#OccupyDameStreet General Assembly 6pm 14th of November 2011
Facilitators: Dave & Moira
1. Safer Space Policy
2. DCTU March
Brief Introductions were given to Occupy Dame Street and working groups. Consensus Decision Making process was explained and Hand Signals were introduced, as was Step Forward/Step Back policy. In addition attendees were reminded to be respectful, to speak through the process and not over each other, and asked to “Play the ball, and not the Player” when raising points.
1) Safer Space Policy
The following proposed Safer Space Policy was raised by Camp Residents and read out into the minutes, with discussion, approval and adoption to happen at the next evening General Assembly (6pm Tuesday 15th):
Occupy Dame Street Safer Space Policy
Occupy Dame Street asks you to be responsible in making this space a comfortable and positive one. We believe that everyone within this space should feel empowered to challenge aggressive and oppressive behaviour. Your actions have an effect on the collective environment and others around you. We ask that everyone reads and adheres to the following:
All decisions concerning Occupy Dame Street are made collectively at the General Assemblies – a forum for the equal participation of all.
There are various forms of inequality embedded within our society. As a community which seeks to build power and gain momentum through consensus-based decision-making and respectful social relations, we stand in opposition to the way in which our society privileges some people over others.
As part of a movement seeking progressive social change, we recognise the necessity to address and challenge the various forms of oppression that are a part of society’s current structures – rather than re-produce them.
Any form of discrimination based on actual or perceived race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, education, nationality, religion, ethnicity, physical size, shape or abilities will be challenged and people will be actively supported in challenging such behaviour. Occupy Dame Street is a space for peaceful and respectful dialogue.
Within the global Occupy movement, each individual is encouraged to represent themselves. However, anyone associated with any group that would explicitly seek to deny the voice and rights of other social groups will not be welcomed here, as their presence automatically makes the space exclusionary and unsafe for others – this applies particularly to racists, fascist and neo-nazi groups.
Occupy Dame Street endorses a policy of non-violent direct action. While recognising the right to self-defence, the camp will attempt wherever possible to use non-violent techniques to diffuse violent situations.
Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries. Be aware that you can’t know what people’s boundaries are without asking them. What’s comfortable for you may not be comfortable for others.
In the case of any physical or sexual harrassment or assault, we recognise the offended person’s full right to immediately inform whichever authorities and services they see fit or to have someone do so on their behalf.
No alcohol or drugs are to be consumed in this space – out of respect for the camp and the wider public. Working in any role on the camp while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be tolerated. Be aware that although you may be comfortable working under the influence of any such substances, others may not be comfortable with this.
Stress, fatigue and burnout are all potential risks in the day-to-day running of this camp. It is important to be aware of our own personal limits and respect and look out for those of others.
As a movement striving to organise non-hierarchically, it is crucial that we rotate working roles within the camp, share tasks, responsibilities and opportunities and ensure that everyone has the chance to participate fully – creatively, physically and intellectually.
We have a responsibility to store and use equipment safely and securely. This goes for the built structures on-site also. Everyone should feel entitled to raise concerns or seek assistance in relation to this.
We must recognise the limits to what this space can do or provide. Social issues such as homelessness or addiction should be seen in all their complexity, and we should acknowledge that we do not have the capacity to provide the full care and support that many in our society are deprived of.
Camping out in winter is not for everyone, nor does everyone have the time and resources to do so. Nonetheless this space is here as a platform for political discussion and organisation for everyone – everyone should feel they have a right to participate to whatever degree is possible for them in Occupy Dame Street.
2) DCTU March
At the start of this discussion the Facilitators proposed that as “Direct Response’ hand signals had been abused in the last two discussions on this subject, and that as essentially all responses during this discussion were some form of direct response to points already raised, that the “Direct Response” hand signal would not be used for this portion of the General Assembly. All persons wishing to speak would raise their hand in the normal fashion, their names would be noted by the facilitators, and they would be called upon in strict chronological order. This was approved by consensus.
The Facilitators also proposed that as there were already four separate proposals that had emerged from previous General Assemblies to be discussed that if consensus was not reached on one then the GA would move on to discuss the next proposal, rather then seeking amendments to the original proposal. This was approved by consensus.
The four proposals were read out to the General Assembly, and circulated amongst the crowd in hard copy form.
ODS participates in the march and:
- in the planning process, makes sure that the march has some of the ODS characteristics (e.g. human mic, carnival atmosphere, family march etc.)
