NYC Operational Spokes Council 11/9/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Spokes Council Minutes.


Meeting Date/Time: 11/9/2011 / 7:30pm EST

Location: 411 Pearl St, NYC, NY

Facilitators (F): Sully and Naishiva


Facilitation Support: Andy, William, Bree, Nicole, Brook

Taking stack: Daniel, Melanie, Christine

Vibe-checking: Eileen

Time keeper: Leo

Minutes: Carrie



54.1.  Review proposed operational groups in Spokes Council (SC)

Introduction and Process Review

Remember we’re all in this movement together and when it gets stressful, be kind to your neighbor. We are the example for the other people in the world. So if you get discouraged or need to step out and take a breath, please do so. Kindness starts within yourself. As Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world.

Facilitator (F): Now I’m putting on my Facilitator hat. The first thing we want to do is do a 30-second introduction to someone to the right or left of you who is not in your group. Find out a single fact about someone you don’t know.


F: So, housekeeping items: In terms of space, restrooms are down the hall. We should not be going anywhere else in building. We have to get out of here quickly at the end of the meeting. So have your conversations afterwards outside. We have a sound system. This means everyone can hear even when you’re having conversations all over the place, right? No! If the noise becomes a problem, we’ll go back to mic check.

F: Friday’s meeting will not be here, but at Trinity Church at 7:30 pm.

Also, some people felt they needed to revise their operational working group registration forms after they’d been submitted. That’s fine, you can do that.

F: Process review: What was going on Monday was we agreed on groups that were no-brainers. Now we are seeing about groups that we couldn’t agree on quickly.

F: This Spokes Council (SC) was created to have specific, logistical conversations; there are decisions that would be best served by focused, continuous, and more intimate conversations among stakeholders.

We have a lot of municipal problems to deal with as an occupation, and they are affecting some groups in a disproportionate way. For example, there is a difference between believing we need to improve safety in the park and the Queer Caucus saying their involvement in the process is threatened by things that are creating an environment of oppression.

F: There are groups that are our soul and are mapping out the future, and we want to continue to be a place where anyone can come with ideas, but we need to balance that and find a way that the volatility that comes with that openness doesn’t preclude these conversations from happening with people who need to have them. It’s not an evaluation of the work you’re doing or your importance to the movement.
F: It’s to what degree are you feeling a disproportionate effect from things that are happening. We all want to see these problems fixed. For movement groups, there’s a role in that. One thing the SC will do is create ad-hoc breakouts to create proposals around things; we encourage movement groups to participate in that. Movement groups can partner with operational groups and bring issues into this. We are asking groups to be involved in step-up, step-back and value the continuity more than our own voices.

F: We are not yet the Operational SC. This is a General Assembly (GA) meeting in SC formation to create the Operational SC. We are all invited to participate in this process. We have some definitions of operations groups, movement groups, and caucuses, but we are fleshing out those definitions together.

So far, we just got through the process of seeing how much conversation was needed. We identified 15 groups right off the bat that didn’t need discussion. We’re going to start by looking at groups that had four or fewer people that had questions, and have a conversation about them. If your group was not here on Monday, we ask that you wait until the SC is created and then bring your proposal back.

F: We going to start with groups with the least questions about them and move onto those with more. The spoke for each group will come up (and it must be someone different from Monday) and describe the working group (WG). We’re going to create stack of four other groups, each that have concerns. We are going to give each spoke 1 minute to express concerns about why a group should not be in SC. When we choose the four, we will use progressive stack. After a person describes their group, each spoke will converse with their spoke group to see if they think that group should be operational.

F: These decisions are really yes/no. It’s slightly different from consensus. If you have 9/10ths from your group saying it’s a no, then it’s a no. Then we’ll see if we have 90% consensus from spokes. If you don’t get it, it’s really tabling. No group is getting kicked out. If we don’t have consensus in this meeting, then people need to be engaging in conversations outside of the meeting to discuss concerns. The Operational SC is empowered to bring in new members, so any group that doesn’t get in during this process can apply again later.

Clarifying Question (CQ): About the 9/10ths?

