Saturday 14 April 2012 – Process Development Meeting
Facilitator – Ben
Minute taker – Sara
Livestream – Obi
[Papers handed out which will be discussed throughout the meeting]
Ben – we have a proposed agenda of 3 parts. Part 1 – proposing stories. Part 2 – network of trust. Part 3 – common understanding on how we collect proposals for GAs and how this happens. I have copies of this if anyone wants one.
Julie – I have a clarification point: are you saying that with the circles of trust and proposed stories that this group needs to get consensus or is it a GA?
Ben – this is a process development meeting and we only have authority to come to agreements in this meeting.
John – they are story proposals. What we are proposing is a narrative. There are 2 stories: network of trust and proposing stories. What we are proposing is that these stories work as stories. We are trying to make good stories.
Julie – right, ok so they are not to go to a GA?
John – they may go to a GA
Julie – so its just for the purpose of the process development meeting. I have another proposal for the process development meeting. The RDWG has a proposal for Saturday. How do we get that to the Saturday GA?
Ben – this meeting is not for that. There is a Wednesday meeting to collect proposals for a GA. Then there is a GA panning meeting before each GA.
Julie – so, if we send the proposal on Tuesday, it will be considered on Wednesday and we can join in on the Skype meeting?
Ben – yes. Let’s clarify, this meeting’s agenda is dealing with the 3 points.
John – I emailed you this Julie. Check it when you get home. This meeting is about fashioning stories i.e. writing process. [John reminded people to look at the stories which have been sent out via email]
Natasha – what is the difference between a story and the way of doing things?
John – nothing
[Ben checks everyone understands the agenda – all agree they do]
[Ben then went through process]
[Ben suggests a time limit, and a finish time of 6pm which was put to the group. The group agreed 20 minutes for each item and a 5 minutes break at 5pm]
AGENDA ITEM 1 Proposals – Proposing Stories
Ben – is everyone familiar with this proposal?
Natasha – no
Ben – people who are unsure can watch and listen or interact. Perhaps we should take clarifications for people who do not understand. This is to help people understand what the proposal is. It is not a discussion about its merits.
Phil – the first example on the second page where it says ‘a more desirable outcome…’, I see you have described the background, but I am unclear whether you are defining your outcome and designing some tests, or is your outcome a series of tests? It would make sense to define the outcome and have a set of tests. Ok, it sounds like a grammatical thing.
[New people turn up, Ben reiterates the agenda and timings, and that we are currently taking clarifications only so that we are all clear about it]
Harj – thank you for including us, even though we arrived late!
Ben – do we want to include the grammar to make it clearer?
Phil – what about ‘alongside a series of tests’
Phil – wait, ‘with a series of tests’
Ben – what do people think to ‘with a series of tests’?
Jack – would it be worth coming up with a series of tests as to why there are objections?
Ben – does that not come in in the second line? You are already making a statement?
Jack – should that be written in too though?
Phil – you could then insert ‘it is tested to be objectionable’ I could see that being part of the first line though.
Julie – the very last line for method 2: I don’t know if that concurs with my understanding. Some proposals we try out and adopt i.e. SoA.
John – a dozen of people have contributed to this over several months. The thing about these proposals is that they are social – they are story proposals, not action or statement proposals. They are one off, the stories one isn’t. They are different kinds of proposals. This section is a bit of an essay. With regards to a story proposal, its not a belief or an action, its something people can follow or commit to i.e. group commits to a story. An action proposals would be let’s propose to buy chips. Is it a good thing to do? You may agree to do that activity. The proposing stories is committing to a story. When a proposal is tried out, it is just a suggestion, it’s about trying it out.
Julie – so it sounds like you are saying we should delete method 2? Maybe the story proposal needs to be clarified that it is a suggestion.
John – I will add story proposal to the text to make it clear.
[Ben checks whether everyone is happy to be recorded – group agreed]
Natasha – I still don’t understand, can you give an occupy example?
John – GA is a story. We go through a series of stories: proposals, testing for consensus, breakout groups etc. Oh, and the need to assemble. We could use human mike etc. There are a bunch of activities there which we can decide on.
Natasha – I don’t understand. I am a playwright, I create stories
John – its the same thing. You write a script and get a bunch of authors, tickets and chairs. You go through different drafts to get it right
Natasha – who is authoring the story?
John – that’s the whole point of the background bit. We are all authors [John reads the passage about the Poors.] We are breaking everything up into a collection of stories to test what works.
Jack – 2 points, it would be written by people. Also, people often conflate fiction with story. A fiction is separate. This has helped me understand it
Natasha – what’s the difference between what we are doing now?
