We started with a quick round of the talking baton, so people could express how they’re feeling about the occupation so far, and to throw out agenda items. I have recorded the discussion as I remember it, working off the agenda items I noted down during the opening round. Items are not necessarily in the order discussed.
After bringing the assembly up to speed with the events of the morning, including the communications with the council workers and police, we had a report back from the communications subgroup who had a smaller circle after last night’s assembly to write a statement summing up the intent of our occupation. After some minor wording tweaks from the floor, related to the Occupy movement starting before Occupy Wall St, consensus emerged on putting out the following statement of intent (this may be changed, or other statements created, in later assemblies):
“We are occupying Civic Square as a part of the global Occupy Together movement. We are unaffiliated, and opposed to all forms of oppression, especially economic inequality. We are an inclusive, family-friendly, drug and alcohol free space. Join us – together, we are the 99%”
We then moved onto practicalities. Volunteers were sought to help sort through the food that has been donated so far, identify what needs to be eaten immediately, and what has already become compost, and to generally tidy and organise the food tent. Someone volunteered to take the food scaps we have assembled so far to the compost bins at Innermost Gardens, in Mt Victoria. One person volunteered their flat to be used for washing dishes, and two others volunteered to wash the dirty dishes that had piled up so far.
A request was made for some trestle tables, that could be used for things like serving food. One person volunteered to contact VUWSA about borrowing some from them.
There was some discussion about the need for an electrical supply. One of the comms focalisers volunteered to speak to council today about whether we can get the power point near the maunga switched on. The need for a weather-proof multibox for that outlet was raised. There was some discussion of a generator, but much disensus due to noise, cost of fuel, and not fitting our kaupapa of offering alternatives.
We quickly ran through our list or focalisers/ co-ordinators for different aspects of the occupation (food/ water, hospitality, infrastructure, health and safety etc), and checked who was still in camp, and whether they were happy to carry on in their roles, with a few roles rotated. The need for a white board was raised – to hold this kind of information and easily keep it up-to-date.
A request was made to keep noise down between midnight and 6am, so that occupiers who need to sleep can do that. Consensus was that loud activities like drumming, singing and other revelry can be taken to other areas during those times, but moderate conversation by those doing overnight hospitality shifts is fine.
One person suggested a small group go for a walk down Lambton Quay, talking to people about the occupation and the issues we have created this space to address.
A number of workshops have been offered. Times have been pencilled in during the late afternoon and evening. Again, a white board would be handy for putting up workshops times, locations and other details.
Consensus was instantly reached that the occupation will continue for another night, and that another decision will be made at tomorrow’s morning assembly about whether to continue the occupation. The general mood seems to be to continue occupying indefinitely.
Finally, we discussed the idea of offering the energy of our occupation to help out with community projects. A number of suggestions were made, including working bees at inner-city community gardens, and clean-ups around the waterfront. A suggestion was made to contact Volunteer Wellington about possible projects, and to put the word out through social networking for community groups to contact us. Soon after, more City Care workers arrived the mulch the tussock beds bordering the green area we are occupying. A number of occupiers decided to walk the talk of community working bees by helping these workers carry buckets of mulch from their truck.
We closed the assembly with another round of passing the baton, giving everyone a chance to share final thoughts before we broke off to go get our various tasks done. An encouraging and efficient meeting, and a pleasure to sit in circle with everyone for it.
The sun is shining, and although there are some challenges to weighting things down as the wind blows, spirits are high. Great discussions are going on all the time about the way our legal and economic systems work, and what alternatives there are, or could be. We have opened a space for the people of Whanganui-a-Tara, and people from around the world, to believe that other worlds are possible, and that we have the power to bring them into being.
He mihi aroha