NYC Operational Spokes Council Minutes 11/14/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Spokes Council Minutes.


Date / Time: Monday 11/14/2011 / 7:00pm EST

Location: 56 Walker Street, NYC

Facilitators (F): Shawn, Lisa
Taking stack: Tristan, Cynthia

Facilitation support: Steven, Erik, Anthony, Daniel, William, Michael

Minutes: Megan/Carrie



59.1.  Review of Community Agreements

59.2.  Proposed Admission of Working Groups into Spokes Council (SC)

–                    Women Occupying Wall Street (passed)

–                    OWS en Espanol (passed)

–                    Minutes (passed)

–                    Town Planning (passed)

–                    Women Occupying Nations (not passed)

59.3.  Announcements

F: Good evening, everyone! How y’all doing? Is our host Lenny here? We just wanted to take a second to thank the people who worked to get this space. It’s a very hard process to get space … We want to acknowledge this is a challenging space. We’re gonna do the best we can …

[Singing “What do we do with the greedy bankers …” applause]

[The spoke for each group introduces themselves one by one …]

F: We’ve also got some signs here for some groups who didn’t pick up their signs. … Is there any way to turn that spotlight off or down? Anyone know if we can get that toned down?

F: We’d like to talk a little about the meeting tonight and talk about what … We set up four goals for this meeting: One is to continue to fill out … another, we want to practice functioning like a Spokes Council. There are some hot-button issues and maybe we can talk out them tonight. And we’d like to have some fun!

F: We do want to talk about some agreements, what do we need from each other tonight? We’d like one round of a hot-button-issue discussion, issues that none of us have the answers for. Spend a few minutes, what does your group need from what of these items?  The model of spokes is sort of like a wheel—in the center, in theory, are those delegated to speak on behalf of your group, those around are the members of those groups, outside is observers. We’re working in layers. That’s the meat of tonight, trying to get more folks into the center of the circle. After that, when’s the next meeting and facilitators for the next meeting. Does that meet your needs? Is there anything else in the room that we need?

Q: Can we discuss the General Assembly? There were only 30 people there.

F: Let’s see if there are other items on the …

Q: Direct Action (DA) is asking …

F: DA has an announcement; let’s put announcements on the agenda.

Q: Can we go over hand signals?

[review of hand signals]


59.1.  Review of Community Agreements

F: We are going to be making some decisions tonight and we’d like to spend a few minutes to find out if there’s anything we’d like to agree upon for ground rules.

59.1.1.  No cross-talking; one mic, one voice.

F: This is our host. [applause]

Host: Let me first welcome you. What you’re doing is so important. We support you. [too much chatter, can’t hear him] We have free Internet and good coffee. We’re happy to have you!

F: Back to agreements we can make [suggestions from spokes]:

59.1.1. (continued) Respect the process; only spokes speak; mutual respect; priority of speaking time; announcements that can be done elsewhere, do elsewhere; if you’re  a spoke and you’re getting angry, it’s probably a time to rotate with someone in your group; step up,  step back; less talking about talking and more talking about finances.

F: Mic check!

Comment: For me this is extremely serious. If you’re not talking, please excuse my language, shut up! It is extremely disrespectful to talk when anyone is talking.

F: Honor each other’s voices. It’s a place of respect. Thank you. Let’s a have a short time for reflection, a short time for group discussion.

59.1.2.  We prefer people use “I” statements, phrase it more, “I feel this is going …” instead of, “You are a terrible …”

Comment: We’re not children. Are we in kindergarten?

59.1.3.  I think we should have the ability maybe as a community if someone is being disruptive …

F: Keep it open, address the entire assembly. Keep it from your viewpoint, away from me versus you… Be concise and be civil. Thank you all. We’re building a community. This is a practice. I want to review real quick: Don’t talk over each other, respect each other’s voices, mutual respect.

F: We want to prioritize, the reason we went through the agenda. … The last thing I want to say, if you’ve been speaking a lot, take a breath.  When you speak, make sure it’s something the group needs to hear.

F Are we ready to move on?

F: Step up, step back is a really important principle we use. There are a lot of people here; we ask that only the spoke speak. And who watches the watchmen? [in response to comment from someone] You all do. So please help us to facilitate this conversation. You all watch the watchmen. All right, so this would be a great moment for us to take another breath. I want to just lay out one thing, … back to hot-button. We at OWS have a General Assembly … [interruption] We’re doing the best we can to move through this …

[Commotion: “I am one percent of this meeting … no name calling.” “Shut the fuck up all of you” “You’re so quick to attack me.” “We the people for the people.”]

Mic check!

