Proposal for 1/5: Testing Block Validity

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Proposer: Yoni Miller

Contact info: futuresenator2030@gmail.com

Common Sense Proposal

This is a general proposal, for a serious problem weʼve been having from Day 1, and thatʼs the abuse of blocks. Throughout the entire GA, Facilitation is able to tell a person “Oh, that is not a clarifying question, that belongs in concerns” and so forth, yet for the most important part of the GA, ie blocks; Facilitation refuses to say whether a block is valid or not. And many of the blocks made, are not valid at all, some people have been using them well in the double digits, when they should only be used a few times, I myself almost made one block, but because the bill lacked consensus (it was a proposal made by a member of the Tea Party..so you can imagine..).

This is a solution proposed by C.T. Lawrence Butler is the co-author of On Conflict and Consensus. What he says is that the democratic body of the GA, should be able to give a temperature check as to whether a block is VALID or not. This does not mean the GA agrees with the block necessarily. As for concerns of the GA abusing this, my response to that is: Would we be having this proposal here, if the abuse of INDIVIDUALS on blocks was not a bigger problem? I have faith and trust in the GA.

I would also like to enable facilitation, which is doing an excellent job of keeping morale high, and staying neutral throughout this, Iʼd like to enable them the ability to also say whether a block is valid or not. This in conjunction with the democratic bodyʼs temperature check, will foster a much more productive environment, that will function the way it was MEANT to do so.

If a personʼs block is overrode twice in a single GA, that personʼs blocks will not be accepted for the two following weeks, and offenses will be longer, for repeated offenders, because those people disrupt the entire process and ruin it for everyone else. I am open for friendly amendments, and concerns, but BEG you to pass this proposal, because we can always propose a new one, but until that new one is proposed, we will still have this problem, and this proposal uses common and proven techniques for a common problem. This is the step in the right direction, and we need to take a stand- somewhere, on this serious issue.

63 Responses to “Proposal for 1/5: Testing Block Validity”

  1. Sam Redman

    For anyone or for the entire group to determine the validity of a particular block, specific criteria must be first established to evaluate validity. Initially, it should be accepted (by consensus) that violation of any core principle agreed to (again by consensus) by the group, and not merely the individual offering the block, is grounds for determining block validity.

    So, there is preliminary work in the form of another proposal (might be best structured as two proposals) which must be accomplished prior to the presentation of the proposal being offered. Specifically, a.) a statement or enumeration of core principles accepted by the group. b.) agreement that violation of a group core principle (not just a blocker’s) is the only determinant for validation of a block.

    The primary action must be creation of a working document to commonly develop that listing of core principles.

    • Yoni Miller

      Most of the blocks I have in mind are not grey area, but rather blatantly invalid blocks. I am willing to propose, that we only negate a block if there is a SOLID temper. check of twinkles. If a block is grey area, people can abstain from this.

      I am not sure about “core violations” being the only valid blocks. For example, many members, myself included would block a proposal for explicit legislative style demands. They do not violate any core of OWS as far as I am aware of, but I am very certain I’d leave the movement if we were to adapt a political platform that replicates the current political system.

      I personally think it’s best left as abstract as possible, because a document outlining what are and aren’t valid blocks would limit the nature of a group that is constantly evolving, and it would intimidate many new members.

      Given that we do not know how this will go, I am willing to put a 2 month cap on this, such that, if the GA does not re-ratify it, it will expire. This way, there’s no permanent damage done, and it will be purely up to the GA to decide whether they think it worked out or not. I have my ideas about how it will work, but ultimately no one will know until it’s implemented.

      • Sam Redman

        Well, the test of adherence to NYCGA agreed upon core principles would immediately block the example you gave regarding representative as opposed to direct democracy if for example one of the essentials agreed to was the principle of subsidiarity. You can read about that many places but a good start is at this site:

        http://democraciaparticipativa.net/documentos/Principle_of_Subsidiarity.htm

        If we begin with the suggestions in the very book you cited by C T Butler regarding creation of an agreed upon core principles document and intelligently add to it those which all regard as ones which should be inalienable, then doing blocks according to adherence to core principles will serve in literally every situation.

        • Jackrabbit

          I strongly disagree with the suggestion of criteria setting for what constitutes a valid block. Trust that the people will have a sense of their own principles.

