Working Group GA – 27th March 2012
Location: outside Royal Opera Hall
Jonni – Everyone knows the hand signals. In the process group we decided to do a working group assembly as normal, try and limit that to an hour. Then have a discussion about certain things that have been happening at the moment. I know that’s not the usual way that things happen but I get the impression that a lot of people want to talk about these things. Can you raise your hand if you have some working group feedback? [Counts six] We shouldn’t be too pushed for time.
As far as I understand, proposals are not even been considered at working group assemblies. As facilitator, I’m happy to have these proposals read out as part of a wider discussion. I feel uncomfortable about considering them and testing them for consensus since they’ve only been around for a couple of days online.
Tammy – I agree with this on a process point issue but I’m not that this is a proposal that can wait, the Finsbury food issue. This is an extraordinary situation and I think we should make room for it.
Jonni – Shall we do the working group feedback now?
International Commission working group
Fanny – Main things we are working on at the moment, basically our purpose is to communicate what is happening in London and around the world. Right now we’re collecting information on what is going around the world and feeding this into a weekly newsletter that’s been working out really well. A couple of updates on online things that I’m not super familiar with but I’ve been told what to say.
Assemblies-only email list has been set up some time ago. It’s a noise-free list where assemblies only can post but there’s a good question remaining on who should be able to post on this, how should we use it, should it go to a consensus. This is something we will need to discuss at some point, as a working group we’ll bring it as a proposal.
Newswire is a platform where every assembly can post. It will be a category/blog on the new website. Centralised on takethesquare website. We’ll probably post the newsletter on this website once this is set up, then we’ll see what else we need to put on.
We’ve also collected information on international meetings, posted on groupspaces, keep your eyes open, especially for May.
The working group doesn’t meet regularly at the moment because we’re only a few, two or three people active.
Send an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll add you to that list.
Mike – Make sure we talk about how takethesquare will interact with us, get the information etc.
Vica – On the website there are different categories. Add a new category for online meetings?
EEE working group
Peter – People around this weekend will know we did the roving GA last Friday. We came here, had a little talk at Tate modern about BP’s sponsoring of Tate modern, then had discussions about Shell activities. Some of us went down and took part at the Leyton march on Saturday. We’re speaking to various NGOs and grassroots organisation, Climate Justice Collective, Greenpeace, about their actions and what they’re doing so we can see where we can fit in.
May 5th, don’t have any fixed plans yet. It’s No Tar Sands day. Europe is trying to decide what its position is going to be. Tar sands are hugely polluting in terms of CO2 emissions.
Towards end of June, Rio+20 conference. 20years ago countries met up in Rio and set up Kyoto protocol. This year it looks like the corporations are having the upper hand in that. We’re also looking at the possibility of having an Occupy participation in Rio, internationally at least.
We’re working closely with the corporations working group on Xstrata and Glencore, since we’re very interested in the activities of those companies. Jack will tell you a bit more about that.
International web-chat every Sunday, last 4-5 weeks now. Coordinate on climate actions across the Occupy movement. Talking to some people from OWS and other occupies in Europe. For climate change we know we have a very short period of time in which to make a difference, change our energy policies and so on. Of course these things are driven by fossil fuel extraction and energy companies that have huge lobbying powers.
We’re very interested in the concept of planetary boundaries. Various scientists have got together and said there are 9 kinds of planetary boundaries we need to not go over; we have gone over 3 of them already. Calling into question the whole idea of economic growth, you can have human wellbeing without growth.
EEE meet at Garfunkels’ 6pm on Wednesday and St Paul’s steps 4pm on Saturday.
Ana – I was talking to someone outside the info tent, told me about this new satellite technology that creates ion clouds, this will artificially create holes in the ozone layer, we have no idea what kind of impact ionizing the stratosphere will have.
Peter – We’ll have a look at that. We met someone who’s involved in the rickshaws in London. Apparently the rickshaw drivers are being hassled both by the police and taxi drivers, We’ve considered giving some support to this community. Looks like there’s a move to get them off the street in time for the Olympics because it makes us look like a third world country.
Fanny – Are you working with any of the counter-Olympics movement? A lot of the sponsors are BP etc.