F: Let’s take a moment to calm down. Take a deeeeeeep breath. Let’s get back to the process. Thank you very much. Do I have your support in continuing the process? [up twinkles]

F: We have a General Assembly where everyone gets to participate. It’s a direct democracy and every individual gets to speak and it’s a decision-making body. What we’re trying to build in SC is a delegated model, not individual-based. … It is a space of indirect democracy, it’s a bureaucratic … Our proposal on the agenda—talk about hot button issues—do that with your operations group or your caucus. If you didn’t [interrupted].

Q: I was just confused. At our last meeting, we were interrupted talking about women’s groups … They were delayed …

F: They are first on the list.

F: So is there someone here who wants to speak on that issue?

F: I want to do a hot-button discussion. This space won’t allow us in a good way. … Financial accountability, camp safety going into winter, … facilitation hot-button issue … we’re choosing to not discuss them to move forward to … groups.

F: Can we take a temp check?

Q: About what?

F: I just want to give an opportunity …


59.2.  Proposed Admission of Working Groups into Spokes Council

59.2.1.  Women Occupying Wall Street Proposed Addition to SC

F: I see some clarifying questions. The groups on this list are going to read this statement, get with your group to discuss, use consensus process, …. I wonder if WOW could come on up and read their statement.  WOW: We’re WOW, and we wanted to open with a statement about last week’s Spokes Council. At last Friday’s Spokes Council, the  WOW spoke stepped up to the mic  [missing text] violating equality … mutual respect, yielding to those who … silencing of WOW thus far, failed as a … concrete actions, … That said, WOW is in full support of Spokes Council. This statement, about disrespectful… marginalization … commit to one foundational practice … if we are to break the pattern.

[cheers and applause]  WOW recognizes that defining WOW can be difficult … female-identified, non-male-identified, …to further ensure marginalized voices are heard, exclude homophobic, etc… [twinkles] Meetings are Sunday, 6 pm at 60 Wall Street, Wednesday at 6, Thursday at 6, also at 60 Wall Street.

F: The group makes their appeal, groups that are here will quickly caucus to decide if WOW should be part of the Spokes Council.

F: Just a quick thing before we go into the formal, decision-making process. This is an Operational Spokes Council. [defines operational groups and  caucuses]

F: Marginalized groups, what we do may affect them differently, particularly when it comes to … Both caucuses and operational groups are welcome to join this Council. So what we want to do now is try to reach consensus. We’ve had a proposal from WOW. Now we’re going to take clarifying questions, then concerns, then a quick temp check.

F We are opening stack, so if you’d like to ask a clarifying question, raise your sign.  Clarifying Questions

F: Is this a clarifying question? You don’t understand what’s being proposed?  CQ: I understand the proposal, what I don’t understand is we’re trying to build an operational Spokes Council but if caucuses are automatically in, do we need to do this?  CQ: I didn’t fully hear what you were saying, can you clarify what you were saying, what’s the difference between men and women?

F: Not a clarifying question.  CQ: Is this process we’re undertaking tonight meant to weed out redundancy among caucus representations?

F: No.  CQ: It’s a concern and a question.

F: Go for it. (continued) CQ: It is redundancy, I’m nervous about the idea of having more than one women’s caucus. Would these two groups consider consolidating? Have they gone through any mediation?

Response: WOW: We did meet. The other women’s group feels that they need a space for women only. WOW is open to everyone.

F: We have similar caucuses. Can’t they just converge? One is open and comfortable with women only, the other isn’t …

F: Listen, we got the questions out, now we’re at the place to see if there are any concerns about allowing this caucus into the Council.  Concerns  C: Movement Building: Carrie has a concern, but it’s not representative of movement building—we are opposed to everything she has to say.


F: You guys don’t have a consensus among your group?  Carrie: As a woman, I think it’s problematic, and a double-edged sword. You can maybe marginalize yourself. I love male aggression and I totally respect it!

[Someone yells “Fuck that!”—laughter and applause].  Women Occupying Nations (WON): Ashley: My concern is that some of the misinformation—some feel it’s redundant—I would appreciate people not putting us together. We have our own statement. We stand in solidarity. We would like a safe space for women only.

F: The process we’re in, we ask questions, we voice concerns, we’ll do a little bit of a check right now … a little bit of a check to see if WOW comes in. One more concern.  C:  I think my concern, our concern, is we’re not asking for the women’s groups to combine. We respect them to have their space, they are representing a women’s voice, but … figure out a way to have only one vote …

Response: WOW: The problem with having one spoke, that let’s say if it was WOW, and we choose a trans man to speak, the others may not be comfortable having a man as a spoke …

F: Let’s take a straw poll, use your groovy …, how many spokes support WOW joining the Council?

