NYC Operational Spokes Council 1/23/2012 (Minutes)

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Spokes Council Minutes.


Audio Recording of Spokes Council Meeting

Spokes sign in sheet

Location: West Park Presbyterian Church

Facilitation: Bana and Nathan

Stack: Melanie

Time Keeper: Gene

Minutes: David Buccola

Working Group Reportbacks: Minutes, Facilitation, Occupy Farms. Info-hub, People’s Library, Safer Spaces, Direct Action (DA), Archives, Translation.

Proposal: Safer Spaces Community Agreement did not reach modified consensus. (Started 16:00. Fails modified consensus 1:32).

Proposal: Sean’s Monthly Budget: Tabled due to a Point of Process; proposals should be proposed by working groups, not individuals.

Open Discussion regarding budget freeze, Spokes Council and how to go forward with disagreement with Accounting. (1:52)

Announcements: Vision and Goals, Minutes, Daniel, Awesome woman who needs help shopping, and Picture the Homeless.

Full Minutes

Meeting Begins: 7:46pm (1:30)

Bana and Nathan ask for permission to co-facilitate. Melanie and Gene ask for permission. Lots of uptwinkles.

Working Group Report Backs

Minutes: We are having trouble fulfillin our role because of the problems. We need 24-hours notice about these meetings.

Facilitation: Funding is not being released by accounting. The space will not be available on Wednesday.

Info-hub: A reportback on the GA proposal re: Groups that passed December 20th. Currently 34 groups in compliance. We have 45 groups almost there. And we have 46 groups made inactive.

Occupy Farms: Had a meeting on Sunday. We have a meeting coming up on Thursday. They are having a trip to a farm this weekend about 350 miles away and will be sending some people up there to help with farming. We are doing outreach to farms and have a possible one in Albany. If you have interest come to their meeting at 60 Wall on Thursday at 5:30pm

F: Opening up Stack for announcements.

People’s Library: They have an action for tomorrow but can’t give details. Meet tomorrow Tuesday at 4pm at the Red Cube. Keeping details hush to make actiona surprise.

Safer Spaces: Presenting the Community Agreement tonight. Meeting on Friday at 7pm to talk about a grievance process. They are hoping to get space in Brooklyn. TBD.

Direct Action: There is a fem-block meeting every Thursday at 7:30pm. Not sure where it will be held this Thursday but they will announce it at every DA meeting.

Translation: We have deaf people here so we’d like to keep the aisle clear to faciliate translation.

Facilitation: [Missed that.]

Archives: We don’t have hard drives; if any working group has hard drives we could use that would be amazing. We want to store some sensitive information.


Safer Spaces Proposal for Community Agreement (16:00)



Proposed to OWS Spokescouncil by the Safer Spaces Working Group January 9th, 2012revised for January 11 & 18th; it will be made available in multiple languages

I. Statement of Intention Upon Entering the Space

I enter this space with a commitment to mutual respect, mutual aid, anti-oppression, conflict resolution, nonviolence, and direct democracy.

I trust that others are acting with the best of intentions.

I recognize that I may still have a lot to learn about types of oppression and I commit to learn.

I support the empowerment of each person so that we can challenge the histories and structures of oppression that marginalize some and divide us all, including racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, religious discrimination, ageism, and ableism among others.

I hold myself accountable to community decisions.

I acknowledge that individual freedoms are not to supersede our collective safety, well-being, and ability to function cooperatively. Individual freedom without responsibility to the community is the way of the 1%.

I agree that if I violate any of the community agreements listed below, I will accept the decision of the community regarding my violation through a peace council or grievance process and may be required to remove myself from all OWS spaces.



We commit to making OWS spaces physically and linguistically accessible to all.

We commit to making resources equally accessible to all.

We do not engage in violence or threats of violence, including verbal aggression.

We get explicit consent before interacting physically, or using others’ belongings.

We affirm that consent is not just the absence of a “no,” but the presence of a “yes.”

We acknowledge that different people in our community have different vulnerabilities to police or hospital interaction, due to their race, documentation status, immigration status, gender, economic situation, age, criminal justice or medical history, and experience with police violence.

