G.A. Meeting Minutes Update 12/09/11

**Please see previous posts for more recent Meeting Minutes**

 

General Assembly
Glenwood Coffee & Books
Friday, 9 December 2011
Begin: 6:30PM
End: 8:30PM

 

Facilitator: Ed
Stack taker: Trish

 

Approx. 35 participants.  Not recorded.

 

Working Group Reps:

JAMES reported for the Civil Rights working group, whose first meeting was Thursday, 8 December. The major topic of discussion was the National Defense Authorization Act. Two members of the Latin Kings reported to the group on the militarized arrest of members of their group that occurred on 6 December and requested support for individuals in the group, not the support of the group itself.

DAVE reported that the next GA-oriented discussion meeting is to be on Sunday, 11 December, from 3:00 to 4:00, before the Sunday GA. The discussion topics will include the democratic process and how other Occupations are using it.

MARIA reported for the Anti-Oppression working group, which met Wednesday, 7 December. The next meeting is to be at 5:30, Wednesday, 14 December.

AMANDA announced for the Employment working group that the Unemployment/Employment march will occur Saturday, 10 December, starting at 11:30.

 

Agenda:

Assembly ground rules and hand signals.
Approval of previous meeting’s consensus points.
Working group reports: Civil Liberties working group; Anti-Oppression working group; GA discussion group; Employment working group
Announcements: ALKQN protest; showing of “Black and Gold”; Rapid Communication List; Roy Cooper call-in recap and Sunday pray-in; West Coast solidarity picket; preparations for DNC in Charlotte; Howard Coble demonstration recap; drop dead date for state unemployment benefits; (un)employment march speakers; sign-making for (un)employment march; report on benefit concert; George Cheney performance
Proposals: statement of solidarity with “All of Us NC”; art festival; statement of solidarity with west coast port workers; plan to protest NC representatives and senators; clarification of Sunday GA time.
Discussion: healthcare working group.
Reflection.
Selection of facilitator, note taker, and stack keeper.

 

Announcements:

JAMES announced that the Anarchists of North Carolina are standing in solidarity with the Latin Kings and Queens. They are asking the participants of Occupy Greensboro to join their protest on Thursday, 13 December, from 9:30AM to 3PM outside of the L. Richardson Pryer Federal Courthouse in downtown Greensboro.

AL announced that there will be a showing of “Black and Gold,” a documentary on the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, at Glenwood Coffee & Books on Thursday, 15 December, at 7PM.

JAMES called for additions to the Rapid Communications List.

JANE recapped the call-in to AG Roy Cooper’s office that took place on Wednesday, 7 December, and announced a pray-in against foreclosures to occur from 1:00 to 1:15 on Sunday, 11 December.

TRISH announced the picket in solidarity with West Coast occupations’ closure of ports on Monday, 12 December.

DAVE asked for those interested in doing an action at the upcoming Democratic National Convention to meet with him.

AL reported back on the demonstration at Congressman Howard Coble’s office on Thursday, 8 December: Cakalak Thunder was present, and members of Occupy Greensboro participated alongside local unions and the AFL-CIO.

PAUL added that the drop-dead date for the state extension of unemployment benefits is 31 December 2011. This means that even if one has multiple weeks of unemployment benefits remaining, they are presently slated to end of 31 December.

ED detailed the speakers scheduled for the Employment/Unemployment march on Saturday, 10 December.

MO said that she could meet with people on Saturday morning to make signs for the Employment/Unemployment march.

MAX announced that the benefit on Wednesday, 7 December, made $900 and some change.

ED announced that George Cheney, a musician with whom he will be performing, will be at the Green Bean at 9:30 Friday, 9 December.

 

Proposals:

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH “ALL OF US NC”.
MARIA proposed a statement of solidarity with All of Us NC, an organization working for LGB rights. All of Us NC is preparing a statement of solidarity with OGSO. ED asked if anyone wanted clarification about the proposal or the organization proposing it. No one sought clarification. The proposal passed with unanimous consensus.

ART FESTIVAL.
MO proposed a three-day art festival to run from 11 to 13 January 2012. The festival would be de-centrally located and would incorporate opportunities for reclaiming public space and holding teach-ins. Two traveling artists with The Crow and the Wolf Project would collaborate to create art in the community. KATE asked for clarification of the work of the artists involved. MO gave background on the group, which has been traveling middle America in order to create networks of artists away from the West and East coasts.

ED asked for clarification of what was being asked of the General Assembly. MO clarified that she wanted to present the idea to the assembly and receive feedback on the general idea. JAMES questioned whether there was enough time before the date to prepare for it. MO said she felt there was enough time in the weeks before the date to prepare for it. TRISH voiced support for the date because it comes just before the date for Occupy Congress; the festival could be a fun build-up to the DC trip, which won’t necessarily be much fun. ED asked for a show of support to continue developing the festival. The GA gave an enthusiastic show of support. MO asked for a show of hands of who would like to help with the festival. THE GA gave an enthusiastic show of hands. AL announced that many community events that could be incorporated into the festival have already been scheduled around that date.