      • Dallas

        BTW, thanks for bringing up the idea of “sunset” clauses. I think we’ve been A) working under the assumption that this is a short-term/temporary operation and not a long-term/permanent movement, and making proposals and guidelines that assume that accounting for the long-term is unnecessary… and B) neglecting to hash out many finer points such as this *before* proposing at GA, which usually just leads to longer discussion resulting in tabling and (sometimes) re-proposal due to failure to cover all likely scenarios in the first place.

  2. Robert Gabrielsky

    My comments are rather broad brush because my view of the decision making process is very skeptical. I fully agree that as a human invention of human beings there is nothing sacrosanct about classical parliamentary procedure or Robert’s Rules so I think efforts to find something better, something more democratic, something more accessible to more people is all to the good,

    That said, the consensus decision making method is also a human invention of human beings and as such also not sacrosanct, and I say this as a practicing Quaker who has used consensus decision making every month for years,

    My problem in this context is that there is no space for minorities in the consensus model, I believe that this is the fundamental problem with what you see as excess blocking, In many instances I have been opposed to a proposal though not on moral or ethical grounds or as a matter of principle, So far as I understand the decision making process in the GA (and I am not a regular attender but I have been to GAs many times) there is simply no space for people who think a particular proposal is not a good idea or in fact a bad idea but its shortcomings do not rise to the level of a violation of principle or ethics,

    In classical parliamentary procedure such a minority can maintain its position without preventing a majority from moving forward, I understand the need for super majorities, especially in GAs where the particular participants can vary considerably from night to night, but there are many instances when people do not really agree with a proposal but do not on the other hand oppose it as a matter of principle or ethics. I don’t see including such opponents in a consensus as being particularly democratic in my understanding of the word and I suspect that a good deal of the trouble we are facing in that regard proceeds from a minority feeling that they are without a voice,

    • Daniel

      I’m uncertain if it is a full answer to your concern, but we are able to employ “stand-asides”. That way one does not need to block or consent while expressing dissent.

      • Tara

        I have heard that we might be integrating “stand-asides” into the GA. During her recent facilitation trainings, Lisa Fithian reminded us that this could be a viable solution to a block. I for one would
        like to see us implement stand asides but that would have to mean that members of the GA understand that this is an option. I have brought it up to facilitation in GA and very few have had an opinion about it one way or another. I am all for it.

    • JZ

      Robert, I think your reply contains a valuable observation that more people should think on.

    • vets74

      “The Perfect is always the enemy of the Good.”

      We could hire Alan Frumin on a part time basis. Turn ourselves into a clone of that most democratic of all deliberative bodies, the United States Senate. Take a 6-year vacation to read up on the Senate Rules, too.

      Or… go for what works with simple adoption of Robert’s Rules of Order (RROO) in the simplest no-frills one-pager version. robertsrules.org

      - Point of Order is understandable by 6th graders.

      - Same for demanding courtesy as the speakers’ antes to play chit-chat with others.

      How did Gandhi do this? And Dr. King? Or SCLC? They succeeded Big Time with rebellions based on nonviolent direct action. They also tried to minimize casualties, most successfully with King’s adaptations to the system. “General Assembly” is a nifty borrowing. But this is not the French Revolution, nor do we want to remind these citizens of The Terror.

  3. Siobhan

    I’ll do my best to be there and have my vote counted. Something has to be changed so a few can not derail the rest of the group with their own agenda. I find 80% of blocks have do do with only that persons needs and not the movement as a whole, especially with fiscal issues. Every block should be movement based, not personally based. This movement is not about me, it is about we.

    • vets74

      Gandhi asserted that “Nonviolence is a matter of the heart.”

      The insistence on personal manipulation you describe is why the “block” concept is handled with what is called “filibuster” rules.

      The one who would block something will need significant support to keep it alive. The Senate is down to 60:40 now. That’s the lowest it has been since this was introduced.

  4. Sean McKeown

    I am wary of providing any individual – even a meeting’s facilitator – the power to overcome a block by opinion alone, and thus I would suggest streamlining (and limiting!) the ability to overcome a block. I would suggest the following protocol:

    1. A member of the assembly presents a point of process, stating with their point of process “That is not a moral, ethical, or safety concern” as those are the three concerns that validate a block.

