Join Neighborhood Assemblies

NYC GA: www.nycga.net
Brooklyn GA (Brooklyn Bridges): http://occupybk.org
Occupy Red Hook: occupybk.org/groups/organize-red-hook
Organize Bushwick: occupybk.org/groups/organize-bushwick
Occupy Sunset Park: occupybk.org/events/occupyocupar-sunset-park-general-assembly-22
Occupy Williamsburg: occupywilliamsburg.org
Take Back the Bronx: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-the-Bronx/122934344479337; occupythebronx.org
Queens GA: www.occupyqueens.net
Occupy Astoria: www.occupyastorialic.org
Occupy Staten Island: www.OccupyStatenIsland.org

 

Occupy Astoria/Long Island: Tuesdays, 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Location: Church of The Redeemer, 30-14 Crescent St – Astoria, Queens, New York 11102

Occupy Queens: Wednesdays

Location: Queens Pride House, 76-11 37th Ave., Suite 206 = Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Occupy Red Hook: Wednesdays, 7:15 PM – 9:00 PM, 370 Vanbrunt St – Brooklyn, New York 11231

Organize Bushwick: Thursdays, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM, The Loom, 1087 Flushing Ave – Brooklyn, New York 11237

Occupy Sunset Park: Saturdays, 10:00am-12:00pm, 411 46th Street – Brooklyn, NY 1120

Occupy Williamsburg: Saturdays, 2:00-4:00pm, Continental Army Plaza, 260 Roebling Street (Between 3rd St & 4th St) – Brooklyn, NY 11211

Occupy Staten Island: Saturdays, 1:00pm-3:00pm, St. George Ferry Terminal, 1 Bay Street – Staten Island, NY 10301

Take Back the Bronx (formerly Occupy the Bronx): Dates change, many Saturdays

Fluctuating:

Occupy Harlem: General Assemblies TBA

West Harlem General Assembly: General Assemblies TBA

Brooklyn Bridges (formerly Occupy Brooklyn): Check website for meetings.

 

A BIT OF “HOW TO”:

Effective facilitators unlock the power of the individual and show groups how to reach their desired goals. As facilitation skills improve within the group, people become more creative and productive, and are able to seize opportunities for dramatic gains in their struggle.

Developing a Meeting Agenda

Using a standard meeting template for all of your meetings can save you a lot of time and provide a much better documentation of your organization’s decision-making.

SAMPLE Meeting Topic: OYB Launch

Attendees: Jillian Buckley, Julien Harrison, Olivia Chitayat, Ronny Nunez, Rebecca Manski, Jon Wasserman etc…

Time/Date/Location: 

10 AM, March 1, 2008, Main Conference Room

Agenda

  • 10 minutes: What’s going well
  • 10 minutes: What needs improvement
  • 10 minutes: Open issues
  • 30 minutes: Discussion of the key issue of the week
  • 5 minutes: Wrap-up

Notes

  • If you are having a physical meeting, the ideal is to project this page on the wall and add to it as the meeting occurs.
  • This has two extremely positive effects
    • It ensures that all the meeting attendees agree on the notes
    • It eliminates the need for retyping notes later on

Action Items

  • As the meeting progresses, add any action items to this section to make sure they don’t get forgotten or dropped
  • During the wrap-up phase of the meeting, review the notes and add any additional action items that spring to mind
  • Each action item should specify the task, the person responsible, and the due date. Here is an example: “Finalize and publish list of new features to OYB website (Ramit Sethi, by 3/15/2008)”

 

Tips for Facilitators

From: Results Through Training, www.RTTWorks.com.

Creating the Environment:

  1. Post Group-related quotes, banners, posters, photos etc on the wall.
  2. Clip cartoons, newspaper articles on issues or themes and post them around the room.
  3. Use color to enliven the room: flip charts, posters, tent cards, etc.
  4. Learn to make simple line drawings and incorporate them into your visual aids (flip charts and slides).
  5. Bring toys into the room related to the topic being discussed. For example, if training on problem solving, bring in different types of puzzles and brain teasers.

Icebreaker Ideas:

  1. Have Group members write down 3 truths and 1 lie about themselves. Then have the rest of the Group guess which is the lie.
  2. Have Group members identify one thing others don’t know about them. Then have the group guess who’s who.
  3. Have each person identify several people on the Group who are most different from themselves. Then try to find 5 things in common with those “different” people.
  4. Have each person share three rules they live by. Then develop rules for the Group to live by.
  5. Write 3X5 cards with statements about Groups (ex: Good Groups never disagree). Distribute cards to Group members and have them swap until they hold a card they agree with. Swapping must be done silently, without knowing the card they will receive.