We will not use substances inside this space that may attract the attention of police and risk harm to our community.

We affirm that in the event that a person is harmed, it is their discretion to involve the police or not. The decision to call an ambulance is also theirs. This does not apply when someone is unconscious, their life is in immediate danger, or is otherwise incapable of consenting.

We respect everyone’s names, preferred gender pronouns, and expressed identities. We make no assumptions about someone’s identity, whether race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, or class based on their appearance. We also understand that no one is required to share information about their identities.

We commit to ongoing awareness of how prejudice and the structures of oppression, including the ways unearned power and privilege that accompany race, gender, physical ability, legal status, wealth, and/or sexuality, among other identites and forms of privilege, in this society affect our actions and decisions.

We affirm that oppression and the histories of oppression should not be taken lightly and commit to making our speech and behavior reflect this.

We recognize that certain behavior—such as shouting someone down in a meeting or dismissing experiences of oppression—can be triggering, especially for survivors of sexual assault and/or those who have been on the receiving end of different and multiple forms of oppression or abuse.

We recognize that each of us comes into this space with diverse styles of speaking, learning, and interacting which may not align with the dominant culture.

We commit to hearing each other and creating opportunities for all voices to be heard, especially those that have been historically marginalized or silenced.

We do not tolerate individuals acting as informants or agents of law enforcement, private security, or other institutions whose intent is to undermine OWS. We also renounce bad-jacketing—the act of accusing someone of being a cop or provovateur without concrete and irrefutable evidence—as this can be a tool used to undermine people and to cause instability and mistrust.


We accept a shared responsibility to hold one another and ourselves accountable to these agreements. If we feel that an agreement is not being respected, we will express that concern without violence, judgment, or assumption of intent by others.

As a community, we commit to developing creative and transformative ways to address harm. When someone is harmed, we affirm that the experience and decisions of the person harmed will guide our responses and next steps, while allowing all parties involved to transform the cycles of abuse and violence.

Each meeting will begin with a reminder of these agreements, and reference will be made to them as needed.

We agree that issues may arise that take priority over the meeting agenda and space needs to be given to address them immediately. Such priority is needed to create and support an anti-oppressive space.

If an individual disrespects any of these community agreements we are empowered to collectively implement an OWS De-escalation Process or require the individual to participate in the OWS grievance process (once it is agreed upon). Either process once followed may result in an individual being asked to leave for a set or indefinite period of time, or until agreement has been reached about conditions for return. Refusal to respect either process and leave when asked could result in the individual being removed from the space.

Those who have committed harm in this space, or who have committed harm in the past and whose presence limits participation of others in this movement, may be asked to leave until the harm has been sufficiently addressed in a manner that is determined to be most appropriate by the community and the person or people most immediately affected by the harm, with the understanding that return may not be possible. In the case of sexual violence and abuse, the person who harmed will be removed and the survivor will determine the conditions for return. We will work to coordinate with organizations that assist individuals who are overcoming addiction or who have committed abuse or violence.


Community Accountability within the People of Color Progressive Movement by IN­CITE! Women of Color Against Violence:

“Feeling for the Edge of Your Imagination: Finding Ways Not to Call the Police” by Imagine Alternatives:

Learning Good Consent zine:

NYC Coalition for Safer Spaces: “Rape Culture 101” by Melissa McEwan:

The Revolution Starts at Home edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, zine: and book:

Support zine:

“Supporting a Survivor of Sexual Assault” by UBUNTU:

“Taking the First Step: Suggestions for People Called Out for Abusive Behav­ior” Deal With it Journal (originally in Clamor Magazine):

Towards Transformative Justice by GenerationFIVE:“White Supremacist System” by AWARE-LA:

“White Privelege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh htp://

F: Taking five minutes to read the document (22:00)

F: Opening stack for clarifying questions: (26:00)

Think Tank: What constitutes verbal agression?

Safer Spaces: We’re defining harm on people experiencing harm not an objective definition. If people feel verbal actions have been harmful, that’s the intention. But we are not trying to define this objectively. So there’s something called Group Couch. It’s a way of acknowledging that someone said something upsetting without doing anything but just acknowlding it. The person who experienced harm would say “ouch.” The person who committed it would say, “Ooops.”