    2. Facilitation for the assembly hears this statement and relays it to the group, announcing they would like to take a temperature check on whether this block is a valid block or not based on the requirements for a block to have at its root a moral, ethical, or safety concern instead of “I just don’t like it”.

    3. Take a formal consensus on the subject of overcoming this individual’s block. Obviously, the individual in question shall not be counted in this consensus, and if needed a nine-tenths consensus excluding this individual from the tally should be sufficient protocol to proceed forward.

    This presents a check against excessive blocking, as well as a check against using this protocol incorrectly as Facilitation cannot overcome a block unprompted by the community, and consensus is still required to exclude that person’s block from the tally. Coordinated networks of blockers who have no moral, ethical, or safety concern will still be a problem, but that can begin to be overcome with this protocol.

    • Yoni Miller

      In addition to what you said, we should open up stack to up to 2 (non blockers) people, per block, to explain why it’s not a valid block. And then we can take a temperature check on that.

      This may seem longer, but it doesn’t reward false blockers, and hence as a result, less people are likely to make false blocks, and instead we’ll end up with a faster consensus process.

    • Lopi

      I respectfully disagree with your amendment, Sean.
      The reason is simple. The onus of calling a point of process on a block ought not to lie on the body of the ga, but rather it be part of the normal protocol to have each and every block go under the same scrutiny by the body of the GA.
      Such as how CT Butler frames out.
      This is how the consensus process many successful groups utilizes goes in terms of blocks:

      person blocks proposal. states their moral, ethical or safety concern with the proposal. facilitator asks for a group temp check on whether the block is valid (note: the moral, safety or ethical concern is for the MOVEMENT not for the INDIVIDUAL) The facilitator is not asking if people agree with the block, simply whether it is a VALID block based on the criteria put forth (moral, safety, ethical, movement affected)
      If the GROUP upholds the block, then the Block is sustained.

      Your suggestion, Sean, puts the onus on individuals in the GA to speak out against bullies and violent people. People do not feel safe to do so lest they get threatened with violence (like me)
      If it is a matter of regular protocol, then individuals will not be subjected to threats of violence by crazy blockers and their minions.

      • Sean McKeown

        So long as it’s not only springing up sometimes at the behest of a Facilitator, I’m happy. Empower the members of the GA or add it to standard procedure and I’m content either way. :)

      • Yoni Miller

        I think you guys pretty much agree. I personally think opening up stack for people to discuss a block is good, because it may sway some opinions, but overal, what really matters is your personal opinion on whether a block is valid or not and that is regardless of whether you speak up or against a block. The general body will empowered to do this.

    • Jackrabbit

      Agree with points #1 and #2. Disagree with debating the block using consensus. Temp check is sufficient.

      • vala

        We definitely need a procedure to stop tyranny of the individual – particularly certain repeated blockers. I think the GA should decide if it’s a valid block by consensus or modified consensus. I also think 75% is plenty for modified consensus. Requiring 90% still allows tyranny of a very small minority,

  5. Richie

    The design of the process in place already deals effectively with an unjustified block. If a single block is held, we move to modified consensus. The blocker explains the reason for the block and the assembly then reassesses their view on the proposal. A justified block may sway the assembly’s vote. An unjustified block will not. A vote on the validity of a block seems redundant.

    • Sean McKeown

      This would be true if that were how it were functioning in practice. Unfortunately, it is not.

    • Jackrabbit

      Disagree. This addresses the continued use of an unjustified block and calls for holding the misusing party accountable for their actions. We have nothing to hold anyone accountable for anything they do at this point. This needs to change. This proposal is a step in the right direction.

      • Yoni Miller

        I am working with several people, headed by Sarah to start talking about ways to hold people accountable for violating rules, and what consequences there will be for improper action. That is part of a larger conversation, and will take a while to figure out, but this I see is an immediate quick remedy.

  6. Sarah

    The block is a fundamental flaw. It allows for us to step over realistic discussion about the limitations of the proposal & becomes autocratic.

    Blocks will never work. Ever.

    We need to replace the block with more engaged discussion of concerns & grievances. This is a very truncated portion of the process, and I believe it is as important as the proposals themselves.

