Handles budgetary and debt related issues! (Wednesdays at 5pm, Peace and Justice Center)
I want to get this proposal out there, which was discussed and consented to by the Occupy Santa Rosa Action Working Group on Tuesday night, and which I hope can be presented for approval at Saturday or Sunday’s GA ( I will be working tomorrow, and Sunday my mom will be in town and I rarely get to see her). I also wanted feedback from other folks in and around the local Occupy movement to see how we can execute this proposal with maximum success (assuming that people like the idea).
For OSR to re-establish a daily presence, at Courthouse Square, starting at the Rally for Teachers and Public Education on Saturday, February 25th. We will set up our “Info/Welcome Booth” every morning, perhaps 10 or 11am, and take it down every day, at 10pm at the latest (when public parks legally close). OSR Working Group and Affinity Group meetings should, when possible, meet at Courthouse Square, and we will hold our General Assemblies there. We will serve one meal a day, probably an early dinner. We may also serve coffee in the morning. We will not camp, nor will we maintain an overnight presence. This should keep us free of any needless conflicts with the police, and help us avoid developing another “Security Team.” The Info booth will be a place where people can check in, sign up for Working Groups, pick up flyers and information, basically all the things that the Info Booth used to do.
The reasoning behind this proposal are that:
A.) In my opinion (and many I’ve talked to would agree), one of the Occupy movement’s greatest strengths is our openness, our transparency, and the fact that we meet out doors where everyone can see us and join in. Our public assemblies and meetings become spectacles and make it so the community (and our opponents in the 1%) are constantly aware of our presence.
B.) Although OSR has developed a great organizing model and is still able to retain a very high number of participants (compared to the average activist group), we are not really recruiting new people (with the exception of the SRJC general assembly, which is much newer, and only meets outdoors so far). Returning to a constant outdoor presence, like we had for the first two months or so of Occupy Santa Rosa, would help us regain that sense of community that we lost when the police decided to repress our encampment, which I think is vital to our survival and growth as a movement.
In order to make this happen, we are going to need solid commitment from the entire movement to make this shift. Although some meetings will need to continue to take place inside, at places such as the PJC, the Unitarian church, and the Arlene Francis Center, I am hoping that the Working Groups will help us grow our public presence by holding their meetings at Courthouse Square (which we could rename, btw. Something cool like “Liberation Square” or “99% Square,” etc.).
Most of all, we are going to need folks to volunteer to staff the Info Booth, so our amazing comrade Jesse will not be stuck with it every single day (which he, incredibly, did for like two months at the encampment, and probably deserves a medal or something). We will also need to coordinate with Food Not Bombs (who would hopefully be helping with the daily meal, though I don’t believe they have yet made a formal decision on this yet) to make sure that there are volunteers to solicit donations, prepare food, and clean up after ourselves.
If you have questions about this proposal, please contact me by phone or email. Let me know if you would be able to present this proposal to the GA, and what decision is made. We have two weeks to make a decision, so it’s semi-urgent. Luckily, there aren’t a ton of logistical issues to take care of, besides making sure we have enough food and volunteers.
I sincerely hope we can move forward with this, as we approach Spring and a re-awakening of the Occupy movements across the nation.
There is No Progress WIthout Struggle- Frederick Douglass
i remember when we did the reoccupy on dec 13 we faced threats of arrest for serving food and coffee to the public without a permit…… have we found a way around that yet?
I agree with this direction!
I like warm, inside spaces as much as anyone, but I think we now need to turn ourselves “inside-out,” so to speak, make our meetings and work visible and accessible to all again, become inspiring, engaging and engage-able, again. Become broadly SUPPORT-ABLE again by the larger public. If we hope for a Spring blossoming of the movement, we need to un-hunkerdown.
“Staffing?” or “Occupying”? The latter is a better framing of what we want, I think. And within THAT, we would need to organize ourselves to maximize our presence in the Square.
I really like the idea, and am particularly delighted to hear about food being served. Mutual aid is so critical, and partic. now. I suggest we go back and look at some of the Reoccupy ideas we had around food: I recall we have food at a set time, and people sit and talk together, getting to know newcomers. One of the other ideas was to have everyone bring a bowl and a utensil and to wash their own.
Please folks, let’s remember when we get back outside to do effective listening, and not turn away those who are living with mental disabilities. Let’s try not to yell down people (or yell back at hecklers), but give those who have come into our space and are needing to talk, a bit of space. A fair bit of the time, if people feel heard, genuinely heard, then they will calm down. But if they are continuing to talk disruptively in a meeting, then perhaps a few of us can talk with them, and the meeting can shift to a different space in the Square.
I think 12 hours may be too much, also. Maggi’s concern that we build up is a good one. What if we initially staffed the info booth for at most four to 6 hours? We are stretched thin.
In terms of staffing, this cannot fall on Jesse again. So here’s a suggestion: how about if every working group took specific shifts (or a day) and made sure that people from that WG would be there? Spokes would be the ideal place to coordinate this schedule.
In terms of having meetings outside, I think it’s a fine idea. There are other realities, however, particularly for individuals with disabilities, chronic health issues, and who are just plan worn out. A fair number of us are already running on fumes — meeting outside on days when it’s even a bit chilly is going to sap the energy more quickly. Let’s try not to attach too much meaning on where people meet. We’ve done GAs outside continuously, and let’s congratulate ourselves on that. But if some have to meet inside in order to make other meetings, let’s be cognizant of that.
Dorothy Day WG is organizing another training on effective listening and being a good GA member. We will let you know when that will be. These are critical, particularly once we are outside again. I really urge folks to come to it.
Thanks for hearing me on this.
has ther been a means of signing up to operate the info booth? and is there some requirements rules training involved? i would hate to find it operated by a well meaning but undereducated person, or someone prone to pushing a personal agenda………..
I hate this idea! I like sitting in a real chair. I like meeting indoors. I like having a place to park my car. I like meeting where there is a bathroom. I like having a somewhat controlled environment that is not open to just anyone who wanders in…
BUT Carl is right. Shit. I truly am not that easily co-opted. I will return to sitting outside, being cold, having to pee, sitting in my uncomfortable little chair, driving around looking for a place to park… and I will not complain about this again.
I do have one serious concern though. Let’s not bite off more than we can chew. We might start out small and adjust, raise it up and adjust, raise it some more and adjust… I agree that we should be having our working group meetings there. Maybe not all of them. But I do want us to be realistic about what we can actually pull off and do something successful.
Thank you Carl for this excellent suggestion.
Tandava has a good point. One of the things OSR should be doing constantly is training. Do we even still have a Training WG? Tandava: are you available to help with this?
im available, but not really sure what id do. ive never operated an info booth, but would love to be educated. i think the issue will probably be addressed in the reoccupy working groups meetings. perhaps an info booth operation workshop could be planned and scheduled.
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