GA Minutes – 7pm Tuesday 29th November 2011


Location: St Paul’s Steps

Event: Evening General Assembly of Occupy LSX

Date: Tuesday 29th November 2011

Facilitator: Mark

Minutes: John

Facilitator: We were going to have a discussion about reaching out to localities in London. There were some proposals from a spontaneous meeting in the Tent City University.

First proposal is to bring back tents behind lines. Good gesture to church, helps with health and safety, also helps with legal case.

Comment: There was also a lot of talk for changing the camp for our own benefit.

Facilitator: We will break into groups to discuss. Are people clear about the proposal? Let’s have active listening. Are people clear?

Question: Are we going for consensus now? Hopes not.

Facilitator: At this moment in time, we are just clarifying the proposal. Then we’ll have a discussion to see where we are at? Okay let’s have six contributions.

Comment: We need to make the camp simpler, so things are easier, so we can do what we came here to do.

Comment: How far do we need to move?

Comment: Not very much at all.

Comment: Sounds like we aren’t talking about very much. It’s just moving a few tents. Shelter could just do this. Think it doesn’t need to be decided, it could just be done.

Facilitator: How about that? Are people willing to just move on? Any objections, to moving on?

Clarification: Does it mean the removal of any tents?

Response: Will remove only empty tents. There is a separate discussion about the Tea Tent.

Facilitator: Any objections to moving on? No. Let’s move on.

There is a second discussion about the Tea and Empathy tent? Let’s take some points and then break into groups? Everybody okay with that? Yes.

Comment: Seem to be divided about how to respond to people who misbehave. At the end of the meeting there was a divide between people who tolerate misbehaviour and those who don’t tolerate misbehaviour. That’s why we need to carry on.

Comment: Perhaps we can move to Tent City University.

Facilitator: Do people want to move to Tent City University. Lots of hands for that. Anybody against? Yes. Do you want to raise your objection?

Objection: Still need to be here, in order that it is a publicly open forum.

Facilitator: Do people want to stay here, where it is open. Seems like there’s enough people that want to stay here. I know it’s cold. I’m cold too.

Continues with discussion about Tea and Empathy.

Comment: We were divided between two camps: people who want to tolerate and teach them, and people who don’t.

Comment: We said there would be no alcohol. Articles about denying rights and freedoms, health and safety – all related to alcohol misbehaviour. We need to sort this out.

Comment: More than just misbehaving – there was discussion about chairs and the tea tent.

Comment: There was a long discussion. Discussion closing the Tea and Empathy tent. Or reducing it so people could just get tea. All about avoiding encouraging drink and drug use.

Comment: Please deal with this calmly and responsibly. Report what was said, rather than who said what.

Comment: Feedback from Amsterdam: lots of people causing trouble, so they scaled back the camp. They had large tent, with a few small tents for the activists, but changed it so that it wasn’t a festival. Then it became a place for political activism only.

Comment: We need a tea tent, where people feel comfortable. Could reduce the opening time.

Comment: There was a fourth suggestion: after a certain time at night, take off the tarpaulin, stack up the chairs and chain them together.

Comment: Some people are being too blatant. We are making ourselves vulnerable by not having some boundaries in place.

Facilitator: Let’s split into two group: one discussing Tea and Empathy; other discussing scaling back the camp. How do people feel about that? Lot’s of agreement. Any objections?

Objection: Let’s have more group.

Facilitator: Let’s have four groups, two for each topic. There was a point about how Madrid has dealt with this.

Comment: Just so you know, in Spain, not just Madrid, they were having same issues. After three weeks, was consensus to move camps and only left the info point. Kitchen attracted lots of people who were only interested in the food. So they started feeding only people in working groups.

Comment: How many people were there? Did people do that without “busting themselves up”.

Comment: In Madrid, there were still lots of people, but there were challenges.

Facilitator: Let’s break into groups….

