General Assembly Minutes – 1/11/2011 7pm

 

1st November 2011, 7pm

Agenda
1.    Working group announcements
2.    Outline of consensus process
3.    Proposals
a.    Using the successful Finsbury Square shelter system at St Pauls
b.    Daily open-mic session
c.    St Pauls have requested that a group of specific members of the Media, Legal, University Tent, Finsbury Square and Multi Faith working groups exclusively represent the Occupy LSX in liaison with the cathedral. Is this OK?
d.    The Corporation of London have invited us into a dialogue. Let’s form a Corporation of London working group and listen to what they’ve got to say.
e.    Consent to distribute draft statement of intent to invite a dialogue with other Occupy Assemblies, with the aim of collaborating and developing a joint vision, together.
4.    Discussion: Why are we here?
5.    Shout outs

Working group announcements

a.    Direct action
–    Student demonstrations on 9th November
–    Further action on 15th November
–    Julian Assange extradition trial announcement being made at 9.30-10am outside the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow (2nd Nov 2011). Meeting at 8.30am there.
–    ‘Frack Off’ event against hydraulic fracking coming to the UK, in response to conference being held in London for £1500 per ticket. Meet at High St Kensington Tube tomorrow morning for free conference outside exposing this practice.
–    DA working group at 5pm by the info tent every day.

b.    Shelter
–    Would like to implement the shelter system in place at Finsbury Square at St Pauls.
–    Debate to take place on this in this GA.

c. Kitchen
–    Responding to concerns of no open working process, kitchen working group will start tomorrow at 10am in front of kitchens, to listen to concerns and suggestions.
–    The kitchen is not open 24 hours at the moment, but that is open to discussion.
–    Sandwich and snack materials are available all night in the Tea Tent.

d. Environment
– Please bring your own cutlery and crockery to the kitchen tent to reduce the waste of plastic ones.

e.    Occupy LSX City of London
–    Working with full transparency, with an all-inclusive membership including people from the camp and experts in the relevant fields.
–    An unofficial statement was released to the press, which included intention of the areas to pursue. As a result, ‘city of london uk’ is now trending on Twitter.
–    Today’s decision by St Pauls and the City of London Corporation to not pursue legal action is heartening but doesn’t effect the intentions of this group.
–    Intentions including: to challenge and pursue the people and practices that lead to this country suffering unfair financial and corporate influence.
–    Lets turn back the attention from our proximity to St Pauls, to the London Stock Exchange and the practices that take place there.
–    Date for 1st statement will be announced soon.
–    Meeting in the ‘Ye Olde Pub’ down the road at 3.30pm 2nd November.

f.    Tranquility
–    There is a small daytime team available to help mediate and resolve conflicts.
–    Feel free to approach them if you need help settling any disagreements or arguments.
–    Group meeting will take place at 11am 2nd November, meeting at the Monopoly Board.
–    We need a few more people for the night watch, please volunteer to do a few hours.

2.    Outline of consensus process

–    This process helps us work with deep democracy. All voices are valid. It helps us move to decisions.
–    People will come up and propose ideas for the camp. When they’re speaking, please let us know what you think with hand gestures:
–    Agree: shaky hands raised
–    Disagree: shaky hands lowered
–    Unsure: shaky hands in the middle
–    When the proposal is complete, we will ask for consensus from you, which involves different gestures:
–    Agree: shaky hands raised
–    Disagree: raise arms in a cross
– Block: raise one fist into the air
–    Other gestures:
– Request for clarity: raise hand with a ‘C’ shape
– Technical point: raise 2 hands in ‘T’ shape.
– ‘Hurry up please!’: roll arms
–    Please only block if you think that the proposal fundamentally goes against what this camp is trying to achieve. You can stand aside instead of blocking if you wish.

3.    Proposals

a. Using the successful Finsbury Square shelter system at St Pauls.

