- December 4th, 2012
- 7:30 PM
- Jacobi Church
Tammy: “We’re going to get started in just a few minutes. There are chairs arranged in a circle by group; please find the group you have affinity with and sit with them.”
Tammy: “Mic check!”
Everyone: “Mic check!”
Tammy: “Please sit down now! We’re going to get started, so — you don’t have to repeat me anymore. So if everyone can sit down and stop talking, that’d be awesome. Cool.
OK, so I’m going to let Tim take it.”
Tim: “Hi everyone; I’m Tim! I don’t know if you have all met me. I’ve been working here in St. Jacobi, and also in the Bay Ridge Kitchen. So, part of the purpose of this meeting is to talk about the purpose of this meeting. I know, it’s very meta. We’ve been trying to operate as a large organization, and there are a lot of parts of it, and we haven’t necessarily been harnessing our collective power. And so this meeting, as one community, is here to help us amplify our collective voice and to build that power and that interconnection so we can fight against the injustices that we’re seeing out in the field and in the political arena, and to highlight some of the problems that we’re all seeing everywhere, that we can work together with. We’re moving from a place of just triage and direct relief into some long-term rebuilding processes — a lot of people are talking about, what’s the next step?
“So we need to use this space to start talking about those next steps and how we can move forward, make decisions as a group. It’s not going to be perfect at first, but we’re hoping to use this meeting to talk about how we move forward, work together, empower each other, and empower each other to talk with and for Occupy Sandy.”
“We’ve got to do a lot with this meeting, so we’ll have to be strict with time. So if we don’t finish something in the allotted time we will have to cut it off a bit, but we’ll be moving some things to the end of the agenda, and stuff that we don’t hit we’ll make sure gets highlighted soon.”
Tammy: “So, at the last few meetings, we introduced some hand signals, but we realized we never talked about what consensus is. And the Occupy network is a network that is a consensus-based network. So, we’re going to talk about what that means before we move on.
George: “OK, so really quickly, consensus as I understand it. A consensus decision-making process is a process where everyone in a group comes together with common stakeholdership and try to find collective solutions. It’s not a process in which you bring an already-made proposal and present it and the group votes, but instead a process where a half-baked proposal shows up, and everyone gives their opinion and it gets shaped and changed and maybe looks entirely different. But in the end, what goes through is something that everyone can live with.
“In the consensus process we use, we also try to amplify voices that are generally marginalized in society at large, and instead of trying to push our voices, we come with open ears and open minds, and come and try to use deep listening — which is listening with the intent of having your own perspective changed.”
“So this is my understanding of the consensus process.
Tammy asks for anyone else to share what consensus means to them. “Anyone?”
Jonathan: “I haven’t been much involved with Occupy Wall Street or Sandy, so first of all I want to give props to you guys — thank you for that, because you actually do this. The consensus — I actually like how there is no proper consensus, because it’s just like different organizations and groups coming together with a general idea and purpose, and there is no one group or one person to see as a figurehead. So in that respect, I like it, but I think our general consensus of non-consensus should be a bit more general, if I may.”
Tammy will take one or two more comments.
Evan: “I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean — it’s not agreement. It’s — even if you don’t agree, you allow the decision to go forward. Just like unity is not solidarity. So consensus is not a unified decision, it’s a decision in solidarity.”
Tammy: “All right, and anyone else?”
Bre: “I just wanted to add to that, it’s something you can consent upon happening, but not necessarily what you agree with.”
Someone: “I’m a Quaker, and we call it ‘a sense of the meeting.’”
Tammy: “Great. We’ll stop here, and continue to talk about this. The way the room is laid out, we tried to come up with — and this has been evolving over the last few weeks — some of the different groups of folks working on things, so we can come to the meeting and physically see what groups… if folks on the outside came in late, do try to find your chair and sit behind it. And I do want to ask, before we move on, if anyone feels like we’re missing a group.”
Someone: “Volunteer outreach.”
Tammy: “Anything else people feel is missing?”
Someone says they need one for 520.
Tammy: “OK, so there’s a question for how we break out distro hub. I don’t want to get into that now, but there’s a question of how we break out in the future. And I just want to say that some of these places, we know there are lots of different places in the Rockaways; if folks want to separate, that’s cool, we can talk about that.”
Someone asks if NJ is represented here; it is.
Tim: “Great. So we’re then going to move on, if there’s nothing else on this front. Of the chairs you see around you here, some of them are more represented than others. So I want to be conscious of who has a chair but is not going to be here in force tonight. So, organizational relationships? Raise your hand if you’re here with that… Press? Finance and Incubation? Training? Construction? Canvassing? Red Hook? Staten Island? Rockaways? Sheepshead Bay? Coney Island? Bay Ridge Kitchen? Online and Comms? Legal? New Jersey? Medical? Distro hubs? Actions? Storyline and media? And unaffiliated folks,” by request.
Tammy asks that we encourage underrepresented groups to come, and to remember that there is no one from Red Hook represented. “That’s important to remember.”
Tim: “I want to talk about what these meetings are and how they have come to be. There’s a group of folks that have been planning these meetings; we call ourselves the Meetings Meeting, to give a little sense of levity. They’ve kind of been last-minute, but we want to plan ahead so we can have more structure to these meetings. The next meeting is Sunday at 5 at the Stable House in Williamsburg, and we have a listserv, firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you want to submit feedback you can go to occupysandy.org/meetings/feedback. So even if you can’t participate in that meeting, we’d love to get your feedback.”
“Our next session is going to be kind of a brainstorm. We don’t need to make a final decision, but we want to get the feedback started so there’s more for the Meetings Meeting meeting to meet about.”
Bill Dobbs asks the facilitators to ask the press to identify themselves.
