NYC Operational Spokes Council Minutes 11/23/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Spokes Council Minutes.


Date/Time:  Wednesday, 11/23/2011 / 7:00 PM

Location: 56 Walker Street

Facilitators (F): Brian

Taking Stack: Elaine, Dan; Minutes: Carrie



68.1.  Introduction & Process Discussion

68.2.  Working Group (WG) Reportbacks

68.3.  Breakout Groups to Discuss How to Revive the GA

68.1. Introduction & Process Discussion

F: Nelini: How’s everybody doing? Temp check! [positive] So, a lot of people have been saying, we don’t have a lot of our own songs … I just wanted to start us off with a little thing I wrote a long time ago. So if you guys would repeat after me …

[singing] We are one, we are just / We are one, all of us / We are standing for our rights / Now’s the time to take that fight / We are one, we are just / We are one, all of us / We are standing for our rights / Now’s the time to take that fight.

F: I’m Brian, I’m going to facilitate. We have a co-facilitator who’s not here yet.

Tech: So this is a demo system that what you’re gonna do is there’s a button on the lower right corner, it will register you as having your hand raised. It will show on the projector and F can go through the list. It can also be used for consensus checks. We have fifty, I believe, I just came here today, saying we have them, our demo time will be going away soon …

Q: Nan: I’m curious, was those clickers donated or was OWS money used?

A: This was donated. We have forty-five days to use them, this is week three. These are $17 a piece … [someone suggests we can get them cheaper]

F: We wanted to get started with working group reportbacks.

Q: So when we press this, it’s not gonna show if it’s a Point of Information (POI), or Clarifying Question (CQ)? It just registers we’ve raised our hand?

A: Yes.

Q: What’s the plan after forty-five days?

A: […] The original plan was to use these at GAs, but I think SC is the ideal place to test these […]

[discussion of how we are going to use these, Tech says we are just guinea pigs]

68.2.  Working Group Report Backs

68.2.1.  Press: So we are discussing working more closely with Direct Action (DA) and Outreach to make sure we’re all working on a more proactive message and liaising with all the WGs and to make sure we know what’s going on with all you WGs. We are constantly doing trainings, and we welcome people to get trained on how to talk to the media.

68.2.2.  DA: A lot of actions coming up: On 11/30 aviation war contractors, 12/6 foreclosure, 12/12 solidarity with the West Coast looking to shut down the ports

68.2.3.  Outreach: It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, and we have a bunch of fliers to get the word out about Occupy Thanksgiving.

68.2.4.  Music: In relation to that, we are trying to coordinate people to come down to play between 2 and 4 pm, so help us get the word out!

68.2.5.  Finance: We are closed for Thanksgiving, we are open Friday. If you have receipts, come by on Friday.

68.2.6.  Education Empowerment: We have launched a student debt refusal initiative: Please help us get the word out.

68.2.7.  Worker Co-ops: We got two new printers. We were the last proposal to go before the GA before the raid and it has since gotten sidetracked. We are looking to get before the GA soon.

F: We will try to plan a GA for tomorrow night.

68.2.8.  Media: We are starting a news and information podcast  … Let us know if you’d like to help.  […]

68.2.9.  Safer Spaces: Allie: For a while we’ve been drafting a community agreement, guidelines for creating a safe space wherever we happen to be occupying. We’ve sent out a few groups and waiting for responses, mainly to caucuses and groups focused on anti- aggression. Eventually we’ll bring it to, I believe, the SC.

68.2.10.  Info: Quick reminder about the cluster meeting, Monday at 2 at the Atrium [60 Wall St.], for people interested in streamlining and building community. We will post minutes on the website.

68.2.11.  Shipping, Inventory & Storage (SIS): Casper: We are doing good, working hard … bringing supplies to churches …

PoI: Evan: People are not answering their phones at SIS, so people are calling me from the UPS Store …

68.2.11. (continued) SIS: … It’s awesome, people are still donating … we are getting a lot.

68.2.12.  Tech: We will … hold a meeting with people involved in the OWS website, … so please get in touch if you’re interested in participating.

68.2.13.  Library: Mandy: We had a press conference with with Norman Siegal. The Mayor’s office tweeted a picture of what it claims is the library safe and sound … It turns out 79 percent of the library has been destroyed. Norman Siegal used to be head of the New York Civil Liberties Union.  He had a press conference to let the mayor know that he was lying. The other thing is …  a request that the mayor replace our library. … We’ve also asked him to provide us with ongoing space, free of charge, to provide access to books and other reading materials [cheers] … I believe the attorney is interested in continuing to work with us. … This was clearly a free speech violation and a political speech violation.

Comment: They threw more books away last night because no one was present as part of the library.

