Austin General Assembly
October 1, 2011
Issac: Going to start General Assembly. Ellen is other facilitator.
Jerry: Vibes Checker
Brief overview of process of GA. Not been adhering to it in previous assemblies. Present process and move for consensus to accept process.
Basic tenant of GA process: consensus drive, proposal based. Don’t just get up and talk about stuff. “I propose XYZ.” Friendly amendments. Blocker can explain block and try to work out block with original proposer and amenders. If cannot workout block can over-rule block with 9/10 consensus, but should happen very rarely.
Sparkly Hands – approval.
Point of process – used by trained facilitators to keep facilitators in check.
Direct Response – Used only for contradicting factual information that relates directly to what was just said. “The police are coming.” “No they are not.” If overused, facilitators will stop responding.
Block – Can block a consensus to resolve problems.
Clarifying question – relates directly to something just stated if it is unclear.
We love you, we respect your idea, but get to the point.
Facilitators: here to facilitate process. Neutral. Will remove themselves from facilitation if they want to express opinion. Makes sure everybody’s voice is heard.
Time Keeper: Time for each agenda item as proposed. Time keeper will give us heads up at 1 minute, or more warning if longer agenda item.
Vibes watcher – keeps an eye on tension and vibe of group. Can take breaks if people are tired. Keeps an eye on process to make sure facilitators aren’t missing anything.
Minutes Taker – Takes minutes on decisions and brainstorms.
Question: Is there a respectful and functional way to produce an aside?
Isaac: After GA find who brought idea.
Question: Do we have built into agenda time for clarification?
Isaac: That can be proposed.
Ellen: Topics to avoid: Violence. Political talk. Religion. Drugs.
Ellen: Trying to move toward a proposal based assembly.
Isaac: Move for consensus to adopt process: Wide acceptance. No blocks. Accepted
Open stack for report back on committees
10 minutes for report backs? Blocked. 15 minutes? Accepted.
Joshua: Facilitators: Got together, discussed ideas that were just presented. Want to start rotation for facilitators. If you facilitate two meetings in a row, refuse to facilitate next meeting. Movement to empower people, not to make more leaders. Facilitation training.
Joshua J: online facilitation training coming out of OWS.
Joshua: Learning by doing. Don’t want GA to last for 4 hours. GA is to keep things moving forward. One to two hours tops. Shift from open forum. For GA: propose, agree, move to action. Open forum can happen other 22 hours of the day. Reach out to working groups, facilitation in working groups can help bring proposals to GA.
Joshua J: Should we vote on hour long meeting and change to Proposal based GA?
Isaac: Not right now.
Marshal: Propose that we start a resistance choir.
Isaac: Point of process: This is time for things that are already happening in existing groups that have come out of GA. Sorry. Nothing personal. We just have to adhere to the process to keep things working smoothly.
Joshua J: Not an official committee. I have been entering emails into groups. If anyone is looking to chip in. Looking for volunteers.
Point of process: Report back.
Joshua J: Met with city council member (didn’t hear the name) to use existing governmental structures that exist to help us along. He is aware of Occupy Austin. He occupied back in his college days. As a result, he is willing to sponsor us in making a proclamation from city hall. Allow us to come into city hall and come into main stage and declare proclamation. Can help with publicity. As far as occupying and sleeping: public spaces are public spaces. If you do not block the city council from meeting, you cannot be messed with. Unofficial Meeting happened with police chief by people who are connected with him already. Chris will be sharing that when he gets here.
Anton: Put together occupyaustin.org. Going to be a hub for social media. Today put up page dedicated to GA items. At this point includes when and where meetings will be. Help people to come and participate. Domain name is only 5 days old. Already on front page of Google and other search engines. Had over 5,000 hits from all over the world. Getting message out there. Off to good start. Multiple people contributing at this point. Want to get blog built in so people can contribute content and encourage people to join actual occupation. A way to present a permanence in our voice. Video, live stream, live chat, pictures, contribute content for articles and opinions. Social media: twitter is not well coordinated. Needs team. Off to really good start.
Joshua J: If you have signed up and have not received email but have signed up, sign up again. Handwriting is hard to read.
Unknown: ArrestedAustin Twitter Account. Hopefully won’t use it but can be used to communicate about arrests. Questions have been asked through twitter account. Setting up safety number for people who have been arrested to call. Please don’t abuse it. Can call collect. Will connect with web development team.
Agenda Item Proposals
5 minutes to propose Agenda items.
Anton: Is there debate about agenda items?
10 minutes for agenda items? Agreed.
Please say your name as you say your agenda item.