Jack – we haven’t proposed a way to do this in a way we commonly understand. We are going back to basics
Julie – the GA and who is authoring it example, is helpful. We have a common practice of understanding where we agree how to operate Gas -having that clarity as to how you participate. Democracy hinges on clarity. It is like that. Its that clarity and that script which is important. Its a script which everyone can adhere to
Rosa – so to trial and error the story proposals, you don’t have to come to the GA to reach consensus? What’s the process? Do you have to go to GA to get consensus?
John – with respect to the GA we talked about how the GA got changed – do we take a new way of doing things to the GA? We asked around. In Spain, they just try out new ways of doing things. As soon as we decided to try a new process in December, things fell apart. Ever since then we have never done the GA in a new way. Its ok, but not very satisfactory. There is really still a question about how the GAs work. The experience in Spain is that the process group just tries new ways, which people go along with,otherwise you are stuck in an infinite loop. The easiest thing to do is just say that we are trying out new ways.
Jack – this is where the importance of recoding things comes into it. When the GAs fell apart we didn’t adequately record things. It coincided with the breakdown in analysis. We were left in a place where we weren’t analysing things adequately.
John – how GAs work is on wiki. What we are trying to do is work through those activities, which were pre-eviction, and refashion those stories.
[Ben explains what the flowchart sheets he handed out mean]
Ben – we have made a few changes to the language on the proposed stories sheet. The proposals could just end before method 2 starts. Are we in a position where we can test for consensus on this? This is position zero as to how we make proposals.
John – first lets test whether we think this could work? We are not agreeing to do this, just whether this is a good way – a common way to fashion the ‘rules’ of the game.
Natasha – I want to know what the rules are?
John – the rules of the game are in the text.
Natasha – is it rules to help create the rules?
Ben – if we want to cross a field, there are many different pathways. Some of us create a pathway and then we see how many people find that a sensible pathway. It’s not a rule.
John – its a game we can play
Natasha – I don’t know what I am agreeing to
Jack – the first part of the background bit is key to which the rest builds on. We have a lack of common understanding of our world. This proposal takes that point and proposes how to understand the world. It is framing how to frame other stories.
Natasha – when you frame something you are automatically giving it an angle. What is the angle?
John – its all written down here
Phil – my understanding is that we don’t have a rulebook for the board game, but this is a way to craft rules. We go about these steps to create a set of procedures to create the ‘rules’. These are one set of means to create amongst a group, a set of rules so that we know how to play the game. I like part 2 best because you chat to people about the game and how to create rules. You keep on adding and testing until you have a set of rules you feel you can use to play the game.
Julie – I like it because I see people go through this. I see this as a creative process. To me it is good to have an idea, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying that this is the only way.
Ben – when I first started looking at these sorts of things, it was difficult. But it does start to make sense. We are not trying to establish a rigid framework. This is just a way to see whether we can move forward and whether this is useful.
[Break for 5 mins]
Ben – we are not checking to formal consensus on this. Just to see objections
Rosa – I am uncomfortable with this proposal because it implies that there is some kind of authority given to this. It sets a dangerous precedent that people can go off, write a story without involving those it affects. It is also phrased in a complicated way.
Ben – any other objections?
John – in response to Rosa, so there are two objections there. The complicated one is taken into consideration in the actual proposal. The first objection you have is invalid because everyone authors.
Rosa – all for trying things out, but to test things out on people who it is going to affect is wrong
John – its invalid
Jack – I don’t think anyone has written down anywhere that the GA is a sovereignty. To me, we all day to day in our lives test people and ways of doing things. This is about coming to a way of commonly understanding testing scenarios.
Rosa – the issue is about explicit consent and accountability. To call it a proposal is morally wrong.
John – we talked about this at the beginning of the meeting
Rosa – pre-proposals stories would be accurate.
Ben – Rosa your objection has been logged. Let’s move on
AGENDA ITEM 2 – Network of Trust
Ben – Jack would like to introduce, and then we will take clarification points to check we all know what this means.
Jack – I have been practising it on part of our website without complaint for a while now i.e. sharing passwords on the website. To me its a proposal as to how we can rebuild trust. A tool to gage a common understanding of trust. Its much more practical than the other proposal and easier to understand.
Ben – hoping everyone has had a chance to look at it before this meeting. I will take clarifications
Julie – where does this network of trust come from?
John – it would be better if it was called ‘commit to story’ rather than ‘network of trust’ [quotes Robert De Niro film] When one drives to Wales you are trusting them not to crash the car.
