GA Minutes – Wednesday 25th January 2012
General Assembly 25th January 2012 – Tent City University
Facilitators – Ben & Arun
Minutes by Sara, Ruth, Jack
Relationships and Affiliations – Internal & External
E.g. Guardian Piece – When an occupier put forward personal opinions and the paper repeated them as representing the whole of Occupy.
We are supporters of Occupy movement not representatives of Occupy.
Meeting will be split into 2 sections. Internal and External of Occupy movement.
Clarification point – We are occupiers supporting but not “reps” because we cannot speak on behalf of Occupy when its agenda is different.
Direct Point – However we do have the right to speak/interview. -Mayor rep to be discussed as a separate concern
Question – Can people speak to the press as “supporters?”
Arun (F) – Individuals / groups can do and say what they want. But Occupy is not a company. Today’s GA is about membership.
Clarification – Can you expand on hierarchy?
Arun – hierarchy is different from grass roots movements. We are leaderless.
Clarification point – Nobody can truthfully say that they represent Occupy.
Direct point – We have had statements from people naming themselves and saying “Occupy welcomes…” You can’t do this without consent of Occupy.
Ruth – reads Press Release from Occupy Wall Street. “We are not a political party / advert campaign / brand. All statements should be seen as independent unless approved by General Assembly. Speakers should always say when they are speaking for themselves. We all have different opinions, but do not represent whole Occupy movement. We have situations such as the article thanking Hector Sants on behalf of Occupy, on our own website. Our strength is our diversity, our initial statement etc., and reform vs. revolution. We need to resolve this issue now.
?— Paragraph 2 of the skeleton argument of appeal. The lawyer refers to us as an Unincorporated Association. I’m worried about this definition. When Bournemouth was evicted someone said there was no (can’t read word) process. It’s our Achilles heel. We need to discuss what we are and how we speak now.
? – We need to resolve radical vs. reformist. We need a new system but in the meantime this screws us. More focus on those in rural “less developed” communities. How to reform injustice there. While we focus on this we may well end up different from Occupy Wall St. I want to destroy the system not just change it a bit. We’re talking about something really.
?— Bring it back on topic! Member of Occupy or supporter.
?— the issue is one of language and meaning
?— what the GA has approved should be available so everyone knows where we stand. We need to keep a good record of what we have decided
? — New info needs to get onto the website quickly.
Em – Press team have learnt from their mistakes. We can have factual things or prescriptive stuff.
A.N.On – When people give donations is it going to the general assembly or the camp?
John / Ruth- the GA doesn’t get money, it doesn’t need it. Finance group has GA of its own for these decisions. We are in the process of developing a better website with more information and news.
Ruth – No more “Occupy says…” lack of confidence in the website, not enough support
Em – I’m here!
Julie – Press team acting on behalf of Occupy is still an issue
Em- Distinction is made to what “Occupy London” means. I.e. LSX / Finsbury Sq. / Movement.
? -The eviction is not of Occupy London, just OccupyLSX. The BOI unified with LSX when the bailiff’s come today. They can come at any time. We decided by consensus there will be peaceful resistance. We’re not opening one door! I came twice today for support. This is important. We need more people. This is an opportunity to defend
? – 2 of us went, you barred us entry on NY day. How dare you?
? – I’m a member of one movement, but also a rational being. If someone asks me what I think I’ll say. We need to give power back to sovereign individuals, but their stance / opinions need to be made clear prior to commenting.
Internal Comm.: Occupy message which is agreed. Critical to get this right
External Comm.: Journalists will label you as “spokesperson” “rep” etc. In any event.
? – If you speak to the media you can choose what you say, but people should think about what they say in relation to the collective. Awareness of how negative personal opinions could be used against the movement?
? – Move to make a distinction between person and movement.
? – We all have a responsibility.
? – The press team should come back to the GA to report, plus, have a defined policy.
? – The press team have asked for more help because they are seriously overwhelmed.
? – Next Step Working Group member says it is prudent to have few people in lots of different working groups. – WG suggested cap on the number you can be involved with.
