Category Archives: Spokes Council

Community Agreements

Hey library peeps, spring is upon us and I’m interested in finally nailing down a community agreement within our working group. We’ve danced around this for months now and I think we should finally be finished with it and agree on laying out our expectations of each other and what acceptable behavior in our working group looks like. Below is a copy of the agreement that recently passed Spokes Council. I think it’s a good template for us to work with.  As Scales recommended awhile ago, I’m posting this on the blog so that we can discuss and hammer it out transparently, not just behind the veil of email.

-Betsy

STATEMENT OF INTENTION UPON ENTERING THE SPACE
(in multiple languages)

I enter this space with an open mind, heart, and attitude.

I ask for and respect the consent, boundaries, and needs of those around me.

I support the empowerment of each person in order to subvert the histories and structures of oppression that marginalize and divide us.

I hold myself accountable to community decisions and will work for, care for, and defend our community.

If I violate community agreements, or act in a way that harms the community, I will remove myself from this physical space.

COMMUNITY AGREEMENTS
(a living document)

  • We amplify each other’s voices.
  • We commit to making spaces physically accessible to all.
  • We do not use drugs or alcohol inside this space.
  • We do not bring weapons inside this space.
  • We use all tents communally on a rotating schedule.
  • We accept only in-kind donations.
  • We get explicit consent before interacting physically or using others’ belongings.
  • We affirm that consent is not just the absence of a “no,” but the presence of a “yes.”
  • We will call the police or an ambulance in a serious situation only after careful consideration in discussion with any person harmed as it can put individuals and the community at risk.
  •  We respect everyone’s names, preferred gender pronouns, and expressed identities. We make no assumptions about someone’s race, gender or class identity based on their appearance.  We also understand that no one is required to share information about their identities.
  • We speak only for ourselves and commit to hearing each other and creating opportunities for all voices to be heard, especially those that have historically been marginalized or silenced.
  • We commit to ongoing awareness of our prejudices, privileges, and the structures of oppression that affect our personal experiences.

COMMITMENT TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY

We accept a shared responsibility in holding one another accountable to these agreements. If we feel that an agreement is not being respected we will express that concern without violence, judgment or assumption of intent by others. As a community, we commit to developing creative and transformative ways to address harm. In all cases where someone is harmed, we affirm the experience and decisions of the person harmed in guiding our responses and next steps, while allowing all parties involved to transform the cycles of abuse and violence.

If an individual disrespects community agreements we will collectively implement the 6-step de-escalation process, which may result in an individual being removed from the space.  We will work to coordinate with organizations that assist individuals who are overcoming addiction or who have committed abuse or violence.

Those who have committed harm in this space or who have been called out for harm in the past and whose presence limits the participation of others in this movement may need to leave until the harm has been addressed.

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Filed under Betsy, Process, Spokes Council, Working Group Meeting

The Library Operations Group

Tonight, the group pictured above (that will eventually become the Spokes Council) approved the People’s Library as an Operations Group. This didn’t happen at the General Assembly (GA) and it didn’t happen at the Spokes Council, because there isn’t a Spokes Council yet.  If this is confusing, you’re not alone, so read on for some clarification.

The continuing growth of Occupy Wall Street has resulted in our GA approving a proposal from the Structure Working Group to create a new body in addition to the GA. This body is called the Spokes Council. The Spokes Council is to be made up of Operations Groups and Caucuses. Other groups involved in the movement will be called Movement Groups.

Tonight was the second meeting of the group that is determining which groups are Operations Groups. This group that met tonight is not a GA and it’s not yet a Spokes Council. Because it sits in this indeterminate space between these two decision-making bodies and is tasked with the creation of a new body, it is acting with what I might call an extra-legal authority in order to create new structures. This has, understandably, resulted in a lot of confusion – and the meetings reflect this. For example, tonight the Structure Working Group withdrew themselves from consideration as an Operations Group. And during the meeting folks from facilitation enforced certain rules that apply to the Spokes Council, while stating that we were not yet the Spokes Council. At one point facilitation said that the meeting was a GA, to which the Direct Democracy working group replied “No, it’s not.” And it wasn’t a GA, nor was it spokes – hence some of the confusion.

So, what is an Operations Group? An Operations Group is a group that:

  • contributes to the logistical and financial operations of Occupy Wall Street on a consistent basis
  • is open and accessible for people to join
  • and can only exclude people for either repeatedly disrupting the group’s process or behaving in such a way that seriously violates the GA’s Principles of Solidarity

The current meetings that are being referred to casually as spokes meetings, are actually meetings tasked with determining which groups fit this narrow definition of Operations Group. Tonight, our Library was approved as a group that does meet this definition. The Archives Working Group, however was not. There was quite a bit of discussion about whether or not groups meet these criteria. There was some contention, for example, about whether Finance meets this definition because they can exclude people based on background checks and this could be seen to conflict with the third bullet point above. But this was, of course, a matter of interpretation and the counter argument was presented that they don’t exclude membership based on those background checks, but rather exclude individuals from playing certain roles based on them. Many other issues were brought up, and I don’t intend to erase those issues by not reporting them here. In the end Finance was also approved as an Operations Working Group.

I could write quite a bit about the different objections, confusions, tensions, structural questions, facilitation issues, and more that this process is bringing up, it’s a fascinating area. But for now, it’s enough to say that once the Spokes Council is formed and this process of determining group memberships is complete, the Library will be participating as an Operations Group. We will have a rotating spoke, a different person who speaks for the group at each meeting – and all library folks are invited and encouraged to attend and participate in the discussions and to volunteer to take on that role of being the spoke.

You can read more about the Spokes Council proposal on the Structure Working Group page here. And please post questions, both specific and general, several of us have now attended these meetings and are familiar with the process and should be able to give you some different perspectives.

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Filed under Michael, Operations Group, Spokes Council