- that there is a separate ODS “contingent” in the march (reason for that being that participation in the march does not mean that ODS becomes a part of anything)
- there is input from ODS about the demands of the march
that ODS does not take part in the march
People from ODS participate in the march but as individuals
ODS has its usual march on Sat, 26th Nov, on its usual terms
The Proposers of each Proposal were invited to read out their proposal. Nobody was willing to speak on behalf of Proposal #2, so the facilitators read this one out. Two amendments were proposed to the Proposals by their original proposers, as the minuted versions did not accurately reflect their intention.
Proposal #3 should have read: “People from ODS are free to attend the march as individuals and members of the march are welcome at ODS afterwards for an open forum”. This clarification was approved by consensus and all further discussion on Proposal #3 was based on this revised wording.
Proposal #4 should have to read: “ODS will have a march on Sat, 26th November, on its usual terms. This march will meet up with the DCTU march at some stage along the route, and then separate again before it reaches its final destination, the ODS contingent returning to Dame Street. Union marchers will be invited to Dame Street at the end of their march”. This clarification was approved by consensus and all further discussion on Proposal #4 was based on this revised wording.
Facilitators proposed to discuss the four proposals carried forward from the last General Assembly on this subject in the order they appeared in the minutes. This was approved by Consensus.
Proposal #1 was discussed for ninety minutes, and approximately 30 people spoke for and against each proposal, including members of DCTU, SIPTU, Camp Residents and members of the General Public.
As the discussion drew to a close, and before facilitators looked for consensus, the use of Objections/Stand Asides and Blocks and the difference between the two was explained once again.
As Proposal #1 had three separate components the facilitators proposed to seek consensus on the first part, and if that was reached then to seek consensus on the second and third components separately. Consensus was not reached on this, and so Proposal #1 was treated in its entirety. Facilitators then looked for consensus on the Proposal itself, first calling for Objections/Stand asides, and these were noted. Facilitators then called for Blocks, reminding the GA that if only a single Block or two were used the Facilitators would ask those blocking to stand forward and explain their objections to see if another route to consensus could be reached, but that if a significant number of blocks were used than the GA would move on to the next proposal. As a significant number of blocks were used consensus could not be reached, and so discussion moved on to the next proposal.
A Technical Point was raised suggesting that rather than addressing the Proposals in the order they appeared in the minutes, they should be addressed in order of decreasing participation. This was put to the GA and approved by consensus, and the GA then turned to address Proposal #4.
A number of speakers spoke for and against the Proposal with arguments echoing those in the discussion surrounding Proposal #1. At the end Facilitators looked for consensus on the Proposal, calling for Objections/Stand asides, and these were noted. Facilitators then called for Blocks, and as a significant number of blocks were used consensus could not be reached, and so discussion moved on to the next proposal.
Proposal #3, that “People from ODS are free to attend the march as individuals and members of the march are welcome at ODS afterwards for an open forum” was then discussed, with a small number of speakers raising points. At the end Facilitators looked for consensus on the Proposal, calling for Objections/Stand asides, and these were noted. Facilitators then called for Blocks, and none were used. Facilitators then looked for approvals and consensus was reached on this proposal.
As consensus had been reached on this proposal, Facilitators suggested that Proposal #2 not be addressed. Consensus was reached on this.
ODS thus officially adopted the following proposal on the subject of the DCTU march, that “People from ODS are free to attend the march as individuals and members of the march are welcome at ODS afterwards for an open forum”
3) Any Other Business
a) A request for ODS to march in Wednesday’s student protest was made. A proposal to hold this over for discussion on Tuesday’s 6pm GA was made, and this was approved by consensus.
b) The GA was informed that a new Treasurer was needed within the next 24 hours, and so interested parties were asked to come forward.
c) A person from Claiming our Future spoke briefly about their movement
d) Given the significant number of Blocks used by a core group of people at the GA, it was suggested that these people get involved in the Outreach working group so that their concerns could be addressed at the start of any future relationship with an external group, in the hope that this
would help consensus be reached in future discussions.
Action Items for Tuesday’s 6pm General Assembly
1) Discussion of Safer Space Policy
2) Discussion of proposal to march in Wednesday’s Student Protest
Please note the minutes posted on 15th November were slightly updated later on 15th November. The only change is that where the phrase “Members of ODS” appeared this has been changed to “People from ODS” as this is the wording that was used during the General Assembly.
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Statement#OccupyDameStreet is a people’s movement, which stands in solidarity with and is inspired by over 1,400 (Occupytogether.org 15/10/11) sister occupations in the evolving global movement initiated by the people of Iceland, Greece, Spain, and the Arab Spring. We use tactics of non-violence akin to scenes of peaceful resistance in Tahrir Square and Wall Street. This is a diverse people’s initiative, unaffiliated with any political parties. We are the 99%. We stand together against political and economic corruption. We stand for equality and social justice. This is a "leaderless resistance movement" with people of many nationalities, backgrounds, genders and political persuasions.