General Assembly Minutes – Nov. 26

Occupy Edmonton
Minutes of General Assembly

26 November, 2011

Grant MacEwan University,
Main Cafeteria

Meeting ran from 6:30 until 9

Facilitator: Mike Hudema

The meeting began with a talking circle in which everyone present spoke for a
couple of minutes about their favourite moment of Occupy I, which was centered
on encampment at the square at 102nd Street and Jasper Avenue. A
formal agenda was then set, and most of the remaining meeting focused on the
sharing of new Action ideas. Here is a rough transcript of the principal items
of discussion after minute-taking officially began (that is, after the
establishing of the formal agenda). Where possible, the names of speakers have
been supplied. Minute-taker apologizes to those whose name she did not manage to
get, to anyone whose remarks she has not captured in as full a form as the
speaker would have liked, and for any lapse of attention that has resulted in
something not getting recorded.


It was established that the meeting would be devoted to the consideration of key
“Next Steps” for Occupy Edmonton, including:

-  Finding accommodation for people without homes with Occupy’s eviction earlier that morning from the square at 102nd Street and Jasper Avenue
-  Establishing a possible new location for a camp
-  Discussing what we might do, at this pivotal juncture for Occupy, to gain public support
- Discussing what Actions we should consider at this time or in the near future
-  Discussing what actions might accompany the court dates for those arrested

Question: of whether media should be permitted to stay.
Before we could get down to the agenda, it was asked that we consdier whether or not
it was acceptable to the group that media remain. Global TV had a camera set
up, and other reporters were present.

The discussion on this issue focused on how our ideal of transparency was in
conflict for us, at this particular meeting, with the secrecy that we might
require around many of our Action proposals. The media present were asked if
they would like to tell us why they felt they should get to stay.

The reporter from Global asked if he could stay because Global really wants to tell
our story. Another reporter argued that if we did not permit him to stay he’d
feel we were being hypocritical; in other words, we cannot call for greater
transparency from our City government and not be fully open about our own

It was decided that we would permit the media to stay on the condition that if
there were any matter in particular that arose for which we required complete
non-disclosure they would, at our request, retreat from the space pronto.

Kirk asked that we establish a signal to indicate where we felt a matter called for
secrecy. It was decided that the good old fingers-across-the-lips would do for
this, and that if a number of people were standing around with their fingers
across their lips the media would be asked to leave the space.

Discussion proper then began. (As it turned out, of the media present at the outset, only
Global TV stuck it out for the duration!)

Action Ideas

It  was decided that the GA wished to start by discussing new Actions, and that we
would hear various suggestions for Actions, and then consider breaking into
spokesgroups around Action ideas.

Shawn – Has been approached by a priest who would like to do 4 Advent events.

Alexander - Let’s focus on building a base of support with actions such as mic checks on the LRT.

Amy - Loves that Alexander is  speaking about an idea that was dear to Olivia, who wanted us to be getting on the LRT and be calling out things like “We appreciate you! We applaud you for
riding public transit! We are Occupy Edmonton and we love you!”

Street Pastor Asked if there was a pamphlet general enough  to be handed out at such Actions. (Yes, the answer came back.)

Patrick - Spoke to our need to have a purpose.  Suggested we do a fact-finding survey with our neighbours to show them who we are and also establish our profile in communities.

Guy speaking for Courtenay, not present -
Should start our own newspaper in order to reach out to people. Could be sticking newspaper in magazine stands at universities (for starters).

Derrick – There’s a huge amount of work involved in that.

Ryjin – It is much easier to put our propaganda over/in existing media.

Someone claimed, tangentially, that there is no such thing as media impartiality.

David - The media spins things, it’s true, but the spin usually comes from editors.

Mike – Could we please return to the discussion of possible actions?

Bill T. - Called for us to come up with  actions that allowed for a direct response to that morning’s eviction. One idea: go to the police central office with a gift for those who worked with us.
Another option: occupy lobby of police department. Third idea: occupy City Council chambers while Council is in session.