? – We need more people to come forward and support these people.
?- How people interrelate is never perfect. Respect is key.
Julie Working groups should develop as much as possible to empower people and get energy going. Working groups should be less structured and devolved. Bring policy to GA more. We are different from grassroots hierarchies. On whole the press group do fit/sit/?? I want them to have quite a lot of caution. But if GA produces a statement they should put it out.
Kai- We should simplify working groups. Maybe 20 rather than 35. Today we had 3 GA planning meetings.
John- GA working groups helps make GAs happen! 5pm – they plan the meeting. 2pm issue resolution meeting. Wed meeting are process issues. I would support the simplifying the No. Of working groups. Tues GA lets people know what each group is doing. The biggest gripe people have is what others are doing. We wouldn’t have that gripe if Working Groups got consensus on what they were doing.
Nafeesa – Or have one person represent different groups and intermingle?
?- I’m out of here. I’m sick of this crap. Working groups that don’t report what they’re doing.
?- Everyone needs to stick to some script in politics. It’s why people don’t like politicians. Occupy is different. We can speak with our own input. Bring this to the fore and make something cohesive. If we just parrot at people then know one can see the passion with which we support Occupy. Take a risk. No censorship. You’re so you can say. But say it’s what I believe as an individual. Include subject of sustainability. It’s lunacy to become homogenised.
Vica – I’m missing not just WG meetings but GAs, but individuals as well. Some come just to WGs and others just to GAs. It’s your responsibility to the group to join in more and make sure things happen. We’re losing this and becoming less spontaneous. If you have a good idea just try and make it happen. Need to remain spontaneous no rigid structures. Working groups need to open up. They’re difficult to explain to noobies but can point them to the minutes of their meetings, ask around with people on site so as not to waste working group time catching people up.
Peter – From a fairly small working group with a heavy workload. Some just moan as it’s easy to blame others. If you don’t like what people are doing about finance’s, process etc, join their working group!
? – I ask many times who is responsible for finance. No-one answers. Who is responsible for cleaning?
Peter – It could be deliberate or just a bit disrespectable. I’ll tell you things.
Ruth – It’s always good to talk.
? – Paramount spiritual principles of a leadless organisation to persist with hierarchy.
Julie – We only have finite energy so be careful how we use it. The more we enable people to start something the more we get back. Who we want to talk to and what working groups to talk to should be our choice. Working groups should have objectives, statements, policy which should be ascertained and disseminated. The green group talks about global democracy but do we have it? We have another group discussing democracy, link with them!
Vica – Takes time to learn how working groups work prior to joining. When you do start to participate in a WG, be patient with it. Maybe the first 2 meetings, learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out gaps in what’s been going on
Proposal – Occupiers consider having a debate “Occupy is flawed” 2 speakers for and against. Spring board for new solutions.
Nafeesa – I agree that we need more variety. For all WG, submit videos of what you’re doing.
Gary – At last night’s working group feedback session only a few of the groups turned up. The process kept changing. Like Animal Farm. Has it changed? I was led to believe that process had been ratified and leaderless groups can form. PROPOSAL -Perhaps a tent (TCU??) needs a copy of the process (with regular updates). Make process available – Who can provide?
Arun (F) Agree on the proposal. Consensus reached.
John – Wed meeting works on improving process.
Gary – Nonsense. I can’t access that meeting.
Ben – The meeting was held where advertised.
John – There is already a description of process printed and distributed. There is information about process on the wiki page. There is not an Animal Farm of levels of equality.
Gary – No, but there’s an attitude of that.
Em – The Occupy toolkit was produced.
John – We did a diagram today. We will make it look better and make it available.
? – Remember that in Animal Farm the rules were written on the barn door. Is our process set in stone or flexible?
A.N.On – Share information or split things up. Shared information. A person who can’t shut up until it’s their turn to speak – I don’t want them at the next camp.
Arun – I share concerns but let’s finish.
