General Assembly from October 5
General Assembly – First Unitarian Church
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The General Assembly (GA) began at 6:40 pm. Cassi, one of the GA facilitators, welcomed the large crowd, estimated at 300 (an actual count was being conducted during the Assembly) to the GA and summarized the evening’s 3 general goals:
1) Getting Started in the movement
2) The Occupy Pittsburgh “event” on October 15, 2011
3) What Needs to Happen to Move Forward
Cassi announced that more facilitators are welcome to help craft an agenda for the movement, assemblies, events, etc. going forward. She thanked the First Unitarian Church staff for allowing the Assembly to take place there. Rev. David Herndon, the minister at the church, welcomed everyone and said that on behalf of the church, he is thrilled with the Occupy movement and said to “go forth and Occupy!”
The first item of discussion concerned the Consensus Process; how decisions would be made during the GA. After some discussion about the best way to reach consensus, it was agreed that if approximately 75% of persons present voted ‘yes’ on a proposal presented, the proposal would pass. It is noted that dissent was voiced to the acceptance of the consensus process. However, after further discussion and alternative methods introduced, the decision was made to allow for additional suggestions and dissensions to be addressed through working groups, which will be assigned to work on specific aspects of the movement and actions related to it.
A list of principles related to non-violence was distributed at the meeting, and there was no consensus to accept the list as presented. It was decided that a working group would be created to work on official non-violence principles that will be accepted by the movement. Many expressed the importance of having endorsed principles of non-violence; others were in favor, but opposed to the language used.
Next item was the event to kick off the Occupy Pittsburgh movement. It was agreed that an event would take place on Saturday, October 15, 2011. The event would serve to kickoff the Occupy encampment and march/rally to take place on and after October 15, 2011. A number of proposals were presented for time and location to kickoff the movement, including near the Heinz History Center, where a Convergence for Social Justice event is taking place, the City County building, Market Square, Freedom Corner, or just a general Downtown location.
After much discussion about where best to have a group congregate to begin the movement/events, it was decided that the location working group would work on it, but anyone who is not in contact with the movement between today’s GA and October 15, 2011, should choose to meet at 10:00 am at one of these 3 locations: Freedom Corner, City-County building, or Market Square. If the base location has changed from any of these locations, members of the Occupy movement will be on hand at these locations at 10:00 am to direct people to the new location(s) where they can assemble/march/camp. Some reservations were expressed to using Market Square, since there is a possibility of entrapment by the police if too many people assembled there, and this is noted. The location and government relations working groups will work on finding suitable locations and obtaining permits, and this will be communicated to Occupy Pittsburgh members as the information is available, prior to or starting at 10:00 am on October 15 at each of the 3 designated locations.
The following working groups were presented during the GA:
– Facilitation group – general facilitation of the groups/movement/events
– Education group – work on education
– Medic group – Medics and other medical personnel
– Outreach/Media group – work on outreach to Occupy members, other groups to collaborate with, and media/press work
– Government Relations group – work on securing permits
– Camp group – work on ongoing encampment/logistics during the Occupation
– Art/Entertainment group – “fun group” – work on art/entertainment projects to enrich the movement
– Non-violence group – work on a set of adoptable non-violence principles
– Location group – work on possible locations to have events, rallies, marches, camps
– Action group – work on actions during the Occupation
– Safety group – work on safety issues
– Food group – coordinate food and beverages for the Occupation
– Statement group – work on developing a common ‘mission/demand statement’ for the Occupy Pittsburgh movement
– Law group – work on legal issues related to various activities of the Occupy movement
– Veterans group – war Veterans group
Note: Anyone is welcome to join any of the working groups, which will meet and develop proposals to be presented at each GA for approval by consensus.
The proposal was presented to accept the slate of working groups and was passed by group consensus.
It was mentioned that if anyone had ideas for additional working groups, please propose them at a future GA.
A Google Group will be set up for each working group and a “bottom-line” person or persons will coordinate activities and communications within the group. People present at the GA filled out cards with their contact information and which group (if any) they would like to participate in.
With the remaining time, members who were present voiced additional ideas and concerns. Someone mentioned that labor unions will join the movement – “all workers”; the importance of setting an example for others by boycotting big businesses and banks; the international breadth of the Occupy movement, including dissent for the US’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and resistance to the federal government’s foreign policies; contacting the United Steel Workers to gain involvement and the possibility of using their building as an Occupy site; the war on education and those fighting to improve it has been a long, drawn-out war; a Vietnam Veteran said that veterans are willing to speak the truth about wars and there is “nothing patriotic about them;” people involved in the Occupy movement need to educate themselves about their rights in this country and locally – be familiar with laws and rights of protestors (it was noted that the ACLU has been contacted by the Occupy Pittsburgh movement); that energy must be focused towards what will emerge once the corrupt systems fall.
Emphasis was made on making the movement multi-cultural, multi-identity, and multi-strategy – as inclusive as possible. The movement needs as many people of color, the poor, women, and LGBT to take part and be represented during the Occupation.
On a final note, a member stated that no matter how long it takes and whether or not one’s own issues are addressed, to stay in the movement. Do not get discouraged if your idea is not acted on right away. Stay involved!
The next GA will be communicated to Occupy members as soon as it is scheduled.
GA adjourned 8:23 pm.
Watch the assembly meeting here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/17700346