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN.
TRISH proposed a statement to be circulated in conjunction with the walking picket of Wal-Mart on Monday, 12 December, in solidarity with the West Coast port shutdown. MARK asked for a clarification of the proposal itself. TRISH clarified that the action had already been consented to; her proposal was to gain proposal for the language of the statement describing the action. ED called for consensus approval on the language of the statement. The GA consented to the language of the proposal.

DIRECT ACTION TO INFLUENCE VOTE ON THE NDAA.
TRISH proposed a plan for protesting NC Congress members in the Senate and House to influence them against passing the NDAA in its present form; the plan is to make sure members of Congress are able to make no public appearances without Occupy protesting their appearance. In order to do this, TRISH asked for consensus approval to begin gathering bottom-liners for picketing, mic-checking, and rallying, and to begin implementing system immediately. MO suggested that plans to mic-check Congress members should not be posted to Facebook because they are easy to read. MARIA noted that the detention provisions had already been removed from the NDAA. TRISH noted that Congress members were still attempting to inserted the detention provisions into other legislation. ED asked when it was that Congress was slated to go to recess. He seemed to recall it would be early the next week. He also highlighted the need for education about the NDAA, so that when actions occur people know why they are occurring. TRISH clarified that education and outreach are important parts of the working group’s planned actions. DAVE asked if other groups were working on the NDAA; he wanted to know if there was a national day of action. TRISH said she was preparing plans for a national day of action, but it wasn’t set yet. MO said plans are underway to occupy the offices of Congress members returning to their offices on 19 December.

KATE brought forward an ambiguity with the Sunday GA meeting time: is it 2:00 or 4:00? ED said the Sunday time had been changed by consensus to 4:00, but the webmaster refused to recognize that, saying no record of that consensus decision could be found. He suggested clarifying the GA’s decision to move the Sunday meeting time to 4:00. The first pass at consensus found one member, ANDREW, voting against because he did not think sufficient discussion had taken place. ED, KATE, and MARK clarified that discussion had taken place already. The proposal to clarify the change in the Sunday meeting time was consented to by the General Assembly.

 

Proposals that reached consensus:

The General Assembly consented to the language of a statement of solidarity with “All of Us NC;” the language of a statement of solidarity with West Coast port workers; clarification of Sunday GA time; taking direct action to influence the vote on the NDAA under the plan proposed; moving forward with an art festival in January.

 

Note taker:

Andrew Saulters: saulters@gmail.com

 

APPROVAL OF CONSENSUS POINTS.
ED asked the group to cover the ground rules and hand signals for the GA. KEVIN, the notetaker from Tuesday’s meeting, reviewed the points of consensus from Tuesday’s meeting. ED asked for approval of the consensus points of the minutes. The points of consensus were approved.
DISCUSSION.
The only item raised for discussion was the formation of a healthcare working group.

