Working Group Meeting Minutes 12/4/11

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Those of you in attendance at last nights’ meeting know that it was a difficult one. We spent the majority of our time with our guests from OWS Mediation discussing problems we have encountered with communication, respect, transparency, accountability, and appropriate group communications. It was a long night. We did come to some resolutions for the time being, and agreed to work together on a living document regarding our working group policies. You can take a look at the beginnings of that document here:

First and foremost there were a lot of items on the agenda that were tabled because of the mediation. We have scheduled an additional working group meeting for this Wednesday, December 7 at 5:30 PM at 60 Wall St to discuss all of the agenda items that we did not cover. Those agenda items were as follows:
*Op Eds
*The Email Lists
*Community Accountability
*Archive Working Group Report Back
*Cataloging/Library Thing
*People’s Library’s Relationship to OWS
*Occupy Wall Street Review
*The Rebuild OWS Library Email/Twitter/Facebook

Before I get to the mediation, we had several guests from different organizations who came to share information with us.
1) Darragh from Education and Empowerment announced that there will be a Read-In on December 17 in Times Square. For more information or to volunteer you can email him at
2) Tom and Veronica from Word Up in Washington Heights came to tell us all about their awesome shop uptown and to offer us their assistance. They are located at 176th and Broadway, and have been operational since June. They are 100% volunteer operated, and most of their books are under $3. They have a 1000 square foot space, and a built in stage, where so far they have held over 200 performances. POI: Washington Heights has the largest concentration of children and youth in all of Manhattan. They are willing to give us space to give away our books.
3) Margarita from the St. Mark’s Bookshop is writing an essay on the destruction of The People’s Library and would love to talk with working group members. Additionally she pointed out to us that the bookselling community wants to help us, and just needs to know how. The St. Mark’s Bookshop would love to display some of our destroyed books on one of their shelves. POI: This is not possible at this time because our damaged books are evidence in our ongoing legal suit. But the sentiment is greatly appreciated. :)

Okay! On to the Mediation. Please note that what follows is a summary, and not a transcript. Additionally the names of individuals have been redacted to protect their privacy. The following points were raised by members of the working group and highlighted by mediation:

1) There is a feeling amongst certain working group members that one particular member has not been respectful to the other members. It was stated that, “You have to give respect to get respect,” and certain members feel that respect is severely lacking from this individual.
2) The point was raised that this same working group member has also sent emails on behalf of the library to outside individuals that certain members found hostile in tone and inappropriate for our collective purposes. There was a point raised repeatedly that certain members felt the need to mend the damage done by this individual regarding these outside offers of assistance.
3) There was a point raised by several working group members that this individual’s behavior is distracting us from important library work that needs to be accomplished, i.e. almost the entire meeting was spent discussing this individual’s behavior and what steps should be taken to address it, despite the fact that this individual was not present for the meeting. The point was also raised that this is the third time that Mediation has been present at a meeting to help us facilitate a solution to these problems, and that this individual has not attended any of those sessions.
4) A point was raised by several working group members that it was inappropriate to discuss this individual without them being present at the meeting. This was countered with the point that this individual seems to avoid meetings with mediation. (See #3)
5) A point was raised that this individual’s negative behavior far outweighs its contributions to the working group. This point was countered with the POI that this individual did a lot of blog and email work in the early days of the occupation.

The following items were consented upon at the end of the meeting:
*An important POI was raised. You cannot block a group consensus after the fact. If you are not present at the meeting when consensus is reached, you cannot block via email. That is out of process.
*If any individual behaves in a manner that another working group member deems disrespectful, or if it “gets nasty again” any working group member has the right to ask that member to refrain from all email and blog communications until they attend a mediation session with the other members of the working group.

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