“Creating Alternatives” General Assembly – Saturday 30th June 2012


[Livestream Links at bottom of page]

Sara – Facilitator

Liz – Cofacilitator

Saskia – Minutes

Key decision reached on only proposal “Next week the GA will move to Sunday at 3pm at St Pauls for an experimental period until there is a proposal to shift it again” for full discussion see second half of minutes.

Fine and windy. Due to events (and bells!) at cathedral assembly moved to South side for meeting Good attendance, I counted 60 throughout afternoon, peak of 50 at one time.

Facilitator introduces facilitation team, reminds assembly of safer spaces policy copies of which are available. Runs through agenda

Main topic Cooperatives with speakers from Radical Routes, People’s Supermarket and other UK co-ops. One proposal to move GA from Saturday to Sunday and Shout outs

Part 1

Kath from Radical Routes takes over, introduces team, suggests breakouts after speakers

Danny – The People’s Supermarket

In the first three weeks of Occupy, there was an economics workshop on cooperatives (co-ops) People understand it’s a way to regain control from the elite, to crete a people centred economy and a fairer society. Co-ops have outperformed relative to the rest of the economy. Mondragon is a huge Spanish co-op and unemployment is lower around there than the rest of Spain.

People’s Supermarket sells ethical and environmentally products though sustainability needs to be balanced with other factors. 2010 tv programme gone worldwide. 250 plus weekly hits on website. £1 million turnover per annum. 16 workers. Select products on basis of how to transfer good stuff to customers. However the problem with lack of investment means compromises have to be made.

People’s Supermarket is currently seeking a new member with skills including finance and business savvy.


Been involved in co-ops for 30 years including housing and workers co-ops. Works at creative design workers cooperative. Goals include having a good job, respect, self management.

Statistics on co-ops largely unreported in financial press nor taught in most business courses. 1 billion co-op members worldwide. 1\2 global population rely on co-ops for their livelihoods. Mostly poorer people e.g agricultural workers in the South. 85% of fair trade products are co-op produced. Perhaps surprisingly the most cooperative country is the USA because most US utility companies are worked as co-ops. Co-ops arise as a response to political and economic conditions, e.g. Argentina. Mondragon in Spain now has £11 billion p.a. turnover but started as a kind of credit union to promote apprenticeships for poor boys, now they have a university, schools and a wide range of businesses.

In the UK 12 million people are members of co-ops, more than Trade’s Union and Political Party memberships put together. Largest is the Cooperative Group, started by the Rochdale Pioneers to provide quality food to their members. There was a Cooperative Political party which briefly allied with the Labour party in 1920.

What is a co-op? an organisation of men and women in a jointly owned enterprise based on membership which owns and controls the business.” Cooperatives are a way to take over the ownership of the means of production of our creative capacity. There are 7 cooperative values

7 Cooperative Principles

Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members’ Economic Participation

Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

Kath – Radical Routes

Can your “thing’ be a co-op? there are many kinds e.g. workers, phone, consumer, housing , producer, service, community

Cooperatives UK is a co-op of co-ops involved in lobbying, development, governance etc.

Radical Routes are social change activists for whom cooperation is a means rather than an end in itself. Hold 4 gatherings per year.

Meeting opened into 3 discussion groups hosted by guests. Housing, Workers and general co-op discussion.


Housing Group – talked about housing groups, funding, competition with capitalism. Further questions about land value for housing, now very overinflated, would like it to be at a point where cost of housing was about living not investing.

Workers Group – No boss, need at least 3 people with similar idea, collective mission statement, proper legal structures (various models). Co-op website good for funding opportunities. Sometimes need someone “in charge” eg in a kitchen. Essential to have a business plan. Keep reiterating cooperative principles

General Group – 2012 UN year of the Co-op. Discussion about political strength of Co-ops, part of the mix to enable social and economic change. Co-op Group starting to really invest in promoting co-ops and developing educational outreach. In UK some trying to start co-op schools.

