This is a general proposal for a serious problem weʼve encountered, 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 similar, yet for the most contentious part of the GA, blocks, neither Facilitation nor the body as a whole is able 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 are envisioned to be a serious issue over which one would consider leaving the Movement rather than a chance to issue an earmark or block for anything less than a moral, ethical, or safety concern on the part of the Movement as a whole.
This is a solution proposed by C.T. Butler, 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, but at least validates that the reason stated is an applicable moral, ethical, or safety concern, rather than a personal concern or issued out of some other motive.
This would give the General Assembly, the group as a whole whose combined efforts represent the movement as a whole, the ability to also say whether a block is valid or not. This, in conjunction with the democratic bodyʼs temperature check, will foster an environment that will function the way it was intended to.
1. Add the following step to the acknowledgement of each block after it has been spoken to by the blocker: “Does this sound like a moral, ethical, or safety concern?”, addressed to the meeting body.
2. Do a temperature check to get feedback from the meeting body; strongly positive or strongly negative results in either the upholding or negation of the standing block. In the result of a mixed result, a sub-stack of participating members should be opened, 1-3 each in defense of the block’s validity and in opposition of the block’s validity, and upon closing this stack re-take the temperature check.
3. As a balance to this potential check of blocking power, add the following step to the consensus process to give a proposal more time: “Do we consider this proposal to be ready for consensus, if we give it more time on the agenda tonight?”. Take a temperature check on whether the GA feels the proposal is ready to push forward to consensus before taking a temperature check on whether we give it more time, as a negative answer to that question is something that can be addressed by having the proposer and the detractors step aside into a breakout group to discuss the proposal more directly and reduce the need for blocks by letting the purpose they are presently filling still be expressed.