“The need to assemble is as constant among humans as the necessity of making decisions is rare. Assembling corresponds to the joy of feeling a common power….It’s not a matter of critiquing assemblies or abandoning them, but of liberating speech, gestures and interplay of beings that take place within them….If we manage to set aside the fantasy of a General Assembly and replace it with an assembly of presences….if we stop making the decision our final aim, then there is a chance for a kind of critical mass, one of those moments of collective crystallization where a decision suddenly takes hold of beings, completely or only in part….An assembly is not a place for decisions but for talk, for free speech exercised without a goal.”
– The Coming Insurrection
The OWS General Assembly is a highly recognizable symbol of our community and an entry point for many into the Occupy Movement in New York. At present, due to its highly competitive and bureaucratic nature, many organizers have ceased participating and many first time participants are turned off by the movement as a result. This is not a condemnation of the incredibly dedicated individuals who continue to organize and participate, only an honest account of our circumstance.
As a first step in rebuilding a positive, inspiring and constructive space for communal dialogue, we propose that one GA per week – the Saturday GA – focus entirely on substantive, political discourse. Rather than going through the process of passing proposals through consensus, a weekly topic will be presented to the group followed by breakouts, report backs, and then unstructured conversation. This process may be repeated depending on the topic being discussed. These General Assemblies would be analytical rather than conclusive and would hold no decision-making power.
Weekly topics will be proposed and determined by the group at the end of each Saturday GA. The party submitting the proposal will be responsible to make a short presentation to frame the discussion the following week. Should an urgent discussion topic arise during the week, such as an unanticipated action or development that requires community-wide discussion, an emergency proposal can be made to the Facilitation WG, which may then present the proposal at the beginning of the Saturday GA.
We believe that this model would bring members of our community back together and also serve as a widely-publicized outreach tool, where anyone can participate in dialogues surrounding issues relating to the fight for social and economic justice. We hope to recreate a space that we are all proud to take part in – one that is a collective embodiment of our values and how we address socio-economic issues through respectful and empowering forms of communication.