Iya: “I’m a reporter with the Brooklyn Ink and also a student at the Graduate School of Journalism at Colombia.” Working on a video story on Occupy Sandy and to take photos for a project. Tammy asks if anyone here doesn’t want to be in a picture.”
Someone else “has been in contact with the Daily Beast, and they may be interested in an Occupy Beast column. Catchy, right?”
Tammy: “Great. So, here’s the assumption we’ve been going on, which is that these meetings are spaces for discussion, coordination, and eventually, decisions, when decisions are necessary for the Occupy Sandy network to make together. And my sense, which I think is generally the sense of the meetings meeting, is that the decisions we need to make together are pretty limited. most of the work we’re doing on the ground… can remain the same. But to build collective power, and harness the momentum of this movement, there are some things that we might need the consent of the network, and we want to figure out what those things are. We came up with some, but we thought it was better to have this discussion as a group, and we’re trying to figure that out right now. This is only a brainstorm; we want to take what we get and digest it into the meeting next week. So, we’ll go popcorn-style — if there is something that you feel like there should be consent from the Occupy Sandy network in terms of how we move forward.”
Jackie: “What you think should be decided? Not what should be discussed.”
Tammy: “This is about decisions. Discussion should always be happening, but — for instance, last week, Mayor Bloomberg touched down in the Rockaways, and he didn’t talk to the community members at all. He had a closed-doors press conference and then left, and a lot of people were pissed. And we wanted to say something, but when we did, we didn’t know whether it was legitimate to sign it as Occupy Sandy.”
“So these are the things that as a network, we should talk about together.”
Chris: “I’d like to see us come to consensus on a one-sentence mission statement.”
Tammy: “All right, starting with a hard one!”
Evan: “Resource allocation.”
Marisa: “I guess we need to decide if we’re going to have these central meetings, or place the decision-making at the local hubs. Like what’s the relationship between the Occupy network and local communities, and what do we mean by communities?”
Tammy: “Thank you. Also a hard one.”
: “What does it mean that we’re a group?”
Easton: “Like you said, anything released as “Occupy Sandy.”
Tammy: “Cool. One of the terms we might throw around later, is collective vocie – -the way we represent ourselves to the world.”
Drew: “Empowering small groups to make decisions on behalf of the whole, for example, a mission statement.”
: “Leadership and structure.”
Carrie: “Are these things we should consense about or things we should all talk about?”
Daniele: “I want to propose a day or days of action, but I don’t know if we need to come to consensus; we should talk about whether we do or not.”
Tammy: “Thank you, and we’ll talk about that later in the meeting.”
: “Two quick points — again, I think if we want to have a joint consensus, maybe just talk to each other… form a consensus even though we have different beliefs. I like what we’re doing for the people whose homes were affected, and after what does that say about people who didn’t have homes? This relief effort was just for people with damaged stuff; what happens to those without any?”
Tammy asks that we stay on topic. Tim: “I think it’s safe to say that what you mean are long-term goals?”
: “I think we should have a consensus on the criteria — if you’re going to a government organization, they’re going to filter you and judge if you need help or not. And us — what level of criteria do we have that we help or don’t help…?
Tess: “So, how we assess needs?”
Lopi: “The structure by which the financial team operates. And I’m not proposing that we make consensus decisions about each financial decision — we all know that’s kind of nuts — but the structure of the team.”
: “Things that we agree people should or should not do — community agreements.”
: “I’d like to follow up on what the lady there was mentioning. I’m with the Red Cross, and I do think people need help applying for assistance…”
Tim: “But, I don’t know if that’s something we need consensus on?”
Jackie: “I think we should decide right away that Occupy Sandy is Occupy Wall Street, and not a new beast, and that the fundamental things we had agreed on at Occupy Wall Street — like fighting Wall Street, and some of the other basic agreements — apply to occupy sandy. Because I’ve heard people say, I’m not in OWS, i’m in OS; certainly people can work with us without that but OWS is OS.”
Dana: “Tagged onto what Lopi was saying, but accountability structures, whether on issues of finance or anything else.”
Paul: “Hi; I do a lot of work with… and I’d like to suggest people consense around the idea of spending more time being careful about our health and safety at this point… and to take more proper precautions.”
Pablo: “I’d like to have an element that informs our discussion — I think we should be cognizant of the fact that one of the amazing things about OS is that a level of autonomous action is possible, and that we do not make any decision by an overarching centralized thing, and that we trust each other to do amazing work. And that we not lose sight of that.”
: “Our dealings with the Mayor. I really think that that should be addressed.”
Tammy: “And dealings with government institutions.”
Devin: “We have to consent on what the definition of consensus is, for any group that’s going to use consensus. For example, is 9/10ths of a room — what are the rules around blocking? If we’re going to have some kind of decision-making process…”
Tammy: “And for the purpose of our discussion tonight, we’re going to try our very, very best not to get into that.”
Rob: “How relief and recovery efforts interface with political aims without conflict.”
Eric: “To expand on question of Mayor’s office and other government agencies, I’d add to that NGOs and other relief groups, especially those that receive a lot of government or corporate funding.”
: “Fundraising events in the name of Occupy Sandy.”
Lopi: “I don’t know if this is realistic or not, but maybe we should think about whether or not to come to consensus about what we use to remediate — I’m talking about toxic versus non-toxic chemicals. For the jobs that we’re doing, if we can consense on using non-toxic as opposed to toxic means.”
Tammy: “So, unless there’s something super-pressing, I think it’s time to move on. It’s going to take awhile before we really digest this, and we’re probably going to keep operating the way we’ve been operating in the meantime. I’d like to ask that people share what we’ve come up with with others you know. We’re developing, collectively processes that work for us, and one of the mistakes we’re trying to avoid is to go too quickly. So, this brainstormed list is going to come back to the Meeting Meeting which is 6pm next Sunday. That’s the meeting to plan this meeting. And so, if you want to help digest this, we invite everyone to come there, but for now we’re going to move on.”
