Info / Front Desk F.A.Q

Posted by & filed under .

information / front desk group faq

Q: So Info Group does what now?
A: Info Group is responsible for:

  1. Greeting visitors and volunteers
  2. Distributing general information and official print materials to the public
  3. Directing park visitors to meetings, GA’s, contacts, and donation points.
  4. Facilitating communication between the public and all of Occupy Wall Street’s working groups.
  5. Facilitating communication between Working Groups, both in Zuccotti and through online resources.

Q: How is Info Group organized? How can I help?
A: Info Group has 4 subgroups, each of which is tasked with different responsibilities. You can work in any or all capacities, but may find that your skills are best suited to a particular group. These subgroups are:

    • COORDINATION – Info Coordinators are responsible for attending the daily working group coordination meetings and General Assemblys, as well as sitting in on meetings held by other working groups. They strive to work with as many different working groups as possible, and cultivate relationships within Occupy Wall Street with the goal of creating
    • ADMIN – Admin is a great job for those who are unable to spend a lot of time at Zuccotti Park. Admins help sort the general information inbox, making sure that messages from the public get to the correct working groups. Admins also gather information on special events to make sure they are included on the general schedule, and input information from contact sheets and forms into relevant documents / spreadsheets.
    • INFO TABLE / WELCOME DESK – The face of Occupy Wall Street to passers-by and newcomers. Info table helps acquaint the public with all aspects of OWS, including Working Group information, General Assembly procedure, meeting times and places, volunteer / donation opportunities, and where to go to become an active part of OWS. As a front desk of sorts, Info Tablers also find themselves fielding questions and concerns and, in some cases, defending themselves against crazies.
    • COMMS / RUNNERS – Runners facilitate communication between working groups. They wear identifying items and are very familiar with the people and working groups of occupy wall street. Comms run between the central info desk and the welcome tables to sync information and schedules, as well as helping working groups communicate with each other on the ground. They also serve as roving information centers, helping newbies figure out how to get involved.

Q: When does Info Group meet?
A: We have two logistical meetings each week:

WHEN: 6:00pm on Tuesdays & Fridays

WHERE We meet by the Front Welcome Table (on Broadway) and then often move offsite depending on space availability and how chaotic the plaza is at the time.
Q: How many people should be at each Info / Welcome desk?
A: There should be 2-3 (ideally 3) people at each table at any given time, as well as runners acting as coordinators between the tables.
Q: What information should I be giving out to the public?
A: Anything! Everything! Most importantly, though – meeting times, working group information, general schedule, special events for the day, relevant websites/twitter/hashtags. Also hook people up with relevant donation / volunteer needs on the whiteboards. Basically, you’re helping people get involved as soon as they hit the park!

Q: What do I do with volunteers?
A: As a new initiative, Outreach and Info will be inviting newcomers to work with behind our tables, as a fast paced way to get people involved and informed. You can bring new folks behind the table, but there MUST ALWAYS BE at least ONE experienced Info staffer behind the desk with any newcomers to guide and assist. Also, please use judgment in allowing volunteers to access our tables and information. Always be aware of undercovers and provocateurs who may not have our best interests in mind. There are plenty of ways to get involved, so direct these people to General Assemblies, or alert Security / De-escalation about your concerns.

Q: A member of the press wants to talk to me. What do I do?
A: You have a few options. If you are up to it, you are welcome to engage the press – however please keep in mind that as Info Team our first priority is to help people who need general information. If doing an interview creates overflow at your table or makes you unavailable to help people, consider passing the interview along to a member of another committee. There is a press table set up about fifteen feet in front of the Central Info Table (it has a sign). This is always a safe bet when it comes to making sure media is directed towards occupiers who are comfortable and fluent in speaking to press.

Q: What do I do if someone wants to read me their manifesto / tell me they know what OWS’ message should be / engage me in debate?
A: You are under no obligation to engage in lengthy conversations with visitors. The most important part of our job is helping people find their way around Liberty Plaza and the Occupy Wall Street movement. If an aggressive visitor is abusing the Info table and keeping you from effectively helping others, please feel free to ask them to move on.

EXTRA TIPS FOR DEALING WITH DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS:

  • Refer guests to “The People’s Soapbox”, an open-format forum that takes place every day after General Assembly. This is an ideal time for those with manifestos, lists of demands, poems, campaign speeches etc. to address everyone. Anyone can speak, and anyone can listen.
  • Say “Excuse me, I need to help this person” and wave the next waiting person forward. Most of the time politely moving on the the next guest is enough to deflect an unwanted conversation.
  • In rare cases, you may need to ask De-Escalation / Security to help you defuse a situation. Security team members can almost always be found in the Media Hub by the central info table.
  • We now have a full(ish) directory of working groups – use it! Pass specific working group information to guests and encourage them to find an existing group that is relevant to their interests / complaints

