Town Planning Meeting Minutes 10.25.2011

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Town Planning Meeting Minutes 10.25.2011
The scope of this Town Planning meeting is imminent steps we can take within the next 7 days, how can we structure these meetings, and dealing with 200 donated tents.



  • Mike: I was under Info and Town planning, and get many emails regarding that. The Pool of people kept growing, and we felt the need for a larger meeting. We can do a lot of things to make the whole space awesome. We can do a cluster, spokes council thing here.


  • The reason that there is a sense of urgency in regards to having a decision by Thursday is that Comfort had, due to a miscommunication, planned a large march for human rights. This comes from a time when we couldn’t have tents, and isn’t necessarily urgent any more. The push is coming from Comfort, because they had a pre-planned march that specifically related to us formerly not being able to have tents.
  • The tents are all the same size: 7ft x 9ft. There are 200 of them.
  • There’s already a condensing of tents that’s happened organically, which some don’t want to mess with, but there are also areas like the Arts area and Women’s Safe Area that could use tents.
  • Donation of the tents was reactionary – one person took it up, and the Spiritual groups gave us the tents.
  • The groups who donated the tents don’t have a plan for distributing them or setting them up. They have circles on the map as a current plan.
  • Legally this (setting up the large tents) is a gray area, but we have more power now. When the medical tent went up, people linked arms around it and Jesse Jackson sat inside. The NYPD doesn’t seem to be stopping us.
  • There is definitely NOT enough room for all the tents.
  • They have researched a specific type of waterproof insulation that needs to go under the tent, and purchasing this will have to go through the GA.
  • Robert suggested that it might do us all a lot of good if we lay out the current situation in the park – what we are actually facing. We’re about to introduce donated tents, but we’re introducing them to something that’s already there.
  • It’s pretty obvious that there’s no room for anything without a huge concerted effort to start over. There is no room.
    • Direct Response: The park has a certain amount of flexibility, which right now is a good thing. Tents will create structure.
  • We do not know the quality or condition of the tents.


  • Q: Is there a plan that these are specifically for Zuccotti Park or can we give them out? Can we use them to start a new occupation or give them to another occupation like Central Park?
    • A: Occupy Central Park is only a 3 day event, and that’s it. Because of issues with staying in the park. Occupy Brooklyn has started too.
  • Point of information: Last night in Oakland they used rubber bullets and slashed the tents, so maybe we can send them the tents.


Decided: Audrey will contact Occupy Central Park about whether they need the tents.


Question to Group: Do we want to create structure or leave fluidity?

  • Potential Problems in regards to tents.
    • Since tents have been moved into the park, it’s broken social contract a bit – because people can do what they want when they want and aren’t visible.
    • Do we need these tents, do we need LARGE tents with cots so that people are still all together?
    • Tents are separating devices. Suggestion of tents with zippers that all connect in a long straight line, to build community.
    • Modular housing is a possibility
    • Tents destroy transparency, why don’t we live with transparency and use clear tents.
    • The idea of private space has historically been one of exclusion for women. We are creating private spaces in a public space. A lot of the women are terrified to be in the park, because we’re creating private spaces where abuse can happen. Modular tenting works well and would exclude that situation
    • Occupy Boston, which has tents, says that the tents actually separate people.
    • We need to talk about is the clutter issue and clearing pathways
    • This puts the whole community at risk, the tents are a legal issue.
      • Direct Response: This was discussed at the beginning. Since the Nurses union encouraged us to use civil disobedience to have a medical tent. Since then it’s become accepted.
    • We can only get 5 tents into this space if we’re lucky, which is only about 20 people. Who would get to use the tents? Lots of issues here.


  • Getting Campers / Occupiers actively involved in OWS
    • We’ve talked about just doing big tarps, and then ground insulation. In terms of participation, I think ownership is a big part of it. We need to make people feel like a part of the process. People call themselves “Camps” so maybe we can have them create something they give back to the public?
    • Finance clarifies that his is kind of how the park started – everyone started with their own areas and donation buckets. We’ve tried to consolidate. The vast majority of people here during the day are here to take free stuff and leave.
      • Direct Response: It wouldn’t be offering resources, it would be encouraging people to form working groups.


  • Surveying Occupiers:
    • There are bad feeling sabout the tents as they are in terms of spatial reality. We can’t imagine designing anything without interviewing everyone and finding out what the issue is.
    • Point of information: There is someone taking a survey.
      • Mike: Is it good to say that we should create a formalized survey within this group? <temperature check> YES.
      • Mike will head up efforts to create this survey


  • Damaged Flowerbeds:
    • The third flowerbed is done, we’re going to lay down some mulch and that could become an open space. If we wanted to do that experiement.
      • Direct Response: Week 1 consensus from OWS was that NOTHING will EVER be put, and no one will walk on the flowerbeds. I realize this isn’t enforced, but before any one goes forward, it would have to pass.
        • Direct Response: The reality is, as soon as that’s taken out, people will occupy the space.


