By Clayton (email@example.com)
The first day of the occupation was a success! Though the crowd started out predictably small, it grew steadily throughout the day and by the 3pm General Assembly the Austin American Statesman reported there were about 1500 people in attendance. Later in the evening, by our own counts, that number swelled, possibly over 2000. It was great to see so many people in solidarity behind our cause and I hope these numbers keep rising as the occupation moves forward.
In order to sustain momentum, Dani and the Coalition Outreach Committee called for a canvassing of neighborhoods around Austin to bring in a diverse group of people. Dave Cortez was able to sign a lot of people up for doing “bank runs” and hopes that today’s 4:00pm march (for which he’d like people to start to gather around 3:30) will add to those involved in direct action against large bailout banks. The address of our Base Camp was announced (5011 E. Ceasar Chavez) and Harry with the Transportation Committee needs people to help shuttle people back and forth as well as transport supplies. Chadwick is helping to handle web content and asks for videos, pictures, audio, etc be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org so he can get them up on the website.
The GA itself ran possibly more smoothly than any other meeting we’ve had to date. There was concern that the procedural structure would not work with so many people in attendance. Facilitation met for about half an hour before the GA began to discuss ways to handle the size of the crowd and decided to try and stick to proposals whenever possible, and encourage people not to plug their website or cause if they couldn’t form a proposal that the group could approve or disapprove of. The GA was used a place to present well-formed and actionable ideas, and to link people and other committees with magnet groups working on similar projects.
The meeting adjourned after an hour and 45 minutes, our shortest GA to date. A full agenda was set and covered, and we reached some consensus decisions.
- Lost and Found was established next to the Library
- A statement of solidarity with the tent city was passed: “We don’t necessarily want to break the law, but we respect the tent city’s right to civil disobedience and stand in solidarity with them.” That could possibly use some revision.
- Les was approved as magnet of the Political Action committee to discuss issues/ordinances we could get behind as a group. I hope this does not tread on the feet of the Local Action committee who is trying to work with city council to meet our demands.
- Thomas was approved as temporary magnet for the Radical Cheerleaders and led a chant that provided a nice energy release during the meeting.
- Sarah was approved to begin organizing a benefit concert.
- Support for Art Acevedo and the APD was nearly unanimous, and the suggestion by someone that they were going to turn and arrest us was highly unpopular. There were, in fact, no incidents that I’m aware of.
In a nutshell, the GA flowed very smoothly and seems more than capable of accommodating large numbers of people. The Facilitation Committee met afterwards to discuss ways of further improving that flow and simplicity for newcomers. The advocate position that worked so well yesterday was officially added to the facilitating team and will be utilized at every meeting.
The structure is beginning to fall into place! We’re creating a space where people can express their ideas and truly shape what this movement is about. We are working to decentralize power into the committees so that those most passionate about an issue can work together to solve it, and then present their well-constructed ideas to the larger body. We are becoming more efficiently able to facilitate these GA meetings so that everyone has a voice and there is as close to no conflict as possible.
It would seem, after the first day of the Occupation, that our General Assembly will thrive on the influx of ideas, rather than be crushed by the influx of people.