68.2.13. (continued) Library:  It’s my understanding that we are keeping all our books on mobile carts. Perhaps those were new donations.  … We are bringing books with us on actions, so in case you feel like reading a book … [uptwinkles]

68.2.14.  Drum Circle: For Black Friday we were thinking we’d come down around 2 pm. We’d like to work with Occupy 477 to organize a march around the Wall Street area. So if drummers could bring drums. We’d like to open communication with DA and Music. We made Facebook page …

CQ: Will you be playing drums between 11 and 2 in the park?

A: We are not sure we’ll be able to get in park. The other day we forced our way into the park and with enough people around us, the cops held back …

68.2.15.  Nan: There was a situation that took place last week that affected Chaim, and I was spoke for Solidarity, but  … my vote was discounted. Today’s spoke will be Debbie …

68.2.16.  Occupy 477 in Harlem: Queen Mother sent me to day she loves you all. We’ll have a march on Friday starting at 2, at which she’ll demand reparations because slaves were the first commodities traded on Wall Street … marching to the African Burial Ground …

68.2.17.  Movement Building: Nelini: The tear gas company is going to be a meeting at Friday 3 pm. The meetup point is 1370 6th Ave to say, why are you going to tear gas folks? … 4 to 6 pm march to the Egypt consulate.

68.2.18.  Light Source: Ted: We are working on building basically an organizational structure that can be open source for enterprise-level coordination of projects. We have a team of 24 lawyers working with us … looking to lease a space for WGs to work out of and basically live in.  … We’re working on tech stuff with RDF, a multibillion-dollar DARPA project that would facilitate our information. …. coordinate nodes … working on real-life RP game .. . Some people were trying to do a project instead of Black Friday, Buy-Local Friday, and I’m willing to chug away at it and … after SC, come over.

PoI: … is engaging in a program called “buy local” … just know there’s other communities working on buying local.

A: We’d like to work with other assemblies to buy local. Also working on …open source Twitter, Paypal, .. everything I’ve owned has been stolen, so come to me if you’re interested in working on this.

68.2.19.  Sanitation: I’ve been working at Sanitation, organizing things, and have recruited a couple friends to help me. They keep extending the time we can go get our stuff … can now go down Friday and Monday … so please come help us. … If you go down there, you can actually find a lot of people’s stuff. … I’d like to talk to Legal about something I’d like to try. Would also like to talk to SIS … I know they’re busy but …

68.2.20.  Screen Printers Guild: We are still printing for free, we want to get back to the park but right now we can only print posters. We are at the New School, 5th Ave and 14th, but you need an ID to get in and they might move the occupation there. We have some T-shirts tonight, we didn’t get GA money to give them out for free, but it’s $5 at cost, $10 if you can donate more.

68.2.21.  Media: We want to have everyone consider themselves media.  There’s a lot of overlap … try and include everyone. You can find us at We are looking for more academic, thoughtful, constructive content. We want everyone as empowered to create a video as easy as it is to watch a video. … Want everyone to volunteer their services. Our meetings are small and poorly attended, we want people to get educated and involved.  We would like to get started on a video about the movement,  .. working on profiles of every single WG. … We have the ability to do it. Check us out.

68.2.22.  Kitchen:  Samantha: We were able to miraculously pull off Thanksgiving tomorrow. We are going to abide by the rules, going to have 3,000 boxed dinners we cooked offsite all day, at an Egyptian-owned space, they have been phenomenal. If you guys see them, Texas Rotisseries, they’ve been great. … The meals will be presented at 2 – 5 pm, first come, first served, but we have put some aside for Occupy Harlem, so come talk to me.

Announcement from the hosts:  [they ask us to respect the premises] Thank you to Lou, Lenny, and Joe. [applause]

68.2.23.  Community Alliance: We are just still doing our thing for people at churches, the park, various living spaces, trying to keep people safe.

68.2.24.  Legal: There was  talk about filing a lawsuit today against the city to extend the dates, but it hasn’t gone forward. So, the day to get your stuff keeps getting a little bit forward … but it’s tenuous. So right now there are papers ready to go to federal court to extend the time to get your stuff to 90 days. If you want to add to the affidavit, let me know. You’d have to identify yourself and what happened the day or night of the raid.

68.2.25.  Legal, new speaker: Some of the stuff at Sanitation is being called “malodorous” and rotting and so they will start bagging things on Friday and people can go and look through bags if you want to. It’s hard to weigh what’s there and what’s actually rotting or isn’t. After that, they will toss all that stuff late Saturday. You can still go get stuff on Monday but it’s questionable if they will have thrown away stuff. You can always e-mail

F: We have advanced training coming up with C.T. Butler, the founder of Food not Bombs, Sunday 2 to 4 and Monday 5 to 7, space to be determined.