  • Problem: Many people who are staying in the park are not actually contributing or participating.
    • Direct Response: There are actually working groups talking about what we can do because we’ve become a place for people to come get free food, and come to hang out.
    • Kitchen today consensed on stopping serving food after tomorrow. Kitchen is going to shut down for three days, and will revisit afterwards. They may keep feeding Working Groups, but aren’t sure whether they’ll have a point person ONLY feeding WGs or how they will structure this.
    • Finance says that a lot of groups are talking about completely giving up at this point (he is asked for more information). Speaking to his experience: people call him constantly about budget for personal expenses, and the requests fly through GA without proper evaluation.
    • Some of our more problematic campers have left. Perhaps not much has changed. Two weeks ago there were drugs and violence, and there still are.
    • Proxy for Taylor: She thinks that we have to replicate what is happening on the outside world so that they feel comfortable with us. We should institute a whistle system for security. She also thinks that every woman needs to have a whistle. There needs to be a signal for security, and signal for an abuse situation.
    • There is a community near the vendors, full of people who are detoxing, and they need to be inside.


  • Enforcement of Social Contracts
    •  We need a provision for enforcement. Zuccotti Park is such a community – it has not provision to bring people in line with a group vision. 
    • Community consensus has NOT been held up yet. In fact, the community says “We don’t get to people what to do”.
    • Point of Information: Anyone who’s living down there – there is a community watch program as of last night. There are baby steps happening.
    • There’s a good neighbor policy, and new rules about the drums, but we have no way to enforce these rules because we can’t tell people what to do.
    • Point of Information: There’s a community relations meeting tonight that should shed some light.
    • Active members of the OWS tend to be more respectful of the policies rules.
    • Enforcement so far:  It’s been “Hey we’re doing this, can you do it with us” and people can do it or not, and we badger them. There are working groups with their own terrritory, and people with territory.


  • Question: Are we building a homeless shelter, or trying to house revolutionaries?
    • Point of Information: Comfort has a system in place for helping homeless people.
    • Direct Response: People who are committing violent crime and aggression, people who are using drugs and drinking, and people who are in gangs, not the homeless.
    • Morale has been very hard for to keep high, and we can’t put a price on comfort. Some dedicated occupiers are without a home, and empowering people to pick up the work when they feel empowered. It’s impractical to plan a prison-like system for the tents, when comfort has been kind enough to obtain them. We need to find a way to work with what we have. We already have the tent city up. What we need to do is find out in a friendly way who is staying in the park, and  If we have too many people, Talking to Tactical and Direct Action about finding us another park.


  • People are possessive of space. So: When someone has a tent and a spot, is that THEIR spot, or is it a community spot?
    • Direct Response: Maybe we should try to get a consensus from the GA for that.
    • On the subject who are we helping here. Should we have a policy about setting terms for sq footage v.s. community returns.


  • Additional points raised:
    • We should create a Program brief that lays out a vision. Doing that would be something that would really help us lay out our strategy.
    • We are now being left alone by the police, but they are actually dropping off the homeless, and there’s a rumor that the RIker’s island bus is now stopping near Zuccotti.


  • Do we need to bring use of the tents up for approval by the General Assembly?
    • Direct Response: We are just giving them out, It’s up to people individually to decide whether they want to use the tents or not.
    • We can discuss the legality, but the fact is tents will become a necessity for survival very quickly. Winter is coming.
    • This is an occupation. It seems a little strange to talk about legality. Legally the park is not ours. This morning the mayor said that if the owners of the park saying that tents were being erected, then police would do what they have to do to have them removed. It seems clear that they’re waiting for the cold to get you. We need to devise a tactical solution for that particular situation. I’m not here every day, but I like to believe that as a supporter I can come in and plug in in a tent, so I’m cautious about propagating a conversation about domain, territory, or property.
  • How will we handle Winter?
    • It may the responsibility of this working group is to come up with some different proposals for how to keep things warm and clean and present them to the GA. In my mind, big structural decisions do affect everybody.
    • A lot of people here are fist time occupiers. Historically, some groups occupy during summer, then split into infrastructure building teams and teaching teams that go south to help warmer occupations / movements in winter.
    • There doesn’t always have to be an occupation, people can take shifts to occupy. We could have temporary structures, you wouldn’t need permanent ones.
    • James Volunteers to contact Wisconsin about how they dealt with winter during protests.


  • Zoning:
    • Zoning: Zones that will be flooded. We need to identify zones that will be flooded.
    • Direct Response: The idea of Zoning implies that OWS has authority over some people.

