Category Archives: Article

Introduction to the General Assembly

From Getting to the Roots Issue Two

What is a General Assembly?

The General Assembly (GA) model has been adopted by most of the occupations as a way to discuss and make decisions. The GA is a horizontal, leader-less, open meeting. The GA is where decisions are made that affect the whole group and general discussions are held. There are no leaders nor a governing body of the GA – everyone’s voice is equal.

Working groups help things run more smoothly by figuring out specifics and taking care of day-to-day tasks. Examples of working groups are: food, media, events, direct action, etc. They have open membership, and all who have concerns or ideas related to a working group are encouraged to join it. Working groups would give a report-back at every GA so everyone knows what they’re up to and how to get involved.

Only decisions that affect the entire group need to be brought to the GA. Many projects can happen independent of the GA model. For example, if people wanted to issue a public media statement on behalf of the group, it would require GA approval. If someone wanted to write a pamphlet to distribute that was not on behalf of the group, it would not require GA approval.

The Agenda

An agenda is a list of topics to cover at a meeting. It is either compiled by a facilitator before a meeting or at the beginning of the GA. Here is an example of an agenda:

  1. Welcome, agenda overview, and explanation of GA process
  2. Working group report-backs
  3. Proposals (see below)
  4. Announcements

Roles

Facilitator (or MC)  moves the conversation along to stay on topic. They don’t get more space to express opinions. They remind people to respect each other. They assert the decided process into the discussions. In large assemblies, there may be several facilitators.

Stack keeper keeps a list of people who would like to speak, to make sure everyone has a chance to talk and people aren’t interrupting each other.

Note taker takes notes of announcements and decisions made during assembly.

Decision Making Process

Here are steps in a decision making process at a GA. They can be modified by the group at any time and continuously changed as need be.

  1. A proposal is presented by one person or a group. Sometimes a GA will require multiple people to present a proposal, to ensure that it’s already been discussed.
  2. Clarifying questions are raised by anyone to the presenters.
  3. “Straw poll.” The facilitator takes a show of people who approve  and disapprove of the proposal to determine whether further discussion is necessary. This is not an official vote. If the proposal has a lot of support, the group would skip steps 4 and 5.
  4. Concerns and Amendments. Here, if there are a lot people at the general assembly, the group could break up into smaller groups for 10-15 minutes to consolidate their concerns and questions and everyone has a chance to discuss the proposal. Someone from each small group would express the concerns and amendments to the GA.
  5. The proposal is presented again, with any changes discussed.
  6. Every participant votes to approve, disapprove, or stand-aside. 90% approval passes the proposal. If there is less than 90% approval, it doesn’t pass and can be brought up again at a later GA.

#Occupy Oakland

From Getting to the Roots Issue Two

800 Police Evict Oakland, Oscar Grant Plaza Retaken

Compiled from IndyMedia Sources

Oakland – Early in the morning of Tuesday, October 25th, a massive police presence began a coordinated raid on Occupy Oakland. Despite the erection of barricades, the site was cleared several hours later and 70 people were arrested. Occupy Oakland was occupying Oscar Grant Plaza, named after a man executed by the BART transit police in 2009.

That evening, hundreds of occupiers and their supporters gathered to attempt to retake the park. Police aggressively broke up crowds with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets, and some protesters responded by hurling projectiles and paint bombs while police broke up crowd.

One man, a 24-year old Iraq war veteran named Scott Olsen, was struck in the head with a tear gas canister. Protesters were repeatedly prevented from protecting the man by intentional flash grenades which was videotaped and posted online. Eventually he was carried out by friends. Olsen has a fractured skull and is currently hospitalized in stable but critical condition at Highland Hospital.

Occupy Oakland had announced that gatherings at 6pm at 14th and Broadway will continue, and that “We will do this everyday until we #RetakeThePlaza.”

The following day, a vigil for Olsen took place at 3pm in downtown Oakland. At 6pm massive crowds began showing up, upwards of 3000 people. The crowd surged towards Oscar Grant Plaza, and began tearing down the fence that had been erected by police around the park.

Once torn down, having reestablished the occupation, the occupiers held a belated general assembly, in which an Oakland general strike was proposed and passed with 96.9% support. The General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.

The date of the general strike is set for Wednesday, November 2nd. Since this announcement, social media has been abuzz with calls for a US-wide General Strike and a Global General Strike!

General Assemble to General Strike

Proposal Given to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly:

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

Stay tuned for much more information and see you next Wednesday.

#Occupy School

From Getting to the Roots Issue Two

More Money, More Problems, More School, More Debt

By K. Fed

From a young age we are told that the only way to become something in this world is by getting a “real education” i.e. going to university or college. For many, this period comes when we begin to question the very nature of our society, yet we are thrown full force into the realm of post-secondary prisons, locked in a perpetual wheel of due dates, exams, debt and headaches

In school, many of us have to take boring classes because they are required, study hours of useless information, only to forget it after the exam. Why do we waste our time? Is it to teach us discipline, study skills and a good work ethic, or to keep us exhausted and stuck in the cycle of study – drink – repeat

We are taught that going to university is the only way to make a decent wage, to participate and be an active member of society. Beyond the bonuses of taxes, tuition debt and long work weeks, what has university given us – a diploma and a faint prospect of a reputable job?

We have all heard that tuition rates keep going up, that an undergraduate, even a master ’s degree can’t get us a proper job. Every year students are graduating with no job prospects and are forced to work minimum wage jobs to pay back their loans. Every year more and more first year students enter the university system.

We are told by the administration that student tuition rates must go up to meet costs and deliver quality education; yet has the quality of our education really kept up with these necessary costs? Ontario has the worst student to teacher ratio in the country; huge class sizes, frequent disruptions and a serious lack of one on one time with our professors.

This is not an welcoming environment for engaging with your education.

When exam time strolls around we push our bodies to the limit, staying up on coffee and Adderall – scanning information bases for publications and ideas we can steal, (as long as we site our sources.) Relying more on the words that have been written by other people instead of our own ideas is effectively selling ourselves short. Yet we justify this by reaffirming that we are the elite, we are university students- we deserve to be here, because we work hard- if that doesn’t work, well than there’s always the excuse – everyone else is doing it.

What is your goal in your education? To become a unique individual; or to just fall in line, to compete, to fight for a spot among the best and the brightest. Shouldn’t you demand to learn about things that really interest you instead of being subjected to useless assignments and trivial statistics? After all your paying to be here.

If we are stuck working minimum wage jobs before, during and even after university, all just to pay off our debt is there really an added benefit to “higher education”? With debt, stress, alienation and blind obedience. Is university really a stepping stone or is it a mere reflection of a broken and passive system.