Tuesday, Dec 6th, OccupyMpls sponsored Empowerment Training Day at Walker Church in S. Mpls. It was a day to focus on skill sharing. training, and discussion around the core issues facing OccupyMpls. It was designed to build a respectful and empowering culture within the movement.
I participated for a few hours in both the morning and the afternoon. The event had a full schedule from 8am – 5pm. I arrived about 10am to a room of about 60 people. Starhawk was going over the principals of meeting facilitation and consensus process. Many present had some experience with these subjects before, and so the depth of the discussion during the presentation was directed at the particular problems facilitating a ‘general assembly’ presented to occupy organizers.
About 10.25 am the meeting was interrupted by an announcement the Plaza security had ‘raided’ the camp earlier that morning as about 8.30am and had taken all unattended items from the Plaza. Several county commissioners phone numbers, who were reported to be meeting Tuesday, distributed and calls were made in rotation as the workshop training continued.
The importance of incorporating core values into the consensus, and general assembly processes was emphasized, as well as the need to select the best decision-making process for each issue the group faced. Consensus Process is not needed for many movement decisions, just the major ones where core values are being defined.
I returned after lunch when open group meetings, now about fifty with many new people, were in progress. Five topics were under discussion at smaller round tables :
- Direct Action Strategy
- General Assemblies
- Guideline for “New Norms”
- Diversity within the Movement
Each group kept notes on its discussion with the aim of discovering insights, and gleaning items for later general assembly proposal and consideration. Every fifteen minutes or so, the groups paused and people rotated among them as they felt called. I participated in the visioning, direct action, and diversity groups. At the end of the session, spokespersons from each group summarized the discussion and outlined items that deserved further work to integrate the ideas within OccupyMPLS. A contact person and email was established for each work group and a sign-up for messaging within each group was posted.