A: It takes 9/10ths in your group to vote no on a group.

F: To follow up: Is there anyone who is a spoke who is going to be speaking on behalf of your group who was already a spoke on Monday? [a couple hands] Okay, it was a requirement of the GA when they approved this that the spokes rotate each meeting. We have a couple groups where the same spoke from Monday is spoke again. We have to figure out how to move forward.

Suggestion: Justin from the Part-Time WG: I suggest we allow it this week but starting Monday we enforce that the spokes have to alternate.

Suggestion: Chris from Comfort: I think you need to go hard in the paint and say if you don’t have a different spoke, you can’t participate, or if you’re the only one, then go. We should stick to what we agreed on.

Suggestion: There’s a few groups here who were not aware that we couldn’t do it twice in the same week, for instance, we only have two people and one is leaving soon, so I’ll be the only one. I think it’s a little too dictatory to say that people have to switch.

F: It was a requirement of the proposal to the GA, but that was for the Operational SC, and since we’re not fully there yet, let’s make allowances. Temp check on allowing it for the rest of the week, and rotating spokes starting Monday?

[Deliberations among Facilitators. Much discussion among spokes.]

F: We should have allowed you to speak in your groups before we took a temp check. New temp check!

[Mostly positive but conversations and lots of questions break out again, and facilitators talk to people in the crowd.]

F: We should have said this earlier. This is a straw poll.

[Belated review of hand signals]

Point of Information (PoI): I appreciate the role of the facilitators. I want to talk about what we’ve talked about in Facilitation the last couple of weeks. These hand signals can be helpful in small groups that have an affinity. It can be hard in big groups where it looks like “I don’t like what you’re saying.” So a lot of people have stopped using these hand signals to just constantly have a running commentary on what people are saying, because that can be a little bit rough. So maybe we could refrain from that.

F: We have concerns about the number of people who make up a group and the wishes of the GA. If the group feels we need to reiterate what a group is, we can do that. Temp check on taking these spokes currently in the circle and moving forward with this process.

[mixed responses]

F: To be clear, any concerns people have about groups and their consistency, those are questions that are going to be dealt with when we hear from that group and make a decision on them. For now, we believe every group here is working in good faith, and we need to be inclusive.

F: Actually that temp check was only on if we wanted to take this straw poll. So now, straw poll on allowing people to be a spoke even if they already were. Raise your hand if you have a problem allowing the same person to speak. There are 10. Okay, hands of people who think for the purposes of this meeting, we should move ahead, even if groups have the same spoke as Monday. Okay, 20 in favor of moving forward. To clarify, this is just for this meeting. As facilitators, we are going with the 2 to 1. We are not seeking consensus.

Suggestion: I propose a compromise, that if you were already spoke, you can speak but not vote.

[boos from crowd]

[One man says,”That’s not how we do things here, we don’t boo.”]


54.1.  Review of Proposed Operational Groups

F: We are moving forward. Starting with groups that had four or fewer questions about them on Monday, we’re gonna call up your group. First, People’s Library.

54.1.1.  People’s Library: We believe the library is essential to the survival of the occupation. We provide a safe space, collect donations of books, provide free knowledge, serve as an entrance to park, and embody the spirit of the movement. Contact us at our e-mail address: We are infrastructure. We are there to coordinate the ideas that are central to this movement. [spokes convene for 30 seconds]

F: Mic check! When we come back, we come back, and if you’re still having a conversation, you need to leave the room.

Mic check! [from someone in crowd] Does anyone think the Facilitation WG is another WG with a very specific vested interest leading this entire process? Should they not come from a lottery or be drawn from the larger group?

Point of Process (PoP): F: I ask people to respect the process. We would love for Facilitation to spread out. Anyone who wants to facilitate, come to the Facilitation meeting at 4 pm tomorrow. We are not the group of facilitators for all things. We are the group coordinating bringing Facilitation together.

New Speaker (NSp): If we pull from the larger group, we’d need to spend 10 minutes explaining to them how everything works.