Look around, see whose cards are up. How many spokes believe WOW should NOT be part of Spokes.

in a formal –

Q: The way you phrased that, you said you wanted to exclude a caucus, …

F: What the General Assembly decided is that clusters got taken out, each group coming in on their own authority … simply making a decision about WOW being part of the Council. We had questions and we had concerns, …the next question is, are there any blocks to WOW joining the Council?

[no blocks]


F: Welcome, WOW. The next group on the agenda is … Families. Anyone from Family? Raise your hand. No one.

59.2.2.  OWS en Espanol Proposed Addition to SC

F: We have the space until 11pm tonight, so let’s get this moving. Okay, OWS en Espanol.  OWS en Espanol: I don’t have our written statement. I’m gonna tell you real quick what we do, why we’re an operational group. We are OWS, we just do everything in Spanish. We have our own table, we provide our OWS journal, we have our own media, we have translations of everything for those who don’t speak English. … Any questions?

F: We’re not doing questions yet. Talk within your groups. …

[spokes convene]  Clarifying Questions

F: We should be getting used to this now. Are there any clarifying questions? Raise your card right now so stack can get it … Okay, Occupiers and Music.  CQ: Music: Do you guys operate on a cultural level or a language level?  CQ: Strong Women Rules: What are the hours you guys are at the table?

Espanol: 9 am to 10 pm every day.

F: Are there concerns about OWS en Espanol becoming part of the Council?  CQ:  A member of our group is asking if Espanol be willing to change their name. Would they be willing to incorporate other languages?

Espanol: We deal with the Spanish community. We’re not just a language group; it’s a cultural thing.  Concerns

F: Any concerns?  WON: Ashley: I have a concern that it’s also cultural and not just language.  My concern is that we’re being insensitive to the Spanish-speaking community …

F: Are there any others?  C: We were wondering if OWS en Espanol is open to everyone.

Espanol: We are open to anyone who wants to work in Spanish. We have people not of Spanish decent, but want to …

F: We are trying to expedite this process …  C: Translation WG: I understand the need for culture and language … we all work here together in Translation. The group itself represents translation. Having you all a part of Translation makes us stronger.

Espanol: We have a different working group and we liaise with OWS all the time. There’s a lot of people in OWS en Espanol who work with people in Translation.

F: Are there blocks to Espanol.coming into the Council?’  No blocks! Okay welcome, OWS en Espanol.

F: Ok anyone have a colored marker?

59.2.3.  Minutes Proposed Addition to SC

F: Now we’re up to Minutes.  Minutes: The Minutes working group works to provide accurate, verbatim minutes of all GAs and Spokes Council meetings. …

F: If your  spokes and your group has a clarifying question, please raise your card right now. Kitchen, Press, Media—a bunch of signs.  Clarifying Questions  CQ: Press: Doesn’t every working group take their own minutes?

A: General Assembly and Spokes Council are not working groups, so we are taking minutes for General Assembly and Spokes Council.  CQ: Are you guys interested in coming to work with other groups and creating more standardized minutes?

A: We have a template for our minutes, and we’re looking forward to helping other working groups with their minutes. We’d be open to training, once we have more people.  CQ: Organization: Could Minutes please clarify their relationship to Information?

A: We have no relation to Information Desk.  CQ: Where do the minutes go?

A: They go to, under the “Assemblies” tab.  CQ: With great respect for all the work that you do, we have a question: Why do you have to have a person as a spoke? Why aren’t you a subgroup ….

A:  It is a requirement of the General Assembly to have a SC and the SC must have minutes. In order for SC to exist, Minutes has to exist. We’re not a platform, just making sure meetings can function.  CQ: We were wondering if Minutes would consider working with Organization since they’re similar?

A: We’re not sure what Organization does.  CQ: OWS en Espanol: Do you guys only work with Facilitation or if we are all able to use Minutes?

F: They only do the Spokes Council and GAs?

A:  Are you asking if we do minutes for other meetings? We’d be willing to, but we’re absolutely swamped right now … If we get more volunteers to join us, we could branch out and do more for more groups.  Concerns  C: If the group is not anything other than just doing minutes …

A: Why we want to participate in the Spokes Council … we work 16-hour days … We should be part of the democratic process and be part of the group.

F: If we work together we’ll get through this much faster.  C: Kitchen: We thought our question was answered …

F: Megan is taking minutes for this meeting—she doesn’t fully participate in this meeting. That’s a really important job that you’re doing. [applause]

F: When you speak, say your name.

F: They haven’t been able to reach … sorry just all of this stuff … people sit down. Kitchen is not ready to bring concern for …  C: Kitchen: We are. I’m being a voicebox. My name is Joshua. We are having a discussion about the boundaries of operational and working groups. Why is it necessary to be a spoke rather than a movement group?

