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Regular Meeting

November 2, 2011

Members Present: Chelsea, James, Ryan, Kevin, Zack, Patrick, Stephanie, Andrea, Matthew, Medelyn, Leia, Uma, Tom, Gilbert, Zocera, Max, Ted, Isaac, Abe, David G., Janet, Akela, Peter, Bill, Dorje, Raul & Peter D.

Meeting convened at 5:30p.m.

The meeting begins with 1 minute of respectful silence.

Max, from the Facilitation Working Group will facilitate. He opens the meeting with a call for those new to the group to introduce themselves.

Max proposes breakout groups to allow for more varied discussion. Zocera suggest that time also be made for a review of the visions & goals document. Patrick offers a point of information: he has recently completed a final draft of a document that sorts the feedback from the 10/23 GA breakout groups by point category. He hopes that this will be a useful tool for the group to use as they attempt to access that feedback in a constructive way.  The document is available on our portion of the NYCGA website, and he also distributes 20 printed copies to those present.

Max reviews the proposed agenda items and asks for a show of hands in favor of discussing each. Five ideas float to the top, and sub-groups are formed to discuss each of the following: 1) Relationships between Goals/Visions/Mission/Values and our draft visions and goals document. 2) Are we seeking to reform the existing system or are we looking to change everything? (change from within or change from without?) 3) Incorporating language and ideas from other historical documents. 4) Addressing the grievances in the OWS Principles of Solidarity document. 5) Having an effect on the UN/international level. After a 30 minute breakout session, the groups return with their reportbacks.

Andrea reports for the group that looked at the OWS grievances. The group discussed potential solutions that would address either all, or at least many, of the grievances. Proposed solutions were as follows, presented in no particular order. 1) We need more GA-style assemblies in our governments and candidates who are committed to making this happen. 2) In the same way that our Constitution creates a separation between church and state, we need a separation between corporations and state. 3) We need to watch our politicians much more closely; perhaps designated groups could monitor their activities and report directly to the people. 4) We need a Constitutional Amendment to remove all private money from our electoral systems and establish pure public financing of all elections. The only differences presented between the candidates then would be their ideas; no more advertising, only information. Use the public resources already available like airwaves and transportation to disseminate the information. We should solve the problem of running elections the same way that we field armies or build roads – together with our tax dollars, as an essential public good. 5) Be more self-sustaining to take power away from the corporations; hold boycotts and other actions to bring the corporations to account. 6) Create a new system of government that renders the old one obsolete. 7) ??? is economic power. 8 ) Scrap the existing electoral system: politicians should be chosen to serve from among the general public, just like jurors. 9) We need more concrete processes to hear marginalized voices; institute GAs everywhere – we’re all marginalized voices in the 99%. 10) The highest-paid member of a workforce or society should not make more than 3x the lowest-paid member. 11) All land needs to be commonly owned, with everyone having a say in how it should be used.  ––– In addition, the group liked the idea of using the visions and goals document or process to address the OWS grievances. It was suggested that when we issue solutions, they be initially phrased in the form of questions, as this will make it more difficult for our adversaries to “box us in.” For instance, we might well ask: “Is the existing political system working for you?”

James reports for the group that looked at relationships between Goals/Visions/Mission/Values and our draft visions and goals document. The group discussed values that should form the underpinning of our work. Proposed values were as follows, presented in no particular order: honesty, respect, sustainability, inclusiveness, democracy, participation, humanitarianism, compassion, fairness, justice, transparency, accountability, empowerment, responsibility (individual & social), dialog, inherent dignity, nonviolence, peace, prosperity & action. In addition, the group noted the importance of reversing the effects of economic inequality and government corruption in our society.

Ted reports for the group that looked at incorporating language and ideas from other historical documents. The group discussed the need to include indigenous voices and they drew inspiration from the Harmony with Nature document, and also the declaration made by the first indigenous president of Bolivia. Also central to the discussion were the Iroquois Peace Principles: 1) Always work for peace, 2) Always work for unity, 3) Always carry a good message. Furthermore, the Iroquois made their decisions by consensus, and members of the tribe present at the signing of the Constitution observed that the signers had invited “evil to dine at [their] table” in opting for a 51% majority method of making decisions. Additional discussion included thoughts about how we might connect with indigenous populations.

The two other breakout groups consolidated into one of more of the others and did not have separate reportbacks of their own. General discussion ensues.

Gilbert inquires whether the visions and goals working group could produce multiple products: perhaps something small to be released by November 11th, then other more substantial things to be released later. Abe observes that we need to invite other working groups, like demands and electoral reform, to give us their feedback as we seek to unify the movement’s many messages – this needs to be done quickly. Patrick asks the group to look over the sorted feedback from the 10/23 GA breakout groups and to come back with thoughts about what the GA’s priorities were in requesting changes to the draft visions and goals document. Leia reports that we now have a new Riseup listserv for this group: please join the list.

Meeting ends at 7:10p.m.

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