F: I’m going to pause the process to deal with this concern—a concern about the Facilitation team. I would like to see hands from the spokes if there are concerns about the Facilitation team and our ability to perform this function. [2 hands raised] What if you want us to keep going? [everyone else] Okay, we’re continuing on with the People’s Library.

[more muttering from some people in crowd]

F: At 4 pm, every day, you can join us if you have any concerns or questions. Anyone can be in Facilitation.

[Some PoP signals in crowd; one person says, “You shouldn’t be defending yourself!]

F: We’re now opening stack on questions and concerns about the People’s Library being an operations group.  Questions and Concerns  Q: Why was the Library not voted on a few days ago? Why does education keep getting devalued in this movement?  Q: We have 15 groups that were automatically part of it. Why did we not include the Library as part of the 15?

[some groans from crowd]

F: Compassion, everyone! Only get on stack if you have questions or concerns about the People’s Library being an operational group.

Library: Thank you all, we love you, some people who had concerns on Monday are not here. We thank you for your support.

[spokes convene for 30 secs]

F: Raise your placard if you don’t want Library to be in SC.

[No placards raised]

F: Consensus! Next is Structure.

54.1.2.  Structure WG: We talked about it and we’re not really an operations group so we’re taking our names out of the stack.

F: Next is Finance.

54.1.3.  Finance WG: We believe we are the accounting operations of everything OWS, and we make sure the money that comes in is dealt with in a legal, fair, and transparent manner, so none of us go to jail for financial crime.

[spokes convene]  Questions and Concerns  Q from the Media WG: Finance doesn’t have meeting times and it’s difficult to get a hold of them. …. We want to encourage people to be able to join Finance because it needs to be dispersed between multiple groups.  Q: Clearly they have a lot to do with the operations of the group, but I question whether they are open and accessible. They say they can only … kick people out for being unruly. But a lot of people have tried to join and been turned away.

PoI: Is it correct that you were kicked out of Finance [asked of man in crowd]?

A: Correct.  Q: First, did he get kicked out of Finance because he was a black man? Second, you … should set a time when you guys go in and go out, so I’m not chasing you around the block.

F: Please gear your questions about whether the group is an operational group or not. Also, when you speak about your group, say my group is operational because _____.

[Man in audience complains questions are being dismissed.]

F: When you discuss with your group, if you don’t think those questions have been addressed, then you vote accordingly. The WG can reply when we finish question stack.

A from Finance: I know a lot of the complaints are we aren’t accessible. But In the Info area, we have a Finance table, accessible from 12 to 5, seven days a week. If you have questions about helping people write a proposal for the GA, come to the table. The website, is up, I believe. I have heard people are having problems with it. We have weekly meetings, Friday at 5:30 and on 3 pm Sunday. It’s on the website. It doesn’t say the location because we haven’t found one. It could be 60 Wall Street. In addition to that, we’ve done teach-ins report backs … .We do need more people. We suggest anyone who wants to be a part to come talk to us. That said, I’m looking here at an operational group definition, one of which is “financial operations of the park,” I’m pretty sure Finance is integral to “financial operations of the park.” I’m not going to address the racial comment.

F: Are there outstanding questions and concerns?  Q: Do you feel like you’ve met the third bullet point about only excluding people for violating the Principals of Solidarity or being disruptive? Are you open for any members to join you as members of Finance?

A: Absolutely. We need more people. Dear god, please come help us! In the past day we’ve gotten three more people. Caveat: If you’re going to handle a lot of money, we’re going to do a background check. One, we want to know who you are so if you run away we don’t just have a nickname. Two, if in the past you’ve been highly involved in a political party … we might not want you to be a part of Finance.

F: Any questions that have not been addressed?  Q: These two ladies are concerned if this guy was asked to leave Finance because he was black? [asks him directly]

Sustainability guy: No. The only thing was I had a secret deal with Russell Simmons. [joke?]

F: If your questions do not affect whether Finance is an operational group or not, please hold for another time. To be clear, we are not dismissing concerns that have been raised. The Principles of Solidarity are important. I will add, if there are concerns about accountability, hopefully the SC will build more of that among its WGs.  Q: It says operational groups are open and accessible and can only dismiss people because of unruly behavior, so if they dismissed this guy because of a rumor, how does that fit with the definition?