: “How do we find out about this meeting of meetings?”
Tammy: “It’s 6:00 next Sunday; it’ll go out over the email and Cel.ly loops, all the ways we communicate.”
One more: “How do we advocate for the victims of hurricane Sandy in Rockaways, in Red Hook, in SI — and we’ve got to do that because the politicos are not the advocates.”
Tammy: “Cool, so let’s add advocacy, and how we take action together. We’re going to move on now for some time for people to share things they feel they need to share with the group here tonight. And then we’re going to come back with this discussion and talk about collective voice. So we’re going to do some report backs, and then we’re going to come back to this question of how Occupy Sandy can consent to things that represent our collective voice.”
Tim: “So, everyone in the group, take 5 minutes amongst yourselves to discuss what the single most important announcement for this collective group would be. If it’s zero, that’s cool; if it’s two, that’s cool, but please try not to make it more than 5.”
[5 minutes – 8:29]
Tammy: “OK, so we’re going to ask folks, if you want to report something back… we’re going to just do one group at a time. OK, so Online/Comms?”
Carrie: “We have 3 different report backs: Twitter, Facebook, and the Interocc OccupySandy site.
“Twitter: our main account has 12,000 followers, which is awesome; we get out a lot of information there. There’s a small team running it, and we work independently of each other, but following the same understandings of what we’ll tweet: 1, to blast out needs from sites. If you work at one of those places, we have a new email address where you can send your needs: email@example.com. If you’re a site coordinator or you work in the Kitchen, please send your requests to be tweeted there. We’ve also been getting good press.
“A lot of people ask to help, so we tweet info at them. We also try to stay on top of media — you can send video, pictures, blog posts — we want more voices.”
Lopi: “So, the Occupy Sandy Facebook; we’ve come up with a best practices doc, which is too long for me to share right now, but if anyone’s curious… if you want to interact with us, you can post on the side-running bar, and we always look on that and repost stuff. Also, in the group email, often we’ll pull photos and stories and such out of there. We also have a Flickr, and if anyone has photos or videos they want on the Flickr, you can email occupysandyny@yahoo, and we will put stuff on there.”
Badger: “OK, so Interoccupy, which is hosting the OccupySandy.org website — three things to know. One is the Coordinator’s hub, interoccupy.net/sandycoord, and what you’ll find there are links to a bunch of forms — requesting stuff, like the Amazon registries, to send things out in the volunteer emails — so that’s just a useful page, and we’ll put any resources you need as coordinators on that one page.
“The second most-important thing to know is that we’re sending out regular volunteer emails about volunteer opportunities.” Only a few people sending stuff for this, “so if you need volunteers, you should send out the form for the email, also on interoccupy.net/sandycoord.”
“And finally, the resources section — go to occupysandy.org and click on resources and you’ll see tons of stuff. And if you want to send us stuff to put there, you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Drew: “One more from the Tech world — real quick; Sahana is currently being implemented — this is the disaster-relief softweare that the Sahana foundation has worked with us to implement. 520 and the Kitchen are using it among others; I’ll be trying to spread it, so come talk to me if you’re interested in learning more about this. We’re also building relationships with institutions to share non-personal data — sharing needs with the ARC and FEMA so they can fill large requests that our network can’t handle. And also sharing data between canvassers to better coordinate and understand areas of need. We need legal help around data sharing, in terms of making it good. So, thanks everyone.”
Tess: “How do we get in touch with you?”
Drew: “Well, you can email me at Drew@nycga.net — I love getting emails — or you can talk to me personally afterwards. And Kay and Robert are also working on it. And if you have any techincal need, even unrelated to OS, you can email email@example.com.”
Tammy: “OK. That was a nice dry run; we did horribly. So we’re going to try to keep it to a minute if you can, and if not, 2 minutes.”
Chad: “Hi, I’ve been helping out at the kitchen. The key for the kitchen is 1500 to 2000 meals a day, and the things that will keep us going are more volunteers, more fresh food, and more meal requests. If we have more of all three of those, we can produce more food, we can feed more people, and we can feed volunteers in bulk. So those are the three things key to the kitchen.”
Tim: “I just want to point out that Chad is totally kicking butt in the kitchen. How do we get in touch with you? Sandybayridge@interoccupy.net. Coney Island?”
Elana: “Hey, I’m Elana; I’ve been organizing in Sheepshead Bay. One important thing is that we are moving from cleanup and urgent needs to demolition and construction, and we really need people with expertise in those fields to come train us. It’s a really amazing community in really desperate need, and we can use a lot of support. Also, we can use support bridging the gap between people there on the weekdays and those on the weekends; those of us who started it all have full-time jobs, so we can’t always be on site, so we need people on site who can help communicate with us — the needs on the ground, things we can do remotely. Also, people who feel comfortable with data management and tracking systems, to help with data management during the week to make sure we’re keeping track of needs and what has been filled.”
Tammy: “Cool. Rockaway?”
Tom: “Well, we really only talked about finding housing for people who have been displaced. There’s a lot going on — I don’t really see people here representing it; maybe they’re still out there working. But we wanted to talk about people who have been taken out of those areas and put into hotels and are getting close to when they’ll be kicked out… there’s a lot of people, like thousands of people, who don’t really have a place to go. So we’re curious about housing — temporary housing — what’s going to happen with all these people?”
Shlomo: “Some of the efforts going on connect to that — outreach with community leaders, some of them very young people, who have stepped up to do assessments and canvassing and lead the information gatherings in their neighborhood, both the East and West side, and right now they’re exploriing options for pressing that and other pressing issues that need to be pressed.”
