“Occupy Wall Street” comes the Boston

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Democracy is Messy –

                                                        Donald Rumsfeld

 On Tuesday Sept. 27, 2011 7:30 PM at the Parkman Bandstand aka the Gazebo, 600 people representing the 99% of the American people excluded from political and economic life met in a General Assembly to discuss how they could express solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

The First Occupy Boston General Assembly made an initial attempt to work on the principle of consensus. Ian had been to Occupy Wall Street and introduced some very simple logistical techniques. He noted that applause introduces delays in the proceedings. He introduced a visual signal of agreement. You simply put your arms straight up in the air, hands open and rotate your wrists back and forth. It was used somewhat and when it was, it seemed helpful. Ian also introduced a visual parallel to the parliamentary Point of Order. He called it “raising a point of process”. You simply put your hands together in a triangle. I couldn’t tell how much it was used because Ian presented it as something you do in front of your chest which people behind you can’t see. I propose that in future Assemblies  the point of process triangle be made over your head. There was also The People’s Microphone i.e. everybody close enough to hear the speaker repeats what s|he said. It was used enough that I could see it’s value in some situations, but the assembly realized it wasn’t working for a group of our size, so we voted to turn it off.

The assembly also realized the difficulty  of achieving consensus in a group of our size.  Ian proposed modified consensus which was adopted by Occupy Wall Street. If any person objects they can block. A block can be overridden by a specified substantial majority vote. OWS adopted 90% and OB did the same. What Ian did not mention in the proposal, but which he did to very good effect, is to call on the blocker(s) to see what the objection is and more importantly look for a settlement without going to an override vote.

The Assembly broke up in to working groups. I visited three – media, legal, and tactics. They were messy within their own contexts. They also had different assumptions about what the other groups were supposed to do. More mess. When the General Assembly reconvened, I was concerned that the mess was beyond repair. Discussion moved to where and what would be occupied. The where went rather smoothly – Dewey Square next to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The when was more contentious. Some people wanted sooner to strike while the iron is hot. Others wanted to have more time to prepare. The Assembly seemed to move towards sooner. One of the folks from Wall Street pointed out that they had work out a lot of things after they had taken up position. When the first assembly came to an end, because we weren’t ready to break the law just then, there was a significant majority  for sooner, but there were still a few blockers. The assembly decided to reconvene Wednesday night. I could not go, but I learned from Open Media Boston that it took a third General Assembly to reach modified consensus.

 

Ballerina on the Wall Street Bull: Occupy Wall Street.

[Wikimedia Foundation]

A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Ten)

[Wikimedia Foundation]

Connecting the dots.

Socialism Art Nature

NYC IndyMedia

OpenMediaBosto

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