A: We see ourselves as logistical, not as movement. At all.

F: Concern or process? Could you get your card up?  C: Press: Duane. We were concerned that defending the fact that you exist as important, but are you actually operational?

A: We’re confused how we could be considered NOT operational. Without a record, you couldn’t go back to see if a proposal was passed, for transparency …

F: Testing for consensus. We had our questions; we had our concerns. Are there any blocks? No? Woohoo!

[Yay! Cheers!]

F: No clapping!

Mic check!

F: I’d like to raise a Point of Information. As I mentioned before, everyone is open to … One of the things you can do is drop a comment in the comment box. Any feelings you have about Facilitation, drop in the comment box.

Q: I’m concerned our only options are block or consent.

F: That is the format you’ve consensed to. I’ve been told that if you try anything new, you people freak out.

F: Welcome, Minutes!

F: Town Planning is next.

59.2.4.  Town Planning Proposed Addition to SC  Town Planning: Town Planning sees to the harmony and … working group locations, pathway signage, landscaping, how we lay out shared spaces … we balance community needs. … We spend a lot of time dovetailing with the tent issues, fire safety, we provide material and logistical support …

F: For those groups who have a question, raise your card, if you have a question about town planning coming into the Council.  Clarifying Questions  CQ: Tech: We’re wondering how you’re communicating within the community to ensure that your planning is effective and isn’t affecting …

TP: Meetings are open. We welcome everyone’s input. Every Sunday, 3 pm 60 Wall Street. Daily 10:45 scrum at 60 Wall. As far as affecting people in their tents—we hope we are!

F: PoI: Whether they’re an operational group should be the focus.  CQ: Occupiers with Dietary Restrictions: Sage: How can you reach Town Planning to get materials and support?

A: Sundays at 3 at the Atrium. We have an extensive member contact list … I mean, throughout the day, we’re not in one place, we are all over. I can give you my phone number.

F: Doesn’t sound like …

TP: We don’t have a table we work out of. We spend a lot of time running around making things happen.  CQ: Medical: We are wondering whether or not you work with Architecture and Design. Is there redundancy with what they’re doing?

TP: … Environmental signage, what is where, not just what goes where. … Design are the experts in that regard. Hey it’d be great if we had signs where the kitchen … Architecture deals with structures.

PoI: Design means graphic design.  CQ: Library: I was wondering if you could clarify all the operational things that you do in the park so everyone will know.

TP: … started off the radar, without the density of the park. Town Planning hopes to be a forum to deal with overcrowding … want to make sure the working groups aren’t bumping into each other or bumping into the occupiers, … this is the place to coordinate.  CQ: Strong Women Rules: Nan: How does Town Planning work with the occupiers? You just came and took over. I would like to Town Planning to basically put down their agendas so everyone can put in their input …

F: To clarify, how are you working with occupiers and ….

TP: The agenda of Town Planning is no different than OWS. … We understand what betters the movement; we’re at the service of providing the forum for that to happen. …

F: We are now moving to see if there’s any concerns. Raise your card.  Concerns  C: Occupy Dignity: I’m just concerned because in the past, Town Planning doesn’t seem to have worked very well with the occupiers to get input with their plans, actively engage with the occupiers rather than wait for the occupiers to come to your meeting.

Response: I think the folks in this room look at the occupiers the same way the outside world looks at OWS. [laughter] … We did take a survey of the occupiers, going tent-to-tent …  WON: Ashley: I don’t appreciate anti-occupier, anti-homeless remarks and laughing while saying it …

F: The truth is we have a lot of divide in our community. That is real, that is our challenge. As we grow our movement, be more conscious and … be sure those who are occupiers …

F: No other concerns? I want to take a temp check … for the purpose right now, just from the people with cards, how do we feel about Town Planning joining the Council?

F: I’d like to practice that as a method. Straw poll: [mostly positive] These think they should be in. Now how many think that Town Planning should NOT be in the Council? Now we have a much clearer sense of where the room is, now I want to go back to the decision-making process. If there were a lot of negatives we would need more discussion. I’m going to move us through … are there any blocks to Town Planning joining our town Council?

[block from Nan]

F: This is an example of why we didn’t do a good job in our process. She asked a question, I made a mistake. I should have stopped … I’d like to see if you’re willing to take a step back and let Nan ask her, her concern.  Nan: My concern … I have some good people who … she passed out because they forced her out of her tent. If they’re part of this Spokes Council, they’ll have more power. Give proper notice to people in their tents [yelling]  Did not plan properly.

F: Can Town Planning …

PoI: Town Planning did not put up those tents, Medical and … did … that wasn’t a Town Planning action.