Julie – if I was to apply this to my friends, that’s fine but is it for the process group? Or occupy?
John – its not for the GA, its simply a way for the group to form an agreement amongst themselves. Its a form saying I trust X to do Y, in that its ‘I trust Julie to behave in meetings’ etc. Its forming between a group of people. I trust Tina with the website password. This is abstracted from what we learned from the password scenario. Its a way of closing activity to trust. In Occupy a lot of people feel that there has been abuse. It is like an affinity group which is open and transparent, making sure you trust x to do y, for situations which may need it. The finance team is a network of trust – how we can join this group We can’t just have anybody elected
Harj – this is what people do anyway. They know what kind of opinion they will have. I will go to John because I know you will give me a logical breakdown. Its about formalising the process.
John – its about group trust. There needs to be a common practice. I can copy the emails of the 21st February and replace the word ‘password’ with the word ‘story’. That’s all it is.
Natasha – surely the only way to make sure they don’t break that trust is to make them accountable. This is the way the Freemasons organise themselves. Have to be accountable to be democratic.
John – the thing about the password is that the only secret is the password. Everyone knows the way in which we decide trust. You ask to have a password. The group just needs to decide whether they trust each other.
Ben – John just referred to something, under ‘story’ (3rd line down), this is discussed [reminds the group that we are only taking clarifications]
Jack – its about forming a practice where everyone does this explicitly. The reasons for bringing these proposals to the fore is that it is fostering a different mindset. They are proposals. A different way of writing the world. They are not rules or legislation. They are about an understanding
Rosa – on what basis is trust attributed to individuals – is it objective?
Ben – for me it started to make sense when I proposed it to myself in terms of do I trust X to do Y. Over a period of time I know that X can be trusted. We do that everyday in our lives. Does Phil come to meetings when he says he will? Yes, I can rely on him to go to a meeting. Its not about whether Phil is a trustworthy fellow or not. Its about whether they can be relied upon for a particular thing.
Harj – so its very objective
Rosa – so its not a open network of trust?
John – there is an important aspect to this which is missing. Say you have a new person rock up to OT. There needs to be a chance to prove themselves, to figure out whether they can be trusted – give them a go, get them involved before evaluating them to trust.
Rosa – network and accountability would be more necessary. Maybe this reflects a lack of trust in the process? Trust in process or trust in the individual.
Sanya – general feeling that I get is that this type of tendency to form inner circles leads to elitism and formation of leaderships, even though Occupy is clear that it is 99% inclusive. This goes against that agenda.
Jack – I find it hard to respond to you because it sounds like a projection of your own misgivings. We all do this anyway. Your use of inner circle is discursive. The implication that there is an inner circle is the implication that there is a WG forming. There was an implication that there is a form of elitism, but I don’t agree with that.
Julie – I can see that this is about trust and accountability. I can see this from finance i.e. handing over cash to people who must be trusted. However, I think Occupy is a democratic movement for democratic change, so we need to start thinking about ways for people to join in things. What would usually happen in democratic organisations is that if you don’t turn up to a meeting, you are unreliable. You need to be clear about what your responsibilities are. Positions of power and responsibility are removed. This kind of network of trust isn’t clear because no one knows what their responsibilities are. There should be clear rules about how people can join. This network of trust could naturally exclude people as have a very cut off group. It is really about clear responsibilities and how one can access these
Ben – is this an objection Julie?
[Nods head – objection logged]
Liz – I don’t want to make an objection. I just want to make a point about all of this. My understanding is that all previous ways of resolving these problems have failed. Here we are struggling in an embryonic situation to create some new forms and experiments to work with and see how they work, and before anything has happened, familiar words have cropped up i.e. accountability., responsibility, democracy. I find these words very totalitarian and old fashioned. Be cautious in being so sure that there are fault-lines in the situation. It is an attempt to push our way through new ways and methods of coming to a place of real personal autonomy and true democracy. I welcome these experiments, without too many criticisms before we have tried them out.
John – abuse comes from deciding things in private. It could be that the way the decision is made is one of procedure. Are they good with numbers? Can they write? If not, they can’t take the minutes etc. We need some kind of qualification here. It could be made public what the qualification is. It could be dangerous in the sense that cliques could form about liking a person. So the missing thing here is that it is that consensus is achieved in private. We need to add a reasonable consideration which is published. When dealing with Safer Spaces, Tina publishes a decision in public because of x,y,z. It is an agreed way of deciding in a particular case.