    Also, I have to ask, why is the proposal at the top of this feed written as a personal annotation?

    This is a we movement, not an I experience. To be realistic about creating structural or functional change the proposal must be intelligently drafted. This is not an intelligently drafted proposal. It is a personal rant because the previous proposal was very much rejected.

    Obviously many of us feel that our system has enormous flaws. Instead of creating a “proposal” to deal with this, we should be holding an open forum to discuss alternatives & solutions, instead of trying to address a fundamental issue through one persons eyes.

    I have to ask, is this person more concerned with over developing a process to protect their own interests, or are they more interested in creating open & communicative change to make our process more realistic & effective for those it serves.

    Problem: Also, GA is currently fundamentally flawed because the people most affected by the decisions made in that space, the occupiers & contributors to the occupations work, are not well represented.

    Solution: We create one or two GA’s a week dedicated exclusively to the discussion & hopefully passing of proposals, where are all individuals who have a stake in this movement & the OWS work can attend & be adequately represented. GA is currently a joke because its a game to get something passed that entirely depends upon the audience.

    Let us reclaim the GA by creating separate soapbox & proposal days, to facilitate the necessary discussion & attendance to have substantial discussion & contribution. Let us stand together, as a community, and hold ourselves collectively accountable for the decisions we make, instead of putting it off on a handful of people who may not adequately understand the consequences or the possibilities of the proposals.

    That is a proposal I could endorse.

    • Yoni Miller

      I am not sure if I would support getting rid of the blocks, (this needs to be part of a larger conversation), however I certainly agree with you, that the consensus has become a game in many ways.

      I think it is Seattle, I can be wrong, but they have one day where people openly discuss and better understand a proposal, another day for grievances and a 3rd day where they go through consensus, but cutting out a lot of what was already discussed, so it is much more likely to pass and work out, because people all took part in it.

      I am not prepared to make that proposal yet, but it is also something I’d support, and perhaps a working group should be made to handle this.

      • Sarah

        We do not need another working group. We need an open space for all members of this community to draft solutions to these problems. We need a forum day where we have lively & open discussion about our issue.

        This process must be faced realistically.
        This process must be streamlined so it can be more effective.
        This process must be open & honest & representative of all.

        We need to keep it real, now. We need a space to do that.
        Collective decisions is what this is about.
        We are one movement, one body & one people.
        Let us act as one.

        • Yoni Miller

          There is another proposal, that would give us access to 56 Walker, for 12 hours everyday for January. That I think would satisfy your concern. I have discussed with many people in 60 Wall Street, and such, but have not met any of the opposition, the way I did in the other proposal, so I want to have a place where critique is welcome and present.

      • vala

        It’s Portland; here’s their process:

        MON – Agenda Setting, Proposal Announcement and Discussion Meeting (proposals and agendas will then be posted online for the Thur and Sat meetings)
        TUE – Movement Building Open Forum (Unconference / Open Space style meeting for flexible and purposeful group conversations, work group work and cross-pollination of people and ideas
        WED – Open Night (A good night for other important meetings or a day of rest in the weekly cycle)
        THU – Spokes Council ( As it has been )
        FRI – Cultural Events (Different events at different venues well suited to the occasion)
        SAT – General Assembly (As it has been)
        SUN – Feather Circle (Idea Discussion Circle with a process well suited to working through challenging items that are “stuck”).
        Ten reasons I LOVE the meeting restructure proposal! (From a S+P committee member.)