A from Finance: This is not a trial. I would like this not to be about past actions of our group. If it is the overwhelming consensus of this group that we talk about this, we will, but we’d rather not talk about things besmirching … in this forum but rather in a breakout. My understanding is this is supposed to be a proposal of whether Finance is an operational group, not about past issues.

[spokes convene on whether to vote now or table Finance proposal]

F: I see placards of groups that Finance is not an operations group. I saw 2. So it looks like we have 90%.

[Finance is admitted as operational WG to SC]

F: I’m Christine. This is the first time I’ve done facilitation here. I’m noticing tensions are super high. I want to bring attention to something positive. There are lots of people here with different opinions, but we all love each other. So take a look around because you’re in a room of amazing, talented people. So please be compassionate and bring love to what you say.

F: Moving on to Direct Action.

54.1.4.  Direct Action: We want to address a false binary between operations and movement groups. OWS is first and foremost a manifestation of resistance … We execute tactics to preserve the resistance … plan actions and park defense. Logistical things we do: We spearhead park defense and are devoted to protecting people who could be cleared by police. In addition to mobilizing people in the park, to express what’s happening in ….

[spokes convene]

F: Stack is open for questions and concerns.  Questions and Concerns  Q from Shipping, Inventory & Storage: Logistically speaking, would your role as defenders mean you should caucus with Security and not have your own spoke?  Q from Finance: Previous to now, Direct Action has operated outside GA on its own behalf. If you join SC, what are the legal implications of your actions on the SC or the spoke?  Q from Archives: I view Direct Action as a movement group. We could start another SC for those. I think the movement directs more where Direct Action and Arts & Culture are going. The Operational SC directions people moving around the park … I think Direct Action is a movement group.  Q from Comfort: I think they are movement group. I’ve dealt with them. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they make strange decisions.

[shout from crowd]

F: People should be objective in their concerns. People should be cognizant of how they are presenting them. Now, Direct Action will respond.

A from Direct Action: I want to make it clear I respect that argument. I also believe we are an operational group in part because of park defense, managing conflict in situations that have arisen in the park. As for legal liability, we were one of the four original groups created by the first GA, along with Media, Food, and Medical, and empowered to act mostly autonomously. If people want to change that, I suggest bringing a proposal. And we try to be accountable to the movement.  Q: Justin from the Part-Time WG: If suddenly Direct Action were to disappear, how would that affect the movement?  Q: If you are a voting member of this body as the WG and if you do something illegal autonomously, I wonder if you’ve considered if that would have legal implications on the WG.

F: Also, maybe you could be folded in with another operational WG for SC.

A from Direct Action: Consensus from my body [laughs from crowd]: 1) Almost nothing we do is explicitly governed by the law. Every march we’ve had has been not permitted. We’re not a legally designated body but a group of people who’ve come together to do something. 2) Were Direct Action to disappear, there’d be no one there with a coherent plan to protect the park from eviction. We also do a lot of work to maintain momentum of what’s happening in the park and cohesion …. solidarity in park. And training.

PoI: I’d like to remind people that Zuccotti is not a legal state, so to talk about legality in that form. … Also everyone seems to be dodging the question that Direct Action said they were binary in the first place, and I wonder why everyone is not talking about that.  Q: You haven’t said why the things you mentioned you do shouldn’t fall under other WGs like Security and outreach.

[Direct Action confers]

F: Since there are groups that already passed on Monday, people are asking if there is a list. [they read list] Reminder that moving to concerns is not an excuse to reopen stack.

F: Another update. Signals has decided to become part of tech ops.

A from Direct Action: As for Security, we have not folded in with them because we do so much other shit than park defense. We are amped to be a part of it but it’s not all we do. We think it’s important to have a group focusing just on defending the park and not all the other stuff Security does. I find the other question more difficult to answer, like why isn’t every other group also Outreach? Don’t we all do that? …. And I think it’s important to the movement. So I don’t know how to respond to that.

[spokes convene]

F: There’s one more group that feels they have question or concern that’s directly related to this. We want to honor that voice.

