Thursday, November 17, 2011

notes from General Assembly last night (Nov. 16)

Jason (facilitator): We are here to have an organized discussion. Facilitators are here to help us have an organized discussion. We try to be objective, not inject our opinions. This GA is your GA. There's not such a huge group tonight that every person couldn't potentially speak. We seek consensus, but settle for 90%. Agenda for tonight is: announcements, proposals, N17, PSU, etc.

Multiple people: We want to discuss our immediate survival needs before anything else.

Facilitators: OK, how about announcements, then discuss immediate survival needs?

Multiple people: No, discuss immediate survival needs before anything else.

Facilitators: OK.


Metal: Several of us have been getting kicked around by the police for the last 3 days [since the breakup of the Occupation]. Police rousted kids under the Hawthorne Bridge this morning. Tonight we're going to march to the Hawthorne Bridge and camp. Our Occupation camp was dispersed largely as a result of the problems resulting from the fact that we were taking care of the people otherwise left behind.

Alex: I've been living under a bridge with rats the size of my dog.

Guy: Tribal council made a decision this morning to occupy under the Hawthorne Bridge. Let's support it.

Will: I live in Dignity Village. Somebody from Occupy was just scouting out a field nearby there. There's also some other good land near where I live.

Guy: We need direct action.

Facilitator Lady: So to recap what Metal said, after this GA, people are marching to and occupying a space under the Hawthorne Bridge. There is also a Plan B, a fallback contingency plan, the details of which are not being revealed here.

Guy: I have a house you can help clean & stay in the whole winter. Talk to me or my wife Julianne. Join my Time Traveler Advice spoke.

Guy: We can occupy multiple places.

Guy: The people who are sleeping outside need numbers to keep from getting rousted.

Guy: A gal named Berry(?) went to Council. 100 people there agreed to support Occupy. 14 mayors worked together with Homeland Security to coordinate the recent Occupy evictions. Rocky Beaute Flat is being worked on to make it available to be occupied. We just need to survive a while longer until it's ready.

Facilitator Lady: Rocky Beaute Flat is at Fremont and 82nd, east side of Portland.

2 guys: That's too far away.

Guy: I represent the tribes. We support the Hawthorne Bridge occupation.

Dave: We can occupy 4 places at once. The peaceful nature of the movement is important.

Facilitator Lady: Who doesn't now have their needs addressed for tonight?

Facilitator guy: Those folks get together after the GA. Ok? Ok.

Guy: I'm homeless but for the movement to continue to make progress, let's make sure to talk about other stuff than our immediate needs.

Guy: There are three empty homes near Battleground that we can occupy.

Guy: There are people occupying under the Hawthorne Bridge, on both sides, some homeless and some not. The police are not kicking them out.

Guy: I have a bus and will help anybody move their stuff to the Hawthorne Bridge.

Guy: If we stay in small groups, we just homeless, just people sleeping in doorways. If we stick together, we're a movement.

Guy: The worst thing we can do is break into small groups. Stay together, there's strength in numbers.


Cameron, political intervention committee: The city claims to support us, but I disagree based on their actions. I've been arrested twice for exercising my first amendment rights. I'm running for mayor and I hope you all do too. Measure 26108, public campaign finance fund, was killed. Let's bring it back. Let's use mike check when people are disrupting GAs. Talk to me if you want to be involved in an action tomorrow for N17.

Heidi, solutions committee: We're preparing legislation to take to Salem on Dec. 5.

Madelyn, community needs: Bring donations to GAs.

Coffee committee: We're out of coffee.

Alex: Occupy Wall Street just held their largest ever GA. They put out a statement asking people wishing to risk arrest to do so by sitting peacefully. Stopping stock exchange tomorrow.


Facilitator Lady: Tomorrow, meet at 8:00 on the east side of the Steel Bridge. Meet at 10:00 on the east side of Waterfront Park (Ankeny Plaza). From there, Occupy the Banks.

J Monkey: If you want to stay dry and warm, talk to me. We're occupying residences [foreclosure-affected]. It's legit and legal.

Guy: It takes 100 signatures to get on the ballot. I'm looking for a gallery for First Thursday, Dec. 1.

Guy: Sunday at 3:00, meet here at Pioneer Square. Last Supper, live and direct.

Guy: If you occupy US Bank tomorrow, the media will tear you apart.

A-Camp Guy: A-Camp was asked to be here. We want to protect you. We try to be nonviolent. We will be on the front lines in any conflict. I remain anonymous.

Guy: Bike Brigade from this past Sunday will swarm the banks tomorrow.


Teresa(?): Media who cover art are very interested in Occupy art. Talk to me; they want to talk to you.

Guy: A guru who was about to be killed by an adversary once said: "Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

Guy: West went of Steel Bridge, 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, civil disobedience training.

Guy: I work in public education. I'm working on getting my teacher's union involved in Occupy.

Guy: Camping, occupying banks, etc. are all fine tactics. The most tactical thing we cam do is work together. So stop fooling around with each other and stop arguing.

Guy: We need to meet up in the afternoon or early evening and make a statement.