F: Perfect Point of Information. Nan’s concern is if Town Planning is planning our town, they need to work with the town.

PoI: Nan’s question about moving the tent … Nan took it upon herself to … [something about Safer Spaces]

Nan: Don’t get me started.

F: Even though a different group moved it …

TP: There’s some disagreement among the Town Planning …Can I clarify? The proposal for tents coming is part of the General Assembly. This is not the venue for this.

F: Nan, are you willing to withdraw your block?

[removes her block]

F:Town Planning has just joined the Council!  Mic check! Welcome, Town Planning.

F: I’d like to remind us all I saw a Point of Process. Some people were speaking, keep in mind … We’ve been here a long time. It’s 9:37 pm, do you feel you want to keep moving?

59.2.5.  Women Occupying Nations (WON) Proposed Addition to SC

Point of Process: I’m having problems understanding why some people are consistently the same spoke from their group.

WON: Ashley: Last Friday I was a little taller and a little chubbier—I am a different person.

F: It’s a legitimate process issue because what the General Assembly agreed to was that spokes would rotate. … If we can understand we are in a transitionary period. … At the next Council, you should have a different spoke. Based on what people agreed to, you should have a different spoke. So if you have been a spoke before, you should rotate.

PoI: We decided it was twice in a row.  WON:  This is a caucus, a safe place for women only. There’s disproportionate economic injustice in NYC and in the world that women suffer. We wanted to … suggest for other working groups who want to be allies, we are just a safe place.  A safe place for women only. We do stand with WOW. There seemed to be concerns that we were redundant. But they accept men and we feel uncomfortable with men being spokes so … a safe space for women only should be able to have a vote and we shouldn’t feel threatened … so let’s not feel threatened.

PoP: I object to calling trans men “men” …

WON: We allow all types of women.  Clarifying Questions  CQ: Occupiers: 1) A caucus is a self-determining group. How many are in this group? 2) How do they define “woman”?

WON: We have enough people in the group to be considered a caucus. I’m also member of WOW, and so are a few of the women involved. Women are marginalized around the world. We definitely … We didn’t want a man speaking as spoke because, as women, we wanted to speak for ourselves.

F: Restate: How many people are in your group?

WON: A dozen people, but we are getting more and more. Originally, we were members of WOW but they decided to be more inclusive.  We need a safe space for women only, therefore only a woman would be representing us at SC. We accept anyone who identifies as a woman. There was misinformation early on, there’s another group that doesn’t let trans men in, but that’s not us.  CQ: Tech: We have a concern over redundancy. This came up previously.

[interrupted by F]  CQ: Translation: We understand, sometimes people identify as having both sexes or genders. Will you allow people who identify in that way to be part of the group, even if they don’t 100% identify as women?

WON: This is a safe place for people who identify as women. There is a group that’s more inclusive, it’s WOW. If they identify just as women, this is the caucus for them.


PoP: Let’s get back to process.  CQ: Training: I’m Nicole. 1) When does your group meet? 2) If you represent a group of marginalized voices, why is it we rarely see members of that group?

WON: 5:30 on Sundays. We left WOW. The reason is because we are still working on that because some people wanted a space for women only.

[WOW says they don’t want to be discussed right now as part of this discussion]

F: Nicole, do you feel like your question was answered? Where do you meet?

WON: 60 Wall Street.  CQ: Outreach: Twofold, it borders on a concern. You asked us to concentrate on the differences between you and another group. But isn’t the process here to be more inclusive? Don’t we want to start breaking down walls, not building them?

WON: We, as WON, though we appreciate the inclusiveness of the other group, we don’t want men representing us … We don’t understand why people feel threatened by that. (continued) CQ: Follow-up: Are there any people in this room who are NOT of color?

[boos]  CQ: We are unclear. Could you expand on the definition on anyone who defines herself as woman?

WON: Anyone who self-identifies as a woman is welcome in this group.  CQ: Even men?

WON: If you are born as a man but identifying as woman. We are accepting of all women.  CQ: Direct Action: Some men can identify as women, but if you are saying you accept people who are born men but identify as women, why don’t you accept transgender men?

WON: I have friends who were born female and identify as men and they say they are offended we would accept people like that in this caucus … This is a safe space for women only. We are not anti-man, I don’t know why people are upset. It’s a good thing, a positive thing.

Also from WON: Maybe we should clarify some terminology because I hear side conversations of people who don’t understand. So maybe if F could take a minute and help explain. …

F: We want a neutral person who could give a definition of transgender.

