Spokes Council Minutes January 20, 2012
Location: West Park Presbyterian Church
Facilitators (F):Steve & Jo
Minutes: David Buccola
Meeting began at approximately 8:00pm
Announcements: Info-hub, Occupy Phoenix, Billy, Minutes, Strong Women Rules, Tech Ops, Facilitation, and Women Occupy Nations (WON).
Working Group Report backs: Direct Action Painting (DAP), Educational Empowerment, Tech-ops, Occupy Farms, WON.
Proposal from Facilitation to reduce Spokes Council meetings passed.
Proposal to exclude Nan from Spokes Council because of violent behavior passed.
[Meeting began with a brief explanation of hand signals and process.]
Infohub: A mobile town hall on the 29th. And they will be canvassing this Sunday at Washington Square park. Today is January 20th and the group proposal will go into effect today.
Justin from Occupy Phoenix: Wanted to thank people from making it to Occupy Congress. Use inter-occupy to work with other groups so we work cooperatively rather than competitively.
Billy: If you have an interest in going to the DNC or RNC we are working to get contact information together and discuss what presence we should have. Just a general conversation.
Minutes: Just informed people that Minutes is developing a way to upload the audio files from meetings to the web.
Nan from Strong Women Rules: We had a good meeting
Drew from Tech Ops: Hosting a meeting at the Occupy Office. It’s a training. It’s packed but they will be offering this more often. On January 29th at the Lang Student Center there is an event about the NDAA and other laws. American Liberties versus American Law from 1pm to 5pm.
Stack is closed.
Jason from Facilitation: Occupy Atlanta is hosting the South East regional occupy conference March 9th, 2012. They want a group from Occupy Wall Street to come down.
Sean: There is a proposal for GA tomorrow.
WON: They will be honoring women of all nationalities for Black History month. We don’t want to repeat mistakes of the past. Let’s be inclusive.
Occupy Town Square and the Facebook page has gone up. Will be a great resource. They are trying to get as much feedback from working groups.
Working Group Report Backs
[Starting with an introduction of Spokes.]
DAP: We have open meetings. They won’t make any new banners or posters until they get a space to work in. Starting a kickstarter campaign for art materials and space. If you have need for art materials let them know.
Education Empowerment: Working on a project that will launch on March 1st: Occupy the University for people who want to teach or learn. It’s very broad. They will be meeting on Tuesday nights at West Park Presbyterian Church. Website: university.nycga.net
Stack is closed for working group report backs.
Tech Ops: We’ll be holding trainings, weekly on Monday during the day. And they are looking to do trainings at night but need space. tech.nycga.net to create your own sub-blog for your group.
Occupy Farms: Building relationships with farms in Woodstock. Getting their website up so have something to show farmers. They are in the outreach phase; if you want to work on a farm or know farmers who are sympathetic please let them know. Go to firstname.lastname@example.org Different eco-groups are joining up and having a summit on the 28th to form an eco-cluster. That’s at 2pm at 56 Walker.
WON: Black History month event will be nationwide. There will be coordinated events to honor women who fought for civil rights: Quakers, Abolitionists, Black Panthers, everyone. They want to be inclusive.
Temp check for taking a break for food? [mostly down twinkles]
[Steve explaining the proposal process.]
Proposal from Facilitation
Facilitation has asked for twenty minutes.
This proposal from the Facilitation Working Group seeks to reduce the number of scheduled OWS Spokes Council meetings per week. A nearly identical proposal will be brought to the GA.
Spokes Councils 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 purpose of this proposal is to strengthen the Spokes Council.
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 Spokes Council. 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 Spokes Council. Facilitation teams would 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 7am to 4pm. We propose that the Spokes Council meet twice a week (Monday & Thursday) rather than three times. We will bring a proposal to the GA that it meet twice a week (Tuesday & Saturday) rather than four times.
We propose acknowledgement that any Spokes Council is empowered to call additional meetings or further reduce scheduled meetings, as needed, by consensus.
[at 36 minutes we broke out to discuss proposal from Facilitation]
F: Clarifying questions. Get on stack.
Think Tank: How would this work with the proposal from Direct Action (DA)?
Tech Ops: What would a typical week look like? Is this in conjunction with GA schedules?
Facilitation response: Monday and Wednesday for Spokes Council. How this works with the proposal at GA tomorrow. This body has autonomy and can cut back its meetings or if it needs to expand them. Spokes has flexibility. It’s to free a pattern we have. We feel it’s a creative response. It would not change the GA structure. We are making the space available for other types of meetings.
Class War: If you arrange what days Spokes will be will you take into account that working groups have ongoing meetings?
F: That’s it for questions.
Facilitation: This is not to address disruption at all, but to provide space to do something other than talk about money.
F: This is the time for concerns or amendments (42 minutes). Taking two minutes to discuss with Spokes.
F: Time for Concerns and Amendments.
Peoples Kitchen: What would be the time-frame for notification that they would receive so they could get food on time to the meetings?
Facilitation: That would rest with Spokes to decide.
FA: To have Spokes Council on Mondays and Fridays.
Think Tank: Could we use the budget we have and utilize the space for a more creative meeting?
