Minutes – Empowerment and Education Working Group Meeting – 12/2/11 – 60 Wall St.

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Minutes from Education & Empowerment meeting, 8:30-10:00, Friday Dec 2nd

13 people attending

1) Report Backs:

Open Forum:  Open Forum reported that they met on Tuesday night and discussed future actions.  Results as follows:

  • Open Forum will now be focussing less on arranging Open Forums in Liberty Park itself, and increase its focus on arranging speakers/Forums at the site of various ongoing actions, as they occur.
  •  The first attempt to do this will be at the G6 meeting on Tuesday.  They’re still finalising speakers here.  Some people suggested that they might ask Miguel, from the Ed and Emp group, now he’s back in town.
  • After that, they’re planning to arrange Open Forums in relation to the Student Debt initiative
  • They’ve also been trying to initiate a series of Skype link-ups with revolutionaries around the world, and are looking for anyone who has connections of that kind to get in touch. Naomi Klein has given them a list of names to work from, just to start with.

Open Forum meets at 8:30pm every Thursday, at 60 Wall Atrium.

Commons Group:  Commons group reported the latest updates about the event they’re planning.  Summary:
Event Name: “Making Worlds: Occupy Wall Street Forum on the Commons”
Date: February 16-18
Structure: Not formally determined – to be proposed by the participants
Nature of event: Open, not just academics and such

The Commons group will be meeting next Saturday, probably in the evening; place and time as yet undetermined.

Nomadic University: NU reported that they are up to some really exciting stuff – they’ve got a whole bunch of practical proposals for future actions in the works.  They will hopefully have more to say after their next meeting.

Nomadic University will be meeting tomorrow (Saturday) from 2-6 at the New School – 66 5th Ave, 8th floor, room 818.

Student Debt Initiative:

  • 2000 people have already signed the pledge of refusal
  • There has been lots of media coverage, including the New York Times, appearances on Democracy Now, and contact from NBC
  • There has also been lots of trolling whenever the pledge is mentioned on the net – and some of the trolling is probably professional.
  • This is all great – we’re winning, by making a real change to the conversation about Student Debt – excellent!
  • But obviously we also need to keep getting more people to sign the pledge
  • Media will respond more to big ‘media-worthy’ events, so there’s a plan in the works to do something big – possibly having a big demonstration of some sort outside the Sally Mae headquarters in Maryland.
  • Question: Direct Action also ahve a student debt group – what are they doing, we wonder?  We’ll find out and report back.

2) Proposals Discussed / Passed / Tabled

Proposals about Financial Issues

  • The good folks working on the Student Debt Initiative report that they’ve started to have to pay a fairly significant amount of money out of their own pockets for various important things; including essential web hosting and domain names.   They wanted to know whether they might be able to go to the Spokes Council in the name of the Education and Empowerment working group to get reimbursed for some small sums, which will be itemised etc… If it was just a small amount of money, they wouldn’t ask; but the amounts are getting a little bit larger (though are still not huge). We all agreed.  Consensus reached!
  • More broadly, we discussed how to deal with requests of this kind in future.  It was decided that smaller working groups / task forces etc (I’ll call them ‘radial groups’) off from the Education and Empowerment Working Group would first ask the Ed & Emp group whether people were okay with them asking for money in the name of the group, but that they wouldn’t necessarily need to present us with an itemised list of expenses, or similar, unless the group had concerns.  Then the radial group would take the matter to the Spokes or Finance in the name of the Ed and Emp Group as a whole. Consensus reached!
  • A Protocol was established: any radial group off from the Education and Empowerment WG would report back, via email, to the whole list whenever they received any kind of financial assistance from the Finance group / Spokes council. Consensus reached!

Related matter: Maleni noted that working groups should be able to get $100 a week from Finance, according to a previously established Spokes Council arrangement.

Proposal about the Structure for Future Meetings

  • The group decided to try out Karen’s proposed structure for future meetings, as previously circulated via email.  It was understood that, in our usual OWS style, we would try it out as a template, staying flexible, ready to change it whenever it seemed necessary.  Consensus reached!

Proposal about Reporting Back from Spokes

  • The group expressed an ongoing interest in how the spokes council is going, whether we have any / many E & E people there, and expressed a strong desire for anyone from E & E who goes to the spokes to come and report back to the group about how it goes, if at all possible.

3) Announcements

Events Tomorrow (Saturday)

  • On Saturday, we’re trying to get a whole lot of people down in Liberty Park between 10am and 1pm, to celebrate (and continue to ensure!) the ongoing vibrancy of the movement.
  • There has been a suggestion that each Working Group do something do highlight what they’ve been up to, so the more of us can get down there, the better.
  • it is also a global action day in South Africa, and the good people at Occupy Durban and Conf-17 are having a big protest to highlight the importance of the Climate Change negotiations.
  • They’ve specifically asked whether OWS could do something in solidarity with them tomorrow, so once again, the more people who get down there into the park between 10 and 1, the better.
  • Open Forum are (hastily!) arranging some speakers on Climate change / the importance of the current round of Climate Change negotiations, for the park tomorrow; they’ll be speaking at whatever times prove most convenient between 10 and 1.
  • This is meant to be a first step in an ongoing OWS attempt to show the link between the current financial crisis and the ongoing ecological crisis.

Outreach Working Group: Speaker’s Bureau

  • This group has been training people to function as speakers, explaining OWS to groups who want to hear about it.
  • Karen reported that she has been liaising with these folks, and will keep doing so, and report back on what they’re doing, since it seems to overlap a little with what we do – perhaps we could co-operate on various things.

United Nations Event on Tuesday

  • The UN has invited people from various civil society organisations to participate in a round-table discussion about “Finance, Development, and Inequality”
  • They have invited some people from OWS to attend
  • This is a big victory, since in only two and a half months, we’ve managed to gain a seat at a table that other organisations fight for decades to get to.
  • Some people will be attending – not to ‘represent’ or ‘speak on behalf of’ OWS, but simply to be OWS participants at the table.
  • The question becomes: what sorts of things is OWS able to bring to the table at events like this?
  • For now, we have no answers, but Education and Empowerment might look to trying to work out a way to think about how we try to work towards answer this kind of question in future.
  • More information will be circulated about this, and those going will report back.

At about this point an NYPD officer came and threw us out 15 minutes early.  But the private security folks were very polite, which is something, I suppose.

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