Kristian: Idea to create handbook. Survival guide for occupation. Contact numbers. What to do, what not to do.
Marshal: Start resistance choir.
Ellen: Schedule for October 6.
Cory: Locations for future meetings.
Joan: Med team. Need experienced people.
Isaac: Medical and wellness should be different groups.
Joan: Childcare. Already a magnet for that.
Peter: Propose that we discuss consensus for answer to questions on twitter. “Is there a possibility of being arrested?” People don’t want to support us if they are going to be arrested. Group to help answer questions coming from people on Twitter and Facebook and website.
Peter: Support and logistics: People want to support us but can’t occupy. Command center for these people to help and get involved.
Isaac: Collapse FAQ and command center into a “welcome center” which is already on agenda. Have survival guides available at welcome center, too.
Point of process: Agenda items that were not proposed but on board for some reason: Finance, APD outreach, mission / values. All accepted.
Out of time. Add a few more minutes? Agreed. 3 more minutes.
Unknown: Propose formal outreach to unions of Austin.
How to transcend Facebook through communication with freedom tower.
Isaac: Bundle those into tethering agenda item.
Dean: Propose we discuss wheelchair access and deaf access.
Anton: Team to focus on diversity. Already a magnet for that. Cuquita?
Anton: I think we need to, as a group, police the overall tone of the website. List magnets on website.
Point of process: Lot of cross talk and people talking over each other. Let’s avoid that.
Isaac: Lot of agenda items, let’s end agenda items.
Vibe Checker: I know we all want to get everything done. But let’s keep things cool and we will get things done.
Stack is closed for agenda items.
Set times for agenda items: Should we do it as we go along or do it right now. Blocked. Assign times right now. 10 minutes each. Agreed.
Move labor up on agenda because gentleman has to leave soon.
If agenda item goes long, should we table and move to end so people with strong opinions can stick around? Agreed.
Agenda Item: Creation of Finance Committee
Danny: All for finance committee. Not good with finances. Community accountability is important. Ideas on how to limit spending. Curve spending of group away from systems we are standing against.
Anton: Finance committee organize itself through electronic means.
Unknown: Should we set up donations?
Unknown: Can anybody help run the finances?
Joshua J: I will step up, not what I want to do, but it needs to happen. I want somebody else to take over as magnet once that gets going.
Anton: This kind of thing should always have three people involved so nobody is personally able to be accused of anything.
Clarify electronic medium to donations: People all over the world want to help Austin. We just need internet access for taking donations.
Joshua J: A lot of different people here are investing resources to make this happen. All of this costs money. We need to pass a bucket at every meeting to finance the things we collectively decide to do.
Cory: Investing in community. Propose website to point people towards local coops and whatnot of community type structures we support.
Point of Process: Not finance committee.
Connecting with Anton with website.
Jessica: Propose that whoever wants to work on finance committee, if we are going to be taking in money, there are going to be things we need to spend money on, and we might have a large amount of money to need to spend at times. Finance group should give updates on collected money and planned use of money at every GA.
Unknown: Have union connections and we can get donations. Do we have a bank account? Will get in touch with finance committee.
Finance magnet: Lucian Villasenor. email@example.com
Point of process: Can we state when we propose if we are volunteering to be a magnet or asking people to be magnets. Maybe we should limit only to things we are willing to do.
Joshua J: Will make Google Doc to give public record of finance committee. We are already receiving donations.
Close out finance committee.
Agenda Item: APD Outreach
Chris: Report from meeting with APD: Not official meeting. Fine with anybody and everybody and getting their voices heard. We cannot occupy 24/7. If we do it in shifts, and people aren’t sleeping, this isn’t camping. If people start sleeping on the steps, there will be arrests. But there won’t be any pepper-spray.
Watts: Does city hall of the 10pm to 5am city parks curfew?
Chris: Wasn’t mentioned at meeting. Good for further investigation.
Direct Response: Great idea to find somewhere where people CAN camp. Bunch of big spaces of land that maybe we CAN camp on that are privately owned.
Isaac: Let’s try to keep things on topic. How are we going to relate to the APD.
Joshua: Encourage everybody to say “peace officer” not “police” since their job is to keep the peace. Propose a police outreach team to connect eye to eye with every peace officer. First name basis. Also to hold them to their oath. Hand outh out to the officers.
Proposal to create this team? 2 blocks.
Block: Unless you are really sensitive to how they are going to react, if we come up to them that could be considered aggressive. Put oath in survival guide. Let people know why officers are there, but not approach them directly.
No consensus on asking if they know their oath.