Library: Question about the fourth bullet point. Could you expand on that? Is that at the discretion of facilitation?

Safer Spaces: In this situation we would get a temperature check from the room, or if maybe a particular caucus thinks it’s serious enough; that might be reason to pause the meeting. As a movement we want to be conscious of harm within the movement.

Medical: What space does this apply? Does it have to invoked ahead of time? Or is it always applicable where there are two or more #OccupyWallStreet people?

Safer Spaces: We are just trying to bring this to Spokes Council. We encourage other groups to use this as a model. This is just for Spokes Council.

Accounting: Our problem is enforcing rules. Who’s going to enforce this?

Safer Spaces: This has been discussed. When people are violated we need to bring in deescalation; we need a road back. We need a grievance process. We need to bring out concerns. We need all these elements. It’s going to be difficult to wrap them all up into an agreement. We need enforcement. We need de-escalation policy. But the misconception is that it’s our job to bring it to the movement. If we can get this passed we are happy to work with everyone. We are starting some skeletal ideas. First we need the agreements of how we behave; otherwise what are enforcing if we havnen’t agreed?

Occupy Farms: Under the first section…[lots of editing suggestions]

Safer Spaces: Are those Friendly Amendments?

F: We can read over those again and see how the room feels?

Occupy the Farms: Wants language removed that mentions 1%; feels it’s divisive. Here’s the section: I acknowledge that individual freedoms are not to supersede our collective safety, well-being, and ability to function cooperatively. Individual freedom without responsibility to the community is the way of the 1%.

F: Temp check on how people feel about that edit?

Safer Spaces: We’re going to confer about this.

Safer Spaces: Instead of the “way of the 1%” we’ll put “It’s not the way of OccupyWallStreet”

Occupy Farms: Edit regarding the language of substance. Wants it to clarify “illegal.”

Safer Spaces: We do not accept that amendment. We understand the concerns. There are legal and illegal substances that get the attention of the police; so this is harmful vs non-harmful. We are focused on what risks harm to the community.

Occupy the Farms: Edit about not “accusing people of being an informant” we should change it to no unfounded allegations: Here’s the section being discussed:

We do not tolerate individuals acting as informants or agents of law enforcement, private security, or other institutions whose intent is to undermine OWS. We also renounce bad-jacketing—the act of accusing someone of being a cop or provovateur without concrete and irrefutable evidence—as this can be a tool used to undermine people and to cause instability and mistrust.

Safer Spaces: We do not accept that language. A lot of times when people get called out for sexual assault there is no proof; there is no evidence. I don’t want this to lead us toward that burden of proof. It could cause more harm.

F: Five minutes to discuss with your group and then we will enter concerns. (47:00)

Concerns (53:00)

Meditation: We’ll pass.

Translation: We are concerned with the flowery language. The first page is very specific and to the point but the other pages get to be too much. We want to make sure that language is accessable to everyone, specially those who speak English as a second language. Whenever we had rules in the park it was very simple. When we would go to community hall if people needed those points to be expanded upon we could do that. So that the person could be pulled aside and the rules could be explained further. We just want this to be clear to everyone and not vague language or more advanced than what everyone can understand. We want to all be on the same ground.

F: How about extending this for 15 more minutes? More up than down. The next proposal is budget. Looks good. We’ll go for another 15 minutes (57)

Safer Spaces: We’ve been working on this for a very long time. This was supposed to be approved last Wednesday but physical violence broke out so we’ve made this a priority. We acknowledge the concern about language but we feel it’s a priority to pass this, and will work with people to make sure it’s translated well. We are stymied by this concern right now. We are willing to hold discussions about it to promote understanding.

Direct Action: Has it been considered to translate this into brail? Perhaps Safer Spaces can work with Translation. Our concern: We want to suggest a FA for the second page among agreements we committ to teaching others, and newcomers our processes, agreements and tools we use as a community. We want to make sure this accessable so that people know what are forethought is and why we use this language.