Peter – A group of us went to the International Committee protesting about this. The Dow company is also sponsoring, bought Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster in India, they haven’t done anything about it yet.
Nafeesa – Blacklisting of the construction workers? This blacklist is still being used to stop people getting jobs at the Olympics.
Peter – Not sure this is one for EEE.
Nafeesa – Equity, I’d say yes.
Mike D – Fanny already brought up that the big problem we are facing, when we left St Paul’s the web presence reflected like we were still at St Paul’s.
Now it’s live and active. The idea is we’re going to have a separate space for each working group. Everything that’s going on at meetings or groupspaces will be going on this site. Eventually the idea is that occupylsx will be a redirect page, this was representative of our time at St Paul’s, now the broader movement of Occupy London has the new site.
The other big piece of this is to get rid of the Occupy London groupspaces as well, there’s no reason for this to exist if we can have all of our conversation on our website. Groupspaces gives the illusion that it’s an exclusive space, the new website won’t have that. Maybe people will be more careful of what they say on this platform. Gives us more ability to enforcer safer spaces. Beneficial in many ways.
Any suggestions, enhancements, if anyone sees anything wrong, there are very clear ways you can submit that to us. Hope everyone makes use of this.
I accept that a lot of people would like to be involved in discussing user experience /interface but when it comes to the actual coding and development, those are things going on an ongoing kind of basis. These are two very different ways to be involved in the interworkings of the site.
On the site itself, there’s a website development group that you can join. We do meet up from time to time but it’s informal. That’s generally organised through the group that’s on the site. If anyone’s interested, please join.
Vica has been deeply involved in what we’ve been working on as well. This is such a massively important conversation.
Vica – More generally about the working group assembly, I think we should give more importance to things that relate to all working groups. At some point we have to try and think of the website like we do of groupspaces, the official place where we do stuff. You can also have your personal account, start sharing photos and videos, links etc.
We urgently need some videos and photos of what’s been happening in the past months because we want to create some videos for May. Please start uploading them.
Liz – I still can’t get access to that site. I have e-mailed about it.
Jonni – Can you discuss this between yourselves later.
Vica – The activation code ends up in the spam so please check the spam, it should arrive almost immediately. If you want to get involved, I am involved in the user part of the website, how working groups interact with the website. Remit of internal communication. How working groups and individuals relate with online platforms. I will organise a meeting if people are interested in getting involved, I did set up one and no one came.
Claudine – What’s the reason we’re changing the website?
Mike – If I had to give one specific point, the main occupylsx site, it’s almost entirely representative of the press working group, all you see are the press releases. The idea is to bring everything, all the working groups and show that this is Occupy London.
Claudine – So it seems the issue here is not the website.
Mike – It was a technical limitation as well.
? – Do we have to register as a working group or an individual?
Mike – The idea is you register as an individual and then you join groups.
Vica – I have contacted every working group that I knew existed and met with a representative of this working group. If there’s a working group
? – I’ve been trying to register the democracy working group.
Vica – Can I suggest that we sort out individual issues later.
? – Is the real democracy group the same as the democracy group?
? – No, they’re different groups.
Peter – Real democracy working groups are splinters.
? – When you make the transfer, are you going to delete the old stuff?
Mike – As I understand it, groupspaces doesn’t archive anything, so once it’s in your e-mail box it’s deleted. We would shut down the ability to mass e-mail 300 people who are part of this list. The current website is part of the phase-in plan, we’ll merge in all the data to the new site. Everything that’s on the current site will be on the new site.
May planning and direct action
Vica – I’ll be giving dates and important events happening on those dates. At the moment, we’re not such a big group so building up to May we need to start engaging with our supporters and also with other groups. We’ve set a series of meetings, outreach teams and planning together.
This Saturday 4pm, there will be a May planning meeting. This for all working groups involved in May. Also a moment to invite all occupiers that used to be active that you think would be interested in getting involved in May.
Meeting is at Ye Olde London pub for now.