Guy: On Sunday night, somebody left a glove in my van.


Guy: Students and faculty walked out of the university, occupied someplace downtown for a while, had a good discussion, then occupied a City Hall space for a while and had another good discussion. 250 to 500 people involved. One arrest. No macings.

Guy: Where did the money donated to Occupy Portland go?


Guy: Basic rights and liberty necessitate a guarantee of a basic standard of living. We need a new social contract. We need land for all of us, a place we all can occupy. We want the movement to be the legal title owners of some piece of land.

Guy: We have wide international support. Yet some people say we need to evolve past the focus on homelessness. They don't understand that homelessness goes to the heart of the whole political point.

Lady: Let's acquire a commons to make this community movement sustainable, intentional, and permanent.

Lady Facilitator: Shall we have a soapbox discussion on safety issues for any reoccupation?


Joseph: There has been division within the movement. I have had problems with some people. But the cops were gonna beat both my head and theirs. Let's work together, talk, hug, love everyone. Those labeled "riff raff" and the others should love and respect each other.

Lady Facilitator: We go do different places after this meeting but we're here together now.

Mario: I was arrested Sunday. I'm suing Adams, the police, and the city in federal court on 1st Amendment grounds. Add your name to the lawsuit even if you left the Occupation voluntarily but especially if you were arrested.

Guy: Occupy malls during the holidays to reach out to shoppers.

Lady Facilitator: GA tomorrow at 7:00, here.

Lady: I roughly define violence as damaging a human life.

Guy: Homes Not Jails is occupying homes, preventing them from being foreclosed.

Guy: Y'know, they shot that kid in cold blood. Greed is a disease.

Guy: We marched around Chapman Square for 13 hours the other day. We need better spin control.

Guy: I'm going to Oakland soon to join the occupation there.

Guy: I contacted the police about the plans to occupy under the Hawthorne Bridge. The police responded, "There are shelters available. I cannot sanction or permit any illegal activity. But it's up to the officers on the ground."

Guy: Let's do an initiative to give co-ops ownership of foreclosed homes.

Guy: Make the GAs shorter.

Facilitator Lady: GA here tomorrow at 7:00.

Monday, November 14, 2011

16 recommendations for occupations

The Portland Occupation was shut down this weekend, with the mayor citing safety concerns. Although political considerations beyond those concerns clearly influenced the mayor's decision, we did experience difficulties that might be ameliorated in the future, in Portland and elsewhere, by following some of these recommendations.

1) Before setting up tents, draw lines on the ground to establish walking paths throughout the encampment. This can help mollify fire departments (the fire marshall wanted paths 36 inches wide) and improve intra-camp mobility.

2) Choose a sufficiently large space to accommodate all occupants who might show up. Take into account the size of the area's homeless population in calculating this. Consider setting up multiple occupations if no single space seems big enough.

3) Have tents available for the tentless -- at least large tents in which several people can sleep, but preferably small tents for individuals to allow for privacy.

4) Showers! Maybe composting toilets.

5) Sousveillance: Webcams throughout the camp with more webcams available for people to place inside tents. Establish an expectation that privacy will not necessarily be available outside tents, but will be available inside tents.

6) Active and intense (but not pushy) outreach toward all newcomers to the camp, to help find ways in which they will enjoy participating.

7) Start meetings for committees/working groups before the occupation, even those dealing with internal camp issues.

8) Chuck the whole "99%" thing. Identifying the movement or oneself with any particular group inevitably sets up an antagonistic dynamic. Instead, formulate slogans and arguments around the concepts of horizontal organization, non-competitiveness (gift economies), direct democracy, volunteering, and freedom.

9) Consider chucking the tactics of marching, chanting, and sign-waving after a space has been occupied. These tactics seem most appropriate when the entire society is built on irrational premises and no physical space is available for working within rational parameters. Under such circumstances, the best options available may involve disrupting the workings of the irrational system, and loudly calling attention to your grievances. After a space has been occupied, energies seem more profitably directed toward the camp -- toward the sociological prototype that we hope will be copied by the rest of society.

10) Encourage as much of the general population of the surrounding area as possible to attend and participate in the general assembly (GA) meetings, spokescouncils, and/or unfacilitated open forums. I am not clear about the necessity of having a "decision-making" body after an occupation has been established. The main decisions that our GAs made during the occupation seemed to involve putting statements on the Occupy Portland website with the comment that "This is an official statement of the General Assembly." Rather than focusing on gaining approval for proposals, our energies might be more profitably directed toward improving the processes by which the meetings are conducted. Let's examine the online system that Occupy Wall Street has launched for conducting their GAs, and investigate ways of conducting inter-Occupation meetings online. For meetings in meatspace, having a large screen in front and a public-address system seem very helpful.

11) Have WiFi covering the camp, and distribute portable Internet-connected devices to everyone.

12) Maximize cooperation with police, government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, etc.

13) Launch an online Social Register to which anyone can add their names, photos, and contact info.

14) Gardens, greenhouses, fish farms, etc.

15) Alternative energy devices.

16) Nametags!