F: Closing stack (1:03)

Safer Spaces: We like the sentiment but we want to tweak the words a little. Or trust that we’ll do that.

Town Planning: I’m concerned there is no process to amend these.

F: It’s up to the body how they want to amend this. We are fine with however that conversation happens.

Town Planning: FA: When that version is passed by the GA that Spokes Council address its version to bring it in line with the GA version so that there is no disagreement. We will reconcile Spokes version with the GA version.

Safer Spaces: It doesn’t need to be written in the document; Spokes can address that if they want.

Town Planning: Can we strip out the resources and readings? There is aura of bias. I think they can go.

Temp Check: Mostly down-twinkles

Safer Spaces: We are

Town Planning: FA: Number the bullet points to make this more readable.

Safer Spaces: We’ve had meetings about this for a long time. We want to get to serious content issues. We have tried to make this accessable and get input. Now this is a lot later. Please.

Town planning:

F: You’ve already taken 6 minutes of the time. I’m going to ask that we move on.

Town Planning: We decline. Could we

Safer Spaces: We are talking about consent not consensus.

Occupy Farms: We’ll pass.

Library: Will you continue to print these and make them available? The concern is a small group deciding on this for the entire movement.

POI: This is just for Spokes Council, not the entire movement. We have an intention to distribute in mutltiple forms. It is online.

Safer Spaces: We would like to put copies in the Library.

Translation: We feel uncomfortable with the level of the language; it’s very adult language. People who are younger, children. We are thinking about the human mind who can’t memorize it. We think it’s a great document. We want it to pass. But everyone might not get the concepts to utilize them at a moment when its necessary. The more concrete it is the easier it will be to enforce. The language is a barrier. There are words in here that there are no signs for. We want to pass it but we need to make some changes to match the variety level of people in the space.

F: Do you want to respond to that concern?

Safer Spaces: We are dealing with the tension of dealing with these concerns and our time issues. We’ve been trying to get to these issues you’ve mentioned and work with many revisions. Is there a way to pass it tonight but still try to work with you guys. I don’t know if that’s possible. We want that to happen. We are interested in Translation helping us but not exclusivelfy.

Housing: When are we going to decide on this? How much power does that have? Can I get an answer on this?

Safer Spaces: We only have the power to bring this to Spokes Council. We encourage you to bring this to your groups.

Housing: We might like to model what we do on what you do. We are having problems.

Safer Spaces: We want to work with you on that. This is about creating agreements on how we behave with eachother but it does not set out a process. It’s not our responsbility to impose a structure of how to do it.

Housing: How long will it take?

Safer Spaces: It’s our job and we need to work together. This Friday we are having a meeting at 7pm at 60 Wall St or the Quaker meeting house.

Once we agree on this, what’s the next step? Where do you envision it being?

F: POP: This is a clarifying question. We are in the concerns and amendmetn phase. Maybe Safer Spaces can answer.

Safer Spaces: Our intention is to get this passed at Spokes Council. All we can say for sure is we are hoping to pass this at Spokes Council.

F: Please re-state the proposal with FA.

Safer Spaces: It is this document plus the change to this line: “Individual freedom without responsibility to the community is the way of the 1%.” Changed to “this is not the way of Occupy Wall Street.” We are stating a committment to teaching each other about the tools and processes we develop. We are also open that this is accessable and translated.

F: We are 10 minutes over time and would like to move toward consensus (1:26)

Stand Asides: No stand asides.

F: Any blocks: We have one block from translation.

Translation: We don’t think it’s fair to pass this and hold people accountable if it’s not comprehensible. I would be happy to pass it in the most direct language. The first page and the first four bullets of section A are fine. Everything else I have issue with. I can’t see keeping people accountable to this.

F: Is there anything that would be done to help remove your block?

Translation: Remove everything after the fourth bullet on the second page.

Safer Spaces: This is just for Spokes Council, not #OccupyWallStreet. One thing is that in the past we were told that they would block if things were not addressed. This is real concern. We want to have a committment to making this acccessable. Is this not accessable to anyone in Spokes Council? We are not comfortable with removing everything after bullet point four on the secon page. We are willing to work with simplification.