Reasons:
– Prevents conflict arising from the misallocation of tents – people are allocated empty space as they arrive
– Gives space and shelter to those who need it
– Helps us to keep a permanent presence here by keeping tents full
– System helps us cooperate with requests for fire escape access space, tent rope issues
– We look to have pallets underneath each tent to stop floor dampness when it rains
– If we need to restructure the camp layout, we can help develop a masterplan

How:
–    On arrival people go to shelter who allocate them a tent a space
–    On departure they go to shelter to inform them
–    Tent book for people to sign in/out themselves.
–    A tent numbering system will let us know who’s sleeping where.

– The system in FS has been important, simple and effective.

CONSENSUS REACHED on original proposal

b.    Daily open-mic session

– To take place every day between 6 and 7pm.

Reasons
–    Will give everyone a chance to speak on the issues they care about.
–    The only rules will be ‘be respectful’ and no more than 3 minutes per speaker.

–    Will require a compere to ensure noone exceeds time

–    Does the proposer have the capacity to do it, or are more volunteers needed?

–    Is the sound system available between 6-7pm every day?

– Talking from 6-7pm, followed by GA is talking heavy: open mic from 5-6pm instead?

– Having music every day from 6-7pm might not work with cathedral events WARM

– We need more of an idea of what the charities are doing on the info

– If we have 2 GA’s a day, maybe it’s a lot of really loud speaking at everyone – maybe time better spent talking amongst ourselves, instead of having mic blasting at them?

– Man who works at Goldman Sachs says he really supports what’s going on here! WARM

Proposal
–     Do open mic after assembly? NO CONSENSUS

Proposal
–    Decide whether to have open mic, then arrange meeting to work out capacity and details? WARM

–    Initial proposer is happy to put the idea on hold if needed.

Proposal
–    Consensus on idea of open mic, pending further discussions? CONSENSUS REACHED

–    Meeting will take place noon 2nd November to discuss details.

c. St Pauls have requested that a group of specific members of the Media, Legal, University Tent, Finsbury Square and Multi Faith working groups exclusively represent the Occupy LSX in liaison with the cathedral. Is this OK?

– Request for volunteers for church liaison, to help deal with practical issues that need addressing on a daily basis: health and safety, fire etc. Will people volunteer? WARM

Proposal
–    Regarding representatives of the Media, Legal, University Tent, Finsbury Square, and Multi Faith groups, that were invited initially to liaise with St Pauls cathedral: will you give consensus for this same small group to liaise with the cathedral continually?
–    Feedback will be given to the Church Liaison group, and the General Assembly.
–    No decision will be made without consensus from a General Assembly.

–    It’s good to have familiar faces, but it’s unfair to close the door to other people wanting to join in with discussions later on.

– The Multi Faith / Church Liaison group is open for anyone to come to. The idea is just that the people who’ve been liaising up until now carry on doing so, to help us move forward. No decisions without GA consent, and dialogue with people dealing with the church at the moment.

– A clarification point about continuity and openness. Will new people be able to communicate directly to church authorities – so it is fluid, in a sense.

– No decisions are taken – all will be brought back to Church Liaison WG and the GA to get consensus. We want to remain open and transparent. The cathedral just don’t want different faces on a daily basis. They’re messengers, not decision makers.

– The church has made a massive turnaround in our favour, so we should give as well as take – we have to have continuation.

– Contuinuity in anything may be fine, but as this organisation grows and new problems come, we all have different areas and levels of expertise. At the start of negotiations with church, we may come into it. Some people believe the church is honourable. Historically, we understand this to be different. as those experiences unfold, we may need to have new people and new experiences – to keep it static is not the way.

– The point just made was good one. Having fresh ideas and impetus is a very important thing. 600 heads are better than 1. Fresh input at all times. The original proposer says there is a system of mechanisation where people can put forward ideas and that when dealing with institutions its important for them to have continuity: there’s a problem with lots of different people. People liaising with St Pauls should take detailed notes and minutes, so they can liaise with the group thats supporting them.

– To clarify: we are asking for consensus simply on allowing continuity on the people who are currently asked by the cathedral to continue liaising. But decision making will still be made by bringing things to GA. Are you happy with people from legal, multi-faith, FS, media and Uni tent to be able to continue bringing to GA through church liaison?