We’re also planning a meeting for next week, specifically for other activist groups, student groups, unions. Have a moment in which we bring together other groups. The idea is also that some of the things we plan for May involve autonomous actions. If there are other groups you are involved with, get in contact with Ronan, so we can get in touch with them as well. This will be either Wednesday or Thursday next week.
10th April – working group open day. An opportunity to show what each working group has been doing each month, get people involved. Start thinking of what kind of material you’re going to present. Could also have small teach-outs etc. There will also be some sort of general assembly. Probably will take place at the Friends’ house (Euston), 7pm I think.
15th April – Is our six-month anniversary. Coincides with the national conference. Some of us are definitely going to be in London and we’re planning to do something that will probably involve a general assembly but also a soft action. This will involve different groups autonomously doing a soft action on the 15th. Any autonomous group, get in contact with me or Fanny. You don’t have to tell us what you’re doing, just let us know so we can coordinate it.
21st-22nd April – Seeds for Change have booked 3 rooms in the Friends house for a skill-sharing weekend. They’re doing this for Occupy, so we’ll be organising it with them. This is another chance to invite other activists to get involved. Get in contact for this with either me or Sam.
Jonni – How do we get involved in direct action?
Vica – Just contact me or Fanny.
Peter – Question to everybody here. Can the working groups get back in touch with everyone who’s on their e-mail list? Can we do that now and tell them about what’s going on.
Vica – There will be some press releases specifically for these events. As soon as they come out, get it to your e-mail lists.
Ragnhild – I think it would be useful to have the dates already, so you don’t have to wait for the press releases. If we wait, people can’t plan. If you want to get some people involved, it helps to prepare in advance.
May 15th planning
Vica – First of all, Thursday, me, Spyro and Tina are going to Milan. International gathering to organise May. We’ll be bringing what we’re planning on do and feeding up on other plans. We’re working on flyers, posters, stickers at the moment. We’re doing this with outreach. What is planned for May:
1st May – An event that will try and pull in as many people as possible.
12th May – More educational event, maybe a kind of march.
15th May – Direct action.
Please start getting involved in the working groups now. As time goes on, we’ll be able to give less and less information to the general assembly.
15th May – We weren’t sure of the actions. We’ll be starting a poll on FB where we’ll be suggesting targets. Anyone else can suggest targets. Please invite your friends.
We’ve suspended the 15th May meetings but we’ll start a series of trainings. We don’t know each other too well from a point of view of direct action. Remember, direct actions can have very different forms, I’m sure you’ll find someone to get involved with.
This is starting next Wednesday, it will be announced.
James – I know that the 12th May meeting is tomorrow at LARC.
Jonni – How do people get in touch? Do you have an e-mail?
Vica – There is a space on the website for 15th May.
Welfare and wellbeing
Tony – We’ve been on site since the beginning of St Paul’s doing what we can. We’ve had a group meeting every week. More recently we’ve been trying to facilitate dialogue at Finsbury square that has been challenging, confusing and vexing. We’re now taking a break and wondering where to go next as a group. Discussing the psychological, psychosocial implications of the Finsbury square thing. The move that’s been mooting for separating. We met last night to get some sort of process reflexion on what that means in terms of the philosophy of Occupy.
Jonni – Regular meetings? How can people get involved?
Tony – email@example.com
Julie – Are you a psychotherapist?
Tony – Yeah, but we’re not part of the Tavistock group.
Julie – We’ve been questioning ourselves about Finsbury square. There are lots of mental health issues. What’s your take? Do you feel that people are more in danger or more safe at Finsbury square?
Tony – Looking at groupspaces, you get so many different versions of what life is like there, I guess it’s different for everybody there. As a community, I get the impression that it’s struggling. There’s also an identity crisis, it’s trying to define itself.
Vica – I received two different e-mail addresses for welfare. firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet Mondays 6:30 at Ye Olde London pub but you’re taking a break now until 16th April.
Aida – That’s right.
Tony – We also have a google group that it would be nice to bring over to the new website. There are 70- people on this group who have manifested an interested and/or done something on site.
Peter – What’s your view, to what extent people can be helped on site and to what extent they need to be referred onwards and the capacity of the welfare group to deal with issues on site?