        Attendance at meetings has become so random. Basic continuity of discussions, central for growth and momentum of efforts, is at an all time low.
        There is not – at least by historical standards – what feels like a “quorum” to make decisions on behalf of the movement at many recent GAs and SCs. Having 1 / week of each, should work wonders to restore quorum at these meetings.
        Most of the 99% cannot attend several OP meetings each week! This proposal allows people with families, work obligations, a social life, other political work, etc. to choose the meetings they would like to attend by focus and content rather than “rolling the dice.” As it is now, it is very difficult to engage in OP decision making in a consistent way unless you are spending 10-20 hours / week.
        Having a proposal announcement day will dramatically increase the ability to publicize what is being proposed at the GA and SC each week, fixing a long standing problem.
        Having meetings focused on brainstorming and evolving proposals creates a much needed space and flow for proposal evolution outside of the GA and SC meetings, making better proposals which take less time at GAs and SCs and that involve more people in their creation and development!
        Right now most committees do not have enough people to follow basic practices of how a SC is supposed to work – there are “committees of 1″ due to inability for most committee members to make 3 SC meetings / week, violating the spirit and the letter of the consensus model we agreed to.
        As a practical matter, the facilitation team [and possible peace and safety?] simply cannot keep up with our duties at 6 meetings / week. Furthermore, meetings are better when the facilitation team is well prepared and can divide up roles more. This would allow all of our GAs and SCs to have much stronger facilitation teams.
        The GAs and SCs are constantly a scheduling conflict with other occupy spin off projects – the various action spokes councils, the neighborhood GAs, and committee meetings would not be forced to conflict, making scheduling of cross-occupy collaborations much easier. As it is now, many people involved in occupy spin off projects have little or nothing to do with the “central” occupy meetings anymore.
        As is continually voiced, not everyone likes the GA style of discussion or SC style of discussion. This proposal gives more prominence to alternative ways of discussing things that many people have really enjoyed and to experiment with alternate models.
        Separating proposal announcements from GAs and SCs will allows GAs and SCs to focus nearly their entire agenda on decisions and coordination.

        • reginahny

          This feels like a great strategy that has the benefit of having been developed and used to positive effect by OWSers — that is, no re-inventing the wheel needed. I’d love to see a fuller proposal of solutions like this advanced, rather than trying to parse one thing at a time, e.g. blocks, etc. Kudos to Portland for this work.

    • liza

      *JUMPING UP AND DOWN WHILE DOING CRAZY UPTWINKLES*

      thank you thank you thank you

      this right here:

      Problem: Also, GA is currently fundamentally flawed because the people most affected by the decisions made in that space, the occupiers & contributors to the occupations work, are not well represented.

      Solution: We create one or two GA’s a week dedicated exclusively to the discussion & hopefully passing of proposals, where are all individuals who have a stake in this movement & the OWS work can attend & be adequately represented. GA is currently a joke because its a game to get something passed that entirely depends upon the audience.

      Let us reclaim the GA by creating separate soapbox & proposal days, to facilitate the necessary discussion & attendance to have substantial discussion & contribution. Let us stand together, as a community, and hold ourselves collectively accountable for the decisions we make, instead of putting it off on a handful of people who may not adequately understand the consequences or the possibilities of the proposals.

      if you want to turn this into an actual proposal where we involve people from other work groups, am more than happy to present it with you. this needs to be done.

      • reginahny

        Agree completely and like the model Portland illustrated above. I’d support a restructuring like this one that encourages participation at a level that provides more opportunity for individuals to contribute. I so appreciate and respect those who can attend daily GA’s but am concerned that we exclude many with the current model. We are concerned about margenalization, inclusion, etc. and should address it at this high level, in my opinion.

    • Dallas

      With all due respect, I’m steadfastly against any idea that codifies different standing for “occupiers” and “non-occupiers”. Particularly without a full-time encampment, this just creates unnecessary division and (assuming that this gives additional weight to the opinions of those who were living in the camp) a de facto seniority system in a supposedly horizontal leaderful movement.

      Aside from my personal misgivings about these concepts, i must point out that *we need to keep growing*, and if new people see yet another hierarchy where they are going to have to start at the bottom, that isn’t going to help.

  7. Sarah

    And I will block this particular proposal because I believe it is short sighted. When is this being proposed?

    • Yoni Miller

      You are going to block a proposal that is trying to control the amount of insincere blocks, and you openly are saying you will block this because it is short sighted?

      You seem to be opposed to entire idea of blocks, and that is fine for a larger conversation, but for short term, I think enforcing the very rules that we’ve been running on for 3 months is an appropriate solution for now, and would immediately make future GA’s more efficient and less painful at times.

  8. Sarah

    “If a personʼs block is overrode twice in a single GA, that personʼs blocks will not be accepted for the two following weeks, and offenses will be longer, for repeated offenders, because those people disrupt the entire process and ruin it for everyone else.”

