Feminist General Assembly Planning Meeting 3/29/12

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Thanks to all who came out to the first planning meeting for the Feminist General Assembly – it was great to have so many amazing people in one room!  The minutes are posted at the bottom of this email.

You should be receiving an invitation email shortly with an invitation to the Feminist GA google group, a new listserv we’re setting up for Feminist GA planning.  All future correspondence will be done over that list, so if you want to be kept in the loop, please accept the invitation.  A couple notes about Google groups – although we will try to be as efficient as possible in our emailing, if you don’t want your inbox cluttered with Feminist GA emails, there is an option to do either a daily or weekly digest.  This way you receive one email per day or week (depending on your preference) that has a summary of all the communication from that day/week.  You can choose this preference when you respond to the invitation to the group, and you can also change it at any time by going to http://groups.google.com/ and managing your preferences there.

At the meeting we consented that the first Feminist GA will be on Thursday, May 17, location and time TBD

We also consented that the next planning meeting will be on Tuesday, April 3, location and time TBD.  We will try to have it be longer and slightly later than the meeting we had on Tuesday, and will plan on having future meetings at a different day of the week to accommodate differing schedules.

At the next meeting we’re going to have time to do breakout groups focused on planning the GA. Some we thought of are:
-finding space/logistics
-outreach to other groups
-setting the agenda/facilitation

Please send an email to wowsnyc@gmail.com if there’s anything you want on the agenda for the next meeting or if you have any suggestions for breakout groups.

WOW meets every Sunday from 5-7pm, and all female assigned or female identified individuals are welcome.  This coming Sunday we’re meeting at Occupy Town Square at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn – 85 S. Oxford St.

More info about WOW: http://www.nycga.net/groups/wow/

More info about Occupy Town Square: https://www.facebook.com/events/182968688482467/

Thanks and I hope to see you on April 3!  Minutes from the meeting are below.



1st Feminist GA Planning Meeting Minutes 3/20/2012

1. Introductions – name, preferred gender pronoun, affiliation

Simran, she, WOW, Fem GA, Citywide Assembly

Alix, she, Take Back the Future – feminists of all genders of her generation doing anti-war work, trying to keep feminist emphasis in politics we do – most have been doing this work since the 60s & 70s

Liz, she, no organizational affiliation, just wants to get more involved/connected

Rosie, she, affiliated w/ NOW Activist Alliance, works for Drug Policy Alliance

Kathleen, she, WOW/OWS

Dorota, she, not involved in any org but wants to get more involved with OWS

Abby, she, adjunct professor @ Hunter College, NOW Activist Alliance

Kristen, she, Feminist Press, looking to meet more feminists

Laura, she, Feminist Press (no longer there but affiliated), her friend Natalie sent her along

Jennifer, she, ACTRA labor organizer

Raluca, she, Permanent Wave – women’s music and arts group – interested in creating speak out on health care issues

Leyla, no PGP, was at Left Forum, not from area, wants to find ways to support movement

PJ, she, WOW

Katie, she, Girls for Gender Equity

Steph, she, International Socialist Org, Occupy the DOE, protest at NY post Thursday @ 5pm against bogus teacher reports

Betty, she, Radical Women – socialist feminist group – New York Coalistion for Abortion Clinic Defense – defends clinic in the South Bronx

Sammy, she, Feminist Resistance – born partially out of Slutwalk NYC – Intersectional view of rape culture, event on May 5 2-5, location TBD – What’s Next for Feminism in NYC and How can we work together?

Minori, she, social worker, OWS Environmental Solidarity WG, anti-nuclear weapons actions

Melanie G, WOW, never considered herself a feminist before OWS, now more important than everything else

2. WOW description

WOW stands for Women Occupying Wall Street and is the Women’s Caucus of OWS.

WOW exists to create a safe space for the empowerment of female-assigned and/or female-identified individuals, for community awareness, and for collective action on the issues that affect women most. We believe that the issues that affect women affect all of society. WOW has been a very important space for many of us in the OWS space. It has been a space for us to collectively fight patriarchy and to ensure that our voices are being heard. It has also allowed many of us to build great relationships.

