Reduce Number of General Assemblies Per Week

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

This proposal from the Facilitation Working Group seeks to reduce the number of scheduled NYCGA General Assembly meetings per week. A nearly identical proposal will be brought to the Spokes  Council for a reduction of its weekly meetings.

GA’s represent, to many, the opportunity to be involved in the direct democracy we value and to connect to OWS itself. These meetings are oriented toward decision-making. Our greater purpose might be served with fewer meetings oriented toward decision-making. The vitality of the General Assembly is essential to the strengthening of OWS.  The purpose of this proposal is to strengthen the GA.

There are alternatives that might strengthen our movement. These include ‘open space’ meetings for discussion, connection and community-building.  By reducing the number of movement-wide, decision-oriented meetings we seek to create room for these alternatives to develop.

For people with limited time, fewer meetings allow them to set aside the necessary time per week to attend a GA. Cutting back on meetings wouldn’t just allow involved OWS participants to go to fewer meetings it would allow working families an easier avenue to involvement. Fewer meetings will address another concern: an increase in participation strengthens the quorum.  Fewer meetings will also allow development and preparation of proposals before they are brought to the GA. Facilitation teams would also benefit greatly as they would have more time to prepare.

We believe that the Portland model (see here) has great merit and that the conditions it attempts to address are similar to ours. However we propose a simple reduction in weekly meetings from 7 to 4. We propose that the GA meet twice a week (Tues, Saturday) rather than 4 times and that the Spokes Council meet twice a week (Monday & Thursday) rather than 3 times.

We propose acknowledgement that any General Assembly is empowered to call additional meetings or further reduce scheduled meetings, as needed, by consensus.




17 Responses to “Reduce Number of General Assemblies Per Week”

  1. Monica McLaughlin

    I think that in addition to meetings, there should be an online voting mechanism. It is not possible for many to attend GAs physically.

      • Dallas

        How is there a difference? We take a 90%+ vote for passage instead of 50% or 67%. And I’m pretty sure we *consent* (I don’t like being a grammar nazi, but if we’re all going to use a word every day…..)

        • Lopi

          voting is majority rules, consensus is a process, takes people’s questions, concerns, friendly amendments to make sure everyone feels good about a proposal, or at least good enough to live with it. When we go to 9/10th’s that is a failure of consensus.

          I use the word consense when referring to the process of consensus. I use the word “consent” to refer to individual agreement.

          And Yes, there is a very big difference between a system that uses voting and one that uses consensus. HUGE difference.

          • Dallas

            OK, this may be splitting hairs… but if people have to be counted, whether as blockers, standasides, supporters, other…. isn’t that a vote?

  2. Marsha

    May I ad a friendly amendment that the Saturday meeting time be earlier in the day, especially in the colder weather. Start time being 3 or 4 pm instead of 7.

    • Dallas

      I might even push it to 1 or 2… it’s winter time. It can be changed again seasonally if we like.

      I feel GA should be the first item of the day, or the central event of the day, not the last. That’s a lot of why we have this quorum issue.

  3. Chepe

    Though I strongly agree with cutting back on Spokescouncils, I disagree with reducing the GAs. They are a potent symbol of our radical experiment in direct democracy, and bcuz they are so often obstructed and process is abused, their capacity for making decisions is lumberingly slow. Beyond that, they need to be restructured not cut back. We simply need to have more General Assembly time each week where we go beyond soapboxing and proposal proprietorship, that is to say, we need to have some time set aside in GAs where there is not a stifling process based around proposals that are brought and owned by individuals or groups, and take more time to have different structures.

    One key structure that needs to be allotted time in GAs is the consensus model where we begin with problems or issues, not owned proposals, and then collectively discuss the problem until we can synthesize a proposal or solution from all of our voices. That may be a slower process, but it would be a better one for dealing with many issues within OWS, our structures and models, our problems and visions and future. Further, more time should be aside for more extended presentations from Working Groups on what they’ve been up to over the intervening weeks, rather than just super brief reportbacks from them.

    • Dallas

      Agree here. Not only should GA be the central event, if we had the people and space for it, I’d have it 24/7. It’s basically our hive mind…. why would we ever turn it off?

  4. Lillian Hellman

    We are pretty much the only ‘direct democracy’ that has so many General Assemblies. Anyone who is truly plugged in to OWS (and both spokes and GA) will spend twenty one hours a week in those two meetings alone. That is not counting any other meetings they may have. I really don’t understand how anyone can say that this is a sustainable model. Many amazing people are burning out because they are being spread too thin and not having the time to recharge their batteries.

    • Dallas

      I dunno, I feel pretty plugged in, and I generally attend about 2 GAs a week, have been to Spokes once, and only go to other meetings if they seem really time sensitive of if I feel there will be a lot of discussion that won’t translate well to minutes/livetweet/etc.

      Internet FTW! I don’t buy into the idea that attending every single meeting makes you plugged in. It makes you burnt out, like you said.

  5. liza

    (cross-posting in the similar proposal for changing spokes.)

    i think spokes should be only 2x a week but the GAs if not cut back,
    then they need to be reconfigured. for example:

    – SUNDAY : OFF. Just soapbox it.

    – MONDAY : Financial GA
    (the one & only day for $ proposals)

    – TUESDAY : spokes

    – WEDNESDAY : CAUCUS GA to be rotated among caucuses

    – THURSDAY : spokes

    – FRIDAY : “THINK TANK” or Arts & Culture GA


    we need more GAs that aren’t about just money proposals. we need more meetings that are tactical, focused on DAs or events that grow the movement. that’s why, for example, for “hump day”, we should mix it up. have one GA in Spanish or Arabic, then the next week only focused on LGBTQ issues or immigration. the point being always to mix things up WITH INTENTION, and program these GAs more live events and less like “let’s throw something on the wall and see if it sticks”.

    that’s why having a Friday GA that is either Thing Tank or Arts & Culture focused is not just a good idea but absolutely necessary. we’re not having fun and people are burning out.

    let’s get back to movement building and tactical direct action organizing and let’s stop all the “gimme money” nonsense.

    am still outraged $10K went to basically what is some kid’s winter vacation passing as “outreach”. no wonder we’re broke.

  6. Voter March

    This proposal is long past due and recognizes the realities that the Zuccotti Park encampment has been violently destroyed by law enforcement, that large meeting space is difficult to obtain, that we have a cold winter in New York, that activists with work or family obligation have time constraints, and that too much time demands on activists causes “burn out” which is counter-productive.

    You may also want to consider a friendly amendment that weekday meetings start at 6 pm and weekend meetings start at 4 pm.

  7. Lopi

    I think that we ought to reduce the meetings of both spokes and ga. we already reduced spokes, so now lets equalize it by reducing ga.
    My friendly amendment is switch the days, though. Instead of Saturday night GA, can we have it on Sunday night at 6pm? or earlier in the day? Many of us would like to see a tradition of a social, unity gathering on saturday nights. I have a proposal for this that I put on the table around christmas but I hope to bring back after the dust clears.
    I also think Thursday night would be a better choice, especially if we switch it to Sunday, to spread out more in the week.

    Sunday at 6pm, Thursday at 7pm for the GA
    Monday at 7pm and Wed at 7pm for Spokes

    It would be nice to have a social life again outside of GA and Spokes!