Minutes – Movement Coordination Subgroup – 11.21.11

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Movement Building

Meeting Notes

November 21, 2011




Shimri, from Occupy London

1) creating a subgroup around the global or translocal aspect of this movement

2) platform for international communication – mailing list: squares, and facebook platforms.

This conversation will be continued at the interocc meeting on Wednesday at 5:30.


Movement Building-

Marianne – movement building tools.  Social Justice Network and the Movement Strategy Center offer tools which can help identify possibilities for collaboration, conflict resolution, internal and external tools.  We need an understanding and more skills for dealing with disagreement.

Cari – how can we start distributing the information?

Tammy – these tools are specifically for movement building and we can look at them and try to glean lessons.  We might set up a small teach-in and perhaps record it and put it online.


December 6th

Max – how do we get this out in a way that will give a lot of occupations time to develop their actions?

The goal is to take back foreclosed homes and set off a wave of re-occupations that will continue all winter.   It connects the system to what happens in the lives of real individuals.  10-15 cities are signed up, but we need to get the information out further.  Local occupations need to work with local community organizations.

Michael – interoccupy can put this on the mass action page.  But the process is unclear.  Will also be discussed on the Direct Action call tomorrow at 12.

Tammy – we can phone bank from wherever we are over the next week.  Need Max to give us a list of what information to get and give.

Ashley (from LA) – Twitter is a huge tool.  Everything that OWS tweets gets retweeted 100 times.  Tweet a link to the document that gets created and ask people to read it at the GA.

Dave (from Oakland) – Oakland occupation tried to occupy a square 2 days ago and ran into resistance from nearby residents.  Complexities are valid.

Max – need to find ways to do these occupations in solidarity with local communities to avoid any issues of gentrification.

Nate (from Philly) – need to get language into GA discussions ASAP.

Matt Smucker – This could be a really significant moment in the movement.  Worried about scalability.  There will be some actions of getting people into homes that may be less visible, and others that will be political theater.  Need to be very careful and think this through.  Need also to start directing the press towards this.

Cliff – an opportunity to connect with leaders of other movements and community organizations.

Ethan – protocol, quality control?  These are really important, but sensitive issues.

Max – There is already a lot happening with community groups across the country around this, groups like Take Back the Land.  Our job is primarily bringing other occupations in and helping connect them to each other and the community organizations in their area.

December 10th
Nate –
Proposing regional general assemblies. A social event will be held in Philly on December 10th to begin building relationships and discussing future possibilities.
There is a Facebook group that is planning a regional GA on December 17th.  Causing friction because it hasn’t been entirely democratic.
Shimri – we need to figure out how to coordinate our calendars around days of action.  December 10th is also the day Spain is proposing an international day of action.
Tammy – December 6th and 10th are both firm, but we could begin to think about a week of action.  We should love to help the 10th happen well.
Shimri – the call form Spain was for a week of action – he and Max will talk afterwards.
Dave – December 12th will be a port shutdown on the West Coast.  We need to get a way to coordinate all these dates.
Tammy and Ethan will be in touch with Nate and bottom-line the December 10th plans.

Michael – proposes creating a movement project group and a movement action group so that we don’t continue to let actions with fast dates overwhelm the longer term projects.

NaomiKleinProject/ OccuTalks
Cari – different names: Occutalks, Occupied Mind, EduOccupy, OccupytheSchool, MetaOccupy, Praxis/Theory Debates.  We need to come to consensus on a name ASAP.
components: tech, presenters, visual, content, kids, walk-away (what will people be left with?).  There is a proposal to have circular meetings with a camera in the middle, interactive. Cari has made contact with donors.  We need to make up a proposal to send to donors.  We’ll need a website, twitter account and a Facebook page.  Task group will get regrouped.

Egypt Report Back
Kobi: opposed to proposal. We didn’t have full information. Last 24 hours people have been killed.

Smucker: I was initially excited about the proposal, but had concerns that we might be meddling in intra-movement politics. I take responsibility for not pursuing looking into those concerns. Now that we have heard from other Egyptian social movement groups asking us specifically to not come, this fear seems to have been warranted.

