Proposal for 12/20: Working Groups–Hey, Who’s Still Around?

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Working Groups: Hey, Who’s Still Around? Proposal Sponsored by Info/ComHub

There are currently over 100 groups on the NYCGA web site, and new groups request recognition every day. The Occupy Wall Street movement should always strive to remain inclusive, but the current lack of clarity regarding what a working group is, how it can be formed, and how many we have has caused many practical problems for our movement. These concerns include the following:

  • Unclear and Inaccessible Groups: Many working groups which are currently listed on the NYCGA.net website have not made public basic information about what they do or how to contact them and participate in their work. We are not sure whether these groups are still active or even if they still exist post raid. Our primary goal is to figure out which groups are here and active.
  • Confusing Group Creation Process: The lack of a single process for creating working groups allows some groups and individuals who do not stand in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement to gain access to resources that were intended to support OWS.
  • Lack of Communication: Communication between groups has been disorganized and ineffective because of a lack of transparency, which could be provided by the simple measures of publishing contact info and minutes. This has lead to duplication of work, and competition

Basic Guidelines for Active OWS Working Groups

I. To be considered active, all current working groups should:

  • Provide a public mission statement which does conflict with the NYCGA principals of solidarity
  • Publish contact info on the NYCGA website. A working email or phone number will be required, and both should be provided if possible.
  • Be based in NYC, and hold at least one open meeting per week within the five boroughs. The time and location of this meeting must be listed on the NYCGA website.
  • Publish minutes from at least one meeting per week that demonstrate at least five members in attendance. (Groups will not be considered out of compliance with this guideline until attendance has been less than five members for three consecutive weeks)

II. All new working groups should agree to uphold the above guidelines, and also be consensed upon by the GA

Implementation

  • There will be a 30-day grace period for current groups to meet the above requirements
  • Support will be provided by Info/ComHub to allow groups to comply: provisions will be made to ensure internet access to all groups so that they can provide necessary information on nycga.net. Contact info, mission statements, and hand written meeting minutes can also be given to Info/ComHub for publication on nycga.net.
  • If, 30 days after the passage of this proposal, a working group has not fulfilled the above guidelines it will no longer be provided access to the resources and privileges intended for working groups, including:
    • Eligibility for funding through instruments of the GA
    • A public listing on the nycga.net website and use of an @nycga.net email account
    • Access to supplies in SIS
  • Any group which loses its eligibility can become active again at any point in the future by fulfilling the basic requirements outlined above.
  • The GA body is the only body which can determine that a working group can be disbanded due to violating the principles of solidarity.

46 Responses to “Proposal for 12/20: Working Groups–Hey, Who’s Still Around?”

  1. Tom Gillis

    Be based in NYC, and hold at least one open meeting per week within the five boroughs. The time and location of this meeting must be listed on the NYCGA website.

    Co-Sign

  2. Jake

    YES!

    My only clarifying questions will be: does the standard of GA consensus apply to existing groups too? In other words, do existing groups need to get consensus from the GA to continue existing after the 30-day grace period?

  3. Lisa Rubenstein

    Friendly amendment: new groups are to provide full disclosure of auxiliary endeavors and websites in connection to the WG.

  4. Andrew Mallis

    Thanks to everyone who kept working on this. I like where you’ve taken things and feel the spirit of past documents survives.

  5. reginahny

    These guidelines seem fair, the one question I have is which Group will be monitoring the Requirements and implementing them? This seems to fall under the bigger umbrella of Accountability and Transparency — has the GA come to a consensus on what A&T principles OWSNY wants to uphold and how they will be upheld? There is an ongoing conversation at A&T WG, including two documents; Principles of A&T Questionnaire for proposed consensus, and a first take on an OWS A&T Act. The conversation has been spirited to say the least, with some OWSers opining that each WG should have autonomous A&T, some opining that A&T should be an umbrella group and even some alternate A&T based WGs springing up. I feel strongly that we need to consense on what our Principles are before we start Implementing guidelines. I would love to see more participation in that overarching conversation.

  6. thiago

    Heat hear,
    typo? “Provide a public mission statement which does conflict with the NYCGA principals of solidarity”
    I imagine it should say “does NOT conflict…”

  7. reginahny

    My longwinded ramblings on Accountability no doubt drowned out my simple question: Who monitors and determines a group losing / regaining its eligibility? I can’t support this well-thought out proposal without that information, thanks.

      • Shawn Carrié

        We all do. If I see a group that hasn’t had a meeting posted in forever, has no minutes up on this website, has not gotten in touch with ComHub, then I’m going to request to have it removed from this website. And if I see people trying to get money for these fake working groups, I’m gonna report their ass. And if the sorry mofo tries to show up at spokes council, aw hEll naw..

        • Yoni Miller

          I think it’s more specifically an issue when they request money…e.g. if there’s a dormant group, and no members take part, and nothing happens…couldn’t care less really…it’s when they ask for money that it matters :)

  8. Jordan Soreff

    @reginahny raises a serious deficiency. The ideas are great. The criteria well thought out and considered. Implementation is considered, BUT, There is NO provision for HOW and by what mechanism (or Who) the agreed-upon consequences will be carried out.