68.2.26.  Housing : Julia: Part of this housing emergency crew has been working around the clock finding places to house people. It’s way harder than you think it is. We are currently close to implementing a process that will be much smoother. You need to be on the text list, text @owscom to 23559.  Tonight, we have St. Paul and Anthony Church, 86th St. and West End. I know there’s drama there, but there’s mediation involved. The New School occupation: They are accepting people with a picture ID. There’s a very high risk of arrest  there tonight, so know that if you want to go there. … Occupy Rockaway [also offering space], we’re having food and blankets delivered there, food and medics, open all day. You can sleep and rest. We need volunteers, there’s a lot to do.  Contact us at We are also dealing with the issue of physically where is OWS going to be? … We had a meeting this morning with people with ideas, … who will research specifically … we are meeting Sunday at 12 at 60 Wall St. We will bring ideas to SC on Monday. If you want more info it’s updated every [interrupted]

Nan: I’ve been trying to access the website but for some reason I’m not getting updates from housing ….

A: Talk to me later.

Housing: Go to NYCGA under “Resources.” Also, if you’ve been staying at churches, etc,. they are incredible people. … At 86th the whole service was about OWS. So if you can give back, go to church, write a card, make a song, … etc.

68.2.27.  OWS en Espanol: One of the things we’ve been doing is reaching out to occupations in Latin America. They mostly started 15 October, and till now they’ve done as much as they can, but now they need more help. Occupy Puerto Rico is having financial troubles through their donation system, so they’ve asked us who’s responsible for such things in this occupation.

68.2.28.  Movement Building: We have a subgroup to deal with these things, so contact us.

68.2.29.  Facilitation WG: Space as you know is difficult to find in the city and this space is incredible. The school we were at was $500 a pop, this space, we want to reimburse for their costs and Joe’s time. We’d like to give $180 a night,–they are asking $150 a night , but we’d like to include a $30 tip for Joe’s work. Weekends will be $250 plus tip. It’s been $180 per night, the four nights we’ve been here. We also broke the sink downstairs … We would love to be able to pay for our own space. There will be … we will be using this space regularly.  … We’d love to be able to pay for this space, so they are not meeting our costs.

F: Can you take this to Finance and we can get this taken care of?

Facilitation WG: We want to say this: Facilitation meetings this week are open to everyone, even if you haven’t done facilitation before.

Finance: CQ: This is a procedural question: Will we need to bring this to the GA, since it exceeds the $100 cap?

A: The tricky question is not whether this body can make financial decisions, which it can, … we are still in the process of figuring out this …

F: Temp check on answering Finance’s question on whether …

Q: Strong Women Rules: Debbie: I think we have to be mindful of that the most downtrodden among us don’t have electronics and we have to have some way to get the word out that some of us in our movement who don’t have electronics are discriminated against. I’m hoping we can get info out … even for people without smartphones.

PoP: It’s important you ask for questions, concerns, and blocks all at the same time.

F: You’re right, we are going to stack now.

PoP: I’m not sure if  … I think all of us want to .. but I don’t think this body can give out money. …

F WG: We are going to put out money at some point, maybe we need to bring it to the GA, … but just to be fair to our hosts who are spending money on us … but so maybe we’ll just put it out there as a PoI that this money is being spent on space and maybe going forward this group will approve this money.

CQ: DA: Is there anything we can do that would reduce costs, as far as clean up,  set up?

CQ: Nan: Why don’t we have this meeting in the park, because there’s a lot of people who would like to be there? I don’t understand why we are wasting money on a space that is not big enough and there are people not getting the info. … Why not find a place closer to Zuccotti, because not everyone can make it here?

A: The proposal passed by the GA said Spokes Council would be indoors. I’d love to find a space closer … but this is the closest we could find and by far the cheapest we could find.

Q: Do you have any info on where the next could be?

A: The next bunch of Mondays and Wednesdays will be here, but Fridays are up in the air, but two more weeks will be at Trinity Parish Hall.

Kevin: I haven’t been to one of these before, but what amount can we spend without going to GA?

A: Both the GA and SC are empowered to constitute themselves to spend … but after the raid we have become more of coordinatiing group … Other than that, it’s $100 a day per WG.

Q: With that in mind, should we start talking to the GA about the money that’s being spent?

A: Yes, we could bring that tomorrow.

A: You can help with cleanup and set-up and the more people the better. We’ve been asking people every day but I’m sure Joe is still going to be cleaning up more than we do …

F: My experience is Joe has helped with the door, lights, extension cords …

A: It’s a tip, it’s honoring his work.

