2012/04/23 EWG Meeting minutes

2012/04/23 EWG Meeting minutes

Tim, Peter, Mike, Sean, Eva, Charlie, Elena, Janos, Clive (Apologies: Dave, Chris F-D)
1. EWG meeting on 20th April 2012 – minutes approved
2. Update from Saturday GA at St Paul’s – There was a temperature check on all the proposals.
the GA went into break out groups. Of the 6 finance proposals the one to set an interim
budget for 4-6 weeks while further discussions took place about the organisation of Occupy
seemed to be a front runner. The GA then went into break out groups.One break out group
proposed an emergency GA on finance for Wednesday but this was not put to consensus.
The FS didn’t make a request for finance and the budget remained frozen. Later online it was
argued that an emergency GA on Wednesday would be out of process. Wednesday’s process
meeting however will take proposals on finance made by 7 pm to take to the GA on the
following Saturday.
Following the GA, a spontaneous process/press meeting took place which was tense and
personal but lasted 3Hrs- people were willing to talk to each other to try to resolve long term
differences.
3. Waltham Forest – Elena: “c. 40 people, very good event involving local residents and
Leyton Marshes people; residents welcomed occupy conceptually; it was good to hear from
others; facilitator was good; opportunity for introductions; lack of trust is deep problem.”
Sean: “not as interactive as hoped; would have preferred more occupy process; occupyart
want to donate painting to help fund arrested activists; protesting Virgin incursion into NHS
was positive; Olympics site for allotments? – private ownership issues discussed; an
occupier spoke about opposing an incinerator in his area.” Mike: “hybrid of a formal
meeting and non-hierarchical meeting; circular seating; 6 from occupy; gave the economic
background and explained occupy stands for space and ideas; Trades Council view of
occupy – it is the only game in town; meeting with Leyton Marshes people – plans for walk
to include Leyton Marsh. Hackney guy thought Hackney Council was bad but Waltham
Forest is worse; it was a good introduction to occupy while linking groups of common
interests.” No need to wait for the Borough Walk to get on with doing stuff in Waltham
Forest. Plans to focus on outreach to schools. Using the provisions of the Localism Bil for
radical projects. Plan for activity when the Olympic Tent is decommissioned on 15th
October 2012.
4. Purpose of the EWG – from an occupier of Finsbury Square: “Need to think about the
basics, what we need as human beings: food, shelter etc.” Suggestion that all participants
need to be aware of the back history of EWG and read the documented work to date.
Concern that people are making proposals without understanding proposals made hitherto.
Need to focus on fundamental issues to achieve real change. Disputes over the importance
of fractional reserve banking and validity of Land Value Taxes. Dichotomy over meeting
discussions/agreements being subsequently challenged online. How to manage? Only the
EWG initial statement has been agreed. There has been much confusion over the Handbook
of Ideas – it was agreed that to aid communication a simple glossary of economic concepts
should be produced. It will be dealing with each issue putting forward arguments on both
sides and seeking to inform on the issues rather than persuade either way. Tom Moriarty and
Peter are working on the draft of this which will presented to the EWG for consideration,
refinement etc. It is not an attempt to forward particular agendas or solutions. The funding
issue arose because the Finance WG wants to disburse all the available funds and asked
working groups to submit requests for funding. Peter put in a submission for c. £800 to
produce the handbook to ensure money would be available should it be agreed to produce it.
The Handbook is NOT and was never intended to be a policy document of the EWG. The
objective is to produce something in a timely fashion which can be refined/expanded over
time in accordance with the planned themed discussions, the timetable for which Tim has
been working on. Sean left the meeting expressing dissatisfaction at the agenda being
controlled by a narrow minority.
Discussion on the purpose of the EWG – suggestion that discussion of economic matters is a
waste of time as the problems are already understood. Countered with the need to
understand the fundamental root causes of the economic crises and develop alternatives to
be able to communicate with the 99%. Wide variety of views within EWG need to be
reconciled to develop solutions. Much work on radical ideas has been documented by EWG
and everyone is urged to read and assimilate these before criticising work to date. Land
ownership is a one of the fundamental issues, as is the banking and monetary system. There
is a financial tsunami on the horizon and the 99% need to understand that and we need
alternatives for when the current economic system collapses.
5. Safer Spaces Policy – recent online correspondence led to significant misunderstandings, eg.
the purpose of the Handbook was misunderstood leading to hostility and humorous emails
caused offence. There is a need, for those who want occupy to succeed, to respect
differences and treat each other with mutual respect and consideration. There is a tendency
to descend to the lowest common denominator if one is sloppy with language and we have
to learn to communicate respectfully so as not to offend or alienate people. Politics is about
dialogue with those with whom you disagree. Politeness can breakdown barriers and resolve
differences. We are seeking to achieve common goals and if we bring relatives or friends to
occupy we want to feel proud of the movement we support, not embarrassed. It is not
censorship but self moderation.
6. Next meeting will be held in the geodome at Finsbury Square

© 2012 Occupy London
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