Tim: “OK, Staten Island?”
George: “I’m George; a couple of really important things in SI right now — we need a lot of press about our locations in SI; a lot of people don’t know we’re there. The police have started to press sites on Midland Avenue — they’re removing them because the restaurant owners are starting to complain that they’re giving out free food. So we need to figure out how to address that as a network, I think. Need more volunteers…
Someone: “We may have to start closing more days a week because we’re not getting enough help.”
George: “We had some experts in mold remediation there; that was awesome. And the residents in the area we’re trying to organize had a meeting last weekend with FEMA and the RC, and none of their questions were answered, so they’re livid and starting to organize, so that’s great.”
Tammy: “Anyone from Red Hook? Anyone from canvassing?”
RH is having their own community meeting tonight, so that’s why they’re not here.
Canvassing is meeting tomorrow night.
Rob: “Regarding canvassing, we’re trying to integrate all the sets of data we’re collecting, and trying to better track who’s been where, because residents are getting tired of people constantly knocking on their doors. But we can get better on that and we’re getting better.” Meeting tomorrow at Cooper Union; email address you can find at lists.occupy.net.
Dan: “A coalition has formed in CI — a network of a lot of the non-profits and response agencies that have already been working together down there — talking about how we can work together and share resources. So, we’re — OS is a big part of that, but we’re also part of that team that’s down there, and we’re going to kind of see where that goes. That does include immediate disaster relief, but we also have long-term plans embedded in that strategy to address the long-term issues and community organizing issues. This is a council that includes city, state, and Federal resources as well, as well as local resources. And actually the structure of this is probably going to be tried to be replicated in the other areas as well — Staten Island and the Rockaways. There are councils like this forming, although I hear that Occupy is ahving more of a lead in those areas than we are in CI, where the community is sort of forming those. This is a very long-term plan that people are setting out, and it seems to be working pretty well.”
Ben: “I’m with Respond and Rebuild / construction. We’re leading volunteeer crews, gutting houses, mucking out, and getting ready for mold remediation. As many of you know, mold is becoming a really big issue at this point, and we think the best way we can address it is to train other hubs to address it. We also have what we think is a pretty organized model for running work crews and a tool hub, so we should connect. And if you want to learn about how we’re doing it, the best way to learn is to come and help for a day.”
“What we need though are housing resources, medical resources, legal resources, and financial resources. And we have some work trucks, but they’re not great for moving people — we need to be able to move these crews more effectively so we can multiply our efforts.”
Tim: “And how do we contact you?”
Ben: “I’;m right here.” Laughs. “No, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
: “Is there anyone else who wants to talk for training?”
: “I can; we got melded into construction here. But I’ve been trying for weeks now to set up health and safety training, unsuccessfully despite everyone’s good intentions.” Suggests each site sets up a health coordinator, who could contact him and he could liaison with an org and “moe the training forward some. You can contact me, it’s PaulStein@earthlink.net. And I volunteered with NY[KOSH?]. Please contact me.”
: “A general word about training: there’s a network of people with political educaiton training who want to be of resource to you who are working on the ground in a variety of ways over time. Just know we’re here, if you feel you need support or resources to helpf rame the larger politics of the work we’re doing. I think there should be a list on our website of good readings on the larger-scale problems around storms. If you can help, please talk to me after the meeting.”
Dana: “Hi, I’m Dana! I’m with OWS PR. So, I guess the long-and-short of it is that there’s been great coverage of Occupy Sandy efforts. Hundreds of articles in many outlets of every flavor, in many countries.”
Someone: “Not on Staten ISland, at all.”
Dana: “OK, well, we can talk. What I wanted to say is… that what’s important is that even though maybe SI has been left out of that loop, the story has been told about Occupy Sandy and the recovery effort, and it has been told many times over. So the press — as the requests are dwindling; which we deal with every day, so I can tell you we are — what we need is a new angle. And that actually sounds kind of gross. But what we think is needed is the move from this — you know, the recovery story into the more politicized story. So, how are we leveraging our power as organizers and activists, as grassroots community membres, to actually ask for and demand the things that the communities we’re in need? Because we’ve had these conversations. And what are the targets and campaigns? That’s how we, the Press team, can help move the story. And we’re email@example.com.”
Next, Organizational Relationships.
Carl: “We talked about the benefit of collaborating; we talked about advocacy for the people being important; working with other organizations might facilitate that. I’d like to give a very quick reportback about an event that happened on Sunday; at 520 — the NYDIS — they held a dinner on Sunday; we helped organize it — we, Occupy Sandy — and the Episcopal Diocese. The White House sent somebody; FEMA sent somebody; a lot of organizations send people and the religious organizations send people. And it’s pretty consistent that everyone said OS is redefining relief, including the White House. And these are just top-down comments, but I would say there’s a window we need to jump through fast. I get the sense people are anti-Bloomberg, anti-the City. Perhaps that’s good; I don’t know. But we want to work on reconciliation here. My slogan is 99+1=100.”
Dan: “I think on the operational side, we have a direct sort of connection now with the VOAD organizations — some of those organizations are here tonight. What’s happening now is we have direct lines with the city. We also have direct lines with FEMA, to request supplies direct through our distribution networks, which we’re testing out this week to see how well that can work. We’re trying to do an internal needs assessment from sites across the city, and see what we can do to help with those needs — they call it muck-out. And food, aligning our needs with food with VOAD partners like City Harvest and the Red Cross, and also our vancassing efforts so there’s no overlap and people aren’t stepping on toes.”
Tammy asks how people can get requests to FEMA.