Aida – We have a view on this but it needs discussion. Aren’t we going to discuss this later?
Tammy – I think we really need to do some serious fundraising. Meeting on Thursday at St Paul’s. I’ll be taking a few days off so this will not be happening, looks like there are no takers on this anyway. If anyone is interested in it, send me an e-mail and we’ll take it forward.
Liz – Direct point. Ronan and I started a fundraising group with similar results about two months ago.
? – If we’re trying to fundraise for a movement that seems to be actually, in my view, at a turning point or visually collapsing, I think we need to think about what we’re doing first and then sort things afterwards.
Natasha – We’ve been working on research. We have researched self-determination, a critique of the current parliamentary system, a draft on the influence of the Crown, last night we were going to talk different models of democracy in different countries including Iceland but we didn’t, talking about a response to the Finsbury statement.
Mondays 6:30 at Finsbury square
Jack – The EU are going to be investigating the merger between Glencore and Xstrata. Good news but a bit of a piss-off for that. We plan to still carry on with our day of action and events surrounding it.There is a subvertising possibility. We’re building a website.
Next meeting Thursday in the Barbican, mezzanine floor, 7pm
We will discuss what we can do about the day of action now that we’ve lost the wedding theme. Sticking with the theme of soil and dirt is an idea.
Tunnel vision is what we have at the moment. Majority of the group still wants to maintain the work and get it finished.
Claudine(?) – Mining in Congo. Not sure anyone cares.
Jack – Actually Glencore are notoriously shitty about their behaviour in the Congo. Anyone that has any information, even a link, please e-mail
We have a Dropbox with all the research we’ve done.
Fanny – Both for corporations and EEE. About Olympics, should it be a separate working group or can it be done in collaboration with one or the other?
Jack – I think it should be a separate project but that’s just my opinion.
Vica – I know that Pedro and I think Jonathan Lamb have already started working on it. It’s not an official working group yet but they’ve been talking about it on groupspaces.
Safer spaces w.g.
Julie – We met at Finsbury last Thursday and we’ll set up drug information services, getting in some charities and maybe NA or AA. We also considered the proposal at last Friday’s GA and decided the best thing to do was to work with Finsbury, GA.
Whiteboard, get everyone’s suggestions. That seemed to go down ok.
We also decided to look into restorative justice as a process to sort out issues. If anyone has any contacts that would be really helpful, get some expertise. It seems like a really good way of dealing with problems.
Next week we’ll have a look at the complaints process.
Meet Thursdays at 6:15 at Starbucks at Finsbury square.
We’d be open to changing the location.
Tammy – I must admit that I’m really rather torn on the whole topic of Finsbury. What I’m really interested to know is that while it’s great people will get information about addictions etc., even you guys are not having your meeting on the camp itself. So as far as safer spaces working group goes, what else are you guys doing to implement, enforce the SSP.
Jonni – We will touch on this later.
Julie – Some people don’t feel safe in Finsbury square, there have been issues. I don’t think we have a fixed position about where to meet. Enforcement, ok. There are different ways of looking at this really. We looked a bit at the tranquility team. Restorative justice is a process. Let’s say something that’s happened that is not a crime but is a breach of safer spaces.
Ana – Were having a meeting as I left to come here. Tranquility is discussing teaming up with safer spaces w.g. to ensure everybody feels safe. Come and volunteer. We meet every day at 5pm. We’ll sit down and discuss the events of the day and any issues tranquility has met that day. For example, some people were banned from St Paul’s or previously from Finsbury square but because partly of lack of communication, some of these people came back to Finsbury square that has caused a certain amount of friction, they came back and repeated the same mistakes.
What is a crime that needs to be immediately reported to the police and what can tranquility deal with internally, what can we do in terms of mediation. These are some of the things currently being discussed.
Peter – Was at that meeting and was impressed. Want to set up some basic rules that they want to enforce straight away. Whatever happens, split or not, I think it’s very important to get this done.
Jack – It would be great if groups at Finsbury square could come and tell us what’s going on. People just doing things has been part of this nightmare.
Ana – Direct point. Today was particularly awkward this location to get to. In terms of running a camp, tranquility needs to be there. People are working hard on the ground, that’s difficult to leave that.
