GA Minutes – 1pm, Thursday 24th November 2011

 

Minutes from Occupy LSX General Assembly
1pm Thursday 24th November 2011

WORKING GROUP FEEDBACK

Process:

There are process meetings daily at 10pm and 5pm, and twice weekly process meetings at 2.15pm downstairs in the Salvation Army cafe. There’s a board in the library tent that shows upcoming proposals and discussions. Process also provides meeting support – helping groups to meet more effectively. We’re working on a pamphlet to explain the decision making processes we use – there’s a draft copy inside the Info Tent ‘a rough guide to Occupy London’.

Direct action:

We’re organising 7 days of action to support the November 30th strike. Millions are striking to defend their pensions and Tory attacks on the public sector.

We’re having a ‘Christmas has come early for the bankers’ sarcastic carol singing session, going between banks and delivering presented from the taxpayer. We’ll sing remixes of classic Christmas songs such as ‘We bring you a merry cutback’ etc.

We’re meeting at 2pm at Finsbury Square, heading round the banks until 4pm, then will do a public carol service outside Liverpool St station from 5-6pm.

Legal:

Court decided today that they want to deal with only one defendant, not many separate defendants. This is because it would be hard to asses everybody if many people represented us. We want to make a shortlist of those who were brave enough to put their names down before we went to court – 3 people. The solicitors have set criteria for the potential single defendant – someone who has been here from the beginning, someone brave enough to go through the whole thing, and someone who is preferably English – an ideal profile for the court.

> What do you mean ‘ideal profile for the court’?

Somebody who will be able to better represent everybody. Someone who knows the system better, who can speak from an understanding, practicality of how the legal system works – someone who can stand up for themselves a bit more, someone who can take the press flak.

Come and see me to look at being that person. We need to make a decision by tomorrow.

Internal Communication:

We will meet at 3.30pm in front of Starbucks today. The main theme is the website, and the new forum available at occupylondon.info . Anyone can register and contribute – please feel free to participate.

DISCUSSION

Our theme today is ‘General Assemblies’. This has come about because there’s been a lot of discussion here, at Finsbury Square and the Bank of Ideas about where, when and how often GAs should take place.

We’re not going to make any decisions here today, we just want a space for people to say what they think about the subject. To narrow the discussion down a little, since we are at St Paul’s and this is our internal meeting, let’s discuss ‘should we have a GA every evening at St Paul’s?’.

Come up if you would like to speak for a minute on the subject. After we’ve heard from people, people can make proposals, which we will temperature check, then go away and work on them, and come back to GA with concrete proposals.

> Other sites are being collaborative. We have to find a way to unite the movement, even if we’re on 3 different sites. Please don’t attack the other camps. We’re all here for the same reason – we need to find solutions to problems. Some proposals involve only having political discussions at St Paul’s, or rotating GAs between camps, or having the same discussions simultaneously in all 3 camps.

> What are the problems we’re facing here?
< Things being talked about online and in the camps - that there are not enough people going to GAs, not enough people coming to St Paul's because things are happening at other places, and it’s splitting our energy.

> Would it free us up if we had GAs every other day, or once a week with other sites. This would give Working Groups more time to meet in the evenings. This would also give people more chance to get involved in WGs if they’re working during the day. If we split to alternative days, attendance might go up if GAs are not every day, and it makes us more able to decide and do things.

> Having daily GAs is a good idea as it gives people passing by, who Are not a part of the movement, the opportunity to experience consensual decision making and how it works. It opens up decision making so everyone can be a part of it – which is the whole point of everybody being here – GA is a part of the movement, and welcomes everybody to be a part of it.

> Lots of people have said they are really concerned that there are lots of familiar faces running GAs, but there are a lot of people in the camp, so some could take their place and contribute more. Lots of people at the camp are not attending GAs or WGs. Maybe its time they did? Let’s stop moaning and pull it together.