Nan: Direct Action, I got your back, I love you, you’re the best.

F: Raise your placards if you think Direct Action shouldn’t be an operational group. There are 2 [Town Planning and Sustainability]. Okay, so we have 90%. [Direct Action becomes operational group at SC.]

PoP: People of Color Caucus: We are going to take a step back because we don’t like how the topic of race was addressed earlier by this body. It was raised without enough information and was dismissed too fast. When it is raised, it needs to be accepted as a serious question. … It’s a question of respect. This is a progressive movement and we should be acting as such.

F: Next up, Archives.

54.1.5.  Archives: We are an operations group because we document and deal with the personal perspectives, stories … audio, video, print ephemera that have been distributed around Zuccotti since we began. …. It is not a closed group. We are open to anyone becoming involved in the documentation process.

[spokes convene]

F: Opening stack for questions and concerns about if Archives is an operational group.  Questions and Concerns  Q from Tech: Where is your content being stored and how is that related to the everyday operation in a financial way?  Q from Info: Could you clarify how your operations are logistical by referencing the definition that’s posted on the board?  Q from Finance: Same question.

Nan: Wants clarification of the first question.  Q from Comfort: What we need to understand is you guys, you’re saying your goal and objective would be to essentially document the struggle and hold everybody accountable by requiring us to have complete  transparency of our meetings and data in general because you’re documenting that and making sure it exists?

A from Archives:

1) Where is content being stored and why is it important in a financial way? Presently we are storing at SIS. We tried to work our first budget proposal in at the Sunday GA; now we are proposing Thursday, including funding for offsite storage, allowing us to get out of SIS’s way, and allowing us to have space.

2) How are we logistical? In that we are trying to collect all the information that’s coming out of this movement in Zuccotti. As I understand it, logistics includes raw information. We’d like to collect all the information from working group—minutes, e-mails, documents—so they can be preserved for future generations and we can use as we move forward in this movement.

3) [Q restates Q]: Are you promoting transparency by documenting and posting this information?

A: It would be preserving transparency, but no group is required to give us all your documents. We’d like you to, so future historians or whoever can use the info we collect.

[spokes convene]

F: Placards up if your group says Archives is not an operational group.

[several raised, including Info, Organization, Town Planning, Kitchen, Design, Tech, Sanitation, Comfort … ]

F: I see 11 signs up in the air. There are 44 groups in the room. This does not meet 9/10ths, so Archives will not be part of SC the first time it convenes, but if they want to be reconsidered, they can come back.

F: The People of Color Caucus addressed something earlier. When the SC is created, any caucus has the right to halt the discussion if they feel there are issues related to their caucus that need to be addressed. Caucuses have that power.

F: Next group: Community Alliance.

54.1.6.  Community Alliance: We used to be Security. We changed to Community Alliance because we don’t believe police are our people. We provide safety for the community without policing them—de-escalating in a nonviolent way. If we see a fight, … walking the guy down the block instead of slamming him or putting cuffs on him. … We should be an operations group because we need safety at Zuccotti at night. … There are sexual assaults, people getting stuff stolen, that’s just who we are. We came out of Security and …

F: We are opening stack for questions and concerns  Questions and Concerns  Q: Justin from the Part-Time WG: This is our manifestation of what used to be Security. So you believe in not working with police?

A: We try not to involve the police but we are not Superman ….  Q: How is this not integrated with Mediation?

[shouts of , “It is!”]  Q: What is the difference between you and Community Watch?  Q from Sanitation: How people can join this? Does it meet the requirement of being open and accessible?

F: I’m going to allow the group to answer some of these questions.

A from Community Alliance: The difference between Community Watch and Community Alliance is that although there are occupiers in Community Alliance, Community Watch is people who live in the park, like a neighborhood watch. Community Alliance is a de-escalation team, nonviolent, that does more interactive work, like there’s a fight and someone needs to get in the middle. Community Watch is the community of Zuccotti Park, making sure it’s safe. Security, now Community Alliance, is a total different piece that brings safety in a nonviolent way to the community at Zuccotti Park. How to join? We have a 7 pm meeting Thursdays at 60 Wall Street. If you want to be in Community Watch, they meet every day, 10 am at the Tree of Life. It’s open to everybody.  Q: So anyone can join?