CQ: Media: Why isn’t this listed on NYCGA as event?

[many people say, “It is!”]

Finance: The 100 bucks isn’t per day, it’s a cap. You could come to us with smaller projects or receipts you want reimbursement for, and we will give money. It’s not a per diem. … If you don’t use money on Wednesday, that’s not to say you won’t get $200 on Thursday. It should go before GA because it exceeds $100.

F WG: We will bring it before the GA, maybe not tomorrow, because it’s Thanksgiving.

68.2.30.  Media: With the idea of including everyone, because that’s important, but there are more sisters and brothers who need to be in the know … there’s a lot of people who don’t know this movement exists. They are getting the wrong information, they are being driven by corruption. … We need to not allow misguidance. So some ideas were to develop a station with computers, speakers, someone who could be stationed during a meeting like this …. it could be an ongoing thing.  … Also keeping aliveness in the park. Folks saw people out in the rain and came up and asked what this was all about. … This has created vibrations out in the world and we need to keep this a strong fort.

F: We are going to try a test of the clickers.

Tech: Matthew: If we can go one at a time, and press on your keypad … you’ll see your name pop up on the list.

68.3.  Breakout Groups to Discuss How to Revive the GA

[F: Proposes breaking out in groups to talk about how the GA is getting smaller and what we should do about it. … Lots of cross-talk, backlash from a couple people … but F wants to talk about how we can revive the GA.]

?: There are GAs happening all over the city. The fact that we only recognize one GA is very undemocratic. We need to recognize all the GAs. We are OWS, Wall Street is in NYC. NYC is everywhere within 100 miles of here. We need to recognize there’s an Occupy Harlem, El Barrio, the Bronx. everywhere. When we recognize that, we’ll have a movement. If we don’t recognize it, the movement will not be built. … We can say we are the 99% but if we don’t engage them, they won’t be with us.

[more cross talk and shouting]

Nick: In OWS, we have a process. Why do we keep recognizing people who are rude, disrespectful? We are never going to get anywhere …

Announcement: Occupier: With love and solidarity, we have arrived with pizza.

?: I’d like to add on to what is necessary to build the movement, and that is forgiveness and kindness.

Outreach: Can everybody keep your side conversations down? Respect each other, don’t yell out comments when someone else is speaking.

Sage: My theory why Nan is not confronted and asked to speak low and have the process explained is, I think … one method we have is marginalizing people over and over until they lose their shit and then we update the Wikipedia page and say that’s how they are all the time. The reason why we are not … I mean, I hope not, I just want to offer you guys an opportunity to reevaluate your paradigm. When this was formed it was formed on the line between operational and movement groups and, while some people are taking up spaces … the lines between what is operational and movement are now blurred and because I like results … I don’t care if you intend to insult someone,  … my point is I don’t care if the intentions were for this to be an operational group .. I don’t think that’s a functional paradigm … The last thing I want to happen is some of the people who donated to us to feel like they have been cheated. They didn’t make a purchase per se,  … but in a sense it is a purchase because we sold them on direct democracy, we sold them on the GA.  That’s why they donated. So going forward … let’s remember our first love, because our unions, our congressmen, our other methods and systems did not work to represent us. So we had the GA so we could physically with our bodies represent ourselves. So going forward I suggest we take our initial values of everyone being present … . So operations, … let’s try a new paradigm for the operational movement.

Finance: As we move forward with this, we do need a body to direct us on financial matters. So we need a group, be it the GA or SC, we need a group, and we have since made that be the GA at Liberty Park, so I think that’s what we are trying to get to, to make sure that group is representative of us.

F: I want to remind you this is about the GA and flagging interest in that and how to fix that. The conversation could be about that.

[spokes convene]

F: Taking stack on this.

[Tech Ops does a test of the electronic voting clickers; explains that it doesn’t take progressive stack … will meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays, 2 pm 60 Wall Street, for feedback or to get involved]

F: Let’s move forward with group reportbacks.

Evan: I just wanted to remind everyone about our meeting agreements: 1) Be impeccable with your word don’t take anything personally. Don’t make  …

CQ: Minutes: Carrie: I agree that the GA needs to be shored up and that we should find ways to get more participation in it. But if the reason we’re talking about this is because we need a vital GA to make financial decisions, then I’m confused. Because on Monday in this body we did make a financial decision: to raise the cap on bails from $1,000, effectively approving the disbursement of $25,000 for one person’s bail. So we have already set a precedent for making financial decisions. So my question is who says when this body is or is not capable of consensing on finance-related matters? To my mind, reviving the GA is not an emergency if the Spokes Council is able to take on some of those decisions.