Premo: “There’s a lot of good media starting to come out from our self-produced media; media teams need more self-organization so we can do a better job of getting it out and… figuring out what stories aren’t being told and how to tell them better. There’s a Flickr page; if you’re a photographer who wants to put that stuff up there, it’s available… that exists. And there’s this project called the Sandy Storyline project, that’s a project of Occupy — it’s SandyStoryline.com; it’s a participatory project that lets anyone tell their story with a cell phone or telephone line, currently about every area — they’ve started to share their stories; there’s about 150 stories up there already, with many more that need to be uploaded. The idea is to have a platform to raise our collective voice, so as the advocacy heats up, we can point to a site that has our stories already there.”
“Tomorrow at 80 Hanson Place, 7:00, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, there’s a meeting for the Sandy Storyline project.” Gmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yotam: “So, a lot of people are expressing similar things– a bunch of different kinds of needs, like housing, mid-term needs, and long-term needs, like we want to rebuild communities so that people are empowered.”
“There’s also an opportunity, now — tons of people on the ground; a lot of people starting to organize themselves and us all over the place, finally immersed in those communities, and a lot of press that wants a new story, so the thing that we’re doing is starting to shift to do some resistance work that provides the cover that makes recovery and rebuilding possible… to stop the developers from bulldozing everything and building a bunch of condos.”
“so, tehre has been a tentative action call for December 15th, called by a bunch of people at sites and community organizations. Tomorrow, at 6:30, right here, there is an action where people from different Zone A sites and community organizations are going to come together and think about an action… so we can spread a message on something coherent.”
Someone: “Yeah!” Woo!
Kat: “I’m reporting back from 520 and Jacobi — we’re definitely in transition; Jacobi’s closed, and 520 is closing distribution. We’ve found two new multi-use spaces, and are in the process of getting those secured. So 520 is transitioning into a new identity — we’re trying to form a new community process there; the people’s library, engagement with the community, and there’s a meeting to be announced about the future of that space.”
Tammy: “And how will people know about the transition from spaces?”
: “All the various ways. There’s a meeting possibly next Tuesday with the Fathers of the church where we’ll present these ideas. And it’s not solidified…”
Tammy: “I was asking more about the new multi-use sites.”
Easton: “Hopefully after Friday night we’ll have a sense of the status and what they might be used for. We’ll disseminate the info when we have it.”
Becky: “So… medical out in the field is currently at two sites; they’re sort of switching it up a little bit; right now a lot of volunteers are based out of Ocean Bay, one of the NYCHA houses. There’s also — the trailer that used to be at Yana is now at Beach 96, and we’ve been getting a lot of people from Mt. Sinai and the NY Nurse’s Assn. And they’ve been doing water testing at Ocean Bay, so that may address some concerns about water, and have possible repercussions.”
“Something is coalescing at St. Camilus around mental health, which I didn’t know about. Making people — some of what the rebuilding people were talking about — the making people aware of dangers around demo and stuff — medics are starting to organize some of those trainings, so we should talk afterwards and we can connect. We did a training earlier for trainers about that at 520, and one at Veggie Island is happening.
“The volunteer pool is starting to dwindle a little bit, but there’s a little bit of an influx because some of the other non-OS hubs are starting to shut down, so we’re getting some of their volunteers to flow in. So it’s kind of a transition period.”
“And the reportback from Wellness and Volunteer Wellness is I’ve been working with other wellness people to create pop-up wellness clincics to go to various locations and have all sorts of different things — body workers… if that sounds like something you want, let us know so we can arrange it.”
Tammy: “Finance — and for finance, we can do Incubation, Infrastructure, and Registry separately.”
Bobby: “The Amazon Registry was a great idea, and got a lot of things to people really quickly, but from the beginning people have talked about how the money goes to Amazon, far away from these relief sites. So we’re working on local registries, where 100% of the funds go to hardware stores, small businesses, in the relief sites. You know, I was touring the Rockaways today for businesses that are open, and dint’ see a lot, but that’s the goal. And we’d like to do it before the holiday rush, to help people, then we can advertise it, and then people can order their items and they’ll get sent from small businesses. So I think it’s about transferring ourselves as much as possible away from charity and towrads mutual aid, and building those relatuionships. Occupysandylocalregistry@gmail.”
Daniele: “I’m with the incubation team; we do a lot of things, including linking grantwriters to projects. We need way more grantwriters. Another thing that we do is we send community members to benefits — there’s been a ton of benefits on behalf of Occupy Sandy. So we make sure that they are in fact donating, and that there are community members there to talk to folks.
“As of yesterday — after fees — we had raised $544,300.12 on the WePay. This doesn’t include anyone who wrote a check and sent it in; we get a monthly reportback from our fiscal sponsor on those numbers; should be getitng that soon. And we’ve dispersed ~$24k — this info is now publically available with about a 24-hour lag at interoccupy.net/occupysandy/funds. All the information about this fund is there. We’ll be putting up a little bit more about process int he coming week, as well as spreadsheets showing donations and expenditures. And yes, there are line-item expenditures.”
“How to apply for funds? We have emergency funds for each of the sites, and then we’ve also started doing project funds of no more than $10k at a time. So if yopu’d like to apply for project funds, go to occupysandy.net/funds, and fill out the whole thing.”
“The budget is a Google thing; make sure you share it with us, or we can’t read it.”
Justin: “I’m here to talk about the Infrastructure Fund, which is a new fund to support the existing physical infrastructure of OS. The first project we did was make small dnations to both of the churches that have been supporting us in Brooklyn. If you’re interested in finding out more or geting involved with this infrasgrtucure fund, we’re having a meeting tomororw night at 7pm at 520 and we’ll meet Wednesday nights thereafter.”
