Minutes – Empowerment and Education Working Group Meeting – 11/11/11 – 60 Wall St.

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-Agenda set, Miguel facilitating.

-Proposal for new initiatives with the kitchen group, ideas for long-
term projects, ‘fishing for ideas’, breakaway group inspired by SVN
involving international traveling and new entrepreneurship, this is a
bunch of rich people who want to find ways to do stuff with their
money, we need something concrete to develop into a proposal to
present to them. We can take this back to to subcommittees and talk
about it further. Contact: Br.joshua.l@gmail.com.

—-

-Bahare discusses the Spokes council. Context of the movement has
changed dramatically. We need to develop a capacity to adapt as things
changed. We’ve got speakers and the open forum, but we need new ways
to deal with new issues. Increasing population at the park, increasing
number of groups and working groups locally and globally, large events
on Nov.17…how do we expand our role and maintain movement’s
momentum. Our goal is to empower people in this movement, but we have
to represent ourselves in the council.

-Christopher speaks to the same issue. Operations groups have direct
logistical and financial issues contained in the park. Only liberty
square. Movement groups are non-financial, creating energy and
networking and marching beyond the park. Caucus are like affinity
groups that come together with a common purpose. They discuss plans
and bring it to either an operation and movement group to implement.
The goal is to detmine where EE fits in this structure. We need to
create a mission and larger framework for ourselves to do this well.
We have a week until our application makes it to the council for
approval.

-we have a small group, so our consensus must be brought to the larger
EE group, but we will discuss this now.

-this issue should take the form of a workgroup, urgently, to come up
with something.

Q: How do we position ourselves in terms of the spokes council, the
global movement, health issues, etc, what can this group do to play a
role. How to get the subcommittees engaged more dynamically in what’s
happening on the ground. More action-oriented, rather than statement
of goals. SubQ: Are we plugged in adequately? Do we have a flow of
information to play this role? SubQ: problem with mental health and
homelessness. What do we bring to it? SubQ: other general assemblies,
like in the Bronx. How can we help these smaller groups, empower
them?

-can we have a regular brief of the issues, then a hearing to figure
out who can take responsibility?

-at least communicate better so we can all know what’s up.

-the kitchen group has two floors of a building in downtown Brooklyn.
We’re looking for workshops to happen in that space. Location:
Flatbush and Livingstone.

-when we meet in our subcommittees, let’s ask these questions and try
and brainstorm how to get more involved with the movement.

Vincente speaks on the Commons. There was a seminar/conference
proposed on the Commons by the September 17th group, with professors
and intellectuals from all over the world. There were some proposals
for speakers, formats, motivations, and an idea to do it at Cooper
Union. There’s no date yet, this is a temperature check regarding
interest in this event.

-ways the movement can address issues of the commons, focus the OWS
movement on this specific issue. How does every working group relate
to the commons. Vicente volunteers to act as liaison with the project,
and will keep us updated.

Christopher speaks on the spokes council. The question of our status.
Goods and bads about this. EE agreed not to participate in the funding
process initially. There’s a freedom of being a movement group, as
opposed to operations. On the other hand, we don’t get funding. This
is a tension: if we’re operational, we stay local but get money; if
we’re a movement group, then we’re global without money.

-is the movement about the park or not?
-operations gives us an ability to opt into funding. This isn’t
restricting.
-people clap when groups become operational. It’s become fetishized.
The park is a weakness in the movement. might be powerful to explain
this reasoning to the council…we can say that movement groups are
cool.
-seems like our group started as a movement group.
-EE is one of the largest groups. This would be an interesting
statement, set an example for groups to be movement groups.
-the history of this distinction is that nothing got through the GA,
so the idea was to give the GA space. Right now the focus is on the
park, and money is coming in, almost 500,000, and maybe we want to
have a say in how the money is being distributed. It’s still not clear
what these distinctions mean.
-at this point there is no mechanism for distributing money besides
the spokes council. The spokes council is made for accountability.
-why can’t movement groups have access to money? Well, they can, you
can go to the GA and ask for money.
-problem of the funding hierarchy. We need to have a discussion about
why this is forming.
-confusion between expanding operations and pride in movement
groupitude.
-open forum as operational group?
-currency forms hierarchy, isn’t this a residual evil of the economic
factors we’re reacting against?
-the council is representative also, which is unique and contrary to
the spirit of the movement.
-this is a polarizing issue right now, the presence of this money…
-do we vote on this?

Andrew speaks on the subcommittee on student debt. Crafting an
initiative for a national student debt refusal, tied to empowerment
and also questioning the funding structure of higher education. Three
pledges drafted. Debtors pledge with four principles: federal
education funding, adopting of interest-free loans as a national
standard, fiscal transparency for private and for profit colleges,
current student debt load should be written off or alleviated. Faculty
pledge of support, to morally support the refusers. Supporter pledge
for Parents/general groups to support both these groups. This is a new
threshold for the movement. Looking to launch on the 21st. There’s a
CUNY board of trustees meeting, symbolic and thematic connection.
Wanting alternatives for the launch, spaces for media presence.
Needing help with media relations and logistics. The launch effort.
-Aesthetic component to the event…burning draft cards, for example.

(I had to leave for another meeting! This is where my notes end…)

SUPPLEMENT:

Just wanted to make clarifications on the first point as I don’t think it captures what I was commenting on accurately. The focus of this discussion on my part was not on the spokes but on how has EE been able to adapt to the evovling context of the movement that is facing new challenges, ideas, and solutions both inside and outside of the park relavitve to when we started our acitivities and how can we become better at positioning and responding to emerging needs as we go along. Some examples of current situation were given including the health and safety issues in the park, outreach and decentralization of the movement in other parts of the city, the structuring of the movement including the current setup with the spokes, upcoming events such as November 17th, etc. Some examples of our activities were also mentioned such as the open forum and its role on advocacy and mass mobilization for the movement at the beggining stages and how this role can be shifted towards current context of the movement such as forums on addressing mental health issues or forums in different GA location to put the spotlight on and help with mass mobilization at the decentralized level…

 

Results on this discussion were as follow:

- General concensus on yes, there is a need to better inform ourselves on what is happening outside of EE relevant to the evolving context of the movement and developing an adaptive capacity as a team to gear our actions towards addressing challenges/opportunities that the movement is currently facing

- We make it a priority in our next sub-committee meetings to arrive at: 1) Issue of getting plugged in/communications: how do we better inform ourselves of what we’re facing in terms of current challenges and upcoming opportunities? 2) what are some action points that we can take to position and respond to these issues/opportunities?

- We make it a priority in every EE meeting to provide an update and get feedback relevant to these disucssions.

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