CQ: OWS en Espanol: We are changing spokes. We have two points: 1) We are curious if there’s any effort being made by Legal about the new Liberty Square rules and how the police are guarding the square. We feel the square is being barred right now and that’s affecting the space and we are wondering if there’s any legal action being taken about the possibility of discussing that … to implement .. Is it lawful? And we think if the space was more open that it would greatly improve people’s participation. 2) Considering the GA is our presentation card as a movement and has so much to do with who we are …  a good idea would be … to move the GA around the city and have it take place in different places at least once a week, so people who can’t be at Liberty can participate. … We have been trying to start OWS events in different communities … We want to reach out to and see participation in this movement and l would like there to be an opportunity to show off technology such as this or see educational materials once we are in those communities, and that would be a rehearsal for communication between occupations and movements being built in those communities.

PoP: How are we going to expect to … can we have someone notating the action points, such as finding out the future of Zuccotti Park in the minutes that might never be thought of ever again …

F: Will work on it.

Town Planning: What we are addressing is complex and has a lot of factors that started before the raid … I think it’s blurring the lines of what’s affecting the GA. The weather, the barricades? For people to stay on process so things can get done quicker? … I think about the people in this room, that we make a commitment to spend three nights a week … I think it’s too much to ask to spend seven nights a week … This is meant to be functional, financial; FA is supposed to be about community. … When we had Liberty Park we could come together … now that we don’t have that, it’s not a bad idea to have GAs in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx. I like the idea of moving the GA around. …. I think we need to think about GA as  a community issue instead of bringing people down to GA seven nights a week.

Outreach: On the issue of getting people to GAs, let’s get displaced occupiers at churches down there, put an announcement in the Occupied Wall Street Journal, put up fliers, do staggered GAs, enable people to go to their GAs. We can get the word out about GAs through listervs and canvassing. Come to our meeting. We can have one big-ass GA once a month and get people out and to come take part in decision-making process.

PoP: We are writing down these points and will post on the Facilitation page on the Nycga website and bring to the next meeting.

Legal: What we’re working on as far as access to Liberty Park:  An injunction was filed the morning after the raid and although we initially lost it,  … we are working on it 2/47 and we hope to retain lawyers full time to work on it.

Community Alliance: We went for the indoor spaces ideas. And we suggested: 1) Once in a while the GA could be earlier at 60 Wall, also the Whitney Museum and a public place on East 53rd and Lex.

PoI: There’s someone outside with equipment they say is for here …

Music: We have a couple ideas: One was the idea of an inter-borough GA to address broader movement-based issues … people coming from other GAs , whether this would be a solid time … 2) Perhaps there should be a, personally I have felt a lot of WG people have come to SC and not GA, could there be a required thing in WGs for people to come to GAs? 3) With the declining number of people at GAs and kind of people discussed it’s scary that people there could made decisions that affect the whole movement, I know people have talked about quorums [interrupted]

Solidarity: Nan: The reason I didn’t want to talk about this is because we are voicing concerns without anyone in Zuccotti Park, the whole entire world knows that Zuccotti is occupied by OWS. 2) One of the problems I’m having with you is instead of facing reality you are running naked away from problems … You are making decisions without occupiers. … [some interruptions] It’s my fucking time to talk and you’re going to fucking listen to me!

[disturbances and shouting, Evan from Working Co-ops walks out. Sage walks out in solidarity. Someone says, “Mic check, let her finish.” Dan from Tech(?) leaves. The Screen Printers Guild and several other people leave. Many points of process.]

Nan: You never ask why there’s no people in park. It’s because we can’t bring our suitcases. The occupiers can’t come in and instead of finding a solution you … Why don’t we find places for occupiers to put their stuff? …  The occupiers would love to be at meetings, second, they don’t know what’s going on. They get the info too late. What pisses me off more, most of you haven’t been a part of the occupiers. You never knew what they went through. Get to know them. Get to know what they need … We can’t sit here and make decisions for the rest of the group.

PoP: Anthony: Nan can’t be the spoke because she was at the last meeting.

Nan: I’m the spoke for Solidarity, you bitch!

WOW: This does not right now feel like a safe space, thanks to the comments of Nan.

PoI: One of the many concerns that our sister just voiced had to do with us making decisions. But this had nothing to do with decisions. This is to bring to the GA and we will discuss it there. This body has no authority over the GA.

F: This is just a brainstorming.

DA: We would like to ask that Solidarity choose a new spoke, since Nan is using violent language.

[Nan goes on ranting]

[Sage offers a solution]

F: Can we bring it down? Deep breath. There’s lots of tensions in this room. It’s very difficult for us to deal with interpersonal issues. It doesn’t seem to get easier if we yell across the room. Let’s just bring it back down  and focus on our movement. and we should talk to mediation about how to deal with these situations. Let’s try and respect each other as much as possible.