The Fem GA idea was actually thought of a by a WOW member, Mel G, who you will meet shortly. She felt that since there has been such a strong war on women recently, that we need to come together and build our own army and find peaceful means of protection. It was a vision for creating a space for feminist groups across NYC to build strong networks and collaborate. Our goal is to encourage people to work together in promoting feminist values by coordinating together in various organizing projects.

3. Community Agreement:

We enter this space with a commitment to:

mutual respect and support
conflict resolution
direct democracy
We support the empowerment of each person to challenge the histories and structures of oppression that marginalize some, and divide us all.

We understand individual freedoms are not above our collective safety, well-being, and ability to function cooperatively.

4. Process info:

Agree (Wiggle Fingers in the Air, ‘Jazz Hands’) – This means I like this, or I feel good. In a consensus process, it also can mean ‘I agree’.

Unsure (Hands out Flat) – This means I am unsure, on the fence or don’t know.

Disagree (Wiggles Fingers, Hands Down) – This means I don’t like this or I don’t feel good. In a consensus process, it also can mean ‘I disagree’.

Point of Process (Diamond with Hands) – This means the GA process has been derailed, someone is off topic, we need to get back on track.

Point of Information (One Finger in the Air) – This means I have pertinent information about what is currently being discussed. It is not a question or a concern, it is merely information.

Wrap it Up (Pointer Fingers Orbiting Each Other) – This means that we hear you, we understand but you’re talking a lot, please be concise and to the point.

Block (Arms Crossed in an ‘X’) – This means that you have a severe ethical or safety issue with what is being discussed. If it passes, I will leave the movement and abandon our cause. This is very serious! A block is only used during a consensus process to prevent a proposal from being passed. (We are not presenting any proposals today.)

Clarifying question

Make decisions based on consensus, won’t explain consensus process now
Stack – This person keeps a speaking order list for each item on the agenda and ensures everyone is heard. A stack taker should practice ‘progressive stack’, which means ensuring that the speaking list is diverse and fair, staggering individuals from traditionally marginalized groups with others, not from those groups, that wish to speak.

Mel G – process is to make sure everyone is heard, less interruptions

5. Mel G lead us in an activity – talk to someone you don’t know for one minute. Reportbacks:

Betty- met Laura, lives in Jersey City, has a big desire to connect feminists together

Sammy – met Rosie, with NOW Activist Alliance, got involved in feminism when Sebilius overturned Plan B – wants to bridge gaps between NOW feminists and Occupy

Minori – talked to Melanie, been involved with OWS, realized it needs a more feminist approach if we want to change the system

Melanie – talked to Minori, works rallying against nuclear power especially in Fukishima, most of the ppl organizing against Fukishima are women

Simran was all alone because we had an odd number L

Alix – met with Liz, wasn’t involved with Feminist activities previously, since recent attacks wants to get involved

Liz, met with Alix, learned a lot about multigenerational learning

Rosie, met with Sammy, went to Syracuse recently, was involved with Slutwalk in the fall, started to discuss issues that Slutwalk confronted and splinter groups

Kathleen, met Dorota, from Poland, birthplace of the Solidarity Movement, worked in garment district

Dorota – met Kathleen, video producer from Oregon involved in OWS

Abby, met Kristen, trying to find balance between activism and work – part of Feminist Media

Kristen met Abby, writing book about LOTR through the lens of gender

Laura, met Betty who has been working in abortion rights since the 80s

Jennifer, met Raluca, history teacher in Brooklyn, excited about connecting students to OWS

Raluca spoke with Jennifer, has been very involved with Occupy, and ppl in E. Flatbush, labor organizer

Mel B (arrived late so just did introduction) – involved in OWS since August, was in Arts & Culture pre-Sept 17, member of CODEPINK, after Sept 17 was more involved in gender-oriented groups – Speakeasy Caucus which turned into WOW, involved in Safer Spaces, Women Occupy – weekly conference calls – next one is Wednesday (women-occupy@googlegroups.com)

