Town Planning Meeting Minutes 1.12.12

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Town Planning Minutes 1.12.12

Members present: Sean, Jeff, Robert (via call-in), Daniel (contact info: daniel.l.ball@hotmail.com), Zoe (contact info: zoealif@gmail.com), Katherine

Agenda is set to discuss website administrators, current mission statement, suggestion from Robert via phone for “repeated failure of compliance issues”, lack of intercoordination of physical spaces for OWS.

* There is presently a strong lack of coordination for physical space access at OWS.  The same space can easily fall beneath two separate groups to coordinate, as is seen with both Facilitation and Housing working at the 86th Street church to provide space for Occupiers as well as Spokes Council, and it is suggested that in the absence of a physical encampment to plan that Town Planning seek to assist in the coordination of physical spaces.  It is noted that changing the mission statement of the Working Group might be beneficial for the intermediate time of winter, and that much of Town Planning’s charter presently should be ensuring that OWS possessions are still available and accessible in the event of a reoccupation.

It is discussed that we would like to have a mission statement something along the lines of: detailing the coordination of physical spaces, as well as “possession handling” of tents and similar items, to make sure details do not fall between the cracks.  To plan and coordinate new spaces, and possible new Occupation sites.

* It is then pointed out that there is a lot of crossover with Occupy Farms (www.596acres.org) with their interest in urban farming in unoccupied lots.  A promise to liason with that group is offered, as that individual predominantly works with Occupy Farms and would be happy to get assistance from us in their efforts already on that line of thought.

* A brief discussion is then had as to how the barricades went down, as this was a recent event, and it is pointed out that a Freedom of Information Law request was issued and uncovered many unregistered complaints within the space that had not been acted upon, and thus complaints against OWS were being handled disproportionately and this leverage was applied to restore open and unrestricted right of assembly by the Legal team dedicated to exactly that purpose.

* Individual introductions are then made, and it is learned as we introduce ourselves that Daniel has a degree in urban planning, and will make efforts to appear at all of our working group meetings now that it is clear we’re working on something that matches his experiences and interests.

* Organizing for Occupation (O4O) is then mentioned, as the possibility to coordinate entirely legal squats to increase physical space might be an effective tactic that Town Planning could assist with coordinating.

* That mentioned, it is pointed out that there used to be a comprehensive list of all privately-owned public spaces in NYC floating around the Occupation, and Town Planning is going to seek to find just where that list wandered off to as it would be highly relevant to implementation.

* The next agenda item of “website administrators” is then brought to the table.  All of the people currently acting as administrators or moderators are no longer active members either of the group or the NYC occupation, as there seems to have been a lot of drift to other Occupations after 11/15 and the eviction.

* Compliance with the OWS ComHub “Who is still here?” deadline on 1/20 is then noted as a top priority, and it is determined what is still needed.  There are four priorities: weekly meetings announced on the website (need an admin), minutes with at least five members present (Sean is presently taking minutes, and there is one prior as well from 12/29, so this should be good enough), a comprehensive mission statement (need that!), contact info for the WG (Sean can arrange for a working googlegroup and provide forwarding to that, in roughly five minutes).  However, to alter the mission statement or contact info, admin privledges are required, so we need to nominate an administrator to remedy most of these problems.

* What to change the mission statement to, succinctly, is discussed.  The group tries several forms, then settles on “The coordination of physical spaces and physical resources within the Occupation”, which is consensed by the group.  It is noted that these “physical resources” are intended to mean resources for physical encampment, rather than a broad license that potentially overlaps with both SIS and Comfort.

* The group nominates Sean as an additional web administrator, due to there being no updates at present, and voluntells him to contact Tech Ops to assist in that.  Sean promises he will make an email listserv, and feed that into our contact information.

* Jeff is nominated as Town Planning’s sole keyholder to the office, in addition to his role as one of the two office point people.

* Robert suggests the agenda item of addressing the repeated failure of OWS on compliance issues with space we are occupying.  It is suggested that with the Safer Spaces community agreement forthcoming at Spokes Council, and it growing more steadily from there (hopefully) to be the community agreement adopted by the General Assembly, that “compliance with all site-specific requirements” be added to the Community Agreement of Occupy Wall Street, as a movement as a whole.  Presently this would be meant to understand that in operation space we do not protest, and to avoid losing operational space we comply by the rules we agree to abide in full or individuals will be ejected from the space, rather than see all of OWS as a whole ejected from a space for individual acts of noncompliance.  Civil disobedience of course still applies in all non-operational spaces, and it is noted that we would simply seek to clarify that there are spaces in which we protest and do not abide by all of the rules, and spaces in which we operate and in which we DO abide by all of the rules, having ourselves agreed to do so.  THERE SHOULD BE NO TOLERANCE FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AGAINST OCCUPY WALL STREET!  The rules should not allow for individual actions to ‘protest’ against rules we ourselves as a movement have agreed to abide by, as is presently the case with an individual staying in the 86th Street church who is called “Ras” (short for “Rastafarian”) who notes that smoking marijuana is a religious requirement for him, and thus he is expressing his religious freedoms by smoking it right in front of the church’s entrance, which has been creating friction with the pastor and the church’s neighbors and threatens all hundred people staying in that space with possible eviction because he is unwilling to walk a block and make it not the Occupation’s problem anymore.

* The question of tents still being available for use in Zuccotti Park is raised, as one was attempted for installation almost immediately after the barricades came down and was immediately confiscated.

Sean suggests that we request for there to be a temporary injunction within Occupy Wall Street against any further inroads being made into the reoccupation or use of tents within that space, without at least first consulting the OWS Legal Activists Working Group, so that we do not trip over our own feet and undermine their work and efforts to restore OWS civil liberties within that space.  The group heartily consenses upon this detail, and notes that they will seek to spread this information around.

* It is then noted that in at least a few other Occupations, ‘mobile tents’ have been attempted, such as tents on poles that are carried around almost as protest signs.  Whether a tent still counts as a permanent structure if it is on wheels is questioned, as is the possibility of other ‘mobile’ structures like a wheeled stage for performances.

* Brookfield’s present stance on “the rules in the park” is noted, and appears to be “extremely fluid”.  An issued statement might as well not exist ten minutes later, as there appears to be no real justification for many statements of what is or is not allowed in the park, and one security guard’s opinion is bound to be very different than anothers’.  This offers the opportunity to challenge security decrees, as they have been extremely hesitant to provide writs stating what the rules are, implying there are no rules that actually apply save those publicly posted despite the efforts to tell us otherwise.  Any rule not given in writing effectively does not exist, and challenging these rules by requiring them in writing is a highly effective tactic to pursue further.

* Discussing this last subject with the Legal and Media working groups is decided as a very fruitful next step, though both of these groups are anticipated to be very busy through the #J15-#J17 events coming up over the next few days.

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