Translation: We are not asking you to remove all the language after the fourth bullet point in section two. Maybe the rest can be made very clear in five sentences and wouldn’t have to be as dense. We think the earlier section is clear. We are saying we could pass everything preceeding it and wouldn’t feel comfortable passing those things after it.

F: They are not willing to take away the language. Does the block stand? Block stands. We need to go to modified consensus. (1:32)

F: We have 14 Spokes. Are there any Spokes who would like to vote against this proposal? Raise your spoke. Two spokes.

POI: Two spokes are arriving. The proposal under modified consensus does not pass.

F: Darryl with a budget proposal (1:38)

Darryl’s Proposal:

The amount of issues and time spent on budgetary issues is primarily caused by lack of forward thinking in terms of budget. This is a proposal for the next month, along with what we expect to get in return for these expenditures. Any future discussions will be framed within the context of these expenditures:

1. Set aside the 100k bail…. sorry… that would have been possible with more dough.. right now that is too much, for months in the future. We should be able to fundraise for more between now and then.

100000 for live work space, storage and a kitchen (75,000 for downpayment/rent 25,000 for improvements and services No further payments for at least 2 months Live space for 50-100, and place for GA’s and storage)
15,000 for Audit services (maybe accomplished by fiscal sponsorship switch)(legal necessity)
20,000 to start worker co-ops(100% employment starts with our own movement)
10,000 Transportation 2 vans and insurance gas

50,000 Budget 1/15-2/15
20,000 Kitchen (space, plus meals for 250 people at least twice a day, seven days per week)
6500 Housing
23,500 For EVERY OTHER SPOKESCOUNCIL Or GA expenditure

10,000 for tech infrastructure
10,000 for energy generation

20,000 in reserves

2. Switch fiscal sponsor to one that will do ALL accounting as part of the package, meaning we get more for the money we pay them. (tides offered to do it, and Avaaz is also interested)

3. Start fundraising effort immediately

Yes numbers will change some, but this is the format we need to be discussing

F: It’s 9:30 now.

POP: We feel uncomfortable with an individual bringing a proposal.

Darryl: This is a personal proposal.

POP: There is no precident for doing that in Spokes Council.

F: It is the understanding that proposals are brought by working groups who have come to consensus on it.

Darryl: There’s nothing else on the agenda. Let’s take a temperature check on this.

Accounting: Agreeing that this is really important but it needs to be brought by a group. Having a conversation might be really helpful.

F: There is a POP that an individual bringing a proposal forward is outside the Spokes Council guidelines. Take a moment to see how we’d like to take advantage of the next half hour.

Darryl: Show me where it says only a working group can bring forward a proposal.

F: Important anouncement. A meeting is starting down stairs regarding housing in this church. Go downstairs.

F: There is an opportunity for discussion. (1:52)

How the freeze affects acquiring space for Spokes Council

Accounting: We withraw.

Structure: We think it’s a terrific idea to have a conversation about budgets.

POP: We are discussing topics to be discussed.

F: If you have an agenda item bring that forward.

Structure: It would be great to have a discussion about budgets.

F: In the interest of expediting this I will recommend an order.

Archives: We were tabled for a week and haven’t been able to discuss our proposal. We would like that added to the budget discussion.

F: we have three items. Discussion on Safer Spaces proposal. 2) How the budget freeze affects spokes council. 3). A general discussion on budgets. Here’s a possible order of agenda:

1. Freeze how that affects Spokes Council spaces.

2. Budgets.

3. Safer Spaces Proposal.

Facilitation: We don’t know what is to be done when there is a conflict with accounting and we think that’s limiting our ability to find spaces. It’s not just about the spending freeze and what it covers and doesn’t cover but the interpretation issue. Members of facilitation have went to accounting and don’t feel it’s been resolved. Money is not being released to this body for spaces.

F: 1)Spending Freeze and interpretation conflicts with accounting. Next an overall budget conversation. Not good. Lastly continuing the Safer Spaces proposal. It’s clearly the facilitation concern.We will let facilitation speak to this and then open the conversation.