Q: Someone wants to donate:

  1. Food – Send them to the KITCHEN in the center of Zuccotti Park
  2. Goods (Blankets, Clothing, Hand Warmers etc) – Send them to COMFORT – halfway down the south side of  Zuccotti Park
  3. Money – Collect their donation in the donation bin on your desk, then follow procedure below.
  4. Medical Gear (band-aids, vitamins) – Send them to MEDICAL – halfway down the south side of Zuccotti. Tell them to look for the people with the red crosses in tape on their sweatshirts. Also, please let them know that we CAN’T distribute ibuprofin.
  5. Services (legal, printing, etc) – Give them the contact info for a relevant working group (Legal, Graphics / Printing) and encourage them to go to a meeting.   ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU!

Q: What materials should be on my Welcome / Info Table?
A: ALL Tables should have:

  1. Printed Materials:
    1. Official, OWS-produced event fliers and general information pamphlets (like the General Assembly brochure, Fliers for Upcoming OWS Marches, Declaration Printout, or the Orientation Tri-Fold).
    2. Daily Schedule
    3. General Schedule
    4. Map of Zuccotti Park
  1. Info Group Materials
    1. One Walkie-Talkie per table for communicating with runners and other tables
    2. Labelled storage container for keeping everything in.
    3. A Whiteboard or Bulletin Board with the Schedule of Events for the day.
    4. Pens (People like to steal pens. Don’t let them.)
    5. Extra name tags for new volunteers.
    6. Donation bin
    7. INFO BINDER, containing: THIS FAQ, INTERNAL CONTACT LIST, ACCOUNT INFORMATION, DIRECTORY OF WORKING GROUPS

Please note: Don’t give people copies of anything in the Info Binder, and NEVER give them contact information that’s not listed as “Public”. Write down only the information relevant to their needs or interests, and give it to them on a card.

The CENTRAL Table should have all of the above, as well as:

  1. Info Group Computer
  2. Sign-up Sheets for Working Groups. Individual groups are responsible for maintaining, restocking, picking up and inputting these sheets, but we as Info Group are responsible for keeping clipboards on the table and helping people figure out which group sheet they’d like to leave their information on.
  3. Agenda Item Proposal Forms – These are picked up by facilitators prior to GA. Any working group can propose an agenda item, but the form must be filled out by 4pm on the day of the relevant GA.

The FRONT Info Table should ALSO have: Whiteboards and easels containing: Donation Needs, Volunteer Needs, Schedules. Please keep these current!

You should NOT have: Outside or third-party fliers. There is a designated area (near the front welcome table) for fliers, and people should be encouraged to hand out their materials themselves. Do not accept fliers from visitors, as they’ll just get rained on and thrown out.

Q: What do I do with money from Donation Bins?
A: Finance is procuring 3 clear donation bins, one for each Info Table. Donation collection is at 2pm and 9pm. After 9pm if you still have donations in your bins or you have chosen to keep your info table open after hours, please store / hide your donation bin safely under the central info tables. Please alert security when you do this, and if possible find a member of the Finance committee. Some other tips:

  • If you do not recognize someone who says they are collecting the donations, err on the side of caution and find a familiar face before handing over ANYTHING.
  • Finance will let us know beforehand who is responsible for collections. Double check at the beginning of your shift for who the designated Donation runner is!

Q: I have new information and need to edit a specific file (like the Working Group Directory)! What do I do?
A: We organize our information through google docs. For access to these documents online, please ask a member of Info team to invite you to our google group. Files are also updated regularly on “The People’s Flash Drive”, which is kept in the clear plastic Information bin under the central table. Only use this if you are unable to access the more current, frequently updated online versions of the docs and urgently need to reprint.
As an alternative to editing the documents directly, you can put the relevant details (New working group contact information, an upcoming event, etc.) into an email and send to “owsinformation@googlegroups.com”. This will send it to the whole group and someone with access can make these changes for you.

Q: I hear that Info Group handles the general email account – what’s the deal with that?
A: All general inquiries can be sent to owsinfodeck@gmail.com. From there, kind volunteers sort and send the mail to all of the different working groups. People should use this email address if:

  • They have a very general concern or thought
  • They have a question about the basics of Occupy Wall Street that we can answer
  • The Working Group that is relevant to them has provided insufficient public contact info.
  • They aren’t sure who the relevant Working Group is and want us to help them figure it out.

INFO GROUP ONLINE RESOURCES
Google Group: owsinformation
Google Group List Serve (to email EVERYONE in info): owsinformation@googlegroups.com

Google Docs I can request access to if I’d like to help from home:
1. Working Group Directory List
2. Working Group Information Spreadsheet
3. This FAQ (If I have an addition or edit)
4. Schedules

How do I get on the website?
A: Go to NYCGA.NET and add yourself as a user! You can then join Info Group’s circle on the site.

Comments are closed.