General Assembly & Facilitation Guide

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A note to other GAs developing across the country and the world: please use this resource freely to help develop your GA. However, we strongly encourage and hope that you think critically about what direct democracy process will work for you. We also encourage and hope that you will depart from this script as much as you see fit. Innovation in other GAs will strengthen this overall movement of direct democracy. Thanks!


GA Outline (~ 2 hrs)

  • Intro to Process (10mins)
  • Agenda (40mins)
  • Intermission (5-10mins)
  • Working Group Announcements (30mins)
  • Individual Announcements (15mins)
  • Closing (5mins)


1)    Welcome

a)     Opening Chant or Song

b)    Reminder of purpose of General Assembly

i)      This process is a set of tools to make the most directly democratic, horizontal, participatory space possible; each tool (hand                      signals, etc) is about opening space – not rule making.

c)     Outline of the GA schedule (above)

i)      Expected time frame for each section

ii)    Announcement of items on GA agenda

(1)  Title of proposal / Break-Out Discussion Topic

(2)  Working Groups presenting the proposal or discussion topic

iii)   Where additional resources can be found (projected)

  1. Online
  2. Info center
  3. How to present a proposal
    1. Get proposal form at Info desk or online (, under Facilitation Working Group Section)
    2. Bring completed proposal form to Facilitation Meeting (4pm at Charlotte’s Place), or submit online at


2)    Introductions

a)     Co-Facilitators: explain the meeting, call on speakers, keep the meeting focused topically, create a safe space for disagreement, lead the group through decisions, trouble shoot, make people feel excited about participating in direct democracy

b)    Time-keeper: keeps track of the speaking time of each individual; lets each person know when time is up

c)     Stack-taker: Make a list of people waiting to speak; explain idea of Progressive Stack; announce who is next on stack, and who is on deck to speak; structure the list so that traditionally marginalized voices are moved up the list;

d)    Stack-greeter: assists speakers on stack by reminding them of process (e.g., an announcement is statement of factual information, not personal opinion, and Working Group Report-Backs are reports on discussions and progress of specific Working Groups); reminding speakers of time constraints

e)     Minutes-Taker: records minutes of GA, which are simultaneously projected onto the projector screen; after GA, sends minutes immediately to


3)    Intro to Process

a)     Explanation of hand signals, which enable communication without disruption of speaker’s voice

i)      Twinkling one’s fingers in an upward motion means you agree with that is being said

ii)    Twinkling one’s fingers with the hands flat means you are on the fence; you are not sure about whatever is being said

iii)   Twinkling one’s fingers in a downward motion means that you are opposed to what is being said; you don’t agree.

iv)   Silently holding up one’s hands while creating a diamond shape between the fingers means ‘point of process.’ This is used to                     signal the facilitators that the process is not being followed.

v)    Silently raising one’s index finger means, ‘point of information.’ It is a signal that a point of factual information the speaker                     has articulated is incorrect or needs further clarification.

vi)   Rolling one’s hands in a circular motion in front of the body means; wrap it up, we understand your point. This is used when                     someone is over-clarifying. In the interest of time, clear and concise statements are appreciated.

vii) crossing both arms in front of one’s self is called a block. This is done when someone has a severe ethical or moral concern                    with a proposal. The blocker then voices the reasons for the block, and a conversation that attempts to deal with the block                    ensues. If conversation has been exhausted and the blocker is clearly not willing to reach a compromise, the group moves to a                    9/10 majority vote or tables the proposal. Consensus is not always reached on the first try.

b)    Step up/Step Back: The facilitators articulate the idea that there are people in our society who have been taught that their ideas are more important than others. Additionally there are those groups who have been conditioned to believe that they should constantly question the voicing of their own opinions. The step-up, step-back concept asks that those who often speak step back to make room for others, and that those who speak less often step up to assert their voices.


4)    Agenda

a)     “Crowd-storming” break-out group discussions

i)      Two minute presentation of an issue and its challenges for discussion

ii)    Open stack for clarifying questions, then for concerns

iii)   Facilitators ask the GA body to form smaller groups to discuss the issue for a set amount of time

iv)   After time frame for discussions ends, GA reconvenes

v)    Facilitators open stack for one minute report backs on what each group discussed

vi)   Possible conclusions:

(1)  Forming a working group to address the issue

(2)  Creating a meeting to continue discussion of the issue

b)    Proposals– Working Groups seek consensus of the GA on a proposal that they present

i)      Working Group representative presents proposal

ii)    Facilitators open stack for clarifying questions; invite direct responses to questions from presenters of proposal;close stack for                     clarifying questions

iii)   Facilitators open stack for concerns; invite direct responses to concerns from presenters of proposal; close stack

iv)   Facilitators open stack for friendly amendments; invite direct responses to friendly amendments from presenters of proposal                     (accept or decline); close stack

v)    Presenter reiterates proposal; facilitators call for a temperature check on the proposal

vi)   Facilitators call for blocks – rearticulates what a block means

(1)  If blocks are presented,

(a)   Facilitators call on individuals to express reasons for blocks

(b)  Presenters are given the opportunity to respond to address the block

(c)   Facilitators then ask blocker if block has been adequately addressed

(d)  If blocker retracts block, then proceed to next block and follow steps (a)-(c)

(e)   If blocker is unwilling to retract the block, facilitators open stack for possible ways to address the blocks

(f)   Facilitators then ask presenters and blocker to respond to Assembly’s solutions

(g)   If both blocker and presenter consent to a solution (e.g., a friendly amendment that satisfies the concerns of the                                  blocker), proceed to other blocks

(h)  If blocker and presenter do not consent to solution move to next person on stack

(i)    Facilitators close stack for suggested solutions from the Assembly

(j)    If blocks remain, move to a nine-tenths consensus vote, or table proposal until Working Group has satisfied the                                 concern(s) of the blocker(s)


5)    Possible Intermission


6)    Working Group Report-Backs

a)     Facilitators open stack for two minute report-backs, which can contain:

i)      Current projects of the Working Group

ii)    Announcement of meeting place and time

iii)   Explanation of what the group does

iv)   Calls for volunteers or donations

b)    Facilitators close stack


7)    Announcements

a)     Facilitators open stack for one minute informational announcements, which can contain:

i)      Announcements of events (march, notable speaker, organized discussion)

ii)    Announcements of new working groups

iii)   Other factual information

b)    Facilitators close stack

8)    Facilitators end the meeting and invite Soapbox to begin

9)    Soapbox

a)     Non-facilitated time for opinions and speeches that do not fall under any of the above categories




One Response to “General Assembly & Facilitation Guide”

  1. TheHumanChannel

    I think this should be split up into facilitation and ga guide. ga guide will explain how to participate as an individual and facilitation is also for everyone, specifically on how to facilitate meetings and the GA. A third document on direct democracy will also be necessary. Finally, this link needs to be on the main page!!!