Facilitation: There is a difference in interpretation between facilitation and accounting. We have gone to accounting meetings to resolve it but we still cannot access funds to secure space and announce in an acceptable time where we are holding meetings.

Accounting: POI: We are not witholding any money. The GA is withholding money. We just do what the GA tells us. We love facilitation. The GA says no. A spending freeze is a spending freeze. I was there when the spending freeze was brought up. It had exemptions for housing, kitchen, medical, and outstanding debts. If we have a recorring monthly charge we will pay that. Accounting is not withholding any money. Here’s the other piece. There are disagreements on what was included and what was not included. There was nothing about facilitation and getting money. But that didn’t happen. That sucks. It’s not up to accounting to decide. It’s up to the General Assembly.

POI: The audio has been posted.

F: I was

POI: I lived tweeted it. Specifically raised was an example from tech. Facilitation had previously allocated money for spokes. That’s what the FA was based on.

DA: Knowing the minutes have not been consulted. My impression of facilitation and accountings perspectives is they are very sure they are right and they are conflicting. I can’t have faith in either perspective. I can’t confirm any of this information.

[back and forth between accounting and Occupy Farms 2:06]

Facilitation: We are not looking to resolve this conflict but we are looking for guidance when there is a disagreement with accounting. We are still left with the issue of not being able to pay for space. When there is a difference in interpretation what do we do?

POI: The outcome of the meeting was we would have another meeting once minutes were posted.

Library: Concerned about the relationship between Spokes Council and General Assembly. We need to pay for this space.

F: It’s 9:54 and we agreed to wrap this up around 10:00. Please keep track of how long your speaking.

Structure: We agree with everything we’ve heard. There is confusion because minutes are not clear and available. Let’s have a budget discussion now.

OWS Works: People can see the same event and have very different memories of it and there wasn’t a way forward. Now that the audio file is available let’s move forward.

Town Planning: We are facing two questions. If there is any issue with the source you go back to the GA and ask them to please clarify. The first issue did the GA have any business bringing this decision at all.

Facilitation: The GA gave one power to Spokes. It could dissolve it; not currtail it’s spending. We don’t want conflict between GA and Spokes. We thought maybe we should ask Spokes Council if it felt empowered to make those decisions.

Meditation: Get the minutes and bring it up at the next GA.

F: We are now out of Spokes mode and any individual can make an announcement (2:19)

Matthew: Annoucement regarding larger issues of the community agreement. We’re ready to discuss de-escelation and how to implement that.

F: We’d like to be wrapped up in five minutes.

I have some extra money and would like some help to go shopping. You’re not getting enough vitamin C. I have a nursing degree and a library degree and a remeanent of the Berkley Free Speech movement. We closed that university for three months and I never lost my lessons. I was born in Luxemborg. My father persevered. He got on a train and got to Brussells.

Picture the Homeless: This Thursday we will be releasing our findings on the vacant property count in the Five Boroughs held at Hunter College at Roosevelt House at East 65th street between Madison and Park at 2pm. All are invited to see the shocking findings of the vacant properties we have in New York. What we did was we took the 20 major community boards and when we did that count that there were more vacant properties than homeless people.

Visions and Goals: We have a vision statement that is up for consensus tomorrow. We are inviting groups to come. We will hand out copies of the statement, but we still have goals. We hope you’ll consense upon it.

Daniel: I’m trying to find space for Wednesdays Spokes Council. If you have ideas then please come and see me and we’ll work together.

Minutes: We have the audio linked. Please get at me.

Let’s do a unity clap. Start clapping slowly and speed up. Meeting adjourned at 2:27

2 Responses to “NYC Operational Spokes Council 1/23/2012 (Minutes)”

  1. Brandon

    Safer Spaces has created an amazing and comprehensive document. I’m shocked it didn’t pass Spokes. Big ups to Safer Spaces! In spite of the agreement not passing, your hard work guides and inspires us in other groups. Many thanks.

  2. Yoni Miller

    Eh, Translations block, was not a valid block, but perhaps Safer Space should have left out the last page, and kept it shorter. supported it though.