GA 7/7/12 – Washington Park
About 45 people
SHORT SUMMARY – A well attended, long, good-spirited GA, with lots of signs and chairs, and no sign of DGS or police harassment. No WG proposals, but good reports from the National Gathering, many WG reports and lots of other business.
Colin and Jess facilitated, Kathy took minutes, Mary on stack and Cookie on vibes and cop-watching. (Also there were a few legal observers and others on the edges watching out.)
Colin reported on the last time GA was in the park – DGS came and said we couldn’t have signs or chairs – OA refused to remove them, DGS returned with a golf cart to take them, and people protected them by sitting in them or wearing them, etc. DGS left. Now we are back with a lot more signs and chairs and people. No sign of DGS and the cops drove by once but didn’t stop.
There were 3 people for whom this was their first GA – Josh, Sue and Angelina – So Jess explained the process and hand signs.
Reports from NatGat (Occupy National Gathering in Philly) - NatGat was endorsed by more than 100 GA’s, and about 14 OA people attended last week and had a very positive experience. Several of them reported back:
Leslie – It was wonderful and we all experienced different things. There was a great MOP (Money out of Politics) workshop, with focus on the voter bloc process, also a good workshop on incorporating ritual into actions. The visioning process was important in terms of getting people thinking about the big picture. Seattle had a good report on their extensive outreach, which is helping them grow. Atlanta starts conversations on subways.
Dan M. – It was a good look at where the movement’s come from – there were many main organizers from Occupys across the country, and great networking. Many people are working on the same issues, though environmental issues tend to be more local, which makes sense. The student movement is large and growing. People know about OA, especially the tent lifting. It’s called “pulling an Albany” and it happened at Nat Gat when the police attacked, and they beat the only person of color who was holding the tent. Dan and Jess got beaten by the cops themselves when they were up against lines of cops trying to push the crowd with their batons – there was nowhere to go and they got hit a bunch of times but not seriously hurt.
Tom – It was sensory bombardment. Great networking, got to talk to people like Matt Taibbi and Ray Lewis, and various progressive candidates. The visioning process started in groups of 3, then groups of 9, ranking the visions by how many people agreed or said the same thing (and it was interesting to try to decide whether two differently-worded visions were the same or not), then in larger groups. There wasn’t enough time to bring it to the whole group though so the results should be posted online. Nevile was making occutents people could go in and they were scurrying around.
Jess – The Philly Friends Meeting was great to let us stay there and camp in the parking lot. But there were a lot of gov’t black SUVs and choppers harassing us. Great networking, great vets presence.
Alice – The march was wonderful. The visioning showed a strong need for coalition-building.
Caucus and Working Group Reports:
LGBT Caucus – Eddie – Had a good vigil to protest recent hate crimes.
Socialist WG – Dan K. – We are meeting tomorrow at 7pm at OA indoor space.
Facilitation WG – Dan K. – Met today. We need more facilitators and are having a training for that purpose 2pm next Saturday.
Education – Mark S. – There is a teach-in Monday on CSAs and Occupy Farms, with Michael Rice of Nine Mile Farm. It is at 7pm at the indoor space and will talk about how Occupy can organize a farm network. There will be a teach-in on the new trade agreement, but it’s not scheduled yet.
Grace - On Friday, July 20, Dan Hazen (sp?) will speak on the human rights of psychiatric survivors and international law, at 7pm at the indoor space. Also there is a meeting on Friday August 10th on building a ramp to make the OA space accessible.
Money Out of Politics WG – Leslie – We are focusing on tactics such as the voter bloc process. We meet Thursdays after GA around 7:45 in the indoor space (except for July 19th when the meeting will be at Leslie’s.)
Healthcare for the 99% WG – Alice – We had a press conference at the Capitol when the Supreme Court decision on the healthcare law was announced – had good speakers and got tons of press. The law that was upheld leaves the role of for-profit insurance companies in place – we need Medicare for all. Leslie added that there is a CREDO online petition supporting Medicare for all.
Direct Action WG – Colin – We meet Wednesdays at 6:30 at the indoor space, and have student/anti-debt solidarity marches every Wednesday evening at 7:45. They started in solidarity with Quebec students and have broadened to be generally anti-austerity and focus on all the debt that is crippling people. There have been 4 marches so far, and the second one was attacked by the police with 4 arrests – video shows the arrests were unwarranted. Last time the police let us take the streets. Kathy suggested that when they say we can be in the streets, get it on video, in case they change their minds later in the evening. Eddie said the ACLU has a phone app for Droids (and maybe other phones) for monitoring the police.