Kirk - Process question: should we be presenting our ideas briefly? Or should we be taking the idea to elaborate? Some of us may have to go soon.

Mike - We need to get all of the ideas out and then gauge which ones have support. This will take awhile.

Mike - reporting a couple of Duane Goodstriker’s ideas: 

  1. Banner drop from bridge.

  2. Flash mobs at fancy gatherings.

  3. Occupy space at Katz arena.

  4. Occupy  somewhere at Tar Sands for awhile.

  5. Occupy Rossdale flats from Spring onwards.

Mike - Would like to see us have Occupy
Squads that help people being screwed over by system. Would like us to put
together a massive list of Occupiers ready to respond. Idea is, people would
write into us, explaining their situation and would choose which ones to act

Speaker           How about occupying places that the disenfranchised depend upon? Such as non-profit agencies that help them?

Phil                 Noted he was already been approached by people who have Roving ideas.

Greg                (to speaker before Phil) I used  to work for non-profit agency. They depend on dollars that come with a huge  weight attached. They’re not likely to want us occupying because our presence  could affect their funding. So you’re not like to get a huge bite from them.

Marty?            Could we shovel sidewalks for the elderly? And create murals or hopscotches on sidewalks?

Nixie               Thinks we need to have a weekly  potluck so we can build community. We’d invite anyone who wants to bring what they can and hang out. This is going to happen because she is taking it upon herself to make it happen. The only question is where it’s going to happen.
Spaces, anyone?

Nixie               Would also like to see us have  some kind of fundraiser to help those who were arrested pay off their tickets.

Bill Sound
    Fundraiser is in works.

Bootz          Noted he was really into the getting-to-know-one-another idea

Bill T.         Noted that he was already working on his speech to the judge about this ticket, but that a fundraiser would be great.

David        We need a rally soon. Thinks we should start at the old square and then march to an undisclosed new location where we’re going to set up a new camp.

Greg           Sure, a rally would be great. But let’s step things up a notch! How about a general strike?!

Eric                 Churchill Square, we’ve still got that, right? I’ve got a sound system, Bill’s got a sound system, it’s easy to make a rally happen.

Phil            Only problem is that there are lots of winter games there for the new couple of months

Speaker           Could we have a picnic?

Rhys                Noted he really likes the chalk graffiti idea. Perhaps not now, with  snow down on the ground, but come Spring, let’s put chalk into everyone’s hands and get everyone scrawling 99% everywhere they go!

Jenn                Would like us to write a letter  of thank-you to Melcor. They didn’t let us have to stay as long as they did. Community would probably appreciate this gesture.

Speaker           Could we occupy the police department at 4 in the morning since that’s the time they evicted us? And sure we can give them some food, if people want . . . Also wants to deal with the
way mainstream media handles crazy stuff like, We don’t have jobs.

 Rhys                Noted he really likes the chalk graffiti idea. Perhaps not now, with  snow down on the ground, but come Spring, let’s put chalk into everyone’s hands and get everyone scrawling 99% everywhere they go!

 Josh for Shawn       City Centre Church would like to offer us communion. We don’t have to take communion, but thinks it would be great for us as a non-faith/multi-faith group to accept this invitation.

 Ryan               Would like us to create message balls that we leave in public places. These would be fun because people could pick them up, read them, and either put them back down again for reading by others, or carry them somewhere new. So our messages would always be on the move.

 Ryan               Would like us to create message balls that we leave in public places. These would be a fun way for us to communicate because people could pick them up, read them, and either put them back down again for reading by others, or carry them somewhere new. So our  messages would always be on the move.

 Derrick           Would really like to see us making some use of interactive media. How about putting some polls on our website? People like taking polls. Just think of the way they contribute to
things like Canadian Idol. We could even have people vote on Actions they’d like to see from us — not every action, not the ones we don’t want to disclose in advance, obviously, but those actions
that people approve the public knowing about in advance.