– This is a slippery slope – it goes against the model of direct democracy. As soon as some people are mediating, even if decision making is made with the GA, they will know things others are not in on. I’ve had this conversation before – it gives you a power against the model of open democracy. That’s why I’m against it.

– Suggestion of compromise: If there are, for example, 6 liaisers –  let’s have a core group of 4 liaisers, with the remaining 2 spots given to people who can shift around so there’s more people in.

– New democracy doesn’t exist in other institutions, so if church has procedures, it makes it easy if we talk to them using the methods they are used to.

– Alternative suggestion: a core group of 4, with 2 rotating members of liaison?

– Proposer agrees with interchangeability. Cathedral want continuity, but 2 interchangeable people would be good.

WARMTH
3 BLOCKS

Process decision
–    Proposal decision will be delayed until tomorrow afternoon’s assembly

ORIGINAL PROPOSAL DECISION ON HOLD

–    Please will people with blocks hold them out to bring into discussion before tomorrows GA

Proposal:
–    So that the group can continue to work, can the same group liaise tomorrow? Discussion on this proposal can continue in the meantime.

Block:
– We don’t have one person to represent everyone. This is important. They try to make us pick a leader. We must decide whether or not to pick leaders, or tell those who we’re liaising with that we don’t run our democracy like that. Maybe they know this, and this is our test?

Proposal:
The same group will liaise till tomorrows GA, to keep communication open: CONSENSUS

d. The Corporation of London have invited us into a dialogue. Let’s form a Corporation of London working group and listen to what they’ve got to say.

–    The Corporation of London have invited us to open a ‘quiet dialogue’.
–    Let’s form a Corporation of London working group in order to:
–    Understand their issues
–    Consider how we can potentially respond
–    Bring issues back to the GA for decision

–    What form should this group take?
–    A working group.

–    We have the same issues here as we do with the Church liaison representatives.

– We need to clarify and discuss how we will go forward. We could also have a consistent core of liaison, with rotating others?

– Clarifying point: Liaison with the CoL is important, so people with legal expertise should be involved in this decision. The group should discuss this in more depth and come back with a more detailed proposal.

– An open working group anyone can attend, with open discussions, bringing decision back to GA.

Proposal:  Meet at 10.30am tomorrow in front of info tent to have a conversation about this?

– We could consider putting these meetings on livestream so thousands can see them?

– Please bring that as a fully-formed proposal for tomorrows GA.

– Consensus on meeting at 10.30am tomorrow morning to discuss CoL dialogue at info tent? Would come back to GA.

– Should we create CoL liaison working group? BLOCKS

– Block: We don’t need a working group with CoL – we need an attack attack attack group! We can’t work with these people, they’re filth.

– Proposal: About having conversations: do we want to block conversations? SOME WARMTH

–  It might be worth suggesting that we ask someone from CoL to address GA with their proposals. WARMTH

– Clarification: CoL contacted us to start a dialogue to address issues. Inviting them to make a statement gives them place at GA we don’t feel they should have. They’re not part of this. They represent people we stand against. But we need to open dialogue. We just want to have a WG for anyone here to be a part of. Everyone could be a part. WG can then put forward ideas and speak to CoL, without any decisions except made through GA.

– This is only to open up dialogue to understand what some of their problems are. If we don’t, they’re going to serve us with the notice. That’s our choice.

–    Opening a conversation, so that dialogue can happen. Show of hands:
MANY AGREE, SOME DISAGREE, A FEW BLOCKS.

– Process suggestion: Reframe! We will need to have contact with CoL. We will have meeting at 10.30am tomorrow to discuss how to go about this.

– Blocking people having conversation with each other?

– Who is blocking?

– Are crowd still willing to go ahead, in spite of blocks?

[Some strong disagreement with previous statement]

– They are just blocking having a conversation. Do we have consensus to go ahead anyway?

– Block: It’s conversation about having a conversation, but there might need to be decisions made to meet relevant bodies, so lets make a decision tonight. I have no problem with who represents us, just that meeting with authorities is recorded. If open and honest,  we should have no problem – I just want to know who and what is discussed?

– Live streaming?

– The proposer said he wanted to have a dialogue, then later said we had to speak to them by 3pm tomorrow. Is there anything else he’d like to tell us, so then we’ll have all the information we need to make a decision?