> I feel strongly that we should have GAs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at St Paul’s, then on Monday to Thursday they can happen at Finsbury Square, because St Paul’s is still the public space that people come to. St Paul’s pulls a lot of people on the weekends – the place is absolutely packed. Weekend evenings here, definitely. We are trying to do a lot here. This would give us at St Paul’s a rest during the week.

> It’s nice that there is a strong sense of community in the other camps. At St Paul’s, the way it’s structured and how public it is makes achieving that sense a lot harder. People living and working here need to come together, to create a sense of community. People coming to assemblies, helping to clean. We need to be creative in how we try to get the community together as one. This might help the tranquility team too – facing problems about noise and not respecting GA agreements. It should be our responsibility as part of a community that guidelines are respected.

> Just round the corner from here is the site where one of the oldest democracies on the planet started. We’re always here at 7pm. Other sites should just have logistical GAs. I suggest we all come here to St Paul’s from the other sites. It’s an ancient tradition, let’s keep it.

> I would like GAs to continue being here at 7pm every evening for the same reasons as other people have said. At least once a week, people from Finsbury Square and Bank of Ideas could come and join us for assembly here, and we could make those GAs special – morale raising, and about cooperation and feedback between the 3 camps.

> We are here at St Paul’s, and we are saying ‘we want GAs here’. That’s a no brainer. Of course we do – we are here. We have a huge amount of people in BoI and FS – realistically speaking, they won’t come here every night for us. We could have half the GAs here and half at the other sites.

> Sounds like people appreciate St Paul’s as a space – the history, being next to the Stock Exchange, where the movement started. There are lots of people doing great stuff down the road. Working on a decentralised model is what it’s all about – people in different places, localised, doing things for themselves. If we can start that, that’s great. A way forward as a compromise would be to make sure something is happening here every day. Perhaps have GAs here on 4 nights a week, and when at other sites, make sure there are Tent City University events on the steps where a GA would have been. It’s not just about decisions here – TCU continues the debate with the public. There’s also a decentralisation benefit here.

> Lots of people from BoI are coming here this evening. It’s not necessary to sort this out, but to start sorting this out. That doesn’t mean that people from other camps have to come here.

> I propose we try to make this movement as plural as possible. Let’s think of the far future – I could imagine that we decide together at a GA general planning meeting what topics will be discussed in all the camps together – and we can discuss them separately in each camp, or come together at St Paul’s. This will include the online community – they’re already having their own GAs. It would be nice to bring together the energy, and talk about the same things on the same days, then publish minutes and bring discussions onto the forums.

> I think the 7pm GA every night should continue. I’m involved at and occupying here, at St Paul’s. It’s an important spot. The difficulties being raised are perfectly normal. It’s been a busy week, everyone’s tired, there’s lots to think about, but the reality is that this spot is very important – not least for the members of the public, to get people talking about thing. There is not a problem – it’s great we have GAs here every night.

> Because St Paul’s is so public, I would like to see all occupations coming together at least once a week so we’re all together, and the public can join in. It’s so public here, it’s the best place to demonstrate what we’re doing. I would like to see other sites inviting us to their GAs on an ad hoc basis, with things not fixed in stone too much. But with, once a week, communities coming here, sharing and working together.

> The weather is wonderful at the moment. Is there an indoor space for when it’s colder at 7pm? When it’s snowing, raining, whatever – somewhere more practical?

> The GA is here to protect all our rights, and help us respect each other.

> Some people want a nightly GA at St Paul’s. All sites have their own strengths and weaknesses. We should be able to use them. Let’s rotate the GAs to use those to our advantage to give each GA a unique theme and feel, use communication to help each camp share in those GAs, instead of enforcing an informal hierarchy of each camp having its own GA and enforcing isolation between camps. It’s understandable that this might be the spiritual home of the movement, or that people can’t get to the other camps. We should try to be inclusive – we can help this by rotating. BoI has the strength of better IT, so we can link up with other occupations around the world. Events at FS, engaging with TCU for more publicly attractive GAs outside St Paul’s. We might get different themes for GAs that we might not get with nightly GAs at St Paul’s. We should try rotating.