 Speaker **      We need immediate response to eviction. Need to take some kind of action by Sunday. Sunday, it’s supposed to be 8 degrees. Why don’t we walk on the bridge and stop traffic and drop a banner?

 Speaker **      Likes idea of march and banner  drop. We might need more than one PA if we’re moving between locations. But what he’d really like to hear: talk of Reoccupation.

 Mike                Would like to hear people’s workshop ideas. Important to build our own skill sets. Would also like to see us have design some Action for December 3rd, which is global climate
action day.

Carolyn           So many great ideas. Could we prioritize Action(s) to be taken over next couple of days and focus on planning for that?

Speakers’ names withheld for speakers’ protection.

Voting on Action Ideas

We proceeded to establishing which ideas the group was most excited about so that
planning would be able to proceed on an Action within next couple of days.
We  went through each and every proposal on the table – Mike had recorded these on
a whiteboard – and took a show of hands on each, to establish which Actions the
group found most urgent, i.e., as way of narrowing down the field and
establishing what Action might take place over next couple of days.

 Minute-taker took photographs during this; someone else recorded # of hands for each idea. Upshot of this segment of meeting:

it was determined that a banner drop would  take place on Sunday, from the High Level Bridge, starting with a rally at 1 pm.

A bottom-liner for this action was established.

With an immediate Action established, we moved on to discussing some of the other
proposed Actions. It was felt that the discussion of the proposed letter to Melcor was most urgent.

 Mike                Noted that he did not particularly want us to write a letter of thank-you to Melcor.

Kirk                 How about writing to express our disappointment in them!

Bill T.              Noted that he was also against the writing of a letter of thank-you as a Melcor representative had insisted on reading a special statement to him at the time of his arrest. He
found it disconcerting and wrong for a representative of a private corporation to be reading any such statement to him at such a moment.

Jeff                  Thinks gratitude is a really strange political tactic, and the idea of thanking a corporation is plain absurd. We could write to the individuals at the entities that have been
threatening us — Melcor, EPS & and the City — saying that we thank those within those organizations who support us, especially those who have engaged with their colleagues in debates about Occupy – and then reiterate our goals.

Amy                 Thinks any form of loving is always a good thing, and suggests that what we might do is create a loving yet ironic Christmas card for them with images from the eviction.

David              Noted that we’ve given Melcor so much PR and asked that we end our engagement with them. Asked us not give them any more PR with a letter of thank-you to them.

Dr. Reefer       But Melcor could have kicked us out on day one. We were on their private property. (many remarks about this) If people occupied your house, wouldn’t you want to kick them out? Let’s give credit where credit is due.

Greg                Offered perspective on the nature of corporations in general, and Melcor as a corporation in particular.

( Minute-taker’s notes become inadequate at this juncture. (Sorry!) )

A sign-up sheet went round for those who wished to contribute to the drafting of a letter to Melcor.

Discussion then turned to particulars for the Sunday action.

 It was felt that while most of  the decisions for the action could be left to a Sunday Rally working group, a couple of key decisions should be taken, together, on the spot. It was decided that the event would have three elements: Rally with speeches, a March across the bridge, and a General Assembly afterwards.
Though there were some initially  in favour of starting the action on the southside, at either the University or Garneau Elementary School Park, it was determined that it would be better,  symbolically and practically, to have the Rally in the little park on the northwest side of the High Level Bridge, and then march south across the bridge, for our first GA at the University of Alberta.

Final part of meeting.

 Meeting began to move towards wrap-up, with it being noted that we had not gotten to
everything on the agenda. It was declared urgent that we make sure that campers
who were without a home in Edmonton have somewhere they could sleep that night.
Places to sleep were quickly identified, and the meeting wrapped with
assurances that communications about the Sunday rally/bridge march/general
assembly would start immediately.

Permanent link to this article: http://occupyedmonton.org/2011/11/general-assembly-minutes-nov-26/

"; echo $r; }