Block: Group has outside support from existing nonprofits that are talking with the APD.
Do we want police liaison team:
Block: Nervous about it based on previous blocks to other proposal.
People talking over people.
Vibe Watcher: We all cool? All friends? Agreement.
Isaac: Two people to speak in favor. Two people to speak against. Then re-measure?
Motion to table? Agreed.
2 minute break? Agreed.
Back from break. Quick review of Process for new arrivals.
Agenda Item: Mission / Values
Charles: A bit ignorant of what is going on. As long as this is a civics solution project would be happy to help with writing and technical work. Stewardship is incredibly important. Will help out in any way.
Cory: Mission/value should be accepted by as wide a group as possible. Any mission statement should appeal to older generation, middle class. Distribute it to parents, grandparents, co-workers. (Sorry, couldn’t hear you very well.)
Proposal to create mission/values writing group that reports back to GA to vote on statements? Agreed. No blocks.
Jessica: Propose that we start with values, broad enough for all of us to get behind, those will lead to mission, those will lead to demands.
Cory: Counter-opinions: We don’t need one demand. There is a lot of diversity. Weary of saying all of us have this idea. Too hard to come up with overall idea. Come up with various statements that speaks for many of us / petition like. We sign our name or not sign our name to those statements.
Unknown: How do I ask for money for donations if we can’t say why we are here?
Arthur: Support occupy wall street. I believe this is a national and global movement. Mission and Values statements have already been worked out by lots of people on wall street. They released their mission statement this morning.
End of stack.
Agenda Item: Welcoming Committee
Jessica: People will continue to join movement. People won’t be familiar with how the group or the GA works. A welcoming committee can bring these people in and familiarize them with this. Also include survival kit, action groups and magnets.
Table welcome committee and move to Labor outreach to help people that need to leave? Accepted.
Agenda Item: Labor Outreach
Unknown: Great thing about NYC is the outpouring of support from labor unions. Unions here want to support us. Looking for strategy to reach out to unions who want to help us or haven’t yet heard of us. Network them so they can support the occupation. Formally propose committee.
Amendment: Include co-ops and collectives. Rejected.
Danny: Propose sibling committee that talks to coalitions, farmers, co-ops, etc.
Some clarifying questions. (Sorry, I couldn’t hear them.)
Agenda Item: Diversity and Outreach
Watts: Proposal to hold separate discussion on accessibility. Accepted.
Thomas: Been to similar occupations and protests that had advocates, conflict mediation and inclusion backgrounds. To increase accountability of community to itself. Hold out on move to consensus proposal until we hear more from stack.
Marshall: Calling pastors next week to bend their ear to social justice concerns of group. Austin Inner-faith. Propose committee to talk to the people who are going to make us more diverse.
Watts: Talk last night to make sure that we have Spanish, expand to all languages through bi-lingual volunteers. Include this in Welcoming Committee. Connecting to Welcoming Committee.
Connect this to committee created yesterday for Outreach. This committee can be a hub for all the other outreach type committees.
James: This location could be good for occupation because it is in East Austin and perfect for outreaching into diverse communities.
End of stack.
Combine three proposals into one committee that deals with diversity and keeps group culturally sensitive. Call it “Inclusion Committee”.
Pointed out group was created yesterday for this.
If there is not already a committee, there will be one. Agreed.
Peter: Like to see more diversity on internet presence. Lot of people can’t make the meetings. They are really long. Hold meetings in web if we can. Talk to Anton.
Amanda: Propose we include committee for intellectual and mental disabilities. Outreach.
News from NY: 100s arrested marching across Brooklyn Bridge. Square is still held down.
5 minute break. Move out of sun.
Agenda Item: Accessibility
Danny: Propose that we have a working group on wheel chair accessibility issues into as much of the activity locations of the group. Include this in planning and thinking about action locations and actions.
Move for consensus at end of agenda item.
Side-note: Designate smoking area at beginning of every meeting.
Marshall: There are other accessibility issues to deal with, too. Will connect with group.
Jessica: Propose facilities committee that can deal with accessibility issues and things like smoking area issues. Bathrooms. Comfort. Fire exits. Etc. Changed to friendly amendment. Broaden scope of previous proposal to Facilities committee.
Watts: Physical or environmental access to sites. Site selectors should coordinate with facilities committee. Agreed.
Danny: Logistical plan.
Devon: People might not come out because they think this is an excuse to party. People passing by can find the process alienating. Will discuss with welcoming committee.
Chris: Parking. Locking up bicycles. This is in the works.
Point of Process: This should be brought up in committee. Not GA.
Danny will be magnet.