Leyla – spoke with PJ, part of WOW, when she first entered OWS it was overwhelmingly patriarchal, needed more female presence to feel at home, found WOW

Rosalita (arrived late so just did introduction) works at GEMS – Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, heard about the Feminist GA from Sammy

PJ, talked to Leyla, been living off the grid at organic farm, trying to get into Occupy, sees that its protecting a lot of patriarchal stereotypes

Katie, talked to Steph – organized Slutwalk, been in NY 10 years

Steph, talked to Katie, supervisor recommended she come, from Binghamton

Malu, (arrived late so just did introduction) from Mexico, feminist author in Mexico, works with Movement for Justice in El Barrio

6. Fem GA Visioning Discussion:

●      What do you envision a Fem GA to look like

●      What goals would you like a Fem GA to achieve

Mel G – description of a regular GA – way of making decisions and having discussion – starts with proposal or statement, people ask questions, voice concerns – for the most part used to make decisions, move to amendments for proposal, then move to reaching consensus with each other and consenting to what that proposal could be.

Kathleen –  A GA doesn’t need to be decision making, can have breakout groups with discussions, can be anything we want it to be

Betty – wants a place where feminism can be talked about and different forms of feminism and feminist theory, also want a way for feminists to move quickly and respond to things – right now there’s a big attack on reproductive rights, but not that much coming out in terms of resistance.  The Feminist movement shouldn’t be tied to political machine, no alignment with political parties

Mel B – Should have discussion on why feminism is important to the goals of OWS (uptwinkles) – discussed a bit at Left Forum. It’s a huge question but something we can hopefully break down to be more manageable.  Think about what that would look like so feminist issues don’t get pushed aside

Abby – Agrees with Mel B – cites George Lakoff’s book Don’t Think of the Elephant – the left is always on the defense against the right, never on offense.  Important to come up with a vision and see how we can achieve it.  Don’t want to homogenize feminism but we do have a lot in common.

Malu – want to talk about women’s role in the economy– NY is a center of fashion, which is a way to keep women under control – see it from the moment it’s created in sweatshops in Mexico, etc – see whole picture of it and how women are exploited throughout the way. Why is fashion different every year? Just a way to make us spend a lot more money.

Steph – Fem GA should highlight activities that are already happening in OWS that are feminist – example in Occupy the DOE – education is mostly staffed by women, O4O’s work – women were targeted for predatory loans and are being foreclosed on more than men, bridge the gap by highlighting that there already are feminist demands in the OWS sphere and have the groups working around these issues pitch them as feminist demands. Focus on working class women and our demands.

Kathleen – women’s products (shampoo, razors, deodorant, clothing, etc) are more expensive than products marketed towards men – why? (http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/news/why-do-women-pay-more-2?src=soc_fcbks)Think about what we can do as consumers and actions associated with it

Mel G – Planned Parenthood’s work/women’s health – free access to health care is at risk.  Huge machine trying to kill Planned Parenthood and anything it stands for, want to use Fem GA to figure out what to do

Simran – so many different issues in feminism and so many different projects we’re working on, would like a forum to have breakout groups so we can coordinate with each other on the issues we’re working on

Abby – Fem GA should have 2 elements, both a universal feminist coalition and issue-based breakouts

Betty- concerned with breaking out into smaller groups, thinks it’s important to work collectively together creating and supporting actions.  Feminism goes across all issues.  Big need to be International – issues that effect NYC are affected by the whole world.  OWS is international, we should think internationally

Sammy- My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will be Bullshit (http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/10/my-feminism-will-be-intersectional-or-it-will-be-bullshit/) – keep all issues in mind, know that not everyone can be at the movement.  99% needs to start with the most marginalized. Focus should be on intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc

Rosie – wants to plan a major public action in response to the particular attacks on reproductive rights, ready to get arrested for it, let’s put our bodies on the line