Facilitation: We have been investigating alternative models. One of them is Open Space where people can come and have the conversations they want to have. No decisions are made but it’s a great way to create proposals and produce interesting ideas because we are so focused on decision making. There are many other processes. We could use these open nights for types of creative things.
WON: My concern is there won’t be repetitive changes. I hope we don’t modify Spokes to where we don’t recognize it. I hope it doesn’t become too cliquish and exclusive.
Facilitation: Absolutely. We are having a level of burnout and we are hoping people can use this extra time for more creative things. We invite participation by more people.
WON: Is Facilitation going to make additional proposals for people who talk too much?
Facilitation: We respect the concern but there is nothing cliquish about Facilitation. Proposals come from individuals in the group addressing a theme that keeps coming up. We don’t know what’s going to come next but we are not about gathering power or acting as a clique.
F: We are closing stack for concerns and amendments.
Class war: After the spending freeze is done this is when this proposal should kick in.
Facilitation: We believe the movement is a long-term thing and want to make decisions that best serve the movement. There are other types of meetings rather than make this type of meeting. There is a proposal to potentially reduce GA meetings, too. In the long-term this will allow for more community building.
Translation: Friendly Amendment (FA): If this passes make a concerted effort to explore and implement captioning and signing and the inclusion of chat participation
Facilitation: This sounds like something Translation should bring up.
There are fifteen working groups working on this other proposal that we are bringing to GA tomorrow night.
Facilitation: We’ve read it and commend the work that has gone into the proposal. We think they work well together. We don’t think they conflict with each other.
Tech-ops: Two concerns and one FA. Our FA: We ask that this proposal only go into action if your proposal to GA to reduce meetings is accepted there. If it doesn’t pass, then neither of them. We ask that you continue to secure space on Friday so we can experiment with other meetings or dance parties.
Facilitation: It’s a little more complicated because there is a proposal being brought to GA tomorrow from another group that is very similar; in fact we are not bringing our proposal so we are cooperating rather than competing with this other working group. We don’t think we can work with that. Could you repeat the question about Friday?
Tech Ops: That we continue to secure a space on Fridays so we can continue to meet and decide how we use that space.
Facilitation: We are 100% behind that provided that it is understood that we are allowed to use the money that has been allotted for Spokes Council for that purpose. There’s a role Facilitation has taken on to book these spaces and it’s a lot of responsibility but it would be great if other people took it on. We want a space for Fridays. We’ve been doing it as default to make sure these happen.
Vision and Goals: Could you repeat the amendments?
Facilitation: We agreed with the amendment with Kitchen that we would communicate with Kitchen regarding meetings.
[There was some confusion by Translation who thought their amendment had been accepted. It was not due to the fact that Facilitation couldn't implement it.]
[We are verifying that a spoke wasn't a spoke on Wednesday.]
Vision and Goals: If half the spokes agrees we can meet on Friday or if 1/3 spokes. It’s a process.
Facilitation: that sounds like voting and we try to avoid that.
F: By showing how you feel with up-twinkles or down-twinkles we can help presenters know how we feel. Temp Check (major up-twinkles)
Facilitation with friendly amendments and additional statement: Reduce spokes to Monday and Friday and includes an acknowledgement that we have the right to add or reduce meetings by consensus and we accept the amendment from Kitchen that they will be notified of any additional meetings. And we will work with Translation to get better sign language.
[Question regarding the acquisition of space. Facilitation making it clear that it is not their responsibility.]
F: Let’s move toward consensus. Are there any stand asides? Think Tank (one stand aside). Are there any blocks? (1:18) No blocks. We have consensus!
F: We all got through that proposal in an hour and reached consensus. We must close this meeting at 10:25pm. Let’s take a two minute break for Facilitation to talk. (1:24)
F: We have a request from people in this space and would love for us to stop at 10:15.
F: Safer Spaces is tabling their proposal until Monday. Facilitation doesn’t feel comfortable and we are going to stop. Spokes Council is now adjourned.
[Facilitators continued to explain the confusion regarding proposals, getting conflicted messages from groups.]
Facilitation: Did we ask the room if there are people on board. There are many groups who have been talking about this proposal. It’s a proposal that has been talked about for over a week.
The group of presenters would like to go forward with the proposal. (1:36)
Proposal to Exclude Nan from Spokes Council
Sean: Asking to exclude Nan for assaulting Jason and for breaking rules of solidarity.
(Discussion ended 1:41)
F: Opens floor to clarifying questions: Sage has not spoken tonight. Give him the floor.
Sage: Has there been a history of emotional abuse between the victim and abuser? Was someone antagonizing Nan? We want a description of the relationship. We’re bodies but we’re also in here too [points to head]. If someone spent three months treating me like shit…
Sean: In addition to Jason…
Sage: can you describe the relationship?
Sean: She has abused us repeatedly at GA and Spokes council.
Sage: Between Jason and Nan has there been online abuse?
F: We want the space to be cool and collective.
?: I’ve seen between Jason and Nan they didn’t have a relationship. I also look at NYCGA.net there is no conflict between these two. It was a separate incident that she attacked an individual. We came to consensus that a person. Her abusive mouth. She has repeatedly threatened people.