AMANDA suggested healthcare as a discussion topic, specifically the formation of a working group. MATT said he felt the healthcare cuts were being undertaken as budget cuts on people who lacked the power to oppose them. AVALON said restrictions placed on doctors are very restrictive and end up hurt patients. KATE voiced support for the formation of a working group, and suggested outreach to women’s groups as part of the effort. PAUL supported the creation of a working group, identifying healthcare groups as part of the top 1%. AL noted that he read about a drug having a multi-million-dollar advertising budget and called it ridiculous. JULIA supported the formation of a working group and suggested the group take on the establishment of national healthcare. MO advocated adding mental healthcare to the concerns of a healthcare working group, citing the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the formation of the DSM. ED critiqued the connection between the establishment of good health and the expenditure of a lot of money: if each person had a billion dollars to pay for healthcare, the industry would develop healthcare that cost a billion dollars plus some per person. JEREMY said we need to think about the definition of health itself and how the healthcare industry can promote. MARIA suggested incorporating dental and vision care with approaches to changing medical care. MATT suggested alternative medicine approaches, instead of pharmaceutical approaches, could have a central place in the healthcare working group. MARK highlighted the value of preventative medicine in promoting good health and keeping costs down. BEN highlighted that this discussion was occurring in the aftermath of the passage of Obama’s healthcare plan, which basically required everyone to interact with the healthcare industry’s for-profit system. JAMES called attention to the growing prevalence of PTSD in Americans and suggested the healthcare group address it. TRISH said that healthcare intersects in several crucial ways with systematized oppression and called on the discuss of healthcare to keep those in mind. JEREMY asked about whether any action is underway to address the connection between economic position and healthcare. ED said the Employment working group was beginning to address those concerns. MO highlighted the need for education on how the healthcare system works, for the system itself is complicated and difficult to map, even for someone well-acquainted with it. Skill-sharing and increased communication in terms of healthcare would also be helpful. KATE identified a need for teach-ins on mental healthcare, preventative healthcare, and related concerns. AL echoed MATT’s suggestion to pursue alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment, as they parallel the call to find alternatives to submitting to the Duke Energy rate hike, the call to find alternatives to looking for jobs from the top 1%; he would like to see Occupy Greensboro find “alternative” approaches in everything it does. MARK spoke on the great need to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the damage they cause to those in need of medical care. JEREMY wondered if it is time to put together a structure or process for the promotion of skills-sharing. MARIA supported Jeremy’s call to develop a skill-sharing structure; she also highlighted the need to take actions that reach beyond the local community. AMANDA echoed the need to address mental health concerns as part of a healthcare working group. MATT suggested that Occupy Greensboro could identify a few members interested in growing vegatables and make those vegetables available for donations at General Assemblies: a small, for-donation farm. He also suggested identifying the largest pharmaceutical-related donors for Obama and circulating that information by way of a public information campaign. TRISH brought up hydro-fracking’s influence on growing soils as a large concern for the working group. ED noted that healthcare is an issue where the situation is controlled by those in power, and the healthcare group should focus on the victims of the pollution as well as those who produce it. MO noted that many pharmaceutical companies are involved in activities that pollute soil, water, and air. MARK brought up “food deserts,” areas in a city where only processed food is readily available, as a possible concern for the healthcare group. AL connected healthcare to student indebtedness: healthcare has gone up 500% since 1990, and tuition has gone up 1000%. JULIE asked if there was a bottomliner for the working group. PAULIE (pgcox@uncg.edu) identified herself as someone interested in bottom-lining the group; ED asked those interested in getting involved with the working group to contact her.

MEETING REFLECTION.
MATT asked if the bathroom was the bathroom. It was identified as such by the general assembly. MARIA expressed her relief that the General Assembly’s tone was very different from the one on Facebook. JULIE echoed Maria’s relief, saying she has heard this frequently; she praised the meeting’s structure for facilitating discussion as something that promoted cohesion within the group. BEN echoed Maria’s relief about Facebook; he spoke about Occupy Greensboro as a space in which members are learning to have political debates; he reiterated the need to remember we’re all on the same side. MARK said that what happens in the GAs is not frequently reflected on the internet; he stated that the internet discourse hardly seemed real, being so vicious as it was. Could the space be made to reflect the actions of the GA more? TOM highlighted the importance of spontaneity and heirarchical structure in the success of Occupy; he also praised the proposal for the art festival. TRISH noted that Ed did an excellent job on facilitating, mostly because he was being called on to do not much. ANDREW described the Facebook forum as a disrespectful place and argued against the idea of making it conform to any particular idea of what it ought to be. DAVE said there was an impression that the Occupy Greensboro Facebook page is a pinnacle of free speech, but it isn’t, and he isn’t sure why it ought to be considered that: there’s the whole of the internet for free speech. He isn’t sure the Facebook group is working very well. ED says he came prepared to address some of the concerns with Facebook, but instead there was a lot of discussion of community activity! He says he was very disappointed. JULIE said she found the GAs helpful and refreshing, although they are sometimes messy; she says her Facebook interactions are often demoralizing. She asked if anyone else was interested in working on a proposal to address issues with Facebook. MO said she really enjoys looking around the room and seeing the community that the movement is building; she appreciated all the work peope are doing. She expressed confidence in the movement, and sees opportunities for “moderates” and “radicals,” those interested in money in politics and those interested in social concerns, and others, to work together. She finds that being pushed out by politics is frequently an excuse for leaving after one has made up one’s mind to disengage. JAMES said he has never had an uncomfortable experience in the GA, though he knows he has not always been agreed with by everyone; he identified part of participating in a group like this is consenting to having your ideas questioned and participating in debate. KATE identified Facebook is a particular problem because it could turn off those who do not have the opportunity to come to GAs. It is good for finding information, but the discussion there is often a turn-off. MATT said it was good for the Facebook account to exist: it was his first contact with the group. He notes that online forums allow people to escape accountability behind anonymity. He supports moderating the page, but isn’t sure how to do that. AL says we should maintain a sense of humor about Facebook: “It’s silly!” With regard to the GA, everyone enters as the equal of other members and has the opportunity to speak; he finds it really beautiful. JEREMY says he thinks it could be useful to shut off the Facebook.

 

Next Meeting:

Next meeting: 11 December, Sunday, at Glenwood Coffee & Books: MARIA will facilitate; JOHN will take stack; TOM will take notes.