    Maybe it seems like simple logic to those who drafted the proposal, but it should be stated explicitly. Will representatives of Info/ComHub be responsible for determining whether or not a WG has met the criteria. Will their review process be “transparent” to all? Who will remove their access to e-mail and SIS? How will it be removed?

    This stuff is tedious, folks, but let’s do it right, please?

  9. s.t.

    (note to jordan: “but let’s do it right, please?” “let’s” is short for “let us”, “us” being inclusive of the person who wrote the words. thus, the person who makes any such statement is also responsible for doing it right. the most productive way to do it right is to offer a method to improve upon the existing proposal that mitigates any valid concerns, rather than making repetitive criticisms, which, after awhile, do nothing but promote derision & divisiveness.)

    friendly amendment to address the aforementioned concerns:

    Info/ComHub will give every WG who has not satisfied the above requirements (by or after 7 days prior to the 30 day grace period) a 7 day notice to remedy by posting a public reminder on their forum page on NYCGA.NET.

    if notified, WGs are encouraged to submit the appropriate information within that 7 day period and verify that they did so in an appropriate manner by publicly responding to the reminder in the forum with corresponding links attached.

    if no valid response is offered by said WG within that 7 day period, the WG will automatically consent by default to losing their privileges contained above and to giving Info/ComHub the authority to remove their WG from the pages of NYCGA.NET until such time that the aforementioned requirements are satisfied.

    • Ravi Ahmad

      InfoHub is also committed to making sure that working groups get the support they need to make this work. Computer access, posting hand written minutes, whatever we can do to help.

    • Jordan Soreff

      Of course you’re right @stristero. Mea culpa. Thanks for doing what should have been ‘my’ work. Can you forgive me? I’m trying, but criticism comes easily to me and sometimes I rush through these posts without thinking through my own personal responsibility. Maybe I even do it often. I will try to adjust myself.

      Additional Friendly Amendment;
      After an unfavorable outcome of the review process, wherein Info/ComHub has been given authority to remove said WG, appropriate Info/ComHub members will use various NYCGA.NET forums to publicly a) Notify TechOps WG to go ahead and remove the aforementioned WG page along with its’ E-Mail account , b) Notify Finance/Accounting WG that the aforementioned WG is no longer eligible for any GA moneys, and 3) Notify S.I.S. WG that the aforementioned WG is no longer eligible for any tangible goods from inventory.

      • s.t.

        @jordan : actually i must thank you because your reply to Robert the other day about enjoying a good row got me thinking about this topic, especially since i also have a similar tendency.

        one thing we should all realize is that this city (especially) thrives on competition, confrontation and criticism. it feeds on it, always has, ever since the Dutch landed here way back when (and maybe even before that). while this creates energy (think about how worked up you get inside when you’re typing), it is directed in a way that does not promote (and in fact inhibits) collective intelligence. if one is not careful, it quickly becomes destructive on many levels, not creative — perfect example is how stress is the arguably the biggest factor in causing cancer and other ailments to spread throughout one’s body.

        this is not to say that criticism does not have its place, of course it does. but how can criticism be directed towards building a healthy robust body (in this case, on a metaphorical level) and prevent disease before it’s too late?

        i’m asking this of myself as much as you. we’re all mirrors, my brother. thanks for reflecting this question back on to us so that we have an opportunity to redirect this energy before it’s too late.

        • reginahny

          Is there any room for me in this conversation? I’ve contributed not only respectfully but thoughtfully. I appreciate the positivity of your interactions with each other but wonder why I have been sidelined when I am discussing the same questions? I proposed friendly amendments and asked for support if I was not approaching the process correctly. Then, someone else proposed the exact same things I had proposed. I’m happy to hear that this sensible proposal was agreed to yesterday — is it as delineated above and when will the WGs get this info / be expected to comply?

          • Yoni Miller

            Don’t know if you were at GA or not. Friendly amendments posted here are taken note of, but since the posts here have no direct affect on consensus process, it’s the people present at GA who can suggest FA’s.

  10. reginahny

    Thank you for posting the friendly amendment, that does clear up my question regarding who will monitor the requirements. (And thank you Jordan for supporting my question — didn’t intend to put you on the “hot seat” regarding amending the proposal). My friendly amendment would be:

    1. Info/ComHub proposes to the GA that Working Groups be monitored and adhere to requirements suggested by Info/ComHub.

    2. As the requirements include: “providing a public mission statement which does conflict with the NYCGA principles of solidarity”, what exactly constitutes “the NYCGA principles of solidarity” will be presented / proposed for consensus at GA (prior to creating a WG Guidelines implementation phase).

    2a. Info/ComHub (and / or additional OWSNY WGs?) will work with WGs if requested to assist in developing the mission statements.

    2b. Parallel with the refining / creation of mission statements, WGs will ensure they provide clear contact information and meeting times / minutes.