Part 2 proposal and shout outs

Liz takes over facilitation, runs through hand signals

John B makes proposal

GA to move to Sundays and be in a park to attract more people, partly to help free people up to take part in Direct Actions on a Saturday.

Many points were raised including:

St Paul’s is iconic, there is the connection with St Paul’s Cross and we are in the “belly of the beast”

Regularity is important, repetition becomes a habit, a lesson from Critical mass, if we keep meeting here we don’t need permission.

The intention was never to camp at St Paul’s we should meet in Paternoster Square

Home should be here on this spot at St Paul’s, it is a special place

Many other events I could have gone to today, why not Speaker’s Corner on Sunday’s

We currently have Friday and Saturday and sometime’s Tuesday Gas, who is going to organise Sunday as well?

Should be either Saturday at St Paul’s or Sunday elsewhere. I’m in a minority but I want to move away. We could engage more people. Should be an evolution, if it doesn’t work we come back.

If at St Paul’s on Sunday, real problem with the bells and don’t forget Evensong at 5 pm which we have always tried to avoid.

Don’t forget Outreach. Many working groups seem to have lost direction and members. Moving the GA to solve the problem is confusing the issues. WG’s need to get together to discuss organisation and outreach.

People come here t be tourists, who joins the meetings? People go to Speaker’s corner to hear speakers

Leaving here and then coming back here means we will have lost continuity. Why don’t we try something different once a month to start with. We have our biggest connection here at St Paul’s. The church should give us sanctuary

Think St Paul’s is better, what these buildings represent is very relevant. Iconic location. Maybe Speakers Corner would be good. It needs to be regular though it may be difficult to impose an occupy GA there.

I question the idea that St Paul’s is not a good location. The Monarchy GA gathered an audience and there was a brilliant audience for the Community GA both here. We should build on things we are doing well.

Symbolic locations are important. We need to go where people are, e.g. Tate Modern. Maybe give up Saturday. Don’t like Speakers Corner. Suggest regular Sundays at Tate Modern.

Knowing it was always at St Paul’s helped people to come to GA’s. Don’t like idea of Speakers Corner.

Facilitator, we need some clarity on the location. What about just changing the day from Saturday to Sunday

Lukewarm reception . 1 block Julie – blocking because we need more time to think about this.

Can we just try something else?

Clarification does change of day have to mean change of location? Why not 3 – 5 at St Paul’s on a Sunday to avoid bells at 2.

Try doing the park thing as additional Sunday GA

Facilitator is this an amendment to add Sunday and retain Saturday?

Think it is risky to move wholesale without trying it out first.

John B The aim of the proposal is to have more people and engage passers by. St Paul’s is inert. Want to avoid clash with Saturday Direct Actions. Build up GA’s to be more dynamic, focus our efforts. Took a poll online and Fridays and Sundays were the most favoured for GA.

We should be flexible and have locations and dates decided on Wednesday Skype meetings.

Could still have it here, would prefer not Saturday, would rather be active on Sunday

More variety of people here at St Paul’s

Don’t forget people who can’t make Saturday’s wont be here today

No ideal solution, think we should come up with a range of venues and discuss merits of each one. I suggest Soho Square

I think we should stick to Saturdays and with the Olympics coming up should have GA in Stratford

Facilitator, don’t think we can decide on location today. Suggest amended proposal

Next GA moves to Sunday at 3 pm at St pauls for experimental period of time until another proposal to shift it again”

Consensus reached but at least half of GA abstain.

Shout outs

Please help fold OT at LARC near Whitechapel now.

Petition to Number 10 on affordable rental housing, get copies from me (Chris FD)

12-5 pm tomorrow Sunday, burnout workshop at Friend’s House Euston

Protesters handbook available cheap £15.80 from Matt

After Sam’s conference there is an afterparty in King’s Cross from 7 pm

Haggerston can accommodate more people if you need somewhere to stay, speak to Earthian

EEE working group meeting in 5 minutes here.

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