[group discussion]

Group looking a downsizing: Lots of energy of infrastructure. Need to look at what we are trying to achieve. Looking at Amsterdam, we need to be bold. If there is unused space, we shouldn’t be occupying the space. There’s an important thing about being a residential space. … Staying here gives us a moral weight. Let’s look at this on a wide basis. Need to have GAs here, but it’s not about living here. Lot’s of people are overstretched. Have been faced with problems we are not able to deal with. Need to get rid of tents that are empty. Suggestion that we could think of St Paul’s as HQ, and think about what services we are providing. Let’s not rush into anything. Church is making suggestions that could help. Need to share these proposals widely, and discuss widely. Movement is bigger than St Paul’s. Thinking about getting some concrete proposals together. Quick chat about legal aspects. Fact that we are having this conversation is very good. Talking about free passage down the highway. There is a point where the Chapter House, where we could undermine on plank of the case against the camp. Agreed that getting rid of Tea and Empathy tent is pretty uncontroversial, but we should keep the tents in case other purposes.

Group looking at Tea Tent: Tea tent has become a place for trouble makers. But it is a place to welcome people. Proposal to move the tent next to kitchen tent. Advantage is that there would be more people around, so there wouldn’t be hard core monopolising the place. If a pub gets a bad reputation, they give it face lift, but then after 6 months it is back to how it was. By moving it, we would change the culture. Would fit in with general downsizing. Great idea to make it a bit smarter, so locals and bankers can get to where they are going. But should be careful not to downsize so much it looks like everybody has left because of the weather. So make it tidier. Have also been considering whether to make the kitchen area a non-smoking area.

Comment: Fairly important to have place where people can meet. Good not to make cliques. Tea tent did get people together, was good for morale when it worked. But it’s become too much.

Facilitator: Brief technical point…

Comment: No first aid or welfare. Should say why. There are dangers and we needed something from finance and didn’t get it so we all decided to stand down.

Response: The finance group didn’t deny request, but there is a process. The meeting in Starbucks fell apart.

Response: This wasn’t the meeting at Starbucks.

Response: Finance don’t decide these things, so demanding they decide has no place in this camp.

Facilitator: Seems like we aren’t going to get much further with this. We are going more and more off topic.

Comment: About first aid thing that you wanted, how much would it cost. Because if it cost over a certain amount, the General Assembly decides.

Facilitator: That’s just a first aid issue. Let’s carry on with discussion group feedback. There was a third group. Let’s keep it brief…

Group: Lots of suggestions have already been made. Taking tea tent down doesn’t go far enough. Not understanding importance of Tea Tent. Children don’t come here. People are not getting help they need, we should point that out. Could have tokens. Want to challenge injustice, not deal with lots of front line issues. Initial statement doesn’t mention welfare. Tea tent does have value for night watch team. Issues are emotive and gets people worked up. Have been great spontaneous discussions in the Tea Tent. Similar problems in US. Groups have revived by taking action. Perhaps some of the people we want to leave were here before us?

Facilitator: Thanks to John for taking minutes. Now we have proposal from Occupied Times.

Occupied Times: Need to pay for printer tomorrow for last week, and for the one we will issue tomorrow. Are people happy to okay that? It’s £350 per week, we fold the paper ourselves to keep the price down.

Facilitator: Any disagreements?

Objections: Don’t like paper distributed amongst us. Distribute it out, and you will have my support. There are not 2000 people at the camp. So there’s no way most copies go to us.

Facilitator: Do we have consensus? Any objections? No, we have consensus.

Sara has put work into her agenda for this evening, but it didn’t happen.

On to shoutouts. Keep it to one minute.

Shoutout: Guys in kitchen, this is what they are talking about. We have just had a discussion about the kitchen. Next time, could we engage them?

Shoutout: Tomorrow is massive strike! [cheers] 7am meeting for “Shut Down the City”. Main march assembling at 11am Lincoln’s Inn. Things during the day. 7pm General Assembly back here. 7am at Bloomsbury.

Shoutout: Film “Big Business” showing in Tent City University at 9pm tonight.

Shoutout: Lots of discussion about tents. There is a new marquee coming, so need to think about that. Also have the hazel for benders. Shelter needs more input from everybody.

Shouout: Everybody should take responsibility for taking plates back to kitchen.

Shoutout: Need more people on info tomorrow. Tomorrow evening will have other from other sites here.

Shoutout: Lots of people putting up there tent, while we have empty tent. They say we found a free space, and we have a right to put it up. Explain we are from Shelter group, but they don’t listen so we need to be backed up.

Shoutout: Occupy Climate Justice now has a Facebook page.

Facilitator: We are finished! Thank you.

End: 8.30pm


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