General Assembly Minutes 2012-02-10

Agenda

Roles, respect, donations, agenda – 5
Welcome, consensus review – 5
Announcements, Occupy news – 5
Working and affinity group reports and proposals - 15
Open discussion – 15
Boogy break – 10
General proposals – [none]
Open floor – 10
Announcements, appreciation – 5

Roles
Facilitator – Tommy
Time keeper – Lars
Stack taker – Erin
Vibe checker – Coral
Greeter/guide – John B
Note taker – Walton

Announcements and news

Despite temperatures as low as 50 degrees below 0, Occupy Anchorage volunteers are staffing a tent, with a wood burning stove, 24/7.

Occupy London is starting a record label, Occupy Records. The first album will be called Folk the Banks, and will feature Ani Difranco, Tom Morello, Tau Seeger, and others.

Lars’s road trip report:
- Occupy Tallahassee is starting an Arbitration (conflict and support) group
- Occupy New Orleans has distributed GAs in different places at various times
- Occupy Birmingham has a few people sleeping outside in shelters; he and Karin stayed with an activist/writer
-Occupy Mobile’s Occupation and GA were either well-hidden or non-existent

Anonymous took down the CIA’s website.

Working and affinity group reports and proposals

SERCO affinity group – Spike
Work day tomorrow at Stephen’s to prep the land

Sleepers affinity group – Michelle
John F wants to have a solidarity sleepover tomorrow night; Zot, Ed, and Chris will also be there.

Arts and Culture working group – Michelle
Sunday is Occupy With Art; all forms of art and artists are welcomed; there will be workshops and performances

Proposal (passes): we’ll use the Move To Amend flyer without the MTA bit as informational material for this event

Direct Action working group – Occupy Your Heart action on Monday, Feb1 13th, 5:00PM at the Wal-Mart on NW 13th St. to protest against consumerism

Open discussion

During agenda approval, we began a discussion about open floor and open discussion. It began with a proposal to amend the agenda to eliminate either open discussion or open floor to economize meeting time.

GAs are becoming fatiguing and frustrating, and the agenda needs to be modified.
- open discussion and open floor can drag out with multiple time extensions
- right to speak can be subtly abused

Open discussion and open floor both serve important functions in our meetings and community.
- open discussion and floor are important to our a healthy community
- we need to maintain a space for voices to be heard
- anyone is free to leave the GA at any time
- we have a right and a responsibility to express ourselves

Suggested solutions
- Designate non-decision making GAs to discussions of specific topics, and reserve decision-making GAs for business
- revamp GA agendas rather than cutting sections, keep the process fresh
- if you’re feeling tired and/or frustrated, take a break
- we need more substance; increase diversity of actions and activities
- devote substantial time to addressing the underlying issues
- come to the process group meetings, 6PM before DM GAs

Important points to remember
- respect the group and be aware of people’s actions and reactions
- infighting is an old habit, one that we’re trying to change; Occupy is about cooperation, not competition
- until now, we’ve been focused on speaking; now that we’ve got that, let’s refocus on listening instead of reacting
- channel frustrated energy into improvement; think about what you can bring to GAs to make them awesome; ask yourself, “Why am I here? What do I want to achieve? How can I go about achieving it?”
- lots of Occupations still have multi-hour GAs; we have a good process, and we’re good at it; if boredom is our worst problem, we’re lucky

There will be a “Process & GA” GA on Wednesday at 6:30 PM to further address these issues.

Open floor

Tommy: come to open floor with something to say, don’t respond to anyone else, and preserve our safe space.

Lars: it can be difficult not to physically respond to what’s going on, but part of respect is keeping your cool.

Ahren danced and made guttural noises.

Erin: glad to see everyone, but sad that we’re going through this conflict and frustration; listen to each other, walk away if you need too, and let’s get through these rough times.

Spike: loves us, and is glad we’re all here; doesn’t disrespect the group or the process, but is feeling tired and burnt out.

Coral wishes Ahren a happy birthday.

Announcements and appreciation

Ahren appreciates Lars’s red and black shirt combo with the OG button.

Lars appreciates OG, our work and our ongoing presence, and hopes we can stick it out.

Ilene appreciates Annette, Elizabeth, and Scott for the new batch of buttons.
Lars suggested we thank the VFP by attending one of their anti-war vigils.

A group is organizing in preparation for Cliff Stearn’s town hall meetings on 25 February.

Food Not Bombs is starting up again in Gainesville. If you want to help out or donate, they meet each Saturday at 11.

Move to Amend will meet at 5:30 on Friday at the CMC to discuss outreach and endorsements, and presenting a local resolution to the city and country.

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