Joseph: “We’ve got loads and loads of lawyers who can help fight for disaster insurance appeals, FEMA, housing, tons of stuff. But to reach people, we need partnerships with canvassers. So we’ve been reaching out to canvassers, but if you’re involved in canvassing, please get in touch. Also, we know the city is circling out some of the open-air hubs; we’ve got a flyer going out about that. And if you have any people who are being threatened with closing, please get in touch. Occupysandylegal@gmail.com, and we just got a hotline — leave a message; it sends us text and then one of us will call you back: 646 397 5671.”
Tim: “We have a few more. Volunteer Outreach?”
Susannah: “I’ve been talking to pepple about trying to get large groups of people — maybe 20, maybe local college kids on Winter break — it’s really important to know the needs in the hubs to make sure the right kinds of volunteers are going there and they can handle them. Come talk about it.”
Tim: “Someone wanted to talk about a high school internship program?”
: “I’m working with Justin out of 520 on an internship program — there will be a couple of 16-18-year-olds hanging out, and the idea is that they are going ot shadow organizers and get training and contribute, and then hopefulyl set up a mutual aid network for students. But we’re looking for organizers who would be interested in being a mentor. So email me: email@example.com.”
Tammy: “All right, one last announcement about the media team?”
Lopi: “Yeah, a few of us who have been doing mostly Rockaways stuff have decided to start organizing an OS media team, so we welcome anyone who has camera and equipment already — we want to form relationships with communities, or get people who already have, so we can get interviews with people — residents, relief workers; we need to get more stories together along the lines of the new angle or whatever. So we’re going to be trying to have a meeting at some poihnt tonight to try to set up another meeting. So talk to me or Luke.”
Tammy: “3 last announcements: event tmoorrow night at the Murray Institute about Labor speaking out after Sandy; 2, 520 Clinton is not available after 6pm; 3 — “
Leah: “For peolpe interestewd in being part of the participatory budgeting conversation, there’s a conference call Friday at 2, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get it to you.”
Tammy: “We’re 10 minutes ahead of schedule right now!” Woah. “That was allt he reportbacks; thank you very much for keeping it concise and short. There’s a whole other section to this meeting that we’re hoping people will stick around for, continuing the conversation we had earlier. Are we ready to move on?” Yeah. “Cool. Soi, one thing that came up when we were brainstorming, and it’s come up several times, is how we harness our collective power, building a collective voice, and how we have a say in what that collective voice is. We know taht there is an interest in talking about resource allocation and that process; we’re going ot save that conversation for at least next week.”
Evan: “On what decision basis?”
Tammy: “The people who have planned this meeting — anyone can come help plan Sundays at 6. But we’re going to talk about how we build a collective voice, how we reach consensus on what represents us to the outside world. We came up with a list of four ways we see that happening: social media, website/press, statements, and actions.”
Easton: “Is there a break scheduled?”
Tammy: “I was going to ask… do people want a break?” Yes, they do. Tammy will explain what’s happening after first. “So, we’re going ot break up into those four groups. Before we leave here, do we think anything’s missing from that list?”
: “Documentation, literature, packets? Physical things we print out, like flyers and stuff.”
“So, we’re going to break up in these groups and talk about three questions: 1) what do you think people can or should decide autonomously in this area, 2) what deserves consent of Occupy Sandy, 3) what should be the process of coming to decisions about these things? And we won’t decide tonight, but start a conversation.”
Tammy reviews the groups one last time and where they’re meeting. “When you come back, you can get in those areas, and then discuss.”
[10 minute break — 9:23pm.]
OK, we’re back.
Tim: “Everyone, as you look around the room, you will see signs: website, social media, statements and press, actions, and educational materials over there. If you are working in one of those areas, I’d recommend you stand by that sign. If you would like to have input on an area — this does not mean you’re commiting to bottomline anything there… But please, also be conscious of the general dispersal of people. If everyone’s over at social media, maybe you can be a part of statements to press. Does everyone understand?”
Marisa: “I was wondering what happens to the different hubs — it feels like they’re kind of lost in this conversation.”
Tammy: “Right now, these are just discussion topics — go to the place you want to discuss. It doesn’t neccessarily relate to the groups you were sitting in before. And in these groups we’re going to have a discussion about each of these questions we discussed before. So this isn’t about the group you work in or tasks you do, it’s about having these discussions.”
Five discussion groups:
1) Social media
1) What do you think people should decide autonomously in this arena?
2) What do you think merits consent from the OS community?
3) What do you think should be the space for input and decisions on these items?
Tammy: “Mic check! There seems to still be confusion. So, just to share one more time, go to the group that you want to discuss with. If you work on this task, please go to the one you work on, if you don’t, it’s just a discussion on how we prsent ourselves to the outside world. Like, even if you don’t work on the website, we’re all affected by what gets written there.”
“Some groups may have a process already… but some won’t. So please find a group and start discussing these questions so we can come back together and share.”
Tammy: “All right, y’all; we’re going to come back together. Mic check!”
Everyone: “Mic check!”
Tammy: “All right, cool. That worked. So, here’s — a few of us huddled during that and came up with a plan. We know there’s a lot more people working on the work of Occupy Sandy than are in this room right now, and than were in this room at the beginning of the meeting. So, here is the plan. We’re going to type up the notes from the brainstorm earlier, and all of the reportbacks that we get from this circle right now, we’re going to make a one-sheeter and we’re going to send that out to the hubs — to the communities on the ground — in the next week, and get feedback on it at the Sunday meeting. And that’s a way that we can communicate back to the communities what’s happening in this room, and get input and feedback from people who can’t be here, but continue the conversation and move it forward. Does everyone in this room feel okay with that plan? Can I see twinkles?”
Tammy: “Okay, cool. So… what I need for this to work — what we all need for this to work — is someone to sort of be point on the different areas and communities, and to help us get the feedback back, so that we can digest it all, at the Meeting Meeting, which will be on Sunday. So, I’m just going to see if we can arrange that before we do the next part, because I definitely would hope that you’d listen really carefully if you’re going to be that point. So, is there anybody that feels like they can take that on for the Rockaways? Can take the information in the flyer and make sure the flyers get to them?”