A: Yes, how can a marginalized group’s doors be closed?  Q: Question about the legal situation: How do you choose to go to the police or not?  Q from the Women’s Caucus: This is about cases of sexual assault. We’ve been hearing from the media and others … that Security did not want to involve the NYPD and we feel in this situation, they should involve the police for safety reasons.

PoI: Safer Spaces and Support are the people primarily doing support for survivors.

[a couple shouts from crowd of “Not true!”]

Safer Spaces and Support: I’m a rape counselor and I’ve been doing direct work and one thing is to ask survivors what they want. Community Alliance does that and I can vouch for them hardcore: Support comes in first, then Safer Spaces ….. There are flaws in the process and Community Alliance is accountable to the decisions made by Safer Spaces and Support. ….

[shouts in response]

Community Alliance: To answer…. [interrupted, not missing text]

[shout by one woman of, “She’s lying!”]

F: If you start speaking while we are in process, and it’s out of process, then we can move on. We’re not ignoring you.

A from Community Alliance: Along with Safer Spaces, Mediation, and Medical, we have been working on a six-point response. It’s not 100% approved yet, we just started two, three weeks, a month ago, but it allows us to respond to a situation without being aggressive first. The community discovers a situation, the person in the community around tries to de-escalate, then they call in Support, and that triggers the rest of the steps. Safer Spaces, Medical, Mental Health would go in and try to mediate the situation.

F: I think we’re diverging from the point at hand. Right now we just have to deal with the question of is this group an operational SC or not, so questions and concerns that are not about that need to wait, as important as they may be.

Community Alliance: If the survivor wants the cops, Community Alliance steps back and we get the cops. It’s happened many times. It’s just that the way we are keeping safety in the community is not policing, finding crime, that’s not what we do.  Q from Comfort: Would you be willing to participate in nonviolent communication training, introduce yourself to the community so they know who you are?

[shouts, “They already have!” “They answered that!”]

F: One more question on stack.  Q: There was a rape and the person was forced into an ambulance by this coalition of people against her will. I want to know …

[Confusion while Safer Spaces tries to explain: “My group deals with rape victims … and yet you say ..” and the questioner claims, “Male security guards have been charged with raping women in the park ….  and yells, “Liars!”]

F: Please don’t jump on facilitators with statements with a lot of emotion. …. This is a process you voted for, and we’re not honoring it … we’ve spent all this time come out of process because we want to address this from an emotional place. ….

F: We’re asking whether Community Alliance is an operational group or not.

F: Vibe check. Let’s take a moment of silence. We are in this together even though we have different views.

[deep breaths]

F: All these issues are to be addressed at SC when we actually have one. It’s hard right now because we don’t have one—we are creating it. I don’t think we have time to come to a consensus on Community Alliance right now because there are a lot of concerns. Can I get a temp check on tabling Community Alliance until Friday?

F: Vibe check: At this point, Naishiva is trying to keep everyone happy here tonight and I’m sorry to be the one to piss in the batter of this cake, but the school facilities here are saying we have to get out of here. Nothing is lost, we can come back to this, remember the spot we’re at, and come back on Friday.



F: We are actually not qualified to say that the same spoke can represent for the rest of the week. We are not in the position to do that. So we have to uphold what was agreed upon in the GA and rotate spokes. We will make mistakes, so please come up and correct us. But please remember to address us with respect.

Chanel from Women’s Caucus: It’s important to keep in mind that in bringing all of us together, we are airing out dirty laundry, It’s okay, it’s uncomfortable, but it needs to be done for all of us to proceed as a group. It is a process. Let it happen, it’s going to be better for all of us in the end.

Another woman on people’s mic: Women’s safety is a very important concern and I didn’t appreciate how those women were treated.

F: Next SC is moving to Trinity Church at 7:30 Friday! Don’t come here!


Spokes Council adjourned 10:15.


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