2/17/12 Meeting Minutes

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Meeting of the Disabilty Caucus
February 17, 2012, 5:30pm
Atrium – 60 Wall St.

Jonathan Sunshine
Natalie Osborn
Peirs Droms
Danny Robert
Nadina Laspina
Philip Bennett
Carr Massi
Arlene Braggs

Nadina quickly reviews hand gestures and states that people who are not able to use hand gestures, will say “agree,” “disagree,” etc. There are questions about the process of arriving at consensus. Nadina explains that reaching consensus can be a long process, but is much more democratic. When a decision is made by a majority vote, you can have 51% of the group impose their will on the remaining 49%.

Carr is still not convinced, but says she’ll try to get used to the OWS way.

An AGENDA is agreed on:

Mission Statement
Reports from meetings and events members have attended
Participating in Occupy Town Square events
Our own event on April 1st
Changing Meeting Day

We start with the Mission Statement.

Natalie reads the draft of the Mission Statement.

It is noted that someone named Owen made some edits on line.

Two additional changes are made by the group:
In the second paragraph, the word “hard-won” is added to the line “Social programs that many of us have come to depend on…”
In the seventh paragraph the words “by an ableist culture” are added after “Our lives have been devalued and judged expendable.”

Nadina says we need more people in order to reach consensus.

Carr doesn’t understand why the mission statement cannot just be posted as is, since at this meeting, and at the one before this one, everyone liked it.

We agree that we’ll take the statement to the next meeting.

We move on to Reports.

Jonathan Sunshine reports on meetings that he’s been attending of the group Urban Justice.

Danny reports on the work of the group Healthcare for the 99%, and in particular around the topic of medical apartheid.

Philip describes the event of Feb. 14th at Washington Square Park (Occupy Valentine’s Day), and tells the group how OWS eventually accommodated wheelchair-users wishing to join the demonstration by moving the mattress out of the inaccessible fountain and on flat ground.

Nadina points out that she started an access forum on the nycga site. She says she posted a link to Michele “Equality” Kaplan’s account of what happened in Washington Sq. Park on Feb. 14 – it’s a beautiful Valentine’s Day story.  Nadina says she also posted a link to a video Michele made about wheelchair access. It’s good and could be shown at a teach-in about access. We should plan on doing a teach-in about access very soon. Of course, there are many other types of access, not just wheelchair access.

Nadina also announces that the General Assembly for the rest of the winter will be held inside, at the Atrium at 60 Wall Street on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 7 – 9:30 PM. We should attend as a group, even if we just get 4 or 5 people together.

We go on to talk about participating in the Town Square Events.

Danny explains that these events are a way to bring OWS to different neighborhoods. They are held every two weeks, and are a good opportunity to be “seen,” and to do outreach. They’re also a lot of fun. OWS occupies a space – usually a park. There are meetings, teach-ins, tables with information, mic checks, music.

The next Occupy Town Square event will be in Tompkins Square Sunday, Feb. 26th, from 11am to 5pm.
Philip mentions the past history of Tompkins Square Park, how homeless people lived there until the late 1980s when the police cleared the park.

Danny says we should definitely try to have a presence there. We could bring the DIA banner and have Krips Occupy Wall Street bring the DISABILITY PRIDE banner.

Groups do teach-ins at OTS events. But preparation is needed to do a teach-in. We will prepare to do one at a future OTS event.

Since we could have a table and give out information, Carr would like to bring the DIA brochure and other DIA literature.

Nadina says the Caucus needs to have a flyer. Alejandra was supposed to work on a flyer. But it would be good to have the regular weekly meeting day on the flyer.

It’s decided that the “changing meeting day” item be moved up on the agenda.

Nadina explains that at the first meeting, it was decided that we would try to have a meeting day that was convenient for most.

Carr says that never works. We should just pick a day and those who can make it come, and those who can’t don’t come.

Philip asks if anyone in this group has any problems with meeting on Fridays.

Everyone attending is fine with meeting on Fridays.

Nadina says we should try to accommodate as many of our members as we can, as best we can. She says there are some people for whom attending meetings is really much too difficult or impossible, and we need to make reasonable accommodations. She brings up the possibility of online conferences, chatrooms…

Sunshine, Arlene, and Carr say that would not work for them. Danny says he knows it would not work for Pat and Phil Walls and for Paula (not present at the meeting).

We decide to keep meeting on Friday until people can agree on a different day.

We move on to the discussion of our April 1st event.

We all agree we want to hold an event that day.
We all agree it will not be an action with civil disobedience – We had planned to protest at the Governor’s office but the office will be closed since April 1st is a Sunday.

We talk about having a speak-out. Should we focus on medical apartheid, the fact that people are forced to accept different levels of medical care based on their economic status? should we focus on Medicaid?
Danny says that since it is April Fools’ day, the theme should be “we won’t be fooled again.”  We could make dunce caps, do some street theatre.

Everyone likes the idea of doing street theatre.

Last announcement: A reminder that May 1st, “May Day,” will be a global action day. A GENERAL STRIKE is being called for. We should start thinking about how the Caucus wants to participate.

The meeting is adjourned at 7:17pm.

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