F: Just for transparency, the co-facilitator didn’t show up so I’m jumping in, I hope that’s okay.

Movement Building: One of the problems with the GA is that it feels like there’s a lack of accountability for behavior, … one of the ways people get held accountable is living in communities with each other. …. What we were thinking is it would be really great in the long term is to transition the NYCGA to a body that’s representative of people living in their own neighborhoods, accountable to their … bringing their needs to their own  … We could talked to the Zapatistas about how they do it. That’s our vision for where the GA could get to and we don’t have a lot of suggestions for how to make that happen in a rapid ways.

[Ed note: The next several comments have missing text and speaker attribution, due to a guy sitting next to the Minutes taker who kept ranting.]

?: Maybe a half hour before GA meetings, review the process for people who don’t know how it works. Have a greeter for newcomers. Have a permanent space where we could have an office, sleeping, and GA space, like a warehouse. Having a time limit … maybe have a projector.

?: We need to recognize that things have changed now that we are not occupying Liberty Park. We need to question whether we should meet earlier, have an indoor space. We are not an occupation …

?: The sooner the SC can figure out what its role is in relation to the GA … it’s nice to come here and see familiar faces … but we are not carrying that over into the park and we need to be clear about how … make an effort in your WG to come to the GA. A lot of you can remember when we had two GAs and two marches a day and we should be having ….

PoP: Minutes [About the guy behind me who keeps talking and disrupting the meeting, spewing a nonstop stream of profanities]

F: [tries to get us back on process]

F WG: One, we agree with much of what has been said, one idea we have had is that … [interrupted]

F: Again we are having an issue.  There is a lot of sentiment in this room.

?: The occupiers need housing. l I want to know how people feel about researching warehouses. Right now, I have a connect. They want to sell us mattresses for 50 bucks a piece and they want to give us sheet sets and pillows to go with the mattresses. Also, they want to sell us bunk-bed frames for 50 bucks a piece. I want to know how people feel about me following this further. [some downtwinkles] How do people feel about me going to Brooklyn to find out more? [shouts of “Brooklyn!”, uptwinkles]

[some people milling about and leaving, still cross conversations]

Mic check: Please stop leaving! You’re driving the rest of us nuts. Is this over? [people shout, “no!”] Then please stop leaving!

Mic check: Do we wanna …

Mic check: Pizza is here.

?: This is ridiculous! Food shouldn’t disrupt our meeting.

[break for food]

Mic check: Can we please get the meeting back to order?

[One of the agitators yells, “Fuck that!”]

Mic check: Can we please realize that this is not the language we use at these meetings? And if you don’t want to respect our rules, please leave the meeting.

F: We are going to start with a song from Music.

Music: I’m Ernie from the Music group and I want to do something to get everyone back into this. … Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and hopefully this can make us all more respectful.

[Leads singalong of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” Nan sings along but substituting lyrics with “shut the fuck up.” Agitator near the minutes-taker repeated yells, “This sounds like a 1% song! Fuck this!]

Occupy the Polls: This my first Spokes. What I did during the break was talk to Facilitation about the role of the SC and what I gathered was that SC is not fully fleshed out, so I will echo that once SC figures out … it will go more smoothly. There was proposal that went through the GA, and so from what I can gather, this is not really following the rules of that. … I agree it’s a problem that too few people are going to GA … I think here’s a lot issues going into that–the cold, the barricades, it doesn’t feel welcoming anymore. I’m in favor of people finding an indoor space. The Library had a great idea that as part of the … a space for people to donate books and they could have a library. … It’s funny there’s no open-forum spaces … I think there’s a case to petition to have real meeting space in some of those … I think there’s a reason to demand meeting space from the government. At least, I think we should have indoor space. As far as there are GAs far-flung, I live far from here, I get home very late, and I think it’s a good idea to have representatives from those GAs or finding some way to include them. We are all here, people from around the city, trying to include them, because right now the problem is they are not included. Would lead to more transparency … we would have a much clearer way … I would think about rotating the GA, but if you start rotating your meetings around the city, it makes it hard for people to find you … so I think having a regular meeting space for the GA is good. It is important to have a meeting space where the GA is happening and will give a place for other GAs to come.