PR and Outreach – Jess – PR is currently just her and Dan, so hasn’t had regular meetings, but they would love others to join – Grace said she was interested. Outreach meets Wednesdays at 6pm. After a great experience staffing the infotent at NatGat, Jess wants to start having mobile OA infotents at different events. Alice suggested reaching out to groups and neighborhoods before just showing up. There is interest in OA having a public access TV show, or in airing Democracy Now on this new public access channel (Channel 18). Anyone who is interested can contact Rev. Joyce Hartwell (email@example.com) or Dennis Karius (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see about getting trained.
Environmental WG – Mark S. – We are planning to resume our Monday evening meetings.
Eddie – Has been talking to Dan K., Joe L and Gail about starting a Safer Space/Human Growth WG, which would help support Occupy being a safe space for everyone, and would also deal with conflict resolution.
Working Group Proposals – NONE.
Ed B. – From Veterans for Peace – There are amazing things happening with veterans, such as a leading member of Vets for Peace has been authorized to speak to all the military chaplains about PTSD, suicides and related issues!
Tom E. – OA got several checks in the mail, which are at the Social Justice Center for someone to pick up.
Dan K – 2 proposals. 1) to be reimbursed for paying July rent – PASSED UNANIMOUSLY with gratitude for Dan doing this – most of Finance was in Philly when the rent was due.
2) Confetti Stage (a community theatre) approached him asking if OA could sponsor their production of Animal Farm by buying an ad in their program. PASSED with proviso that we have to find out how much $ this involves before giving final approval.
He went flyering for OA at the Delaware Ave street fair and people were pretty appreciative to get the flyers.
Grace – 1) proposal – wants approval to reach out to find out what is needed to make a ramp to make the indoor space accessible – PASSED
2) Announcement – next weekend – July 13th and 14th - is an annual event to support the rights of psychiatric survivors – they occupy the east side of the Capitol to demand things like an end to forced treatment. It starts Friday eve and continues on Saturday. Would love OA people to come support this.
Vicky – Has a copy of a NEW OCCUPY ALBANY PHOTO BOOK! – this looks fantastic – it is a collection of OA photos taken by a friend of Connie Houde’s, and this was an advance copy for the NYS Museum – there should be more copies available soon – so watch for this!
Tom – Has learned about how debtors prisons are still operating in the US – many people are locked up for not paying fines or probation fees, etc. Many are in private prisons which have a financial incentive to lock up lots of people. Many people were interested in working on this but there wasn’t much time to discuss it since the GA had already gone on so long. Hopefully we will come back to this.
Jan – There have been a lot of vicious attacks on her because she is well-known for her work with OA. She has lost some writing jobs as a result and would like people to support her, particularly by calling the Troy Record at 270-1201. (She wrote some articles there and one in particular about the asphalt plant in Renssleaer drew another article attacking her and saying her facts were wrong – such as her claim that DA Collins is involved with the plant, which was reported in Business Review – she wants people to call and say this is true and generally support her.)
Leslie – Announced several regional events: 1) July 21 – spokes council at Occupy Boston to support the Sept 17 actions at OWS. Newengland17@gmail.com. 2) July 29 – Burlington, VT – Occupy the Conference of New England Governors – to protest closed-door meetings of politicians, lobbyists, etc. Google “converge on the conference” or e-mail Miles Wilkerson – email@example.com. 3) Sept 1 – New Hampshire – to protest a powerline and potential Tar Sands pipeline. Google “hands across new hampshire” or go to Occupy New Hampshire’ website. 4) Sept 29-30 – Third Regional Gathering, in New Hampshire. 5) September 17 – OWS ANNIVERSARY ACTION – SHUT DOWN WALL ST!, with lead-up events and workshops on Sept 15-16. Contact Adam Chadwick of Occupy Brooklyn – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eddie – Is upset about Syria – just heard that his cousins’ friends died in a car bombing in Dumad(sp?) Is interested in there being working groups on participatory economics, human trafficking, dealing with right-wing hate rhetoric, and vacant lot gardening. (People noted that there is already an OA group – Oasis – working on radical gardening, and there are other groups such as Youth Organics, which do this.)
Anthony – Is buying a car to convert to electric – invites people to watch/participate/document it – 20 miles from Albany, some weekend this fall.
Elrick(sp?) – If you want experience in going door to door and otherwise working for progressive causes, both the Soares campaign and the Pat Fahey campaign (for Assembly) are looking for both volunteers and paid people. A rep was there from each of those campaigns to explain what they’re looking for.
Colin – There is a new novel by J.L. Morin, “Trading Dreams,” about a former Wall St trader who joins OWS – he handed out advance copies and if you want one, contact him.
Dan M. – reported on Occupy Farm in Albany (and Berkely), CA. They got evicted but now are returning to harvest the crops they planted.
Mark S. – Citizen Action is having an organizing training, Justice Works, the weekend of July 21-22 in Albany – there are scholarships available for OA – contact him or Mark Emanation if you’re interested. There will be many good speakers, including our own Colin, who is speaking on participatory economics. Mark would also like to have another OA visioning discussion, but it is not scheduled yet.