Don, assisting with co-facilitating (?)
17, 18, 19, and finally 20 people in attendance
Shavahn took minutes/others took notes as wellAfter brief introductions, Amy asked if there was a decision made about ‘stacking.’ For this meeting Jared, Ben, and Don took on this responsibility, as well.Jared presented an agenda review, and mentioned that there could be some flexibility with respect to time spent on any given agenda item depending on if people thought it might be useful or prudent for any particular reason/s.
Roger asked about the ‘mission statement.’ Don offered that the statement would be put off until the next general assembly, February 8th.
Susan asked if there could be a Publicity Working Group.
Someone asked if there was going to be a General Assembly (GA) on Sunday. Roger said that he had not yet heard back from Ruth Hooke at Grace Church [where there may be a space available for a Sunday Occupy Amherst (OA) gathering].
Roger shared that in Springfield, for the Citizens United Protest that a lot of people “spoke briefly, and to the point.” He reported that there was an open mic, dancing; and that it seemed that most of those in attendance were not necessarily from Springfield. Others who also attended added that the ‘Expandable Brass Band’ played and that they were great; and considered incorporating music into future OA actions.
Nancy agreed that the Saturday action was “fabulous,” and considered whether or not the scheduled informational pickets every Monday in front of the Bank of America would be helped by a greater showing of participants. Amy offered that initially, the Direct Action Working Group envisioned that a small informational picket would be fine; and that it was important to have a regular presence. Ben added that many people honked in support.
The action held on the previous Saturday (Jan. 21st) in front of the Town Hall elicited many positive remarks. Several people spoke of the enthusiasm, despite the snow and cold temperature. Deborah thought that it was engaging, and was encouraged. Gary appreciated the chance for many people to participate. Roger also mentioned that on the Tuesday evening before, when people got together to make signs, that it was good for people to have the chance to get together outside of the Wed. evening GAs.
Jared asked for people to think about what they thought was good about these actions. Responses included: humor, signs, meeting in small groups, music, steadfastness, and “a variety of activities.”
There was some general discussion about the location of the event, and whether or not it presented the most visibility for this Citizens United 2nd anniversary OA action; and Joan mentioned that we should improve upon our choices with regard to actions. Amy said that a select person, Jim Wald, had tweeted this:
“Occupy” protesters demonstrated Saturday outside empty #Amherst Town Hall. Last night, I “occupied” my Select Board seat inside Town Hall.
Deborah added that there were a lot of pros and cons; and Jared asked what we all thought the ‘purpose’ of the action was. Responses included: visibility and camaraderie, raising consciousness, even if passersby weren’t necessarily thinking about Citizens United; and that protesters deserve credit for being out there, even in the winter.
Roger added that a lot of people may be discouraged about many things but that the OCCUPY movement was ‘here.’ Beth added that the reason we’re out in the street is not b/c “we hate the 1%.” Rather it is b/c we are seeking justice so that we can all survive,” humans and non-humans alike.
Deborah said that engaging in actions like these keeps us active and that “we need to form alliances and build connections,” and that this would further inform our future actions. Ben added that building alliances is important in cultivating connections with others; and further that there is potential for building connections with immigrants, for example, for work surrounding immigrants’ rights, etc.
Nancy offered that area churches and synagogues have ‘social action committees;’ and couldn’t OA have outreach to those communities. Beth added that the United Church of Christ (UCC) was active in a number of ways, including pushing for the closing of Guantanamo.
Someone mentioned that hot chocolate could be offered to the guard at following informational pickets in front of the Bank of America (BOA).
Roger presented updated information about the upcoming OWS road trip. He reported that the trip has been extended to Feb. 2nd. (See occupyamherst.org for the latest update). It was agreed that everyone should try to attend the films at the Academy of Music on Wednesday (2/1) at 6:00pm and the GA scheduled in Northampton on Thursday (2/2), at 630 PM; and that Shavahn would post a flyer/note/memo on the door of the Lower Level Meeting Room on Wednesday indicating that the GA was meeting in Northampton.
Susan asked what our goal was; and wondered about how we can focus our actions so that they directly address peoples’ predicaments. Jean added that we might think about planning actions with the Greenfield or Northampton Occupy groups. Atilla proposed that we demand that the banks have a moratorium on foreclosures, and instead help people to get back into their homes. He reminded us that these banks have a huge amount of money in off-shore accounts.
Deborah mentioned the Verizon workers, and that actions could be planned in conjunction, in collaboration. She said that in San Francisco the OCCUPY group had set up a food pantry. Gary asked if there was a way to ‘personalize’ specific events.
Gracie mentioned the National Priorities Project, and the statistics they gather, especially in relation to money; and the five colleges with their endowments. Will suggested conducting a questionnaire, with (local) demographics in mind.
Facilitation Working Group
Don suggested that individuals need to be self-managing, and that there needs to be other members joining the Facilitation Working Group (FWG). Liana agreed to contribute/participate for the next GA on Feb. 8th. Jared encouraged everyone to try facilitating. Roger shared that there is going to be a facilitation training workshop over the course of the OWS tour during Feb. 1st-2nd.
Outreach Working Group
Roger suggested OA participants exercise solidarity; and that we do not have to pay for expenses individually. Others concurred, saying this was the reason for ‘the kitty’ that is collectively contributed to each week. Roger also said that the outreach group does not seem to be having much luck ‘outreaching’ outside of the list-serve. Gary mentioned that events were being aired on the radio. Amy added that she’d be glad to share any information with any person who might be interested in contacting newspapers, doing press releases, etc.
Jared said that he would write up a proposal for the next GA held at the Bangs Center (in two weeks) focusing on “how to move forward.”
There were several announcements made by people: Gary said that on Sunday at 2 PM, at the Friends Meeting House, there was a Peace & Justice event. Liana shared that on Feb. 4th an anti-nuke affinity group is hosting an event at the Leverett Town Hall, from 2-9 PM. Ben’s group will be playing there @ approx. 2:30 PM. Jared has been invited to speak on the air on Sunday, Feb. 5th at 10 AM: Occupy the Airwaves, @ WXOJ, 103.3 FM. Beth said that on Sunday at 10:30 AM, Minister Jim Antall (sp?) will be speaking on climate change.
Please see occupyamherst.org for further information and updates.