– We are trying to listen to what they want, then we’ll bring that back to GA.

– Blocks are for when someone fundamentally opposed. There’s a problem because people are blocking when it’s not time to block. We have consensus, let’s just get it done and have a meeting tomorrow morning.

– Let’s discuss at tomorrows 1pm GA – give time for decision before 3pm ‘deadline’?

– Why is there a 3pm deadline? Is there any movement on it?

–  If we get a WG together, I can come back at 1pm. What we need to decide is: do we want to speak to CoL or not? If yes, need to make liaison WG – can’t go forward with 700 people talking to them at once.

– They shouldn’t dictate the timing.

– If we decide at tomorrows GA that 3pm is not the time we want to speak, then thats fine. If you feel that strongly, please come to WG, instead of blocking it. Be constructive!

– This is about having a conversation – join the meeting tomorrow morning. 10.30am.

– 10.30am meeting fine with me. Process point for future – anything that people want to propose, think it out well, put it on the info tent, and online, 24 hours before, to give people opportunity to read before they we make decisions.

– We have no negotiation at the meeting – we’re purely there to listen. And decisions will be made through GA. Just listening is the plan.

10.30 meeting to discuss? LOTS OF WARMTH, A FEW BLOCKS

– We know they’re a bunch of bastards, we need to have some liaison with legal group WARMTH – we need qualified legal representation in this conversation with CoL.

–  Please make sure there’s a legal person is in this group.

– We’ve made a massive progress against the CoL. They’re going to try to get us. We attack them. We’re here to cause reform. Lets not fall into a plot. They’re not idiots, they’re very powerful. Let’s block this proposal.

In light of this block, consensus? NOT CLEAR

– You mentioned the word attack – reconnaissance works with that – let’s keep a watchful eye on them. Also, please respect instead of yelling at one another.

– I’m attending the 10.30am meeting. This conversation is the most useful of all those in GA’s yet. Some say “we have to rush” – no, we do not have to rush. There’s a difference between deciding to have talks about talks, and agreeing about the way we have those talks, We make the decision about how we have those talks, and we do that in our own time. And at 10.30 tomorrow we begin that process, and the decision about how we do that process is made by us in our own time.

Consensus? Looks good. Blocks? We see your block. Stand aside? Bless you!

10.30am meeting to further discuss possibility of CoL liaison CONSENSUS

– Technical point – In light of this conversation: we’re running assemblies in an aggressive, militaristic, alpha male, unfriendly way. We are friends, we work together, talk together as friends. Lets stick together, not fight amongst our selves. Let’s move forward together as one, one voice, one heart, one love, as one. MUCH WARMTH

– There’s been 1.5 hours of logistical chat – but we came here to make a better world, let’s make these things happen.

e. Consent to distribute draft statement of intent to invite a dialogue with other Occupy Assemblies, with the aim of collaborating and developing a joint vision, together.

–    We have spent a lot of time working on this statement. It read 7 times in GA, discussed in small working groups and GA. The WG was open for all to participate, and people were invited to join many times at GA and at the info point.
–    We want assemblies around the world to collaborate and develop a vision together, not separately.
–    We hope more points will be gathered and added to this from WGs in the coming weeks.

–    With the G20 starting tomorrow, we want to communicate to the people at the counter-summit there.
–    We invite everyone to meet at the info tent at 10.30am tomorrow to work further on this statement.

FULL TEXT OF STATEMENT DISTRIBUTED AND READ ALOUD

WARMTH

Proposal:
–    We ask the GA to give consent to start distributing this text to other assembly groups around the world, individuals, and the media.
–    This will be presented as our initial statement as an invitation to dialogue on the topic.

– I’ve been working on this. It’s been tricky. We’re precious about statements. Please be aware that because G20 is tomorrow, this is the actual statement that we will be sending out – not initial statement, as its called.

– I’ve been in the working group for 3 days – we want to ask GA if we can come out against imperialist wars and occupations. We would like that added in to the statement. We dont want tax payers money going into wars.

– It already says these things.

– There’s an urgent concern for people in the world.

