General Assembly: April 10, 2012

The last time I took minutes and posted them, was last year. As a consequence, The Media Working Group announced all sorts of rules and reforms in the writing and posting of minutes, all of which I had offended in my cursive style. In fact, a rigid rule and tiny boxes were created, whereby the minute-taker had to fit his, or preferably, her very few words, or, preferably, single letters, into secure corsets, there to be held without charge or limit until the dictatorship freed them.

Those benign days of yore are gone now, and minute-takers, although still subject to “suggestions,” don’t listen to them. These minutes, then, rely simply on our few, excellent, basic “Ground Rules” of courtesy, fairness, democracy, and tolerance, anti-oppressive & collectively accessible.

That being said, a kind of writing muscle warm-up, Thom was our facilitator, beginning the meeting a mere ten minutes late. It being TUESDAY, of course, this general assembly was a “free-for-all” artistic creation, not following the excellent format of Sunday G. A.s. Between 20 and 25 occupiers were occupying the bookshop front room at Glenwood Coffee & Books, including a pretty hyper M–. Mo, the heroine of the week, was in the wings.

We dispensed with “ground rules” and “hand signal” explanations, the first time in 55 general assemblies, going back 6 months, we had done so. Nevertheless, we did “check in,” giving our first name and “something that made us happy.” I said I would be happy if no one subsequently criticized my minutes, or, Dave, changed or deleted them!

At our most recent G. A., Sunday, 4/8, we had determined that all Tuesday G. A.s from now until April 31st, would devote themselves primarily to the coming May 1st mayday May Day Celebration at Greensboro’s Governmental Plaza. No one had volunteered Sunday to take minutes at the next meeting, so I did, whereupon Valerie Warren said, “I like the way Al takes minutes.” (I insert this here in case this moment in Occupy History was missed or edited out by Sunday’s minute-taker.)

At check-in this evening, Dave reminded us that, most importantly, this general assembly was a pot luck dinner. Whereupon all us occupiers left the meeting and rushed into the back room where a really splendid feast awaited us. It reminded everyone of that great scene in Aristophanes’ Frogs, where the democratic Athenian agora is debating war with Sparta, when the fish monger runs into the Senate and cries, “People! I’ve never known anchovies selling so cheap!” Whereupon all the senators run to the beach to see and buy for themselves, leaving peace in tatters.

The spinach was especially savory, no doubt brought to the pot luck by Carol.

Trish was on top of the events for the Mayday Affair, a terrific organizing committee meeting having just taken place at Glenwood Coffee & Books Saturday, the 9th. Having been told Justin, from FLOC, was willing to address OGSO before a Sunday G. A., we created a formal Proposal, which reached consensus, that Justin should be invited Sunday, 4/22, to speak to us from 3—to—4 p.m. In addition, Dave, Juan, and Trish and others discussed meeting this Monday, 5 p.m., at the bookshop.

The aim of the Mayday is about 500 attending. The main thrust, according to Trish, was to be creating solidarity between the many organizations (would you believe more than thirty?) whom we hope to endorse and provide some sort of support. More about these groups later. The rally May 1 would begin with a Connor-inspired theatrical performance, then a major MARCH (reminiscent of our great October 15, 2011 March), beginning and ending at the Gov’t Plaza, but including the new (ugh) jail, the Civil Rights Museum, etc. One feature of Mayday is we are not requesting a permit, (one glimpses, I bet, Trish’s cool hand in this decision) so marshals are an importance component of our organizing. Trish pointed out that the square plaza is perfect for organizational table set-ups, and there should be plenty! In addition to Connor’s “cliff-hanger,” there will be speakers, naturally post-march. A unique feature of the speeches will be informing us of the history of people organizing, especially labor organizing, around May 1st May Day; in addition, excerpts from some of the more famous May Day speeches of the past will be recited! Food will not be neglected! In addition to his playwriting efforts, Connor is also bottom-lining Outreach. Child-care is another essential component. Indeed, there are six (6) organizing committees, and those of us who had not been present at the previous Saturday 5 p.m. organizing meeting were impressed by this almost model creation of a large municipal event, although of course much work remains to be done. Among the foci are women’s rights and amnesty and, frankly, very few if any peace-and-justice issues have been overlooked. Members of the Saturday meeting who spoke, especially Trish, Valerie, Julia, Mark, and Juan, pointed out that the challenge to this part of the program will be to connect this myriad of issues. An Example given was connecting the murder of Treyvon Martin, for instance, to the millions squandered on the new (ugh) jailhouse (Greensboro’s only recent “public housing” investment). As they put it, “We are organizing around the connections between the various foci.” Many of the participating organizations would have 3-to-5 minutes each to display their efforts. The six (6) events the organizers have highlighted are: (1) PRE-MARCH; (2) THE MARCH; (3)OUTREACH; (4) POST-MARCH; (5) FOOD; (6) PROGRAMMING.

A final question, in this first third of our general assembly was whether Cakalak Thunder would be participating.

In keeping with the creative changes Tuesday Assemblies include, we all then divided into Breakout Groups. Mine was one that listed the participating organizations we hoped to garner: Center for North Carolinians, AFSC (Ann Lennon), Faith-Action, IRC, Native-American Organizations, White Caucus, B.C.C., Buddhist Group, many synagogues, mosques, and churches, FLOC of course, unions first and foremost, MoveOn.Org, El Cambio, “We Are” and other Gay Liberations, Occupy Groups, North Carolina Defends, YWCA, Transition Greensboro, Jobs for Justice, Yes Weekly and other Media, The Wobblies (IWW), Planned Parenthood, Women’s Resource Center, C.P.C.—Watch, S.O.N.G., etc.

Todd W., whose children, Skye and Justice were also in attendance, running around, looking for Glenwood, who was sulking because Mo had tied a bell and his rabies metal around his neck just before the meeting, mentioned our slogan should be, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” to which I’m sure poor Glenwood acceded.

So anxious were we to move on to Mo Kessler and her Raleigh report from Sunday’s unprecedented foreclosure actions and arrests, that Breakout Group report-backs were curtailed.

Next meeting for organizing Mayday will be next Tuesday, before G. A. (All Tuesdays, as I have said earlier, are devoted to organizing this outstanding event.)

Mo will forgive me I’m sure if I do not cover her thrilling re-occupation HOME DEFENSE talk and report, which was excellently delivered and received. Mo is our hero, and we love and admire her! A brief discussion was fielded on the subject of whether or not the event was successful. Mo’s trial will be June 1, between 7”30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. All aspects of the Raleigh “do” are covered elsewhere on OccupyGreensboro.org and many other sites, so I will shorten this brief Minutes forthwith.

The G. A. ended with our usual “Reflections.” I reflected that the unusual, creative form of this G. A., as orchestrated coherently by Thom, the facilitator, was extremely successful, although innovative and challenging, an opinion I hope my comrades share?

Respectfully submitted, AL BRILLIANT