Liz – My impression is that these are new working groups dealing primarily with Finsbury. We haven’t really determined how this is mapping out. Is there another economics group, EEE group?
Ana – No. In terms of feeding back. One thing I wanted to feed back that Jules had said, he felt that Finsbury was a hundred times safer than St Paul’s, didn’t feel the need to wear his knife vest.
Aida – I just wondered for the better movement of the whole Occupy for those who can’t attend this sort of meeting or send a representative, send a report in writing so that everyone at least knows what’s going on.
Liz – Simon has been very involved in Leyton Marsh.
11am Saturday on St Paul’s steps. One night in each burough. I did not attend the last meeting so don’t have much to report.
Vica – Just to emphasise the open day on 10th April would be great for bringing in communities.
Jonni – On Saturday the GA discussed strengths and weaknesses of the way the current system works.
John B. – We had a basic discussion around the proposals, the practice of improving process, practice in common. Whole stream of proposals in that form. Name, background, story/diagram and test.
4pm on Saturday meeting St Paul’s (post-GA)
? – Did you get an anonymous e-mail proposing to dissociate Finsbury square from Occupy?
John B. – There was an e-mail on groupspaces, what do you mean?
Ragnhild – I don’t think this relates to process.
Jonni – Everyone on groupspaces got it.
John B. – Is there a concern that needs to be investigated?
Tent City University
James – We’ve had a couple teach-outs recently, one that I was at, was quite good. One last Sunday, I wasn’t at, heard it went well. In terms of other events, we’re in a hiatus right now in terms of figuring out how to move forward. There are a few educational activities I know have been planned and happening in Finsbury square. These are not happening under the TCU banner. We don’t have a permanent location, to do teach-outs. The reality is we’re channeling a lot of energy into the buroughs walk and the actions in May.
The free uni courses continue, there’s a FB page and a wiki, there’s one going on as we speak, this continues as a larger process, a larger group of people disenchanted with current education system.
We are meeting next week, to make firmer decisions as to how to move forward as a working group.
Next Thursday April 5th, around 6-7pm, place to be determined. We’ll put it up on groupspaces or the new website.
Tina – What’s been happening with making TCU lecture videos more widely available?
James – We had a wordpress blog and we’re trying to get the videos on there. We retroactively e-mailed people who gave talks, got a limited response. We have what we have, 15-20 videos of talks. This would be good to document and share more, make widely available. We could use some tech help, how best to package that and disseminate more. That’s an action point to take back to the working group.
FDA working group/Leyton Marsh
Ana – Solidarity with community at Leyton Marsh who feel they are losing their green space due to a development of basketball pitch. The nearest train station is Clapton. Is behind the Leigh valley ice rink. People have been stopping lorries. A 60-year old lady managed to stop the lorries on her own all day. People thought they’d give her a hand.
#55 and #38 buses go down that road.
Fanny – I haven’t been down but I’ve heard incredibly inspiring things. It would be really good to go down for half an hour, mess up the cement and the day’s work is done.
Jonni – At the process meeting before this two proposals were brought. I volunteered to facilitate this meeting. I’m happy for the people who brought the proposals to read them out but I don’t feel comfortable testing them for consensus because they just came out today. Because of the strong emotions on this, I’d like to put a few rules to this discussion. Everybody limits what they say to two minutes. I’d like people to finish talking, not talk over them. Also no back and forths. After 20 minutes, we’ll see how everybody feels after that continue or not.
The people who brought the proposals I will give 4 minutes to introduce their proposals.
Corina – For me this sounds quite dictating. I’m not sure that’s actually a fair process.
Jonni – I acknowledge that. Is everybody happy?
[mix of up and down hands]
Tom – Some people don’t want to realise I may be going to jail for this movement. My bail conditions were not considered when meetings decided were organised at St Paul’s.
Jonni – I would like to spend 10 minutes having a general discussion, then one proposal, then 10 minutes, then another proposal.
Liz – If the proposal I intended to bring to this meeting has no possibility of being tested at this meeting, it is futile to raise.
Jonni – Let’s let you guys decide.