Point of Process: No more magnets. Three people to form a working group / committee. They will take on their internal forms organically.
Anton: Propose primary point of contact in committee. This can be done in committee and communicated to larger group.
Agenda Item: Welcome Committee
Joshua J: Need three people to step up to have this committee running by tomorrow’s meeting. Concise information w/ pictures of hand signals. Some way of, when choosing a location, to have main point of entry so that people who arrive late can be given direction in process. “Guide to Thrive” instead of survival guide.
Decoy: Welcoming Committee needs to be diverse group of people. People feel more comfortable when they see people like them.
Four people have volunteered.
Point of Process: To create a committee somebody needs to officially propose it, then there needs to be a quorum of three to create the committee.
Jessica: Function of Welcoming Committee: if somebody is new, they will get the process, but they will also be able to join a committee, possibly have some kind of badge for people on committees like medics, etc. Armbands. Something.
Kevin: Beneficial to create sign up sheet to vow to nonviolent, nondestructive, protect human values.
Anton: Propose that somebody who understands this process produce content for the website, too.
Kristian: Guide will have information and objectives for every committee. Also, people shouldn’t be reprimanded for not understanding the process.
Watts: Access for people blind, or those who can’t make hand signals. Need to discuss this.
Out of time for topic. Finish stack. 1 minute each.
Keqoui?: Motion to start welcome committee.
Anna: Idea for guide: Every committee submits information sheet to bring all together. But keep it concise.
Isaac: Make guide part of welcoming committee.
Consensus on welcoming committee that also drafts guide: Agreed.
Isaac: Pick a few topics left and table rest for next time?
Unknown: Have breakout time during GA and come back to discuss as group. Agreed starting with next meeting.
Unknown: Propose signs for breakout groups. Agreed.
Watts: Propose all GAs are done before sunset. Agreed.
Unknown: Proposal to color code working groups: Add as agenda item: Agreed.
Back to Agenda.
One more topic then move to Open Discussion: Agreed.
Move to raise money for freedom tower (Free us from Google, Facebook), and other things:
Agenda Item: Location and time of next GA.
News from NY: around 350 people penned in on bridge. They were blocking traffic on bridge.
Jill: Need bathroom and water source. Wheelchair accessible bathroom.
Katy: Early in the afternoon there weren’t as many people here. Hold meeting later.
Joshua J: Pick one spot and use that spot every day for meetings. OR. Keep moving each day to hit different communities. Possibly move toward Campus area. Then west side. Keep moving locations? Keep things spontaneous. Endorses idea to keep moving. Propose that next location be at Campus area.
James: Same time and same place is better for people who can’t check internet all the time. If we do move it around we need plenty of notice.
Katy: When we do decide where to meet, lets get it online the night before. If we are going to move it, advertise it in the communities.
Unknown: Move it to Wooldridge park. Library right there.
Lucian: We chose this space to reach out to minority communities, but did not advertise it. Propose that we keep meeting here.
Decoy: Been chasing you guys around to different locations. New here. It is hard to find vague places such as “Barton Springs Area”. Post meeting locations everywhere.
Jessica: Propose that tomorrow we meet here, 4pm – 7pm. Propose that at beginning of Agenda is talk about Oct 6th scheduling and locations of future meetings. Accessibility committee try to unlock bathrooms.
Joshua: We need solutions to the sun for tomorrow if there are more people.
Jill: Bring water, snacks. Let’s make it more accessible.
Unknown: Human microphone. Get into habit of this.
Unknown: Gibbons Park on East side w/ large pavilion. More visible. 12th and Springdale.
Unknown: Gibbons actually isn’t accessible as far as the pavilion goes.
Ellen: City has website with city parks. Information about accessibility is there.
Decoy: New event for EACH meeting for liking to work on Facebook.
Amanda: If we are moving to spread voices we need to have welcoming committee ready right then. Otherwise, awkward.
Unknown: Used to live next to Gibbons park. Far out on East side. Long bus ride. Republic Square Park is pretty empty on Sundays. Large trees w/ shade. Proposal to meet at Republic Square Park.
Isaac: Two proposals on the table. Here or Republic Square Park?
Temperature taking on two proposals.
Agreed to meet at Public Square Park (4th and Guadalupe) at 4:04 to 7:07pm.
News from NY: 20 children arrested. People were actually corralled onto bridge by Police. More people in Liberty Plaza than EVER. Boston, 3000 people marching toward Bank of America! Portugal 150,000? Brazil October 15.
READY TO TAKE THE POWER BACK!
Breakout committees then free discussion.
Moment of Silence for NY and other cities.