Involvement Tips:

  1. Use a Koosh Ball to get participation. The person with the Koosh has the floor. When they are finished speaking, they toss the Koosh to someone else. This allows the Group to direct the discussion and prevents interruptions.
  2. Have individuals write one question they want answered about the topic of the meeting on a 3×5 card. Then revisit the question at the end of the meeting and have their Group mates answer the questions.
  3. Have individuals write down their feelings about the Group on 3×5 cards. Then collect all cards and redistribute them. Have Group members read and explain the cards based on what they think the writer meant. This allows issues and concerns to be brought forward without fear of punishment.
  4. When brainstorming, have Group members write their ideas on post-it notes. Then have them post the notes on a wall or flip chart and cluster related notes.
  5. Use chips to control talkers. Each person receives 3-5 chips, each worth up to 1 minute of floor time. When you want to speak, you turn in a chip. When chips are gone, you cannot speak.
  6. Have each person draw their vision of success for the Group (pictures only – no words). Then have others explain the vision.
  7. Have each person complete this sentence: “One thing I need to understand on this Group is…” Then discuss the answers.

Meeting Facilitation Tips:

  1. Use and post an agenda. When discussion strays, use the agenda to bring the group back.
  2. Use a “Parking Lot or Bike Rack” flip chart – record side issues or those outside of the agenda on a flip chart. At the end of the meeting, determine when those issues will be addressed.
  3. When you want to lead the discussion, stand front and center in the room. When you want the Group to lead the discussion, sit or stand to the side of the room. Changing position sends cues to the Group and helps you maintain control.
  4. Capture minutes and decisions on flip charts during the meeting.
  5. Set ground rules as a Group and review at every meeting.

Conflict Management Tips:

  1. Have the Group identify the criteria they will use to make a decision. Then evaluate ideas against each criteria.
  2. Post each position on a flip chart, with two charts per idea (one pro and one con). Have participants silently post their ideas on the appropriate flip chart. Each idea must be no more than 5 words in length. Each person can spend no more than 1 minute at a flip chart.
  3. When two people disagree, ask each to reflect the opposite position using active listening. Continue reflecting until the other person agrees that they fully understand the position.
  4. Summarize the issues on which there is agreement and confirm to show progress and possibilities.
  5. When there appears to be agreement, confirm with each Group member.
  6. Look for non-verbal signs of dissent and address them openly.
  7. Divide Group into two groups. Assign each group either positive conflict behaviors or negative conflict behaviors and have them identify five items on their assigned list. Then have groups act out the behaviors on their list while the other group guesses. Debrief by developing a list of ground rules for conflict on the Group.
  8. Never take sides. Instead, suggest a way for the Group to overcome its roadblock.

Tips for Ending a Session:

  1. Ask for one thing each person learned in the session.
  2. Revisit action items and assignments and confirm due dates.
  3. Develop a game or quiz for the Group to see how many questions they can answer correctly about the meeting content. For example, if the meeting was a “get acquainted” meeting for a new Group, one question might be: “Which person on your Group has been to Graceland three times?”
  4. Ask each person to share one action they will take in the next week as a result of the Group session.
  5. Have each person draw a picture of something they learned in the meeting. Then have others guess what it is.

Questions for Getting Feedback on How You’re Doing:

  1. What is one thing I could do differently next time in my role as facilitator?
  2. What would you like me to be doing that I am not?
  3. What could I have done to make this meeting more productive?
  4. What should I be doing to make you (the Group) self-sufficient (not need me)?
  5. What has to happen for you to rate our meetings a “10?”

 

Handling Difficult Behaviors in Meetings

(From Lisa Fithian)

Behavior

 Why

 What to do

heckler aggressive, argumentative, gets satisfaction from needling others Don’t let him/her upset you.Try to find merit in one of his/her points; express your agreement, and then move on to something else.
overly-talkative These people usually fall into four categories

  • an “eager beaver”
  • a show-off
  • someone exceptionally well-informed and anxious to use it
  • just plain talkative
Wait until he/she takes a breath; then thank him/her and say something like “Lets hear from someone else.” Or say “That’s an interesting point… what do the rest of you think?”Try slowing the person down with a difficult questionIf he/she makes an obvious misstatement of facts, toss the comment back to the group and let them correct the person.In general, let the group take care of him/her as much as possible.Ask them to step back if needed
griper They may have a particular pet peeve, or may just gripe at random, for the sake of complaining. In some cases they may have a legitimate complaint. Point out that the purpose of the meeting is to find better ways to do things by constructive cooperation.In some cases, have a member of the group answer instead of you.
won’t talk This person may be:

  • bored
  • superior
  • timid, uncertain
Arouse interest by asking directly for his/her opinion. Ask for his/her view after indicating respect for his/her experience (but don’t overdo this!) Compliment or encourage him/her the first time he/she talks
personality clash between members Sometimes differences of opinion get too heated; other times, people just don’t get along. Compliment the individuals on their enthusiasm and participation, but ask them to focus on constructive solutions.Emphasize points they agree on.Toss out a question to the rest of the group, bringing them back into the discussion.
side conversations May be commenting on the discussion, or may be having a personal conversation. Don’t embarrass the person, but call him/her by name and ask an easy question. Or, call him/her by name, then restate the last opinion expressed or the last remark, and ask what he/she thinks.
definitely wrong This person may be confused or misinformed. If he/she is confused, say something like “Let me see if I understand you…” and tactfully restate the comment more clearly.If misinformed, thank him/her, then ask for another comment on the same subject. This permits a member of the group to do the correcting.

What is Consensus?

(From Lisa Fithian)

The latin root-word of “consensus” is consentir: con meaning “with” or “together with”, and sentire meaning ‘to think and feel” consentire effectively translates as “to think and feel together.” So what is consensus?

1) A decision-making process.  Consensus is an inclusive and participatory model of decision making that seeks to address the concerns and needs of an entire group, and synthesize these into the best possible solution. By using consensus, we engage in a co-operative approach to decision-making, and seek to build sustainable and mutually satisfying decisions through discussion, creativity, and compromise

2) Consensus is a non-coercive, egalitarian mode of communication. There are no singular leaders, and all are empowered to affect the decisions that affect them As we use consensus, we are deconstructing hierarchy and authority in our daily lives and interactions, and actively seeking to replace them with relationships of trust, equity, support, and strength. Consensus builds community and trust by involving and valuing all in the decision making process.

3) The process has several basic steps. First the groups formulates or accepts a proposal, This is followed by clarifying questions. Does everyone here understand what is being proposed. Next there are concerns. There is often discussion around concerns. The original proposal is then developed or modified through this process. Once all concerns appear to be addressed there is the final call so to speak. Are there any other major reservations, stand asides, blocks and if not then CONSENSUS – which is often accompanied by a twinkling of fingers – the “silent clap” in American Sign Language.

Consensus is a participatory process by which a group thinks and feels together en route to a decision.

WHAT’S WRONG with just voting? Conventional, majority rules models work with several negative behavioral patterns:

COMPETITIVE; voting is a win or lose model that pits one decision against the other rather than seeking to synthesize the two into a mutually satisfying decision. This mentality is very divisive, and can become aggressive – a win/lose model has the potential to disrupt an entire group.

QUANTITATIVE: as opposed to qualitative. Voting is a quick and more mindless procedure that tends to work with the easiest solution rather than seeking to create the best, most sustainable agreement

UNCOMPROMISING: In majority rules there is rarely room for compromise or amendment of an idea – an individual is forced to make a distinct, inflexible choice between two options. It is one or the other, support or oppose.

IMPERSONAL: voting does not take into account an individuals feelings needs, or desires. Majority rules models tend to dissociate the decision from everyday life, and the individual from the decision-making process

DISEMPOWERING: the-individual is left to the tyranny of the majority, and is left no empowering forum to address decisions that affect them. One individuals concerns, no matter how strong or relevant, can be completely disregarded.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF CONSENSUS DECISIONMAKING

The tradition of consensus decision-making employed by North American activists seems to go back originally to the Quakers, who in turn say they were inspired by Native American practices. Some civil rights and peace groups of the ’50s and ’60s used consensus decision-making, but much of the current interest emerged in the ’70s, largely, in reaction to some of the more macho leadership styles typical of the ’60s New Left. The feminist movement played the crucial role here. More elaborate forms of consensus decision-making, involving affinity groups, spokes councils and the like, first emerged within anti-nuclear groups like the Clamshell Alliance. These forms have proved so spectacularly effective in Seattle and elsewhere, and so libratory for those who operate within them, that most activists involved in direct action-notably within the globalization movement-see the forms in which their actions are organized as themselves the most promising existing models for what a truly democratic society might be like. Consensus also tends to hold a particular appeal to both anarchists and pacifists, since it is the form of decision-making most consistent with a society not based on compulsion. In fact, there is no known case of a stateless society which used majority voting as a form of decision-making; whether in Asia, Africa, or Amazonia, all developed one or another form of consensus.