> Rotating. The work of some Working Groups is invisible and static, such as Welfare and First Aid. Whilst we try to keep the tents manned, and keep the site running, we can’t walk off the site, and might feel out of the loop. A rotation would be good to help us get better information. The Kitchen, Tea Tent, keeping the tents safe and well – we need a strong circle of feedback. Rotation arrangements need to be made in advance so we can get coverage, because looking after each other is important and we care about our friends.

> The point of the GA, and why we have 2 a day, is that we are a community of people. We don’t have to achieve something, but we do have to assemble twice daily to show that we are together. We can do political things, have discussions – but to say we’re only meeting once a week is madness. We need to assemble every day.

There are a wide variety of views on this subject. We’re going to take time to consider everything, and postpone this discussion until another meeting.

Let’s discuss lunchtime GAs now. They’re more about camp logistics, not the wider movement or political issues – although they will arise as they permeate everything. They’re about internal logistics, feedback, announcements. Should we have a lunchtime GA every day? Should they be themed?

How do people feel about moving on to discussing lunchtime GAs? There’s not a lot of warmth for that, so we will move on to shout outs.

SHOUT OUTS

> The Natwest bank has been blockaded after some people went in and started reading poems, and were asked to leave. The police are inside the bank, and no one can get in – it’s been closed due to direct action.

> Tent City University are staying within the realm of this publicly accessible place – access to free education is important. [List of 24th Nov events]. Don’t listen to high falutin’ academia – it’s about free access to education. Thanks.

> I’m proposing putting together a working group to pick up fruit and vegetables for the kitchen. If anyone is interested, come to the kitchen and make yourself known. We want people to go to the various nearby markets around on different days – they generally close around 5pm – to make sure the kitchen has the food it needs. We have less money than we did – there are fewer donations and people around.

> I’ve had an interesting discussion at Finsbury Square about what we’re up to here, where we’re going and I want to initiate a similar discussion here. Join me for a ‘quo vadis’ meeting. The basics are – how has binary logic influenced our development as a human race to the present, and how can we recognise something a little more complex. Corporate structures and nation states that nurture us. All welcome.

> Tomorrow at TCU, Manuel Castells is speaking at 12 noon about networked societies and how they are related to the crisis.

> I’m a poet by trade. This may be off-message. This is a random act. Like a tent. [Rough snippets from recited poem:] How is it that we still smile when the pressure comes? Stand firm when they think we should run? How is it that pain retains compassion. We spread but stay one nation. We work in the face of abuse. Know who you are, know the ground on which you stand. Never build your house on a bed of sand. [Snippets from second poem:] Upset the apple cart. Crash the apple cart. Sell firewood to warm hearts. Don’t jump through hoops. Don’t get stuck on sticky peaks of doublespeak.

> There will be a demonstration outside Lancaster Hotel on Tuesday 29th November against cuts to public services – please come along.

> Creativity bombs are a huge part of what this is all about. BoI had a rehearsal for Occupy: The Musical. We’re having open dance workshops on Sunday at Bank of Ideas. The theme will be ‘choreography of consensus’. Come and help us fling around ideas!

> The story about Occupy in the Evening Standard yesterday was inflammatory and derogatory about people living with HIV. Keep in your heart the importance of respecting each other. We’re about love. They spread malicious gossip like this on the 20th anniversary of the death of Freddie Mercury. Millions of people around the world live with HIV. One paper are peddling the hate. Show love and respect for all peoples. HIV is not a public health risk.

> There are secret undercover police and devil worshipping freemasons pretending to be a part of us, desperate to ruin our reputation. The vast majority of us are law abiding.

> Thank you to my teachers and my friends. Things aren’t fair for poor people.

> [Jolly Occupy London protest song]

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