    So so so flawed. Who is to say this cant be used as a tactic to specifically remove people from contributing, and then propose something serious during the two weeks they are “banded.”

    Also, how do you enforce?

    This is not the correct forum to discuss this type of change. How many occupiers even have consistent internet access? How many people are aware this proposal exists?

    Create a forum day for open dialogue, because your approach is autocratic & quoting a book is an ineffective way to create the changes needed to reclaim our process & to protect is purpose & validity.

    BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK

    Please withdraw this.

  9. stephan geras

    I agree with Sarah’s statement that we need to replace a block with engaged discussion of concerns and grievances, to create a forum day.. I want to suggest another way for the GA to handle blocks- the process we now have: proposal-discussion/questions-concerns-friendly amendments-blocks-consensus/tabling/modified consensus might be the same until after the block . If someone blocks, explains their reasons, amendments are proposed and the block still stands, the facilitator can take a straw poll vote to see if there would be consensus without the block/s. That is recorded and the proposal is automatically tabled and then is given to the blocker/blockers who are DUTY BOUND to review it with all relevant workgroups and to come up with a modified proposal which satisfies their concerns without losing the spirit of the original. They would be CONSTRAINED to present the original proposal and the modified proposal with clear references and explanations of all the modifications to the next immediate meeting of the GA (or a maximum 2 days time after) for consensus at which time they couldn’t vote or block. If the presenter doesn’t show good faith (if she/he can’t make the meeting, have someone else read but not speak to the amended proposal), the amended proposal is considered dead and the original proposal is passed or is resubmitted for consensus. Obviously the amendment proposers wouldn’t be able to vote again on the original. If the original proposal is resubmitted for consensus and again is blocked, the process is repeated. This could happen say 3 times only…1 week’s time.This process could have the result of reducing frivolous blocks, encouraging responsibility, furthering debate on a proposal,

  10. Yoni Miller

    I am absolutely open to what Sarah is saying, and we certainly need to have that conversation. I would rather have that conversation in person, in the group that Sarah said she will arrange.

    I personally am not terribly fond of what Stephano proposed, because that seems to just create more bureaucracy and will only empower people even more. That said, I’d love to discuss this further in person and particularly hear the PROVEN methods used at other GA’s across the nation.

  11. Milo

    I agree with the proposer that unneccessary/unsubstantiated blocks are a problem that needs immediate address even if its just a temporary solution such as this especially if we are holding g.as in a space where our time is limited. However I also agree with sarah that ‘banning’ someone from blocking for two weeks is a dangerous way to deal with this problem. A much simpler solution would be to just have a quick temp check from the group if there are concerns raised as to the validity of a block. Before the check the facilitators should remind us (for those new or unclear) of our accepted definition of a block (moral/ethical/safety, leave the movement etc.) If the assembly agrees its invalid then the block is dropped, or if we validate its sustained. this way in case there is a valid concern in the future no one is hesitant to voice it but at the same time the assembly becomes aware of boys and girls who chronically cry wolf.

    I also agree that we should create a forum where we can discuss issues.

    • Yoni Miller

      I will not be making any bans for this proposal, Sarah’s arguments were very well articulated, and instead, this will simply not enable facetious blocks to move forward to modified consensus, if there are any blocks that remain in the first place.

      On Tuesday, Sage openly said he was just using block, to use as an opportunity to bring up an earmark. I brought PoP, but it was ignored, since facilitation will not take ANY stand on blocks (for good or bad, the people will hopefully be able to temper check facetious blocks in the future.)

      • Milo

        In my opinion although it was in his own words an earmark several people shared the same concern so that seems to l have legitimate ethical grounds. That specific proposal seemed to be a special case where we kinda skipped the tail end of concerns and merged blocks with friendly amendments
        Which actually worked out pretty wellin my opinion. Perhaps the merging of blocks and amendments is something we could incorporate/encourage in the future.

        Kind off topic sorry

  12. Shawn Carrié

    This doesn’t need to be a proposal to the General Assembly. You did the right thing by bringing it to Facilitation Working Group.

    If FWG consenses to use this practice, we will use it. As I said in the meeting, we should consense on it, and then put it into action. We do not need to bring procedural changes of the working group to the GA for consensus. We bring our practices to GA every day in practice.