Clearly information has changed and we no longer have consensus. I’ve seen groups in this kind of situation, where technically we seem to be bound by a consensus — but there is no longer a consensus. It’s a complicated situation to be in, but if there is no consensus, then no one is served by following through on something people don’t believe in any more or are opposed to.

Beyond that, this proposal at this point is impossible to fulfill. It would be absolutely irresponsible to send people at this point. There is not time to do the necessary prep. This is a dangerous situation — it is good to have movement participants willing to risk danger. But you can’t be irresponsible about putting people into that kind of situation.

Greg: I want to know if there’s enthusiasm behind this proposal. If so, how do we carry it forward? I feel that we can’t send people there Nov. 28. Irresponsible, even if people are willing to sign off. We could work toward fulfilling that proposal — in some way. There are people who have said that if we can’t go on Nov. 28, the whole proposal is mute / it defaults. This is an important process consideration.

Ryan: In favor of going and staying with the proposal. People will see through us changing direction.

Nate: Would be a profound mistake to send anyone now. It’s almost like crossing a picket line. I worked in Honduras during a controversial election, and it was incredibly complicated. Also, the depth of discussion necessary for such a trip would need a working group to really dig into the challenges — a working group perhaps focused on international

Tammy: We were originally invited by a specific group. What came out afterward is that other groups do not want us to come. There is complexity around the original proposal. A lot of concerns have come up, and a lot of confusion. There is now a lot of violence, and “the people” is now a very fractured group. Finally, we were supposed to do a lot of things that we cannot do. If we can’t do it, we have to pull the proposal entirely. My understanding is that we as Movement Building working group have the power to pull the proposal. We need our own communication about why.

Ryan: Question to Cari: what information specifically caused you to flip 100%?

Leah: Did you not see the letter from our comrades asking us to not come?

Kobi: I brought Maria here to make the proposal. I have no flipped my position fully because of new information that has come out.

Suzanne: Maria was here the other day and was willing to address the questions. Maria was the messenger, not the host. Some information hasn’t been clear.

Smucker: My understanding of where we’re at is that this proposal is not implementable at this point. With a proposal not being implemented, the default is that if we are to do another delegation on a different timeline, it’s on someone else to bring it forward and to build a consensus, incorporating all of the concerns that have surfaced through the course of this process.

Lots of back-and-forth.

Cari: We’re not bailing on Egypt. Media working group is working with folks to find other ways to support.

Cliff: I want to state reality. We support the struggle for freedom. We don’t know how we can help. We want to do it responsibly.

New discussion of Statement from the Movement Building Working Group to the General Assembly.

Ilana: We think the proposal stands, with an extended timeline.

Review of proposal

This is meant to be a statement to the GA from Movement Building working group, not a new proposal.

Name1?: Process-wise, I accepted a friendly amendment about a proposal that it turned out was unimplementable. I went back to facilitation and made a shift, based on the unimplementable.

Super important to research what is happening on the ground in Egypt. Knowledge of the situation there is critically important.

Name2?: Many different groups in Egypt. There was a solidarity demonstration yesterday with only a small turnout because few people are reaching out. We need to put people in better contact with each other, via email, twitter, etc. I can help to put people in touch.


Name3?: Was at GA when original proposal passed. Then I heard a lot of concerns, and was taken aback. Some of those concerns were very valid. Some were valid but short-sighted. We are a relatively small organization, and we need to think about what we want to do. When the Freedom Rides happened, they were very controversial. I would be careful in this group to think about speaking for a lot of people. We have a responsibility to think about what symbolism, what power, etc. can be gained from sending X number of people to Egypt, spending $X amount of money. I also think that we’re going to send smart people to Egypt, and they’ll be taking risks. People die in revolutions. That happens. Our tax dollars have supported the regime that’s been there for decades. We may not have a huge impact, but we can have a symbolic impact.

Leah: point of process: we need to make a decision.

Suzanne: point of process: if it passed, a group can’t stop it from moving forward.

Nate: that’s debatable.