Jessie: I’d like to clarify the definitions. A trans man is a biological woman who is born with female genitalia and cells who undergoes a process involving testosterone to become socially a male, regardless of whether they have surgery. A trans woman is same except in reverse, a biological male who undergoes hormones or surgery to become socially a woman but not necessarily … .Gender nonconforming,or  genderqueer, is a person of any sex who identifies outside the realm of masculine or feminine or identifies as both using the normative terminology . They tend to represent in ways that are nonconforming to our ideals. …  Intersex, the simplest way to describe it is people not born entirely male or female. This includes a myriad of people of which I’m not going to describe the extent of … Cisgender is people who are born male or female and identify with the gender corresponding to their sex, according to society’s ideals. A hermaphrodite is an undocumented occurrence, but at least in theory, in humans, is a person with completely functional male and female genitalia. …

PoI: Safer Spaces: You don’t need surgery to identify as a trans person, because sex and gender are two different things. A trans man is someone assigned female at birth and who decides not to conform to that, and vice versa for a trans woman, and I want us to respect that.

PoI: Community Alliance: People need to understand there’s a steadily growing number of people who are gender nonconforming. They feel they can’t join a dominant female or male or trans group because they don’t believe in gender, period.

F: Now we’re going back in to CQ process.  CQ: Queer ally and transgendered ally, can that woman who just explained, explain that?

WON: Someone who does not identify as queer or trans but who understands, respects, empathizes with the struggles and puts themselves in position to become sensitive to these issues.

F: We’re going back into concerns now. Opening stack.

F: One more question.  CQ: Queering OWS: Now that we understand all those definitions, how does that make you different from WOW? And which one of those definitions do you not accept?

WON: It’s unfortunate that people are pitting us against each other. WOW is more inclusive—they do let men into their group. We wanted to have a safe space for women only. We respect and acknowledge men, but don’t want them to represent us.  Concerns  C: Screen Printing Guild: These groups are coming off as exclusionary. What would be the benefit to the SC of having two women’s caucuses?  C: Town Planning: We have a concern that multiple caucuses are representing the same marginalized group. This is a wonderful thing; however, setting aside what that marginalization is real, I think we can proceed to a question of, don’t we fundamentally have here a disagreement about who will serve as a spoke? The SC has already said it’s up to them to hash out who’s there to hold the sign.  C: Occupiers with Restrictive Diets: Sage: As someone who came here for a specific need, I’m concerned about the culture of this room and I’m wondering if every time someone says they have a need not met, are they going to be attacked in this manner? The woman who first spoke on topic of the women’s group, she had a need, she filled it. The second woman speaking had a specific need, she filled it.  … Is every time somebody tries to fill a specific need, are they going to be pushed into the 99% of like the group or no one?  C: Fire Safety: Lopey: You keep saying you have these two groups. What you said is several of the people in WOW are in this group and it doesn’t make sense to me. Where are the other people in your group?

[slight commotion]

WON: People said this just seems like an argument over who’s a spoke or not, … There is a strong possibility that a man would be a spoke of WOW so … we wanted a safe place for women only. This is very important. I’m very confused what the backlash is about.

[yelling from various people and WON]

WON: People think it’s redundant, it’s not. One is for women only. Where are the other members of the group? Some people thought it was at Pearl Street, but regardless we care. … Our voices should count.

F: We are starting to ask the same stuff over again. Please only speak if there’s something that hasn’t been addressed.

PoI: We are deciding if the group fits the definition of caucus. I don’t feel we should be having a discussion about whether they should cluster.  C: Safer Spaces:  As Safer Spaces, our concern is not about redundancy. Our concern is that you keep making a distinction between it being a safe space and being an inclusive one, and the problem is, that can alienate people. If anything, it’s better to be more inclusive. My concern is people are feeling unsafe. I’m concerned how you’d make the distinction if someone who appeared masculine but identified as a woman came to your meeting. How would you handle that? Would you reject someone who didn’t use the gender pronoun “she”?

Comment: Strong Women Rules: Nan: You know I love you and I support you baby! Do you think people are giving you hell because you are a strong black woman? … How would you train women to be strong in a world of hateful men …?

Q: Organization: How do we find out the status of the organization?

F: You should check back here …  C: I’m concerned the Queering people haven’t said a damn thing. We have a history of ignoring the trans community—let’s not start that here! My concern is, I don’t know what you do! I can’t invite you to share in the pot when I don’t know what you do.

F: How many more concerns are in the room? Two more on stack.  C: Tech: In terms of enforcement, the individual that comes to this group or this group and declares they are one or the other, it’s impossible for the group to enforce. How could there be a difference even made between them?  C: Transparency: This is more of an organization question: I feel by having one group go first, we are blaming WON, whereas if they’d gone first, we’d be blaming WOW.  C: Queering OWS: We are a group that includes everybody, … because we don’t want to discriminate. But we understand the need for safe space. … I don’t know if that should be permissible, because it’s exclusionary and discriminatory.  C: Community Alliance: What is defined as a group? Is it one person or several?

