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Unofficial General Assembly Intro
Hello, and welcome to the General Assembly, it is open to everyone, and we follow a process that is meant to empower everyone’s voices.
After this intro will be working group report-backs. These are for members of working groups to report useful information pertaining to that group
Then we will have announcements, and this is open to anyone. An announcement should be invitational. It shouldn’t be an opinion or an idea, unless it’s an idea you plan to follow up on.
After announcements, there will be proposals. All business that requires GA funds, official endorsement, or modification of structure will be considered proposals. We sometimes have break-out discussion groups at this time.
You must submit your proposal in clear written format to the facilitation group at or before our daily 4:00 working group meeting at 60 wall st.. The facilitation group does not vet or consider the merit of any proposal. We simply arrange it on the agenda in the most logical way.
After proposals, the floor will be open for the soapbox. If you want to share your opinions, rants, or encouragement, that is the best time.
Let’s talk about how we communicate.
If you like what you’re hearing, make your fingers dance skyward.
If you have mixed feelings, play the piano.
If you don’t like it, show us your squid.
There are other hand signs we’ll talk about later.
Co-facilitator. I try to hold the process to empower all of our voices and make sure everyone feels good about what we’re doing. Different co-facilitators have different styles but the core process is mostly the same.
Stack taker. I make sure that we take the time to listen to each other. I also make sure that traditionally marginalized or quiet voices are given priority. We don’t to back-and-forth conversations at the GA. Whatever you have to say, get my attention to get on stack.
Timekeeper. I make sure that people are using the appropriate amount of time to discuss things. Please be fair and don’t talk too much. It helps to write out or think through your statement before you get the mic.
Stack greeter. I help the stack keeper find people who want to talk. I also like to help speakers craft their questions or concerns to be as clear and concise as possible. I might find you to help you talk through your point before you share.
Facilitation greeter. If you’re new to the GA, please wave me over before you speak. I can help make sure that you are heard at the best time. Also, if you have a point of process or point of information, I can help you communicate with the facilitator rather than address the GA. And sometimes when one acts out of process I will let them know what happened so that the facilitator doesn’t have to address the mistake before the GA.
Vibes checker. The GA should be enjoyable, and not stressful. We should talk like family and not argue. I do my best to make sure that people are compassionate and comfortable.
REPORT-BACK/ ANNOUNCEMENT PROCESS
For report-backs and announcements, there is a very simple process. People will get on stack and then be allotted one or two minutes to either report back from their working group or make an invitational announcement.
STEP UP/ STEP BACK
Throughout the GA, you may have something you want to say. Some of us were raised to believe that when we have something to say, we should say it and we are annoyed when we can’t. Others of us were raised to stay quiet or not stand out. Our process encourages dominant voices to step back and quiet voices to step up. If you are frustrated because it is not so easy for you to speak whenever you have something to say, view that as an opportunity to step back so that everyone’s voices can be heard.
POINT OF PROCESS
Point of Process is a diamond-shape with your hands. It means that we are off topic or out of process. For example, if a speaker is making an announcement or stating an opinion when we’re supposed to be making friendly amendments, that’s an OK time to show the facilitator the POP. If the facilitator brings a proposal to consensus without taking friendly amendments, that could be a POP too. Please show your POP to the facilitation team and then put it back down.
POINT OF INFORMATION
A point of information is factual and is of fundamental importance to something that’s being said. For instance, if a presenter says that an action is at 7:00 and you know for sure that it’s at 4:00, that’s a good POI.
Please do not use POP or POI to state an opinion or to say something that would be better stated at a different time. If you’re not sure, find the Facilitation greeter.
if you can’t hear, poke a hole in the sky.
If someone’s sentences are too long, pack it in.
If someone is going on and on (and most likely you agree with them), smile, nod, and spin your fingers. If you are not compassionate, this is the equivalent of telling someone to shut up.
DIRECT DEMOCRACY CONSENSUS
Please understand that we use a consensus process, not a vote. Our goal is not to approve the most popular ideas, it’s to come to agreement. Sometimes it’s messy and inefficient. That’s OK. Sometimes we don’t all get exactly what we want. That’s OK too.
Here’s how it works. The presenter states their proposal. Then, there will be time to get on stack for clarifying questions. A clarifying question may not be a challenge or a new idea. It should only be asked if it will affect your decision as to whether or not to consent. If you have a further question, like “how can I get involved,” please check with the presenter when they are done. Of course, the presenter will get to answer each question.
After clarifying question will be concerns. Again, these should not be new ideas or reiterations. The concerns should be specifically about this proposal. If you have a complaint about circumstances around this proposal but not a specific concern about the proposal, this might not be appropriate. Check with the facilitation greeter to find out. The presenter may choose to respond to each concern.
At different points of the proposal, the facilitator might ask for a temperature check on the proposal. That means, make your fingers dance. It isn’t a vote. This will help the presenter and facilitators decide whether to move forward to consensus or to table the proposal.
When there are no more concerns and the presenter wants to move forward, they will move to friendly amendments. A friendly amendment will add to or alter the proposal. The presenter may accept or decline the amendments with or without comment.
When the stack for amendments is depleted and the presenter wants to move forward, the proposal will be read again including friendly amendments. The facilitator will call for a temp check on consensus. They will then ask for blocks.
A block is very serious. It represents a serious ethical or safety concern that will be detrimental to the movement and/ or might lead you to walk away from the movement. It is not a “no” vote, it is not a personal issue, and it is not a way to push an amendment you didn’t get.
If there are no blocks, we have consensus and we celebrate!
If there are blocks, we go through each block and each blocker must explain their block. They should also mention what would have to change in order for them to remove their block.
Currently, the NYCGA uses modified consensus. That means that if blocks exist, we can get approval via a 9/10 vote. We will recognize that as consensus and celebrate!