Someone asks her to clarify.
Tammy: “So the idea is: we’re going to type up the notes from the things that we discussed here — that eventually we’ll make decisions on. But it’s going to take awhile. We’re going to take those out in a one-sheeter, a flyer kind of thing, out to communities, to try to get feedback both from organizers and community members who couldn’t be in this room today, and help get that feedback back to the Meeting Meeting. It doesn’t have to come in person to the meeting; it could come via a Google Voice that’s going to be on the flyer, or it could come via an email address that we already have, that will also be on the flyer. But it’s just communicating that out.”
Ethan: “I just have a suggestion — rather than needing to try to find points for all of that, if you just want to send it out with all of the food to all of the locations we’re serving, it can be distributed from there.”
Tammy: “Great! So we will get flyers to the kitchen?”
Ethan: “And we can send it out with every delivery.”
Tammy: “That sounds good. It would be cool if we could also get a point for regions to actually, like, explain what it is, because I think people get a million things and don’t always pay attention. I love that idea. The idea is that email, phone — people are moving so quickly, and there’s so many lines of communication. We’re looking for a physical person who’s willing to try to help. If we can’t come up with that right now, that’s OK, but I want to see if we can. There’s people in this room that already spent time in the Rockaways, then maybe they can help translate. Is there anyone here, that’s the case?”
K: “I’ll do it.”
Tammy: “Great, K. Thank you. Is there anyone here who spends time in Staten Island that can do that?”
Tammy: “George, great. Is there anyone here that spends time in Sheepshead Bay that can do that?”
Tess: “I can get it to Sheepshead.”
Tammy: “Great, Tess. Is there anyone here that spends time in Coney Island that can do that?”
Shlomo: “Yes. Dan can do it.”
Tammy: “Dan, excellent.”
Shlomo: “Congratulations.” Laughter.
Someone: “Nice work, Dan.”
Tammy: “All right. So now we’re going to move forward with the understanding of how this is going to continue. Cool?”
Becky: “Wait, can somebody bring them to Red Hook? Even though Red Hook isn’t here?”
Tammy: “Oh, Red Hook!”
Mariya: “I’ll do it.“
Tammy: “Mariya will do Red Hook. Great, thank you.
“All right, cool. With that in mind, we’ll go through reportbacks; again, these will then be — what we’re discussing here today will be decided, or we’ll start to make decisions on, next week. That’s the idea.”
Someone: “What about Jersey?”
Someone: “I can talk to Jersey.”
Tammy: “Okay. I can also talk to Jersey. All right, great. So… cool. Does anyone want to start?”
Dana, statements/press group: “Okay. And feel free to jump in; I’ve got Bre’s notes here. So, to answer the — so, then, kind of the first question about autonomy, right? Individuals — and this is kind of the — the press, media statements, and this is not a mission statement. This is, like, press statements — there was one that went out last week for 30 days in, right? As an example.
“So, obviously, in thinking about autonomy, individuals can always speak for themselves. Smaller groups can decide amongst themselves, in the processes or agreements that they have made in smaller groups or communities organizing together, to then speak about themselves and what’s happening in their… speak as their communities.
“To speak on behalf of the larger community, as in Occupy Sandy as a whole, what we discussed here was to have a larger discussion — and that means potentially here, at these regular meetings — which kind of leads into the consensus, which was the second — what constitutes consensus? Which was the second part.
“Obviously, like I said before, within each smaller group, it’s up to them. For larger, it would be great if there was space in these regular meetings for actionable items — for groups to come forward if they have something that they want to propose on behalf of Occupy Sandy — so this would happen before they actually — and the group went out and spoke on behalf of larger Occupy Sandy.”
“Then: structure. What are the structures for this? We understand that a lot of conversations happen via email, on phones, on text loops, on Twitter, Facebook, and in person — old school — but that again, if it’s — and each smaller community has their ways of communicating. But again, if it’s a larger action or statement, then it would need to be brought to at least one meeting. That was our idea and our suggestion, because there is something about when we see each other and we, you know, have these kind of broader conversations and — and the brain trust and the buy-in that happens.”
Luke: “So, jumping on top of that, it seems like the kind of structure we described here would encourage people to act autonomously, and speak autonomously through the group. It’s also worth noting that despite — despite how much simpler it would be to only speak for your own group, there is a lot of weight in bringing something to the larger group, getting consensus, and putting out statements as Occupy Sandy. And that should be encouraged, as well.”
Tammy: “Thank you. I’m committed to being out of here in 12 minutes. So… we’re going to try really hard — please communicate what you need to communicate — that was really good — also to keep it concise. So we have four more groups, which means no more than three minutes for each of them. Go for it.”
Darrell, for the actions group: “To be honest with you, that sounds pretty much like where we had ended up, if I’m not mistaken. And there was some tension about — there was also some feeling that, you know, no actions have been taken as Occupy Sandy thus far, so that the December 15th action would be a great test case for that. And there’s also some tension as to — you know, between whether or not there would be more-or-less a more-permanent action group, or whether it would just be a dissolving group — you know, ad-hoc, as it goes. So that was the — I mean, essentially it was the same except for those two points.”
Tammy: “Nothing else?”
Darrell: “I mean — I mean, literally, it was — our conclusions were almost the same as theirs.”
Dana: “Great minds.”
Tammy: “OK, so we should just copy what Press said and put it for actions?”
Darrell: “Yes, pretty much.”
Tammy: “All right, cool. So we just need to make sure to get that in our one-sheeter. Cool. Education?”
Next, the Educational Materials group.