F: A group is not one person.

PoI: In order to be a group, you have to have five people.

WON: We are a caucus, a safe place. We plan ways for other WGs to be more sensitive to the needs of women in OWS and are working on Direct Action for the United Nations and we are working to make sure it’s a safe space, I know Safer Spaces doesn’t like that, but there were some people who felt their … were being impinged upon. If someone identifies as a woman, that’s fine. We are not transphobic. If someone identifies as a man, we acknowledge them as men. I don’t appreciate vilifying words and isms. I can’t believe people don’t believe this is appropriate.

F: I feel this may not ever be resolved for people, but we’ve been through questions and concerns.

[spokes convene]

F: We are about to go through consensus process with a straw poll on yes, no, undecided, and then go through the process of testing.  Straw poll of letting WON join this Council. Put your signs up. [a few]

How many groups not sure yet? [a few]

Any that feel that WON should NOT join SC? [a few]

[a couple people shouting about “white, racist men,” “racist bastards”]

F: This is the process we go through. I heard someone say they’d like the stand-aside process, but that’s not part of our process. Are there blocks to WON joining the Council?

[Occupiers and Press WGs block]  Blocks  Occupiers: Some in my group have expressed concern over verifying how many people are in the group, and there are some concerns about what work has actually been done with working groups.  Press: Our block is it seems there’s an issue where their group is splitting because of the spoke itself. They are doing the same thing but the only issue is who gets to be the spoke.

F: There are two blocks, and we have more than 20 groups in room, so that’s not enough …

[another block]  WOW: Not a block but serious reservations.

F: When I read the room there were a lot of people opposed, stand-asides, there is not consensus in this room. We could go to a vote? Does that sound like the right way to proceed?

WON: Can we answer blocks? The reason I’m responding is there’s misinformation. It’s a fundamental difference. One only allows women but we don’t … One says it was transphobic because we don’t let trans men in … we are a caucus for women only, this is scare tactic. … By definition, we are supposed to be in this group. If we’re not, this is serious issue.

F: One of the blocking questions was, are there more than five people in your group?

WON: Absolutely there is.

F: If you don’t have 1/10th of spokes blocking, then they come in. This is your process. This is a teaching moment. I believe if we had stand-asides …

PoI: The blocks are not supposed to be for the same reason …

F: If we had had five blocks or more, we’d take it to a vote. That’s what I’m being schooled on. Do we have someone who knows the process?


F: I’d like to take this moment to talk amongst ourselves.

[F convenes]

F: As it stands, our structure is very simple. It had to be for the GA to understand it. In order have a block make something not go forward, you need 1/10th of all the spokes to block. Unless 1/10th of all of the groups block, meaning at least 90% of your group agrees to block it, the proposal goes forward.

F: Now the facilitators need a moment.

[F convenes]

Guy from Occupy Toronto: I train Fs and we all need to be Fs. … Having side conversations or talking over people is really disrespectful. We need to give our genuine focus because if no one is listening, there’s no reason to be speaking. On that note, I would really appreciate it if every time everyone talked, they didn’t have to talk THIS LOUD to make sure people don’t interrupt them.

F: We are moving to a modified consensus or a vote on whether WON should be part of Spokes Council. Hold up your sign if you don’t think they should be part of the SC.

Q: Is our process the same as in the GA, where a block has to be because you have a moral or ethical concern?

F: We are still figuring it out. It is still a serious thing but because we’re not in a consensus-building process … . Please raise your sign [interrupted]

F: We had a number of blocks, lots of stand-asides. The process people feel most comfortable with, based on the groups in the room, is to move to a vote about this group coming as a caucus to the Council We need 9/10ths of groups to support it to go forward .

PoI: Any decision made today can be revisited.

Sage: There’s a woman who’s about to cry …

[disturbance from upset woman]

[prolonged shouting and Fs trying to mediate]

F: We live in a racist, sexist, classist world and there are many who are marginalized and there are many of us in this room who grew up with privilege and we are unconscious of what other communities have gone through. … But you know, someone said to me we actually have as much problem with the unconscious privilege and how it’s manifesting in this world and there’s no way to go around it, we have to go through it. And we as white people  … we have the greatest obligation …There is anger, it’s real anger. I want to express gratitude to all those who helped us hold this space.


[Ashley from WON wants to speak but told she can’t.]

F: I want to honor the work we did around WON and move along in the process.

WON: I have an emergency point of information. The fact that a lot of white males were voting against this group, some women would see that as violent. … We think women should be able to speak for themselves. If you don’t like me personally, that’s fine, but vote against me personally, not against this caucus. This is a caucus, not a popularity contest.