Ben – just to recap, we have one objection from Julie on this. We are now engaged in what we are proposing. We are fashioning stuff. This meeting was advertised and everyone was welcome
Julie – Tina is a good example, we need to have a qualification. She is qualified to make a decision on SS. But we need greater clarity as to how they are chosen. In a democracy, you are usually voted into a position. In the Spanish system you can become a delegate, a bit like on our finance resolution, you have a rep representing a group. Identify the skills, the task and then get chosen. I don’t feel like democracy has completely failed. There are many practices which I feel have done worse. I want us to build upon democracy.
Natasha – we have a heritage. Democracy doesn’t work because of the bankers – there was a time after WW2 where we had the welfare state. Here democracy worked.
[Some members from group display disagreement]
Jack – we are never going to remove these kind of processes from human interaction. Me and Sara have a deeper understanding of trust between us than many people here. This is just about creating one way where people can use trust as a useful tool.
John – were there any other objections?
[Objections: Julie, Sanya, Natasha and Rosa.]
AGENDA ITEM 3 – how proposals get to GA.
Ben – this is about how we can bring proposals to GAs. Just to confirm that there is a Skype meeting just for gathering proposals at 8pm on Wednesday. So, we are looking for clarifications.
Julie – it doesn’t say that there is a Skype meeting at 8 and how to join. What do I do?
Phil – we have the proposals registered on the website, people upload these, we collect these over the week and then contact the proposers to tell them how to get on Skype for the meeting.
Ben – this bit of paper I printed from the piratepad may not be useful because it is very draft.
[Paper shown to group]
Jack – this is a collection meeting and nothing more. We were not talking about the clarity or merits of the proposal. Its just a collection service. Its a good way of discussing whether other proposals have come up at all.
Julie – can people join in on this piratedpad?
Ben – yes, what happens with Skype is that someone usually starts a piratepad.
Julie – could do with some clarity as to why some proposals get to GAs and why others don’t. When we get proposals from WGs they aren’t as contentious. When we get non-WG proposals quite often they represent a minority view and they can be quite polarising. Is it good to get polarising proposals?
Liz – it is encouraging to get them to go to a WG. We don’t have a common practice. I agree that they will be better once they have gone through a WG, but its not fair to eliminate minority views. It is not the job of a process group to decide whether a proposal is contentious. We see what a GA does with the proposal. All we do is get clarity from the proposer if it doesn’t make sense and how we can fairly represent it to the GA. The global Woman’s Strike wrote one which was contentious so it went through a WG.
Ben – we are working to publish a practice for how we deal with proposals in the interests of transparency and inclusivity. We have one piece of practice i.e. collect proposals. We meet on Wednesday to check we are all clear on what we have. We then schedule them in. On a Wednesday we should know what proposals are going to a Friday and Saturday GA. This will then go to the GA planners who turn up before the GA so everyone knows where we stand
Sanya – it coincides with 8pm GA at FS, so can we change the time?
Rosa – is it necessary to have the Skype meeting to discuss this?
Ben – you are misunderstanding what the meeting is. It is not deciding on merits of a proposal, it is just to see what we have and what GA they go to.
John – the purpose was to book ahead proposals for the GA so that the GA planning facilitators could see what is coming up. This helped the facilitator. [John reads aloud from GA page on website]. It just a matter of gathering proposals. We do it online because of travel cost issues which are very difficult for everyone. People can join in on the Skype, but its just a routine admin thing.
Rosa – a lot of people are making sacrifices. To say that I can’t afford to come in makes no difference to people who don’t have internet access. Maybe we should have a face to face and record things for people who don’t go?
Jack – hard to get online? Email and Skype is just as inclusive as anything else. It was a more feasible solution for those who bothered to come/show interest in the meetings. People have found their way to the meeting without any problems. Just ping the group an email and they can help you get online.
Phil – 8 people regularly log on for this meeting from all over the country. Other people can also log on. If the question is for FS specifically, collect the individuals who want to log on and get a laptop and go somewhere where you can get wifi.
Rosa – but that relies on us being able to access the internet – not everywhere is open all the time
Sophia – go to Barbican
Ben – objection to Skype group meeting by Rosa?
Ben – people call in
Rosa – so that relies on being called
[Ben – listed the regulars and said everyone can call these people to get on skype]
Ben – this process is currently working very well. We will of course keep testing this. Are people content that we keep doing this and publicise it?
[no objections now – Jack gives details to the group]
Rosa – can we make it 6pm instead of 8pm?
Liz and Ben – can’t make that.
[Ben double checks for agreement on keeping the meeting and time. Rosa is a stand aside, but everyone else agrees]