[Sage interrupts]

[Nan interrupts, shouting]

[Guy yelling near minutes-taker interrupts, shouting]

People of Color (POC): When you interrupt people when they are speaking it just makes it go longer, so the best thing is to let them speak and say what they want to say later, because it just makes it go longer. From my understanding, the GAs in other boroughs are autonomous. … If those GAs are borough-specific, what is the role of the traveling GAs? Are they going to supersede the GAs in those boroughs that are taking place in those … ?  And is the OWS GA going to overrule the GAs  already happening? … Just asking questions so we know …

Media: So it makes it worse when … Hi, I’m Andrew, the media group’s spoke on stack. We discussed the possibilities of two GAs per week that could incorporate the SC model: the one on Wednesday would be a logistical GA that would employ the method of stacks, for money and resources and where they are going. The other one on the weekend would be about movement and messaging, where we are going, and could incorporate both into each. Announcements and reportbacks wouldn’t be necessary because they could be handed out.  … We are for having a bigger space where everyone’s included, with no people’s mic. Creating a a working document where people could work to define the GA and the consensus process, root word consent. … we could use events to get people out there making vids.

Info: We have an emergency, we need people with Metrocards. The person that was in charge of housing and metro, we were told to go to someone who was distributing Metrocards. Some of the people are hypothermic, we are trying to find who it is here who’s in charge.

Nan: Here, here are the Metrocards for my group, there are twenty bucks on each.

?: I just came from the hospital ..

?: I just want to have a quick moment of solidarity of people. Raise your hand if you lost your home in the raid. [several hands raised] Raise your hand if you’re a spoke and someone in your group lost their home. [many hands raised] We are all in this together!

Fire Safety: Part of the reason we have a  problem with GA is it’s not continuous … Also, it’s starting too late in the day. If it started earlier, we’d finish earlier. People tend to drift off … Perhaps while we’re doing proposals here we could have reportbacks and announcements at GA. … Also, maybe we could have a GA in Central Park.

Design: We all need to go to GAs. There are other GAs around we should go to them. If you are, cool. If not, please start. Also, we are all working groups here, … go to other GAs, lend them our services, they are lending us their services, let’s lend them ours. … It will help create solidarity …

Direct response: [interrupted]

[same guy next to minute-taker yelling constantly “Fuck this! Fuck the GA! Fuck Facilitation! Who made them leaders! Fuck the girl typing on the laptop! Why the fuck does she have to do that for?! I just want to be heard!” Facilitation repeatedly comes over to try to calm him down.]

Design: When someone calls out and someone else does something … it just creates division. A lobbying company will be spending $840,000 looking into our records and they will do that in the media and they will have a fuckin’ fun time with this. Please, I love this, let’s not let that happen.

F WG: We are doing a survey about why people attend GA or don’t.  If you’re interested, come to a Facilitation meeting. A reflection: When the GA began it was radical, it was direct, … it has since become institutionalized and normalized and we want to start thinking about how to bring that back. Connect Direct Action with the GA; having less GAs is a great idea. People coming out every day is hard,  …

Light Sources: Daniel: One thing that would be helpful is to have just two SCs a week, real events, and two GAs, that would be events, longer things we could all take part in. Pulse could drum during a part, make it not a chore. The other other thing is we need to channel this energy that people are feeling that’s hyper-disruptive. This whole movement is based on us cultivating unity. We can’t let disharmony run rampant. To be flat out, several people are hijacking the process continually and we try to give respect, and a lot of things are thrown in the face of that hijacking that I see as …

[Sage interrupts]

?: I want to allow this to be a lesson that if someone is literally shouting over another person who’s trying to respect process, they need to direct those grievances in a respectful manner, so if someone wants to get something changed and they continually disrupt us … I firmly believe they should be asked to leave. When I say that, I say that in the best interests of those people, because I respect what they are saying but they are putting their foots in their mouths. … A lot of people are losing perspective. … This is bigger than any of us. And it’s more important than our self-interested crap. It’s sickening to see people disrupting the process, a process that has people’s lives in our hands. … Put yourself in a victimhood role either for disenfranchisement, … you are doing a disservice to people who are systematically being discriminated against as opposed to a tool  … for selfish means.

Closing stack on GA discussion

Occupiers: We talked about the Spanish model, they had one GA per week and we were thinking we could have one day were it’s just GA day. They also have a really different process. Also, We thought a quorum would be a good idea, because there were 10 people at the Atrium the other night. Also, moving GA indoors so we wouldn’t need the people’s mic, because it’s annoying. Along with POC, we were on the fence about taking GA around the city because there are other GAs around the city and why would Liberty Square GA take our …. there?

Strong Women Rules:  Debbie: I would like to say we all need to look inside and read what we say about the GA and a very important concept of it is step up, step back. And a really important thing we could do is not just write it on our website and … the white people, the white males, let other people lead it. I am concerned that our Finance group is all led by white males. … I think everyone should get a real voice and if we just say we have a process and stick with it, but this is all run by white people, but I want to make this look more like our videos. Also, if there are multiple GAs, who really holds the purse strings?