Akira – These proposals should be aired, so we have an idea of what’s been happening, what we’re talking about.
Liz – The proposal was e-mailed out to groupspaces this afternoon in an acknowledgement that working groups assemblies don’t generally put proposals of this sort up for consensus. However, I’m a member of the finance working group and was made aware that Finsbury square requested full funding. No finance requests have come in this week, there has been no finance FA this week. However, my proposal was that the finance team have more or less agreed to offer core funding. The total sum involved would be 390 pounds. 150 pounds for kitchen, 1-00 gas for the kitchen, 90 for sanitation, 50 for tech fuel/gas, don’t know quite what they run on. Petrol. That’s it, pure and simple. If it can’t reach consensus, it’s just information.
Anon – It’s 80 pounds for the gas, not 100. Also Limehouse asked for 100 pounds this week, I put it across in an e-mail, they asked me on Sunday night.
Jonni – Personally I think it’s a good idea, but as a facilitator I feel uncomfortable facilitating this decision, which means I’m blocking it but if everyone really wants to pass it, I’m happy to step down and have someone else facilitate this.
Julie – I’m concerned with not having a Finance GA. We have a regular meeting because we have regular expenses. I don’t think a Finance GA should be cancelled unless there’s a really good reason. I’d prefer if we have a finance meeting after this. But in this situation, if it’s happened, yes, I would support this proposal. Last week’s working group GA it was announced that there was going to be a finance group meeting today at 3pm. Did that happen?
Vica – I think you have to understand that there has been a big crisis the past few days. The person who blocked the proposal at that finance GA was attacked a few days after, I don’t think we need to have a death to stop a GA.
I don’t think it would be fair to test for consensus here. But I do think the working group could give the mandate to the finance group to do what it thinks best. If we put it to the assembly and it’s blocked, I don’t think it’s fair because we haven’t said a finance GA was happening.
Anon – Given that no one from Finsbury square is likely to block their own food and sanitation, I don’t see why we can’t turn over this moment and release some funds, core funds for the sites.
Jack – Removing all the context from this, if we were to treat all financial requests equally, they would have to submit in the proper way that every other one is.
Tammy – I agree there but the fact of the matter is, it’s not their fault that they were unable to follow the correct process because Finance didn’t meet.
Tom – Peter Dombi trying to ringfence thousands of pounds, I think it’s the same situation with one modifier. [???]
Corina – I’m rather confused. Last week we had a finance GA, there was a process that I wasn’t actually happy with. I think we need to come to some point where we have our systems very transparent so there’s no need for people to feel there are blinders put over their eyes. People at Finsbury square, Limehouse, they need something to eat. I think it’s very important for the movement for them to give them food. It’s not about egos and personalities. Egos need to be reigned in a bit, think about core values.
Julie – I think we need a democratic forum to decide the finance. Vica, fair enough, it’s been a difficult week. There are immediate needs at Finsbury square. We need to get our structures right. We need more accountability and transparency. Things before were based on trust.
Steve – RDWG discussed this issue, trying to think more strategically. We never discussed the money but we want to deescalate the situation, If we deny funds, we’ll make the situation a lot worse. We have to take a decision that takes things down from that. I suggest we make an emergency payment, it’s an emergency situation. Then getting down to the issues of getting the movement united again. We had our own proposals, saying basically have a commission to look at all the facts an
Jack – I think people are putting too much emotion in this. At St Paul’s money for food was not guaranteed, it encouraged people to make up for it in other ways. I think that saying it’s core funding it’s not, it’s funding and it’s an alternative to other situations. There are in London meals given out.
Fanny – I agree with your last point but I see it as part of the broader picture, how we should handle the situation in the long run. I don’t understand why people at Finsbury don’t do more skipping. I see this as the most civilised way of dealing with this without escalating a tense situation even more.
Jonni – We’ve talked about this for 10 minutes, we’ll give it another 10 minutes.
Vica – I think we could go on talking for hours about this. We have to decide how we’re going to decide. Either we have a finance GA after this one or we decide we give the mandate to the finance team. We have to make a decision
Ana – I fear that after 6 months of people relying in the kitchen, people have become institutionalised. I do believe this is core funding. People who are professional activists but don’t have alternative source of income, don’t sign on the dole, don’t have trust funds from mum and dad.