    • Yoni Miller

      I am in facilitation, and they were discussing this, when they announced that “Yoni Miller” is bringing these up, and my understanding, from the group of 30 individuals there, was that you DO need to bring this to the GA. Facilitation can bring this up as a proposal, and what I am bringing up IS the feedback I got from FWG, and here online.

      In short, I’d be happy if you were right, but I believe that is not the case, and many members of FWG feel that way too.

      • Sean McKeown

        This would be a meaningful procedural change, and thus requires addressing and ratification at the GA. It can’t just be implemented, as it is an Occupation-wide change in the way we function.

  13. walden

    So why wasn’t this proposal heard today? IMHO it should have been one of the first proposals on the table. I asked the facilitator and she didn’t even seem to be aware it was on the agenda.

    • Yoni Miller

      I was 12 minutes late, because I was handling the screaming man outside.

      My proposal was shelved to last, which I was okay with, the proposal that REALLY SHOULD have been discussed first, was the one regarding 56 Walker, since it was time sensitive..oh well.

      I will be proposing this on Saturday, and it’s fine, because that leaves this proposal in the air for longer, and I’ve had many valuable discussions, and while my proposal hasn’t changed, I’ve better understood where people’s concerns are coming from, and am very very prepared to respond to the most imminent and important concern about this proposal potentially marginalizing voices.

      • walden

        Saturday’s GA will be a Liberty Plaza again and not 56 Walker right? It’s too bad because turnout has been much better at the indoors location.

        Something has to do about the abuse of blocks at the GA and spokes by obstructionists. It’s incredible to me that they have been allowed to derail our meetings for so many weeks. If this you can get this one heard early on, I hope to be there to push this though modified consensus.

        • walden

          By the way, I’d work on the language of the last paragraph to be more specific about the penalties for repeat offenders. If we don’t make it clear during the proposal, I fear we would need another set of meetings to clarify the penalties afterwards.

          Also, “If a personʼs block is overrode twice in a single GA” is too narrow IMHO when it takes 45 minutes to get through a single proposal. I’d change this to twice or three times in a single week. Otherwise you could have someone blocking once at every GA and still wasting a lot of everyone’s time.

  14. Siobhan Ogilvie

    I wish you would consider moving it until next week. There are many of us very concerned with how unproductive GAs can be simply because of someones/groups personal agenda that just wont be available or in town Saturday due to the holiday. We can be jailed, sleep in a park, resist authority, stand up to the president but not an Italian mother/family on Chistmas eve :) There are some battles that just can’t be won.

    But seriously guess is those who tend to abuse the process will be there to block making a modified consensus impossible and one again not properly representative of why we are here in the first place,

  15. LGNY

    Is this really on the GA agenda for Saturday 12/31?
    I totally support GA action to clarify our process and stop the misuse of blocks.

  16. liza

    whatever happened to STAND ASIDES? aren’t they the mechanism to deal with blocks?

    • Yoni Miller

      If the system wasn’t abused, the current system to a certain extent works, this is addressing the issue where people themselves purposely or accidentally abuse the most serious part of the process.

  17. liza

    also, i would like to see a proposal like this worked and presented by various work groups. why aren’t work groups like NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION, TOWN PLANNING, VISIONS & GOALS involved in writing up something like this?

    the problem with blocks is that they’re hindering BUILDING COMMUNITY within OWS. this proposal does NOTHING to address how we can build a better community by address blocks and minimizing their potential destructive impact. it’s just a PUNITIVE measure that would further the divisions we already have.

  18. Daniel

    So to be clear, for the Sat. proposal you’re scrapping everything but the temperature check on a block? If so, I generally like where this is coming from and what it’s getting at, but a couple things:

    1. Temperature checks are not a decision making tool in the sense that a block or straw poll is. They’re used to get a gauge on where the conversation is going and if people want to take it in a different direction. (Can we extend time? Are we moving toward consensus?) You can not use a temp check to decide on validity of a block, it’s wholly unscientific. A substack needs to be taken on the block, I would say prompted by a point of process. Questions, concerns, check for consensus on if the block is invalid.

