Many good points here. The GA should definitely be closer to either Broadway or Trinity place, so that passers by are draw in. Some kind of hard calendar at the site where working group meetings could be posted might help, as well as the online calander. (Many people have a penchant for secrecy which I think almost always hurts more than helps.) Using the curved stairs as seating seems obvious: it is a natural amphitheatre and the street is right behind it.
While at the site it is very easy to get fixated on the internal workings and forget to do outreach to passersby. Signs must be always pointed out and people on watch for interested people to invite in.
At the Sat GA a Sleep In group was created to work on that and other groups in support of that. The GA should delegate as much as possible to those groups, so it can concentrate on bigger issues.
Following what Luis pointed out, on a more concrete fashion, regarding specific issues I've seen at Liberty Square:
- There is an urgent need for establishing a clear method for engaging people willing to work with us
. I've seen many people coming over different days, and it was extremely difficult to direct them to a specific working group where they could contribute with their effort, skills and interests. I've been at Liberty Square everyday and I myself still don't have an exact idea about how many groups there are, how, where and when can I help, etc. Maybe it would be useful to set fixed meeting times for working groups
(probably some of them are already working that way). It would also be useful to open email accounts for different working groups
, especially those focused on issues external to the functioning of the camp, so new people can be directed to those email account for more information.
- Establish and publicize open activities for public in general
, not only for people in the camp. The 5-7pm slot would be great for opening a series of on-going activites (talks, discussions, etc.). There should be an events working group (or whatever you want to call it) to coordinate such activities. "openforum@occupywallstreet" would be a great name. These activities could be developed at the entrance of the park (using the stairs as seats, for instance), i.e. inviting people to join, listen and participate. I know some activities have been already programmed, which is great, I just think it would be great to systematize that process a bit.
- Talking about the spatial disposition
, the way the general assembly develops right now (with its back turned to the street) does not help to open a dialogue with people passing by, and speaks volumes of the kind of attitudes we are talking about.
- Only one general assembly
each day, allowing working groups to develop further work. The GA would be then more focused on actually deciding on issues brought there by the working groups. The working groups would have more time to meet and work. Also, I've sensed that a lot of very specific issues concerning everyday organization of the camp take a lot of GA time. I profoundly admire the sacrifice and effort of those who are staying there, but the political body we are building is not only composed by them. There are people that can only contribute from the distance, or spend just a few hours there every day, and would like to participate in discussions focused on aspects related with life outside the camp. This is by no means a criticism to the facilitation team, which is doing an amazing job.
In a general sense, I think these and many other initiatives would help to strengthen the idea that we are actually producing, offering something from Liberty Square to other newyorkers. Following what Luis said, this is extremely important if we want to help building a broader movement.
Sorry for the long email (and my English!). Please disregard if all this is redundant. I'm sure many of you have already thought about all this, and/or are already working on these things. I've thought about sharing all this with the GA, but every time I've been there there are other discussions going on. If you think any of this suggestions is ok, I could present them to the GA tonight. I would gladly help on that events coordination group. Please let me knwo if ther is already people working on that, or how can we get it started.
See you soon,
2011/9/21 Luis Moreno-Caballud <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Please allow me to take a minute of your time in this exciting days. I'm a member of Democracia Real Ya-NYC and participant in the NYC-GA. Adbusters has done a great job and I'm so thankful for you guys starting #OccupyWallStreet. It is true though that for some of us the activist imagery you sometimes use (such us in the background of the ballerina poster) seems in risk of somewhat closing the movement to other people. From our experience in May 15th movement in Spain, one of the most important things was that people who had never been involved in politics or activism joined. This, I think is actually the distinctive feature of tha Arab Spring and European assembly movements: they are inclusive in their discourse, their imagery, and their materiality.
This is why some of us in the movement are trying to push for a more open direction, and we actually are putting out a call for next Saturday that we think would be more attractive for people outside our still too homogeneous crowd right now. It would be really great if Adbusters agrees with this analysis and help us distributing this flyers, or making your own. Thanks a lot and solidarity!