Dear Occupy Philly,
These notes document discussion about restructuring the Occupy Philly GA and instituting a Spokes Council Model in the service of Working Group needs and finances.
11/19/2011 PROCESS MEETING NOTES: Part 2
Held by Messaging and Facilitation at the Friends Center
36 individuals present, including members of the following Working Groups:
Messaging, Outreach, Facilitation, Legal, Training, Dilworth Plaza WG, Grannies for Peace Brigade, Friends Center WG, Interfaith WG, Committee of Correspondence, Radical Caucus, Labor WG, and Medic
- Discuss our current GA process, focusing first on its strengths and its potential to be more effective and inclusive
- Discuss the challenges of our current GA process
STRENGTHS OF GA:
- Consistent meeting time
- Ends on time
- Attempt to include so many voices, attempt to hear
- Basic consistent structure, people know what they’re getting
- Everyone appearing together, in person, solidarity even in disagreement
- Pieces that are replicable: in working groups,
- Place for dialogue
- Educative, tools for facilitating, teaching people the process to use elsewhere
- People’s Mic, inclusive of many voices
- Livestream, allows people offsite to feel connected (development)
- Empowering how inclusive it is, being able to speak up in powerless corporate conditions
- Still making decisions despite debatable unity
- Fact that you can come for first time and have a voice, participate, join a conversation
- New presence every night (pro/con) Fluidity
- Transparency: livestream and notes
CHALLENGES WITHIN THE GA (outlined by OWS living document):
- Time for Visioning
- Trust & Solidarity
OUR ADDITIONS (CHALLENGES WITHIN OP’s GA):
- Lack of continuity, new participants and new agenda each day
- Time concerns in the GA – lack of consideration for people’s work- or family-related commitments, ageism
- Limited voice from the larger community: incorporating suburbs, workers, parents
- Why 2/3 majority?
- Lack of specific voting days, no set schedule
- Lack of cohesion among Working Groups
- Hearsay at the GA that distorts factual information
- Unclear information for how to join a Working Group
- No chance for people with proposals to respond to concerns during the process
- Transparency (circulation of GA notes)
- Proposal process flawed, aside from information
- Our composition does not represent city of Philadelphia well
- No GA website!
- Unbalanced distribution of work to get through from day to day
- No common objective
- Implementing GA “strong days” on which votes are made, or fewer GAs per week
- Fact-checking for proposals and posting-up of factual information
- Distinguishing Working Groups from the GA structure
- Networking between WGs, cross-WG support,
- Outreach to larger community
- Livestreaming, updating from/to the GA (shout-out to Philly Bob for monitoring the livestream chat)
- Calendar of proposals to circulate in advance of a GA vote
- Centralized list of Google groups for people who want to join (this will be compiled during the current process meeting)
- Improved proposal process:
o First state the problem.
o Address why is it a problem (specifically to OP and in the larger community).
o Present possible solutions.
o Then present the proposal for attaining the most viable solutions.
ADDRESSING THE 2/3 VOTING MAJORITY:
- Occupy Philly passes a proposal on a 2/3 majority, whereas other occupy sites (including all of the major city sites) work on the basis of unanimous decision-making, and only if needed, go to the 9/10 vote. While a unanimous or even 9/10 vote seems unrealistic for OP at the present time (considering how dividing we, at times, are), there is an argument for this:
- If we restructure the GA around the larger goals of the movement, and create space for working groups to network and support one another, it will be more realistic to reach agreement on proposals and OP direction.
ADDRESSING OCCUPY PHILLY’S COORDINATING COMMITTEE (CoCo):
- The assumption is that a Spokes Council will dissolve the need for CoCo
Concerns with CoCo specifically:
- Lack of transparency - no notes! There is an idea to start livestreaming Coco meetings
- Agenda is formed according to individual whims on any given day
Question: If we move to a Spokes Council model we would still need CoCo for GA – right? Someone must decide what will go into the GA agenda.
Input from Facilitation: Restructuring the GA might take time – there must be a technical fix for a transitional period of time. The problem with CoCo is not participation; the problem is subjectivity: often, people only go to CoCo when they have a proposal (biased contribution)
2 kinds of proposals should go to GA (because they require consent of GA):
1. Decisions that affect the entire GA
2. Decisions for big picture visioning
Proposal to immediately disband and restart CoCo under NEW NAME with specific guidelines and requirements that need to be met to go directly to the GA:
- New-CoCo must evaluate the criteria
- Will include “Spokes” into the name so it won’t become entrenched
DISCUSSION OF THE SPOKES COUNCIL MODEL:
Using visuals from Occupy Portland: http://occupyportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Spokes-Proposal-PDF...
OWS Final proposal (living document): http://www.nycga.net/files/2011/10/Spokes-Council-v4.pdf
From the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns http://wri-irg.org/node/11059
OWS Spokes Council Minutes: http://www.nycga.net/category/assemblies/minutes-sc/
LOGISTICS: Spokes Council frequency: 3 times per week and GA occurs on the 2 alternate days per week. More info to come.
ADVANTAGES OF SPOKES COUNCIL:
- The Spokes model attempts to be as inclusive as possible
- Attempts to do away with arbitrary decision-making
- Lends more structure to decision-making process
Concern: Spokes might answer questions we have about our current process, but clarity is an issue: we have detailed written materials from other Occupy sites, but we need to direct and demonstrate the process for our own GA.
Concern with Spokes Council attendance and Accountability: Will we transition in our process from completely voluntary to mandatory attendance?
- What happens if only one person is present to represent their entire WG?
- Will there be more personal accountability than in CoCo?
- Who is accountable to go to Spokes Council meetings?
o If we’re not holding each other accountable for being present, we need to adjust so that people can be present at those meetings (this has been a difficulty in CoCo–time concerns of 5pm)
We will meet again on Saturday, November 26, 2pm