Anne – I wasn’t saying speak to a script but ask yourself how I can contribute to what I want to say. A big part is for WGs to come back to GAs. And I agree with Ruth on who we have dialogue with. Process of WG reporting back can work better.
? – Brownfield sites – I have a list of 50 sites in London. Friday at 2pm I will come and discuss possibilities.
Hassan – How we work better between groups and GA. We have strengths and weaknesses. Talk about them to improve the. I have similar problem to others, the variety of views here are not yet fully represented. We also usually see the same faces representing us in the media. This leads to appearance of them representing us. Everyone can speak for us in these places.
? – Re the FSA reporting fiasco. It was very unsatisfactory. It seemed to be a personal agenda being pursued. The group handled it all fairly well though. With the way things are this happening again will be difficult to stop though. If you want to speak for us, come to the GA for approval?
? – Strongly disagree with previous man. People out there know we’re marvellous and we’re hardly beginning. Doing things well will keep improving. We’re getting better and better. Let’s keep to our principles and avoid divisions. OLSX is a turning point. It’s beautiful. We should have a Values Working Group.
Kai – Before proposal. Internal and External affiliation. Do not represent Occupy means there can be no membership of Occupy. Repeats importance of separating individual opinion from movement.
Arun (F) – Let’s move onto the issue surrounding our statement of autonomy.
Ben – I want some slight amendments. These would have passed but they were blocked by one person. The block has been withdrawn therefore this has now been passed by consensus.
John – The block was supposed to go back to the group to be worked on so that the blocker was happy. This hasn’t happened so even though the concern still exists, it is better if I remove my block. We can still come back to it at a later date.
Arun (F) – how do people feel about that?
? – I have a point about it. I have to be next. You said.
? – What are the amendments?
Ben – The second paragraph about respecting the diversity of opinion.
? – OLSX vs. Occupy London. Has this statement been discussed at the various sites and with enough people? I believe we would have to have full transparency. People in LSX leadership and those writing statements have to be named with their photos on the website. Public want to join but they want to know who they are.
Hassan – We don’t have a leader, that’s the entire idea of Occupy.
Ruth – The statement of autonomy is based on Occupy Wall Street’s one. We changed a few words such as removing petition and replacing with the word seek etc. We worked up some amendments at the UK conference in Sheffield but we would need consensus for these. For what we’re talking about today. This statement is Occupy London policy and has already achieved consensus.
Julie – I’m a bit uncomfortable about the precedent being set here. Maybe some formal process for amount of time before removing blocks. We can’t just assume.
Kai – I feel weary about stuff. Conflict.
?- OLSX has passed the autonomy statement, has it been to Finsbury sq etc.
Ben – It was an Occupy London General Assembly.
Block is retracted
Arun – Everyone happy with that?
? – This blocking situation is bad. How can as many people vote for what they want and all it takes is 1 vote against and the whole thing stops?
?- For this particular case, it’s been a few weeks since we passed the statement. To put our minds at ease why not just have a temp check again about the statement of autonomy.
Kurt – A block is a vote. Why does it carry more weight than a vote for something?
John – as it has been 6 weeks since the block and there being no follow up, the block lapsed 4 weeks ago. It slipped through the cracks really, with Xmas and the court case etc. Since is a bit open ended we need to work on the timeframe for working with a block.
Arun (F) – This is becoming a process discussion. Could we move this to another GA?
Kurt – block at John. System is fundamentally corrupt. I still don’t understand the block.
John – Makes nonsense of “go back and improve it”
Arun (F) – This discussion is very important. But there was not enough communication that this particular discussion would be taking place.
Julie – Would be useful to have it passed, could be better
Kai – Important policy stuff. 6 weeks ago I remember.
? – Block was withdrawn which means we already have consensus as the block was the only thing holding it off.
ARUN STOPS FACILITATING – BEN TAKES OVER
Ben (F) – 5 more minutes of the meeting!
Em – What lady said? Already gone through. If we want to change process, that’s a whole other meeting.
? – Fundamentally. People see a community here.