– It’s an invitation to dialogue on the following draft statement, to start a dialogue with other counter-summits and assemblies around the world – that’s what we’re asking you to consent to.

– Tech point: Please try to vary the timings of WGs, Don’t put them all in the same timeslot.

– When we start this process, it will be an ongoing process – one meeting will not make big difference. I’m happy to put names on email list to keep people included in the process.

– We will change the draft statement meeting to 10am.

– I think we should say ‘truly democratic’, not just ‘democratic’.

Consensus?

No disagreement, no blocks.

CONSENSUS on initial proposal

4. Discussion: Why are we here?

– Let’s talk about ‘why are you / we here, and what do you / we want?’

–    We want to find lines of unity, as we’ve been bogged down in process. It’s about talking and finding similar lines with each other. What do we want to achieve?

GROUP DISCUSSIONS FOR ~30 MINS

REPRESENTATIVES FROM EACH GROUP RETURN WITH SUMMARIES

Group 1
–    Social justice
–    To reduce the rich-poor divide
–    To empower the disenfranchised
–    To reduce social devision
–    Environmental justice
–    To address climate change
–    To seek financial transparency
–    To tighten bank regulations
–    To address disproportionate and undemocratic distribution of wealth and power

Group 2
–    Passion, anger, fear, horror, shock hope.
–    The possibility of change is here
–    To find out what this is about
–    Because we feel it could be part of a change in bringing down this god awful system gradually
–    The way the system rides roughshod over us with taxes applied unfairly, which some people get off extremely lightly
–    Lots of grudges
–    People have what they need, but are greedy and take more: you can’t eat money
– Im not as free as id like to be
– To break assumed consensus that nothing can be done WARM
– We’ve already succeeded as we’ve got mass support and shown its not like that- things don’t have to be that way
– We’ve taken the lid of what the world thinks public opinion is
– First activism things I’ve done with fresh people, not the same old self-identifying activists
–    Small victory: some Lib Dems have come out against the cuts now

Group 3
–    The trials of Tony Blair, George Bush, Ariel Sharon for world crimes
–    An end to capitalism
–    An assurance that resources will not be destroyed for profit
–    Accessible and affordable health, education, fuel and water for everyone who needs it
–    Worldwide justice

Group 4
–    A fundamental change
–    The different temporality and different space here makes people relate differently
–    This might set thoughts and actions in action in future
–    A unique opportunity
–    Change inside from learning changing
–    Less greed, more happy people
–    We complain but don’t do anything: protest
–    A system with democratically shared resources
–    To give voice to something waking up inside the global mind
–    Solidarity with other occupations
–    To get rid of the really nasty system

Group 5
–    We value the process of open democracy that this represents
–    Anyone can have an opnion, voice it, and it counts: we’re not kept at arms length from the decision making process – it’s not exclusive or ghettoised
–    We’re unhappy
–    We feel capitalist the structure is corrupted and exploited, and we’re being taken advantage of

Group 6
–    For people to put people before money
–    To hand over a safe world to out children and our children’s children
–    Engendering a love based society, so harmonious with nature
–    Education that’s incentivising, compassionate and supportive
–    Resources protected for a future generation
–    People who are self-empowered
–    A western society that promotes global equality
–    A shift to a resource-base economy
–    Ignite debate for bigger long term issues
–    Bankers to learn from their mistakes

Group 7
–    This is a beautiful place for the voices of people from all over the world, all walks of life, sharing ideas
–    A catalyst
–    It’s not about a grand statement, just the fact that we’re here is a grand statement
–    It’s like a seed
–    One person in our group is strongly with everything we stand for, but she doesn’t agree with the location

Group 8
–    We enjoy being unified across the globe
–    We’re unhappy and want to change things
–    Essential services are suffering
–    The time is right for radical transformation across the globe
–    We want to party and have fun, and live in a world that allows this
–    We want what’s happening here all the time
Group 9
–    There are some great ideas coming out of the Netherlands
–    Freedom of speech
–    Equality
–    Food, warmth, shelter and love for everyone, no matter where they were born, the economic climate etc.
–    Free energy for everyone in the world, so we don’t have to rely on fuel companies
–    Transparency for all taxes and all decisions – difficult, but we now have the internet and good minds – we can do this!