Cliff: my instinct is that if the GA agrees they want to allot money to send people to Egypt, then I feel that if a group steps forward to make that happen, then they can do that. Two things at issue: 1) What do we want to do as a group in terms of Egypt? 2) What is the process. And what do we do in relation as the 25th approaches. A lot of people here are Egyptian or care about the cause. What is so awesome about the occupy movement is how we’ve brought lots of people together. What we ought to do in is help people to be part of this cause.

Leah: are the folks who have concerns okay with delaying?

Suzanne: direct response: I’m committed to autonomy and to safety.  I would be ok with the decision to delay, but I’m concerned that if we move off of this, that it will just disintegrate.

Smucker: I want to acknowledge that we’re in a messy situation in terms of process. There isn’t a clear right and wrong. We should acknowledge that we’re all doing our best and even though there are disagreements, we’re trying to build a consensus that incorporates everyone’s input. I can live with the new letter, even though I’m not sure it’s 100% right. I am concerned about the language being inflexible.

Suzanne: we’re in a unique place where Occupy has some capital and we can support Egypt before we fractionalize, and before they fractionalize. Some groups that are still boycotting the elections are still wanting us to show up.

Ended with agreement that we don’t have authority to make a proposal because we are a subgroup. A few folks will take the new letter / proposal and make a few adjustments and bring it to the movement building working group tomorrow.

4 Responses to “Minutes – Movement Coordination Subgroup – 11.21.11”

  1. Person

    Hi All,

    This is Abe. I would like to chime in about the proposal and the way it has been handled thus far.

    My primary concern is with the specific groups and individuals ‘controlling’ the delegation. I also think we should not send such a big delegation right now.

    If people from OWS go to Egypt, OWS needs to have control over which individuals and which groups the OWS Delegation meets with in Egypt.

    The individuals and specific groups that are currently connected with Maria and represent the ‘inviting Egyptian groups’ have been called into question by numerous Egyptians. Not that their backgrounds and track records are questionable, but rather the fact that they are seen by many of the ‘on-the-street’ activists as people who have been influenced by the money, fame and power that comes along with being hugely funded global jet-setters and ‘CNN’ spokespeople for a movement. ***Some activists have voiced serious concerns that some of the individuals and the original April 6th youth movement itself has been co-opted by Egyptian and U.S. Government interests.*** One specific source indicated that in the early days, April 6th looked very similar to OWS now. But over time April 6th and its founders came upon a great deal of money and fame and eventually was corrupted. The true youth activists who are now fighting and sacrificing their lives for justice in Tahrir Square may not hold the original leaders as credible spokespeople any longer.

    It is my opinion that if OWS sends a delegation to Egypt we should not be linking with the original April 6th team only. We should be reaching out to more groups, specifically the groups holding down Tahrir and those who are fighting for true revolution and breaking away from the corrupt Egyptian government and military police, this government is so closely tied with the U.S.

    We need to break away from the U.S. State Department’s slimy tricks and tactics of traditional Democritization techniques. Let’s show solidarity with the activists in Egypt and help empower them and gain power from them with our shared vision of a peaceful future.

    With wishes for Justice and Freedom,


    • jack siler

      Ab*so*lutely! Movements of initial goodwill often are subverted by politicians and publicity hounds. I think Clinton plunged in to her cheerleader role for very dubious reasons and that spending the kind of money involved on some sort of State Dept. foray is unwise. Let’s get it together here first. OWS is not an evangelical movement.

  2. jack siler

    AB*SO*LUTELY! Movements of good will are often subvertted by politicians and publicity seekers. Clinton’s cheerleading in the Arabic countries was due to her (and the CIA’s) ignorance of the terrain. OWS needs to finish organizing here, not evangelizing all over the world. If America can be changed, there will be time to demonstrate that it can be done elsewhere.
    Sending a delegation now into that malaestrom would be a perfect picture of our political immaturity and America’s.

  3. jack siler

    AB*SO*LUTELY! Movements of good will are often subvertted by politicians and publicity seekers. Clinton’s cheerleading in the Arabic countries was due to her (and the CIA’s) ignorance of the terrain. OWS needs to finish organizing here, not evangelizing all over the world. If America can be changed, there will be time to demonstrate that it can be done elsewhere.
    Sending a delegation now into that maelestrom would be a perfect picture of our political immaturity and America’s.