3. WHO IS THE SPACE FOR? / SOCIAL ISSUES (extended from previous agenda point):

  • Who is the space for? The people who aren’t participating are part of the problem. We need to find a solution that works for everyone.
    • Sanitation: I’m really cautious about telling people what to do. We need to create environments where people who shouldn’t be here DON’T want to be here. Give power to the working groups so they can get things done quickly, so that people can easily be involved. Create a stable environment.
    • Q: You used the word “undesirables”. Who are those people?
      • We’re being fed Riker’s Island output.
        • We have to realize that this is an attack – we’re being attacked like a virus from outside.
        • It could actually be a human rights issue. It could be illegal.
        • Q: Who has facts on this? This would be a great media story.
    • It’s a public park, so everyone has to have access too it. We have to be careful about explicitly excluding people. It’s valid that people should get involved as much as possible, but there are detractors at the park and they shouldn’t be excluded based on an definition that the GA creates.
    • We could couple with the Archive team, so they can understand what people are doing here. Maybe we can send around a team who can find our who people are, why they’re here, etc, and from there we can sculpt what we are as an occupation. The people that will not talk to us, will not talk to us.
    • Process: Deescaltation, Mediation, Integration. You have to try to do everything in their power to do everything you can do for someone.
    • Lets fight fire with fire, bring in great people to help with this situation.
    • There is something positive, in that people are detoxing in the square successfully, but some find it disturbing that people are detoxing in a space where hard drugs are being bought and sold.
      • Helping Homeless – Could we actually try to help PLACE people? We need the carrot for the stick, could we help by saying “we have a space for you” for people who aren’t necessarily here for OWS.


  • Panhandling:
    • People are panhandling, and pretending that they are collecting for OWS.
    • We have a chance to create community, which may be something they haven’t had a chance.
      • Direct response: An Alternative money system for people to barter.
      • Point of information: Sustainability has a Barter system going at their table.
      • What if you had to barter participation for access to funds and OWS resources.


  • Wristbands for Occupiers
    • Design agrees with the need for wristbands as a visual cue.
    • Direct Response: I don’t think that wristbands are a good idea. People come in claiming they’re from certain groups, when they aren’t.
    • Point of Information: We’ve tried to institute every kind of identification system, and we’ve had people fake everything, even pretending to be the finance committee.
    • Do wristbands represent a form of heirarchy?


  • Community Space V.S. Personal space
    • There is no personal space.
      • Direct Response: There DOES need to be personal space.
    • We should talk about Picking up camp in the morning. This brings us back to having a malleable, fixable space. Perhaps rigid mealtimes and rigid cleaning times. Times of the morning where people HAVE to get up because cleaning is coming through.
    • We have to be strict about cleaning regulations etc while respecting people’s personal space.
    • Camille: During the day, my tent is wide open, so I stay there and keep conversation. If I wasn’t able to make my space more personal at night, I’d still feel like I was just sleeping on the concrete. We have to respect a variety of comfort levels. Also, there are lots of places for us to branch out.
    • All of this needs to be brought to the occupiers meeting directly.


  • SIS will store surplus tents if need be, but please note that it may be TONS of material
    • Friendly amendment: Some people need tents right now.
  • Call for proposals for buildable ideas to bring to the park.
  • Direct Response: Any calls to action can be put up on the website
  • Survey / Census. 
    • Could that incorporate a “needs” element?
  • Introducing the tents slowly and seeing how they react this.
  •     It’s an unofficial policy of SIS that donated goods beyond the immediate needs of OWS are held back until GA agrees they are to be used.
  • Alternative currency
  • Flowerbeds: If we don’t want people to occupy the beds we need to discuss measure to protect them.
  • Tents as Decoys to test waters at new occupations
  • Info to put together orientation guide and recruit occupiers for welcome desks


  • Porta-Potties
  • Creation of materials for orientation, signage.
  • Program Brief codified in terms of goals and activities
  • Getting more occupiers involved in Info Group for the sake of community building
  • Garden / Flowers
  • Survey
  • When we block out the time, we should NOT overlap GA. Can we have a meeting on Saturday or Sunday?
  • Point of Information: The park may have a floor heating.
  • Point of Information: 5 bicycle gernerators have been approved by GA.

The group broke into small discussion clusters to address specific issues and actions.

Next Meeting: Saturday @ Noon at 16 Beaver St


3 Responses to “Town Planning Meeting Minutes 10.25.2011”

  1. Francis Lenetti

    I feel that one simple fact is being left out. If the person is there to hang out and not peacefully assembling to discuss Grievances, then they are not protected by the first amendment and shouldn’t be allowed to stay. BUT, i have a huge heart and want to help those that are the local mentally challenged, or substance dependent. so basically back to square one. Just enforce the OWS good neighbor policy and that would be a good start.

  2. Francis Lenetti

    one more thing is that Mother nature will probably destroy most of the smaller tents. The one snow storm took out quite a few alone. so I think as the tents get destroyed by nature or man, we should passionately encourage the use of the bigger tents. as far as the tents causing a divide between people, I think it does both. brings people together in smaller groups. Getting to know each other one small group at a time. Maybe suggest a tent rotation in order to maintain sanitation of the park. every day a section of the park is broken down, cleaned, and tents re-erected.this time a little more organized. Just an Idea.