    3. A certain period of time will be allowed for WGs to finalize 2. above (30 days?)

    4. At that point, the Implementation Guidelines above will be proposed for consensus at the GA and take effect.

    I am not a great proposal writer, and am very new to this process so I appreciate help / suggestions. My main issue here, and as part of Accounting & Transparency is that we not develop Implementations / Consequences prior to having clearly defined, consensed upon principles that those Implementations address.

    There have been challenges in the Finance / Accounting Group along these lines when Accountability and Transparency requested compliance with perhaps “assumed” principles that have not been agreed upon by the group. In fact, the whole existence of an Accountability & Transparency Group is contentious to some parties. If OWSNY desires to operate under certain principles of Accountability & Transparency, those principles must be clear and in the best case scenario, A&T would be a partner in their development. (E.g. A&T would partner with InfoCom/Hub on this proposal).

    My intention is not to hijack this thoughtful proposal, it highlights an important issue. Of course, the larger group may not see it this way, but I’m occupying my beliefs with respect and thanks for all your hard work.

  11. reginahny

    Ooops! That one line should read “…which does NOT conflict with NYCGA principles of solidarity” You can tell I pasted the text to be sure I wasn’t putting words in anyone’s mouth ;-)

  12. Sam Redman

    This is an excellent piece of work in the right direction toward resolving a dangerous trend of allowing working group creation by anti-OWS people whose objective is to co-opt the movement. However, I suggest two additions to the proposal:

    a.) First, is acceptance or embodiment of a statement or enumeration of core principles by the NYCGA

    b.) Second, is agreement that adherence to all of these NYCGA core principles is the essential determinant for eligibility of a group.

    However, the primary action must be immediate creation of a dynamic document so that everyone can participate in commonly developing the listing of the NYCGA core principles.

    • reginahny

      Agree 100%. A much more concise way of saying what I said above. You may have better wording for a “c.)” ?Assistance with developing mission statements that adhere to the core principles if desired by the WG.

      Without the core principles, the Implementation phase is premature in my opinion.

  13. Jeremy Dolan

    A handful of objections, but lots of support… proposal just passed!

  14. Jackrabbit

    Thank you so much for this! It is a step in the right direction! Woo hoo! I’m so glad it passed and it was great to feel like being there actually made a difference!

  15. George Reichel

    Did you correct the line “mission statement—does conflict” to “does not conflict” ?

  16. Lyle Courtsal

    Atencion:
    change group grace period to 60 days, meeting requirements to twice a month.

    • Shawn Carrié

      That’s ridic. If you meet once per 60 days, sorry, you aren’t doing anything for the movement.

  17. Lyle Courtsal

    change minutes publishing requirements to once a month as well with current contact information updated as well as can be done. General contact people with occupywallst.org should have active group info. since http://www.nycga.net contact number down this morning 11:10 west coast. time. Is this an opportunity to block good reasonable ideas? Sure is; let’s see what you do. . . . !

    • Ravi Ahmad

      Hey Jordan,

      I’m one of the proposers. Message me directly and we’ll get your sorted!

      Best,

      R

  18. NYCGA Council

    FYI

    Attended Tech-op meetings, brought up the issues on three separate occassions, internet access for the occuppiers at 60 Wall St.

    Considering on any given day 100-150 occuppiers are there for one thing or another.

    W

  19. NYCGA Council

    Locked out again, what about the lap-tops (4) that were just purchased? Were they not for 60 Wall.
    For the occupiers to participate in the movement?

  20. Sarah Ashley Baxendell

    Question: For example, Sustainability is an operations group, meets every week, attends spokes council etc. We have our own methods for publishing our minutes that we are comfortable with. We are currently extremely deep in projects. Do we really need to add your requirements on top of what we already do? No one can argue we are not a working group, so do we really have to follow an additional vetting process to prove we are active?

    We choose to publish our notes through our gmail & additional networks. Additional steps added to this process are just cumbersome at this point with our work load.

    Thoughts? This process seems sort of unnecessary for groups like this that are obviously active & accessible.

    • Frances MA

      Sarah it is really quick and easy to copy minutes from gmail and post them onto the GA site. It will take ten minutes. As long as you post minutes, post meeting times, post contact info, and submit a simple mission statement, sustainability will remain on the site. It may sound like a lot of steps but it is really simple stuff. This proposal is going to streamline the movement, and make communication between working groups much more efficient. January 20 can’t come fast enough as far as I am concerned.

      • vets74

        All this does is to boot 500 – 1,000 people.

        Online Groups don’t have meetings. Ordinary affinity Groups are only active for ad hoc events. The people who crafted this effort knew that going in.

  21. Sarah Ashley Baxendell

    And if this was already passed in December, how is it that the requirements have not been communicated to operations groups? Seems contradictory to these whole requirement… can someone who is in charge of following this through please email owssustainability@gmail.com.

  22. vets74

    This proposal is not what was voted with MODFIED CONCENSUS on December 20th.

    The title was included in the actual proposal.

    — Info/ComHub proposal: Determine which working groups on NYCGA.net are still active with 30 day grace period to show activity/legitimacy. RESULT: MODIFIED CONSENSUS

    The active/legitimate mouse became a charging bull exclusion engine.