Nan: Also, we talked on Monday about raising the bail to get out a guy who had a gun but what about my friend who …

[lots of disturbances and shouting. Guy near minutes-taker keeps yelling “Step back, white people!”]

Comfort: Sparrow: My biggest concern is we are having a lot of discussion and breakouts about things that are not immediately pressing. My group, since the raid, we have not had a location to meet, and now, we need to present our proposal and it’s impossible to get to the right place. … Our goal was to get housing and get to a place where we fulfill the needs of the occupiers. … What SC can do is make sure everyone is on track to go to the meeting where people can …

[more shouting]

Workers Co-op: Are we still on the topic of GA? I think as we see here, one of the biggest things we are learning is how to cooperate and how to speak to people we haven’t had experience with, and one of those things is having respect and patience. Also, we’ve empowered Facilitation for the purpose of running our meetings, not for the purpose of doing outreach, sanitation, we have endowed them with a purpose, and it’s a function we simply cannot function without. It’s true they are not objective, but they are doing their best to keep a process going we have all consented to. In general, we need to find a better way. In GA, there are people who think they represent to them … So anyway, In general, that in order for us to be able to function we need to be able to trust each other with specific duties, and I think the only thing we can use to find unity, the only thing we can agree on, is we have to work to be kind to each other. If people don’t agree we need to be kind to each other and we are trying to create a society where we are kind to each other, then what are  we doing? [lots of applause]

Arts & Culture: I’m speaking from the perspective of creativity, and right now we need to be super creative … Right now we have so many problems. Creativity doesn’t exist with all of this negativity. I feel nauseous, I feel sickened by the … How can we take on the larger problems in this world when we cannot … Are we going to call names, abuse each other, use violent gesture, for each other, or are we going to come together? I am afraid. I am so sick by this. I feel so close to you all. I feel like we are a dysfunctional family. We need therapy. I admit I’m out of process … I just could not sit there another minute and not get up and say something. How are we going to unify the people on this planet if we cannot unify the people is this room, in Zuccotti, in Harlem, in Brooklyn, in Egypt?  … If we continue, and I have a lot to offer … I’ll leave.

POC: A couple things that make me really uncomfortable in this movement … we have issues we need to work on, people’s lives are at stake. Two, there are people here who have been called “hyper-disruptive” but it’s because they have experienced racism and other … there’s no concrete accountability process for those people who are experiencing these things. … is by being quote-unquote hyper-disruptive. You can’t tell them to get up and leave. … Create something where they have an outlet to participate.

Emergency Announcement: Woman says there are so few people in Zuccotti that the cops might come in.

[people say we should leave or send some people there]

F: I have just been informed that if you are going to 86th St, you need to be on a list already. So 86th is not an option unless you are on a list already. already.II also want to recognize that there’s a lot of truth that has come out tonight and it’s coming out in ways that are difficult. And we as a movement are new to being a popular movement. It’s extraordinarily hard to be part of a group that’s made up of people with different needs. … We need to find a way to build a space that’s … It’s a difficult process, so I think we would love to step back and see more people to step up into this space … so there’s … [interrupted]

[meeting starts to break up. more shouting from many people in room]

[Minutes and live tweeter walk out of meeting due to repeated use of violent, abusive language and the feeling that the space has become unsafe. Meeting adjourns a couple minutes later.]


4 Responses to “NYC Operational Spokes Council Minutes 11/23/2011”

  1. Stevenrowat

    Great minutes Carrie. Thank you. It sounds like it was a difficult time for all and I think it’s very valuable to have this record.

  2. john q public

    I saw this on Livestream, and was very disappointed. People did the right thing to leave. The group needs a mechanism to deal with individuals who don’t respect the process. Too bad they can’t afford to hire armed security.

  3. CarrieM213

    Thanks to both of you! I don’t know about “armed,” John Q, as we are a nonviolent movement. 😉 I think what happened on Wednesday was the culmination of a lot of resentment and miscommunication, and it’s opened a lot of healthy, vibrant conversations about how to really foster respect and understanding among the group. Hopefully we can make this happen and prevent such episodes in the future.

  4. J P McMahon

    Wow! This was a fascinating read. Having seen the Daily Show bit that showed a working group in 60 Wall Street’s atrium, I can just imagine the whole thing. Someone needs to make a play or a short film out of this. At minimum, someone should send this transcript to Harpers for publication. I would make a suggestion that the GA find a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order and actually use it. There is a reason why it is so pervasive in any large group meeting after 130 years. Because it works and actually allows business to get done. Also, change the title of Facilitation to “Sergeant at Arms”. Even the US Congress has one. Again, this was an amazing bit of text. Thanks for transcribing and posting it!