It has been brought up at the People's Assembly, at the General Assembly, and in many other contexts that the General Assembly has been getting too rigid and "process" has been hurting it more and more rather than evolving into something which works better. For example, when it comes to a "temperature check" people have a way of saying that they agree, that they don't see it, or that they feel it will endanger the movement or cause them to leave the movement, but no way to distinctly say that they disagree or disapprove. This has lead to problems such as using the "I don't see it" sign as a "no" vote, which then tends to get misunderstood and cause arguments which can not be resolved, again, due to "process" stretching them out. We need to find better ways, but of course we need to work them out in ways which we can agree upon, and since the "process" gets in the way of that, this could take a while... or we can simply get it done. Many people have been saying we need a revolution in our government, yet here we are needing a revolution in our own movement and not making it happen. No time like the present to see if wee're up to it.
So, at the Peoples' Assembly, the topic came up of Facilitations holding a meeting at the same time (7:30pm) in a bar a few blocks away. I recall when Facilitations had proposed changing the General Assembly to 4 days a week and were met with many hard blocks, which were resolved by agreeing that on the remaining days we would hold the People's Assembly in the same place so that people looking for Occupy at that time would find us, any day of the week, and trying to move some of the various meetings to that location at that time on the off days also to augment the Peoples' Assembly so that the numbers would not die down, so we wondered why they were not adding to our numbers to attract more people and why they were holding their meeting in a bar where age restrictions would block some members of the 99% from legally attending. So we went there and asked them to move the Facilitations meeting to the West steps of city hall and explained why. Some came. Some did not. Those who came voted with the rest of us at the People's Assembly to hold a Facilitations meeting as PART OF the Peoples' Assembly, as it should have been in the first place since it was a sort of "extra homework" meeting which could have both used the extra input (in our opinions) and added to the Peoples' Assembly in the process. We realize that they were trying to get things done, and we agree that this is a good thing. It's what Facilitations is for, after all. So, we GOT THINGS DONE. The number of members attending the meeting at any one time varied, but no official decision was made with less than 5 present, although some good ideas were discussed with as little as 3 and we hope to go over some of them in the January 4th meeting,
It was decided unanimously that no Facilitations meeting will be valid in any place which is would implicitly exclude any demographic of the 99%, such as for example people who are not old enough to legally attend such a meeting in a bar. It was also unanimously decided that previous experience would NOT be required for a person to moderate a General Assembly. It was further decided that the General Assembly's Facilitation meeting for January 4th would take place at 5:30pm on the East steps of the City hall, and that some of us would come early (at least 5:20) so that someone could go to the bar where the other meeting on the 3rd was held in case any members of Facilitation are expecting the meeting there, and let them there know that they are welcome to join the Facilitation meeting on the West steps of the Los Angeles City Hall. (Note: Edited to correct an error. I had put East steps and as a result, the planned meeting turned into an informal gathering on the West steps as it was pointed out to me too late that I had a typographical error. I would still like to encourage Facilitations to consider following our lead and trying something different, but I also am thankful that there are dedicated people who keep doing their best.)
We also decided unanimously that it would be best to move the General Assembly, and the Peoples' Assembly, to a location which also we agreed upon, on the corner just south of where they are held now, across the street to the south, starting with people in sight of the current location so that people arriving at either location can see each other, but it was agreed that this should be discussed at the General Assembly's Facilitations meeting on January 4th, on the East steps of City Hall, and that we should also discuss having the Facilitations meetings at that location starting at 5:30pm, so that the public can participate in Facilitation if they wish, but keeping in mind that if too large of a crowd gathers, it may be best to split it into groups so that the Facilitations meeting can function without too much backgroups noise. The proposed location would be very conducive to such situations. (Note: At the time of this writing, the decision was only amongst those who were involved in that Facilitations meeting, and is not binding in any way. In other words... it is what we recommend, but the decision will have to be eventually proposed to and made by the General Assembly. In the mean time, anyone who has a committee or affinity group could try the location if they like and I personally would encourage as many meetings on the steps at the corner of 1st & Spring as possible, with at least one Occupy sign if that's not too much of an inconvenience, in order to show the people of Los Angeles that Occupy has not left, and in order to allow the general public... that is, the 99%... to join in on such meetings if they like.)
Does any of this sound a little chaotic? I certainly hope so, We are activists afterall, right? We're not just occupants. We are OCCUPY! We get things done. We make things happen. This is who we are and what we do. We represent the 99% because the 99% need to be represented and not everyone has the time, the energy, the courage, the selflessness, the stamina, and everything else it takes to be out there on the front lines defending basic human rights... but we must be sure never to function in such a way that it keeps them from trying if they want to. Too many people have left the movement because they felt that it was too hard to be heard. We must correct this problem if we are to teach our government to correct the same problem within itself. Perhaps starting the GA a little earlier would be better... or starting the People's Assembly whenever the Facilitations meeting ends (perhaps aiming for 6:30 or 6:45) with other meetings happening on the same block. In other words, take over a new city block, for the people... but this is something the people will have to decide. The decision can be made officially, or people can just start and let others decide whether to join in or not... but officially would probably be better. The main thing is to GET BACK THE VITALITY WE'VE BEEN LOSING AS A MOVEMENT and get back to getting things done. We need to grow the General Assembly and the People's Assembly, and bring our meetings back out into public spaces, so that the people can see we're still here and so a person can walk around and explore what meetings are where and what they're up to, like when we had the tents around City Hall. The mayor said he wanted to see Occupy 2.0, and he had the police steal and throw away people's homes and belongings to make it happen. Well, let's take the block that the Police Department is on and start OCCUPY 2012 instead of 2.0, and do it OUR OWN WAY, with autonomy and free speech and inclusion and diversity and solidarity and loud chants and teach-ins and plenty of action and excitement... and we'll be nice about the whole tent thing and only bring maybe a few for show durring the daytime, instead of leaving them all night.... for now... and maybe Occupy the Hood will get a few to join us when we get our numbers back, since they gotta move their tents in the daytime anyway. Okay... so this is all good as a blog, and I hope it is sufficient as a report on the Facilitations meeting that was held on the West steps of City Hall, january 3rd, 2012, but there will be details to sort out. We realize that there may be some disagreement, since we basically held a Facilitations meeting which invalidated the location of another Facilitations meeting which was already in progress, and we DO NOT wish to harm the solidartiy of the movement in any way... so let's have our disagreements, and talk about them, and work them out... lets find ways to make many things happen at once and not letting "the process" get in the way more than necessary to "facilitate" things. In other words... be ourselves and keep working on this stuff and stop acting like we've got it all worked out when that's not the case at all. We're problem solvers... not problem ignorers. For example, I just got a couple text messages from Alex about someone's house being foreclosed tomorrow at 937 w 60th street, and asking for help. Might that get in the way of what I was just talking about? Some of it... maybe... but we must adapt to such things as they come. We can not expect to bring about the change that is needed if we are so rigid as to not even be able to handle change in the first place. So... let's make this happen, to the best of our abilities... please.
Donald Arthur Kronos, Ph.D. - Actor & Activist