Xena – This issue about finance and allocation of funds, seems to me it’s stuck in a rut and perhaps the only work to move forward is to change the people all around. Also, it’s unfair to recruit youngsters to the movement and them leave them high and dry in the centre of London being threatened, hungry, cold, exploited, this is not an organisation I’d like to be associated with.
Nafeesa – We’re still going to be out of process if we have a finance GA now. Lots of people are talking about solidarity, I’d like to see those same people guarantee the safety of people in the finance group.
Natasha – Every time I’ve been to Finsbury square there have been people trying to get food. The reason I was Its core value is compassion. I feel it’s lacking here.
John B. – Threats to take Occupy London to court if they don’t get what they want. Steven Moore. I’m going to call the police and investigate fraud if we don’t get the money that is our money. Perhaps there should be a calculation. I’d be surprised if it’s not reversed, if Finsbury square doesn’t owe money. The discussions I’ve had with people there today, I’ve been sickened by lack of concern of people that have been attacked. I will block every step of giving Finsbury square money.
Tom – Factual clarification. When St Paul’s was there, money was donated for the residential occupation, not people’s projects for fucking May.
Tammy – I want to point out an observation I’ve made. I took myself down to Finsbury square, got on the ground, see what’s coming. Was there yesterday and today, while it’s fair to say they seem to be trying to enforce SSP I also have to play devils advocate, I noticed today that quite a few people are sitting knocking back the cider and the beer. In all fairness we have to ask the very real honest question, have the humility to admit it, do we want to give people food for their physical well-being or do we want to provide a situation where people can eat for free and then indulging in these harmful behaviours.
Steve – We could certainly recommend something as a course of action. I would ne in favour of recommending we give them the money, give ourselves another week to deal with the issues. We’re not going to solve the problem now.
Steve (OT) – Not giving them money might solve the problem. If you subsidise something, it has no pressure to be useful in any way.
Claudine – I think we need to take a big breath. We are having problems as a movement. How do we resolve those, are we going to be throwing stones at each other? We need a platform where we’ll have a proper discussion where we deem what Occupy is. This is what we need to be talking about, this is not inclusive. It’s very easy for someone who has a full tummy to say you shouldn’t have food. We have created this problem, we have to try and find solutions for it. At this moment, they haven’t got money for food, let’s get the food there.
Steve (OT) – I haven’t got a job or fund from my parents, don’t sign on the dole either. If Occupy is a charity that could use a bit of cash. If camping out qualifies as being part of Occupy?
Ana – People are doing things, not just camping, not just sitting around in a tent occupying. There are people trying to participate in working groups but it’s really difficult if you don’t have any income, you know it’s not easy. If it would make your life easier, you could come and get food, collect the skip sandwiches.
Aida – Take into consideration whether we create a community for which we feel responsible. This is a movement for which the necessity of food, hygiene are important. But not vulnerable people. There are no resources to contain this sort of environment. If there’s this provision that everyone can get involved, the situation will get worse not better.
Xena – When we first came in October last year, each group was doing its own fundraising. Someone went around and put a stop to that, saying all the funds have got to be handed in to the info tent. Occupy took away the power from your members, I suggest you give it back to them and stop acting like the 1%.
Anon – It’s not much of a foster parent who says I’ll take on a couple of foster children, then says, I’m completely out of my depth, I’ll starve them out. You invited these people, then there was too many of them, too few of you, you fled. Get back to the camp and occupy it. Or admit it that you did the wrong thing and give them the money.
Jonni – I’d like to see how people feel about this. How do people feel about Liz’s proposal. [some wavy hands] I would describe this temperature check as warm.
Tammy – I’d like to see Finsbury square knuckle down and make some changes.
Xena – You’re going to get hostility if peoples’ blood sugar is very low.
Vica – I think we have to accept that we’re in a moment where there’s a definite split in the way we think what Occupy is about. One side thinks camps are essential, the other that Occupy can operate without camps. This proposal comes about because camps have their own GAs but working groups were missing a space where they could decide things collectively.