F: Hey guys, we’re all in this together, and I just want to remind everyone we are in this room for the same reason. I want to ask to move this meeting along. Okay? [up twinkles] We need more than 10% of spokes that are here to go against this group entering the SC in order for it not to pass. I want every group to raise your sign so we can take a count. We are just counting the total numbers.

[counts 40]

Raise your sign if you are against. [counts 13]  That constitutes a consensus against this group.

WON: Can you read the definition? [argues that they are voting if they are a caucus or not]

[Definition (as posted on wall): “Self-determining groups of people that share a common experience of being systematically marginalized by society at large.”]

F: The vote is whether this caucus will be given a seat at this table right now. So I just want to make it clear. Whether for WGs or caucuses, we are going through the same process. I want to do this one more time, because I’m not sure it was clear.

Direct Action: What has been happening tonight has nothing to do with WON. Ashley Love uses language that is purposely angry and divisive …

Ashley from WON: This is a personal attack!

F: I’ve asked him to sit down. Hold on. This is a complex place, there’s a lot of personal stuff. We are not talking about Ashley Love—you may love her or have a difficult relationship with her. We are talking about how to be a community. We are making a decision about whether this caucus has a seat at the table.

Ashley from WON: I thought all caucuses got a seat.

F: No, if that’s true, we wouldn’t have spent 45 minutes on this.

F: How many groups think they should come into the SC, raise your sign?


How many groups believe this caucus should NOT come into this SC at this time?


F: Okay so, we’ve just completed our process on WON. Ashley I’m sad to say WON has not been issued a seat right now. Just because it’s a decision tonight doesn’t mean it has to stand forever. There were a lot of concerns offered. …

Ashley: [yelling, “This is disgusting! …” ]

F: This SC did not say WON cannot be a caucus, they just they can’t be part of the SC right now.

Ashley: [yelling about how women don’t get a vote, etc.]

F: We’re almost done. DA has an announcement. Safer Spaces has a statement about what just happened. I’d like to review at the end what we accomplished and what our next steps are. DA is not here for their announcement.

SS: The people from SS would like to express deep concern and distress about how people treated the black woman in this room who was upset. The last thing she needed was people to start screaming at her when she was in a state of emotional turmoil. That’s not how you react to someone? … The fact that people kept coming over her … that was disrespectful.

[shouting from Ashley and Nan]

F: I’d like people to take one moment to hear what Safer Spaces just said.

[yelling from Ashley]

[yelling from some other guy]


59.3.  Announcements

59.3.1.  Community Watch: I would love if every working group would talk to their working group and give one person a spot each day. Contact: . We need people for tonight.

59.3.2.  Joshua from Kitchen: If I could ask for more volunteers for offsite kitchen between 2 and 5 Monday to Friday.

59.3.3.  Part-Time Volunteers: We have a table near the Library. We want to get you volunteers for all your groups. Just wanted to let you know we’re there.

59.3.4.  Tech: The site just hit over 1 million visitors!

59.3.5.  Occupy 477 in Harlem: We are planning an Occupy 477 meeting tomorrow at 8.

59.3.6.  WON: We have a meeting Wednesday, 5 pm 60 Wall Street.

59.3.7.  Interoccupy Post: It gets printed and distributed in the park. It has shout-outs, announcements, I love you, I hate you. In the front, tomorrow, we will have table. Let’s talk about it then.


F: If you feel inspired to be part of F team, come join us at 4 pm 60 Wall Street tomorrow.

F: Thank you to our hosts here. We’re not the easiest group. It’s really important if we find these spaces to keep them, so it’s important we are quiet on the street, so if you’re not staying to clean up, please don’t stay on this block.

F: I would have loved to have done an evaluation, so if you have comments, put them in the box.

Adjourned: 11:21

[Note for posterity: Approximately an hour and a half after this meeting ended, Liberty Square was raided and cleared by the NYPD.]

2 Responses to “NYC Operational Spokes Council Minutes 11/14/2011”

  1. Fritz Tucker

    How has nobody noticed that the protocol for admitting groups into the SC was clearly that 90% of the group had to say NO, until the Women of Nations WG tried to join, at which point it suddenly changed to 90% of the group had to say YES. If anybody has the contact information of the WON, please get in touch with them and let them know that they were voted into the SC and are able to attend all future meetings if they so please.

  2. CarrieM213

    I agree that the criteria for being consensed upon as an operational working group was not consistent. And after this meeting (and the raid) the Spokes Council started including everyone present into the process, in order to deal with more pressing issues, such as housing, food and legal matters. So to my mind, if WON wanted to come back they (or she) could do so.