    2. I would (hopefully friendly) amend that this new process, if consented, would negate Modified Consensus, meaning no more 90%. The point of Modified Consensus, as I understand it, is to prevent frivolous and unserious blocks. If the general body decides that even a single block is indeed a legitimate moral/ethical/safety concern, then we have an obligation to respect it and block the proposal. Otherwise, we’re not a movement committed to consensus and direct participatory democracy.

    Also, Yoni, please come to the Structure meeting today at 5:30, if you can make it. I know a lot of us in the group, myself included, are trying to work on a lot of the issues you raised.

  19. Yoni Miller

    Some potential friendly amendments:

    Only do this if a concern is raised regarding a block’s validity (e.g. from someone who blocks 50+ times…)

    Or perhaps when there are 5+ blocks. I do not think a really bad proposal would even get up to the blocks part, since it would not be moved to consensus part anyways.

    Hey Daniel, met with you (so I was at Structures Meeting), and I’m certainly open to a different mechanism than “twinkles”check, whether it’s opening a sub stack of concerns and friendly amendments then a formal count of those who think it’s valid block or not.

    • Daniel

      Hey Yoni, glad to have you on Structure.

      I still have some strong reservations about the proposal. Mostly I think we need to have a clear, comprehensive document/statement of values and expected behavior of our members, for reasons beyond just this proposal obviously. But until then, what qualifies as a major moral/ethical/safety concern is a personal determination, and I wouldn’t be comfortable telling someone their block is not valid because I don’t know their personal morals (examples like, “I’ll block my foot up your ass” notwithstanding).

      Please don’t get me wrong, I genuinely want to move to a pure, value-based consensus model. I just want to make sure we do it in the right way. One really simple way to start the process is to start with the Spokes Council. This would not even require a proposal, as the SC proposal does not determine how each Spoke comes to consensus. Because the 90% headcount within each group/caucus is not transparent or even directly democratic (referring back to my personally little pet peeve at the Structure meeting), suggest each group determine their own values, and then use value-based consensus within their Spoke. If a member of their group blocks, they should consent on that validity through whatever means or threshold they like, then block as a whole group if the validity is upheld. This is historically how Spokes Councils are supposed to operate.

      • Yoni Miller

        I am in not anyway addressing or applying anything to SpokesCouncil. I have my views on it, but do not feel qualified to make any proposal regarding Spokes.

        Our values already exist within the Principles of Solidarity, Statement of Autonomy, Good Neighbor Policy and the GA process.

        We do not have any consequences for violating these rules and values that we have, however those rules and values do exist, and this proposal seeks to remove the strength of a person who’s violating the former values.

        To say that moral, ethical or safety concern is purely subjective, is to say there is no criteria for a block. It is also harmful, to let any single individual serve as the moral compass in a society.

        The only time there should be an invalidation of a block, is if there is NO doubt about the block being unrelated to ethical, moral or safety concern e.g. when a blocker said “I know this is not a real block, but I think the tech ops should sleep in mcdonalds…”

        If there is any doubt about the credibility of a block, and the crowd down-votes it, Facilitation reserves the right to keep it on the table. The converse wouldn’t be possible (if the crowd deems it legitimate, the facilitation canNOT remove it).

        • Daniel

          Some of our values can be gleaned from the documents you listed, while some argue that the Principles of Solidarity was never properly consented on. (I’m personally ambivalent about it.) But none of these define a legitimate block.

          “To say that moral, ethical or safety concern is purely subjective, is to say there is no criteria for a block.”

          I’m saying it’s inherently subjective until we make an objective determination. Yes, as it stands now, we have no firm criteria for a block. We’re currently relying on people to act in good faith. That hasn’t always worked. So let’s define the criteria. Even CT Butler, whom you cite, says the first step to building a successful consensus process is writing a statement of principles or purpose.

          “The only time there should be an invalidation of a block, is if there is NO doubt about the block being unrelated to ethical, moral or safety concern e.g. when a blocker said ‘I know this is not a real block, but I think the tech ops should sleep in mcdonalds…’”

          Okay, I can get behind this. How will you articulate this in the proposal? How about if it were to say: “Valid blocks will articulate a moral/ethical/safety concern, i.e., it must be explicitly stated how the proposal in question does harm to individuals within the movement or the movement as a whole. Otherwise the block may be challenged through the following process…” Given something along these lines, consider my concerns alleviated.