#OccupyDameStreet General Assembly 7pm 10th of November 2011
Facilitators: Monica & Sharon
1. Consensus & Decision making
2. Any Other Business
Intro to Occupy Dame Street, hand signals, working groups.
The Planning General Assembly (GA) took place on Monday 7th November which agreed the topics for the General Assemblies for the week. The GA agreed then to focus today on Consensus & Decision-making.
Document explaining Consensus was prepared by the Facilitators group and is now available on the Occupy Dame Street website (under Consensus section). Facilitators introduced the topic by reading from this document:
“What is consensus?
Consensus is a way of reaching decisions. It is a process which brings together the views of all members of a group but it does not mean that all have to agree on everything or abandon their personal values. Consensus decision-making requires that we share a common goal and are willing to work on issues together so that all concerns are addressed and we find a way forward. It is about creating an environment in which everybody feels welcome and safe to speak, get their views acknowledged and validated. In the consensus process, we share the responsibility for transforming our principles into meaningful change. Through the process, the group proposes amendments to the original proposals until everybody is comfortable with them. “
A way of guiding decisions, requires we share a common goal.
Shared responsibility for transforming our beliefs into meaningful change.
Does not mean unanimity -> principles to action
Not talking about things forever.
Not just what we do but how we do it.
Ensures that individuals are not over ruled
Respect the process, it is a process.
If you oppose you need to explain why and suggest a solution.
Points from discussion:
->GA is good, democratic voting is suggested.
->As a side effect to the consensus system it has protected us from a
revolutionary political party
->examples of decision – UN? Irish activists on boats? Israel?
->No point in UN because of veto.
->Democracy is not a single way of doing things. Democracy has to look
at the rights of minorities.
->90% rule has merits. Unanimity can be a bit silly (eg 1 person blocking 2000)
->Consensus doesn’t always work, but it generally makes a better
decision and better than a poor decision made quickly.
->Facilitators should be neutral
The formal system of consensus decision-making using proposals was explained, from the document:

After a proposal there can be clarifying questions. Then discussion of concerns, then amendments to the proposal to address the concerns. After amendments there is the call for general consensus on the amended proposal. There is a call for ‘stand asides’ similar to abstentions. There is a call for blocks. Blocks are normally based on principles of the group. If you need to get past a block you must allow for an amendment or more discussion or clarification. Those who block must give reasons and be willing to work on finding solutions.
Points from discussion:
->Should there be a percent in terms of blocks?
->Along the lines of the fundamental principles is there no problem with
a 1 person block?
->Who decides if it’s on the fundamental principles?
->It can be held up by smart asses (1 person)
->We wanted to create a space that citizens can contribute and feel
confidant that they will be heard without perception that they will
be used as a mandate for political.
-> Percent is exactly what the government does
->With consensus it will end up watered down.
->Who decides whose block is valid?
->Better to piss off 1 person than 2999
->We don’t have 1000′s of people yet, when we do then we can change.
-> We are 5 weeks old, give us time to grow.
->Who gives 2,999 people the right to decide for 1?
->One person must gather people around.
->Concerns about tyranny of minority
->What’s wrong with our system is not the electoral system… The
argument about people getting pissed off about being overruled. It
doesn’t matter because majority should decide.
->I have used the block once to stop a religious event. The block is
the one thing that empowers the individual. Its disrespectful to ODS
to even talk about it now.
->Its decisions that were taken quickly that got us where we are.
->We couldn’t get consensus to use consensus, sometimes we can take three weeks to make decisions.
->We did get consensus on using consensus.
->We voted on using consensus.
->SWP have a TD in Dun Laoghaire, why not use public assemblies to
decide when there are decisions to make in the Dail?
->Amendments and counter-proposals works and it doesn’t water down.
->If there’s consensus more people can buy in. Brings people together. It’s not 2 sides who is making the decisions? It’s the people
-> People/parties can go do whatever they want in a different place e.g. With banners
->The problem is not capitalism, there’s always a 1%, if there’s only
1 person then they don’t have a point if they cant get 1 more person.
->That 1 person even if they are only 1, you can’t say they’re wrong.
->When 1 person blocks, then it can get redrafted and full consensus.
->1 guy can be bought, society is about compromise.
->Like a jury, until you get the full 100% keep going through it.
->Pros and Cons for both sides.
->Elephant in the room, people don’t trust every one.
->There are groups that flood ours.
->SWP has tried to subvert this.
->Compromise is lazy.
->I agree you can be 1 and right. Some decisions you can take weeks
for. Some you can’t, eg. Garda coming to evict. Parties can only flood
if they have the numbers.
->Our consensus is working, it’s slow, If it comes to a point that we can’t move
forward then we can look at it. Its a sizeable minority each time
there’s a block (not one person)
->Movement is not hear to fix things over night, it might take 10
years. It won’t matter if decisions take a month. The movement is not
for Xmas. Don’t rush us.
->Working on things together we can take time if necessary.
Use of example of extending GA to 8.15pm as example of process.
Any Other Business
  1. Public going by on the street interested in other issues e.g banks, need to bring them in
  2. Mention of DCTU 2.5 hour workshop happened earlier that day. DCTU issue will be discussed at GA on Monday 14th November.
  3. Reflection week with series of conversations about ODS will start next week. Being hosted by outside group.
  4. Suggestion of 24 hour working week
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