: Southeastern conference call

Michelle appreciates us listening to our announcements.

Karin appreciates us and our OG-ER; sounds like we’ll need it.

If you’re interested in working on the ER, see/talk to Lars.

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