[reads out her proposal]
“We acknowledge that:
1. the Occupy London General Assemblies held on Friday at 7pm and on Saturday at 2pm is the governing body of Occupy London.
2. Any statement or action undertaken under the name Occupy London must be endorsed by the Occupy London General Assembly. This includes the use of Occupy London banners in any event or action.
3. Each Occupy Camp has its own General Assembly as a governing body for it’s internal decisions.
4. Occupy London Working Groups can operate independently of camps.
5. Occupy London Working Groups will now have there own governing body to deal with issues specifically related to Working Groups. It will be called the Working Group GeneralAssembly.
6. Given the request of further autonomy from both Camps and Working Groups, we give a mandate to an Interim Strategy Working Group to provide a proposal on how our resources will be shared from now on. In particular access to funds, material resources and online platforms.”
Jonni – As facilitator of the meeting, I don’t feel comfortable testing it for consensus today. Any clarifying questions?
Aida – Can this go online for everybody to be involved?
Jack – Leaving aside my most fundamental disagreements at the moment, I think the word “camp” is not good enough, it should be based around “site”. Camp is temporary, site is permanent.
John B – What do you mean by governing body?
Vica – The body where decisions are made.
John B – What’s the effect of that?
Vica – At the moment, the working group assembly can’t make decisions. For example, the statement that came out, could have been discussed and agreed at a working group assembly or questions about how working groups relate between them.
Julie – It feels that we just got really polarised in this debate. I don’t feel like I’m for or against camps. I think you make some good points. I think sometimes we just don’t talk about things, it’s a bit frustrating. Set aside maybe a day to talk about things. I want us to put more time aside to talk about these things.
Steve – We want to have a commission to look at grievances that people have. Also have a proper constitution. Redefine the groups, how they relate to each other etc. At this point of crisis, we need to think about these more fundamental things. We do need to do that, not just partially but in a more fundamental way
Vica – Where this comes from is the opposite. The idea of autonomy. Camps have a certain autonomy whereas working groups do not, we only have the Occupy London general assembly for making decisions.
Xena – I think it’s high time we set up an independent commission to look into all these arguments. It seems to me that here we are just a few of us trying to make decisions and judgments that are not even here. We should be conducting this meeting at one of the sites.
Tammy – I’m somebody that believes camps are important actually. I think there’s something great to be said about reclaiming a public space, then packing it up and going again because it’s more powerful. Whether we have a camp for a week or two weeks or a residential site forever, there has to be a way of dealing with issues. We can’t have a non-violent movement, an Occupy political camp, not doing politics. I wish that next time we don’t have to talk about money, have people donate the things we need. The love of money is the root of this evil right now. And I love this [Vica's proposal], I think it’s great.
Jonni – I’d like to get a temperature check for carrying on for 5 more minutes, then ending. Four people in the stack, we’ll hear them, then call it a night.
Jack – The phrase “Occupy London” is changing in definition for a lot of people. I see “governing body” as being a hierarchy. Having site-specific general assemblies heading up to a general assembly is a hierarchy. I think this proposal would head us that way and that concerns me. I think we’ve been operating under that assumption for a while now.
Flammy – It’s really depressing turning up to GAs that end up talking about money and nothing about strategy. The people who generally care about the movement, come and attend. These are all issues (camps, no camps), that need a strategic solution.
John B. – I think the problem is one of power. This has tree-based thinking all the way through it. Strategy of networks, networks are all about a series of independent activity. The other week, Deleuze(?) described Occupy as a grid of activities that circulate different aspects between them. This is going in completely the wrong direction.
Julie – I think we need to get to resolution of these points. When are we going to have a finance meeting?
Vica – I think you need to give them some more time to solve their problems.
Julie – There’s a real need to have a finance meeting that looks at how we finance decisions, needs to be set up within the next month. On this proposal, is there a structures meeting still going on? The democracy group is also interested in looking at this.
Ana – Do we have a strategy working group? That would be really good to know about or get involved in. Regarding the suggestion of people donating things, the only thing that money is really, really needed for is paying someone to clean the portaloos.