?: Nan is very upset that she can’t speak.
F: Everybody who has a stake in this will be given a chance to speak.
?: Why can’t we consense that this person has repeatedly been abusive?
F: Next on stack, Think Tank, passes.
Tech-ops: It’s not Strong Women Rules working group being removed, only Nan.
WON: This person is being asked to be removed because of her violence, not that she speaks out?
Housing: Can we let the accused speak on every point?
F: Direct response doesn’t work but we will give Nan a chance to speak.
Sean: Nan can speak to everything we say here.
Nan: Accused people of hypocrisy and claimed her attack was in self-defense.
POI: We can provide video.
F: Two minutes for concerns and amendments. (1:53)
OWS En Espanol: There is no place where this situation is dealt with at the root of the problem. How does it come to happen and threaten a whole movement; it’s a band aid solution. The most important thing is how are we going to deal with this situation?
Sean: We are making this up as we go along. There is something we are working on called the grievance circle where we could figure out what’s wrong, fix that problem, heal that hurt and bring that individual back into the movement. This will only last until we create the way back.
Nan repeatedly calling Sean a hypocrite.
F: Next on stack: Media.
Media: FA: Ban the person temporarily on the basis of her repeated misuse of blocks. It’s really frustrating when we have to deal with interruptions. Just saying ban this person on the basis of violence of physical and verbal violence and block too much.
Sean: This has nothing to do with blocking, only violence. We are not going to talk about blocking.
Facilitation: We’re concerned with the precedent this will set. Banning Nan from meetings and what the difference is and what it could possibly look like in us being exclusive, kicking people out of the movement.
To reiterate we are asking someone to leave this space because of their violent behavior. Our commitment to non-violence we don’t accept violence.
F: We are doing concerns and amendments.
We are being very clear. She took a swing at Jeff.
F: We have to leave this space. I see POIs.
POI: It’s not about the space but the meetings?
Yes, it’s about Spokes Council.
DAP: Nan attacked me at a GA. I have witnesses. She attacked me because I disagreed with her. I have a concern that we have been tolerating violence within the movement. It’s important that the world see that we do not tolerate violence in this movement. I have PTSD and I don’t feel safe.
Safer Spaces: Feels we agree with what is said but we are concerned that we are just voting on physical violence but other things are being brought up and should be part of the proposal. There should be a clear and stated road back otherwise it feels indefinite. We are concerned that this is a serious conversation and it’s being rushed.
Sean: It’s not indefinite. I can’t say two weeks or two months. We haven’t made the road back. We haven’t figured it out yet but we hope to do it in the next week or two. We want this to be the road back for everyone so we need to do this together so that they can rejoin the group.
Safer Spaces: We ask that the grievance process be discussed at the next meeting.
WON: We care about Nan as a person but this is about her violence. Let’s make sure there is a road back. It needs to be really clear is that she needs a break with a road back because she has physically assaulted multiple people and not because she speaks out against racism and sexism. We cannot be physically violent.
Sean: It’s not that I don’t care about the individual. I stopped a chair from hitting her at the last Spokes.
Class War: Nan has disrupted each and every meeting. She has got in people’s faces which is informal violence, she has pushed people, she has hit people, she has threatened people; this is long overdue. I completely agree with you guys.
Visions and Goals: This is not a court of law. We don’t have procedures for this. If we want to be better we have to show it here. That’s how people got lynched in the past.
F: Please finish.
Vision and Goals: remind yourself you’re a hypocrite. There has been no finding of facts. We are setting a precedent here. You failed you’re nothing. You don’t even listen to people. You don’t care. Let’s have a procedure. How are we better when we don’t have due process.
F: Thank you very much Nan. We have five minutes left. We finished stack. How do people feel to move on: Major up twinkles. Any stand asides? We have two stand asides. We have three stand asides. There are three stand asides and we will give them the opportunity to explain their stand aside: Housing, OWS en Espanol.
OWS en Espanol: I already gave my opinion earlier. We have to deal with something much deeper.
F: Direct Action
DA: I came to this movement to create a utopia and I don’t believe in punishment. Let’s get to the root of the problem and bring them to the same level as us. I don’t want to exclude somebody. This is hard for me.
POP: We think it should be restated.
Proposal: We are asking Spokes to activate 3b to exclude people for physical violence. Response: This is not permanent or punishment. Someone has been violent and we are asking them to step outside of our community until we can bring them back into the community.
F: Any blocks? One block from Safer Spaces.
Safer Spaces: We feel that the way back is too indefinite.
Response: We are open to that and want to create this together. We don’t control Spokes agenda but we will accept it. It’s already being worked on.
FA is accepted. There are no more blocks…
Sage: So Nan strikes dude. Facilitation knows the rules when the violence happens, the room makes a temp check and… this whole thing has not served the purpose. It has only served to give more negative attention to Nan. Sage stands aside as Spoke for Alternative Kitchen.
Vision and Goals: Stand aside.
Consensus reached to exclude Nan from Spokes Council.
F: We don’t want to be happy that we are excluding somebody.