<someone>: “I’ve got a — sort of a question about how you actually achieve consensus as the entire — as Occupy Sandy. And if that’s over email, or in this meeting. That’s something that we should figure out.”
Tammy: “That’s part of what we’re in the process of trying to figure out.”
Tammy: “Is there anything else that you guys wanted to report back?”
<someone else>: “Yeah, we basically… we’re going to compile this email list so we can collaborate among this group and we can produce documents — for example, visions and goals documents, purpose documents, educational documents such as on the various issues that affect these areas. And… other ancillary issues as well. So, we’re going to collaborate on producing documents. And that’s pretty much it. That’s where we left it.”
Tim: “Actually, I have a question for the education group. So, if people have the autonomy to make stuff as a small group and distribute it within that small group, is there any reporting-back to a central organization, either to the group as a whole or to people that are working on education — educational materials — to see if it’s useful in other locations?”
George: “Really quickly — so, basically there was an idea floated that there are just larger principles that are decided on by the larger body, and then each individual hub can autonomously decide the language and the way that those can come across. So, instead of setting hard guidelines, just a bulleted document with principles — like, principles that adhere to the movement, and then individual sites with community members can decide the right tactic and language to distribute things with. So.”
<someone>: “Yeah. And also, broader education material — like, for example, scientific literature on environmental issues, and so on. Which is applicable across the board, and…
Tim: “Cool. Website?”
Badger: “So, basically what we came up with, sort of was — our conversation went all over the place. But what I think we basically came up with is that website should really — if it’s acting well, it’s acting as a reflection of the expression of this community. And as such, it should really actually be pretty easy to decide what goes up there and what doesn’t, because, you know, if all these other groups get worked out, then you’ll have your process, and you’ll basically be telling us, hey, you know, put this up.
“So far, the content that’s been going up has been really pretty easy to figure out, because it’s all just mostly been useful information. So it really hasn’t been contentious at all. We’ve had a few times when it’s been questionable as to whether or not we should put something up, and basically, the way we’ve dealt with it so far is it comes to the sandyweb email address, which has a couple of us on it. If it’s questionable, then we bring it to the larger web team, and then if it stays questionable from there, we try to get it to the right groups of people that are outside of the web team, to sort of verify the information.”
Tess: “What’s an example of something that was questionable?”
Badger: “I mean, like, the mold. Does bleach kill mold? Like, we were getting all sorts of information from that. What FEMA was sending us was wrong. You know, so just something like that. You know, it’s small things — so far, it’s mostly been small things on the website.
“Just so you know, what we’re planning on doing in terms of direction for the website is creating more of, like, a newswire for it. So anybody will be able to — from the community can submit to the newswire for Occupy Sandy, and, like, you’ll get credited as your group — as the person — as the group submitting. So it’s not just going to be sort of this central web team that’s submitting all of the updates, but there’s going to be a process for all of you to basically submit stuff and just channel it up there.”
Tammy: “Is there anything else?”
Badger: “I think we’re good.”
Lopi, social media. “We didn’t have a lot of people from social media here, so we worked with what we have, and we feel that… and we recognize that our voice is really important, because we’re, like — you know, we’re social media. And it’s somewhat tricky because we are autonomous — we’re autonomous, but we’re not, within our group. We do have mechanisms to check in with each other. On the Facebook page we have an admin group where we vet things that we think maybe we’re not sure about posting — like maybe it’s a politician, or maybe it’s a financial thing, or whatever — we have this admin page where we post stuff and give people — give each other feedback, and we approve or disapprove there.
“On the Twitter, we’re about to be set up on Hootsuite, but right now we just have, like, a very informal trust — it’s based on trust a lot. We trust each others’ voices.
“And as far as the community giving us feedback about what we’re saying, and how we’re portraying the voice of everybody, we get instantaneous feedback by people tweeting — like, tweeting back at us — like, what the hell are you saying?” or, you know, whatever. We can just… and the same thing on the Facebook. We can get direct feedback from people if they don’t like what we’re saying, or stuff like that, right directly on comments and stuff.
“Another — a new thing that we just decided to do was to have this email where people can email us feedback or… things that they need us to tweet or Facebook about. And that email is: really fucking long, and it’s —
Carrie: “No, it’s not that long.”
Lopi: “Oh, it’s not long?”
Carrie: “It’s the other one: email@example.com.” Pause. “To be honest, it is kind of long.” Laughter. “We have a longer one, it’s just — “
Lopi: “OccupySandySocialMedia@gmail, so it’s like — the other one’s going to go there. But so, there’s that. And if you don’t like a hashtag, or you don’t like something that we’re doing, please give us feedback, and we will adjust. Sometimes hashtags take off, and people like them, and they go, even if we stop tweeting them — they just keep going, you know? This happened earlier. #WeGotThis.”
“So yeah, we’re autonomous, but we want feedback. So that’s pretty much the gist of that.”
Tammy: “Cool. So, here’s what’s going to happen: all of this really awesome stuff is going to get put together on one page. The people who said that they would help will help get the word out to the communities, that they should look at this page, and provide feedback, either through that individual or the phone number of the website. The flyers are going to go out with the food, because who doesn’t want food?
“And we’re all going to meet again next week, same time and same place unless we hear differently. And if people want to be part of planning the meeting, you can come Sunday at 6pm. And — is it written?”
Someone: “It’s in blue.”
Tammy: “It’s at — it’s on Bedford between Jefferson and Putnam at a restaurant called Stable House.”
Tess: “Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Tammy: “And with that, it’s 10:28pm! So…”
Someone: “Thank you to the facilitators!” Cheering, applause, chatter as the network begins to redisperse.
[Thanks everyone. These minutes will be polished soon and notification will be sent to the OS listserv and social media. Look for a flyer with your food distro discussing how our collective voice should be administered.]