Dorota- people were arrested on Saturday (March 17) – not only about freedom of women, there’s no freedom in this city anymore

Alix – A demonstration is happening about women responding to attacks on reproductive freedom, don’t remember time/place though, will look into it

Ris – anyone can send any info to WOWSNYC@gmail.com and we’ll send to the list

Abby – What about working groups? Could we create working groups to go through Occupy documents & values from an intersectional perspective – declaration, principles of solidarity, etc

Jennifer  – we need to reclaim feminism – people think it’s passé – there’s a lot of people, especially young people, who don’t identify as feminists but still have feminist values.  Why is this a feminist issue and why are you a feminist? So many working groups divides our energy

Liz- want to approach this in a way that these issues are everyone’s issues, not just feminist issues – these are ideas that affect everyone

Sammy CQ – are there other GAs like this?

Simran – there’s neighborhood groups having GAs, don’t know of any other issue-based ones.  Citywide assembly is to bring together all GAs

Steph – Occupy the DOE had a GA on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse where the education department is, so yes there have been issue based GAs

7. Discussion of date

Kathleen would like to discuss having the GA before May 1, thinks having it on the same day as a regular GA (Thursday) could be problematic, also there could be a big action planned on the 17th

Mel B – thinks we should have this instead of a regular GA

Jennifer – thinks 17th is good, we can turn it into an action

Mel G – wants a big action to be about feminism

Dorota – people involved will know about May 1. Possibly April 17?

Sammy – April 17th is NARAL pro-choice day of action in Albany

Mel G – there will always be some conflict no matter what

Ris – why a weekday as opposed to a Saturday? Weekdays can be prohibitive to people with children

Karla – What about Mother’s day? Do we want to align with this?

Simran- we’ve already been advertising May 17

Mel G – Is anyone against May 17?  No blocks.  Consensus is to have the first Feminist GA on May 17

Sammy – let’s keep it consistent if we’ve already sent stuff out

Simran – We plan on having these regularly, so the next one can be on a Saturday!

Mel B – May 17th is anniversary of Women’s Anti-Slavery Commission

8. Next steps/next meeting

Mel G – sign up on signup sheet, reach out to your contacts who might be interested in this. Should we have 2 more planning meetings?

Abby- can we have homework to make meetings more efficient?

Jessica- thinks we need a lot more meetings – maybe every 2 weeks?

Liz- can some planning be done via email? A lot of people have a lot of other stuff going on.

Simran- we can assign tasks at meetings and coordinate over email

Dorota – you have a date now, do you have a space for the Fem GA?  Any ideas about how big it could be?

Mel G – is anyone here aware of any space we could use that could be large enough for this?

Suggestions – Judson Church (small occupancy)

Katie – how many people are you expecting? As many as possible!

Mel B – in terms of location, would vouch for Zuccotti Park – should definitely be there. (uptwinkles) Should be in Zuccotti or somewhere outdoors and visible. A lot of planning can be done via email, remember that what we’re planning is a meeting, ok to leave some of it to surprise & chance so people check it out and not have every single detail planned out in advance. Fewer meetings the better – 2 more or so.

Betty – in favor of meetings. It’s the process of working together with each other that builds a movement, not just emails over the Internet

We could split up into smaller working groups assigned to specific tasks then reportback

Karla – from Adelante Alliance in Sunset Park. How do we envision Fem GA? What do you want from organizations? Want to know more about where we are going as a movement

Mel B – Karla makes a good point.  We need to give organizations and people a reason to come by letting them know what they can contribute in being a part of this, and what’s useful.

Simran – will put out some directives via email, try to get work started online

Mel G – We should put together messaging/media group and other groups to organize this.

Next meeting – 2 weeks from now, Tuesday April 3.  We’ll determine then when the next meeting will be.  Location and time TBD.

One Response to “Feminist General Assembly Planning Meeting 3/29/12”

  1. Mary Hawkins

    “If you want to …have an event with more than 20 people in a New York City park; or wish to conduct a march in a public street, you will need a permit. ”

    From the NY Civil Liberties Union