Group 10
–    People have used the term revolutionary.
–    Prejudices we have acquired out there have been brought into here.
–    We need to deconstruct ourselves respectfully and constantly.
–    Don’t bring outside prejudices in.
–    This needs to happen all day, every day.
–    Everyone has the chance to speak and hear, but not everyone feels comfortable to.
–    We need to empower everyone here – it takes a lot of energy, but it needs to be done.

Group 11
–    If we deal with the high level issues first, we would have money for everything else, such as health education etc.
–    We need real regulation to stop exploitation of markets and workers by the wealthy
–    A more equitable society, such as Denmark, Finland
–    We always need to work at all levels: Local, National, International
–    One person brought forward: ‘solution, strategies, demands, potential direction, actions’
–    Defending the right to protest: we do have it in law, but recent legislation (last 20-30 years) to curtail and control it is massively problematic. we want a real right to protest.
–    The chance to rebuild social tissue of society against extreme individualism
–    Recreate networks, make the system accountable
–    Representative democracy doesn’t work: we’re disenfranchised, outraged, disbelieving
–    ie – War in Iraq: so many were against it but Tony Blair ignored them
–    We want to change that happening again
–    The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street have shown another way is possible.
–    The capitalist system has brainwashed us into certain ways on thinking
–    This is a brilliant platform for thinking differently
–    Technology allows us to have a truly global conversation about this: we an link up and effect change
–    The seeds are being planted for a different culture
–    My experience of the consensual process is that it is sometimes difficult, it test patiences, and some people are not used to using it. But it is massively important to get past the brainwashed way of doing things.
–    It allows us to change our thinking, and rebuild truly critical thinking.
–    Get together and talk to real people. Like all you lovely wonderful people!

Group 12
–    We appreciate this new movement of assembly: overheard random people on train talking about it
–    I hope this assembly goes everywhere: where we work and live, so people will discuss problems – political and everything – by assembly, and take responsibilities
–    Some say ‘this is our last chance’. No – this is our first chance!
–    But more directly: what kind of society do we want?
–    Less centralisation of power
–    People to conserve the environment more
–    Justice for the people
–    Climate issues
–    To change, we need to start from ourselves, what we think, how to change
–    I’m here because I’m against the whole current system called capitalism.
–    Shall we change radically or improve the system?
–    Well why don’t we just eradicate the problems: eradicate poverty, eradicate slavery.

Group 13
–    Just, by accident, in coming to St Pauls instead of the Stock Exchange, we’ve revealed part of the structure. The Corporation of London is the link between corporations and finance. Just by being here is showing people. In the long term, if we shine a light on who they are, that would be a great thing to work towards.
– Keep coming to these things!

5. Shout-outs
– Julian Assange verdict outside High Court from 8.30am tomorrow.
– Teach-in on Saturday in Tottenham about fuel poverty. Die-in taking place on 22nd November.
– Let’s collect positive media items, and put them on display in info tent.
– Let’s encourage people to write 99 emails to 99 officials, councillors etc.
– Can we put up this ‘REAL DEMOCRACY NOW’ banner? CONSENSUS
– Live stream from Syria on Thursday 3rd Nov from 507pm in University Tent
– Workshop on ‘radical nature of gratitude and grief’ 10am-12.30pm
– Anyone seen the ‘CAPITALISM IS CRISIS’ banner?
– A media support service is available for anyone singled out by the media.
– Put you details in the pocket in the media tent and we’ll contact you with support.
– Don’t chain bikes to the statue railings (may be removed), or the bannister (access).
– Let’s get art students to make lovely, durable signs for the campsite.
– 2 tough GA’s today, but it’s been a good day.
– Please pick your own rubbish up off the cathedral steps.
– Thanks to Giles Fraser for pushing the church to not evict us. WARMTH
– “Hello, my names Giles Fraser, I’m very tired. Thank you very much indeed.” WARMTH
– Media meeting at 11am 2nd Nov at ‘ye olde pub’ down the road.

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