We started with the usual name and intro round, in what ended up another large circle, notably a group that came down today from Occupy Auckland. Ben offered to facilitate the morning assembly tomorrow, unanimous consensus on that.
A number of practical issues were addressed, including the need for more donations of food. This segued into a discussion money. Those who had earlier expressed a desire not to involve money in the occupation have now withdrawn their objections, and consensus was reached to have our koha focalisers investigate opening a bank account, and accepting any sharing of funds Occupy Auckland still want to offer. We also had consensus that koha could be spent on food, medical supplies, cooking gas, and photocopying. Food, Wellbeing, and Comms focalisers will communicate with the koha focalisers about what needs to be bought, and feedback regularly to General Assemblies.
Then we moved onto feedback from the queer caucus. The issues raised included feeling unsupported by the group, objecting to being told to “get a backbone” or told that they are responsible for their interpretation of other people’s communication, group discussion being dominated by straight, white, male voices, a need for better facilitation to ensure other voices are heard, and need for respect for the space of caucus groups when they are meeting to address their collective needs. An open discussion covered a range of views. One point raised was that Individuals who admit that they may be wrong in bigoted views may be worth engaging with to help them move beyond those views. but there was a strong consensus to maintain the unity and inclusiveness of the occupation, to keep it a safe space, and to challenge the participation of any group and individual defending any form of oppression.
This segued into a discussion about anti-semitism, with one person of Jewish extraction saying he had felt excluded from Occupy, feeling that the movement was passively tolerant of anti-Jewish rhetoric. There was a clear consensus that anti-semitism, being a form of oppression, was not welcome in Occupy Wellington, and that people are ready and willing to actively challenge such bigotry.
It was mentioned that there is a difference between interpersonal disagreements, and political beliefs that dehumanise particular groups. One person offered to be a third-party/ mediator to help resolve interpersonal conflict among occupiers. There was also a request for people to be mindful of their use of language, to minimise the chance of being misunderstood, or unwittingly causing offence. Strong views were expressed that fascists/ neo-nazis should be kept out of camp, and that any attempt to engage constructively with them should happen elsewhere. There was a strong consensus that any behaviour or aggressive communication that violated our kaupapa of opposing all forms of oppression would be kept out of camp by a conscious group effort.
We also briefly discussed the need to prepare for the day of action on Labour Day monday. A camp clean-up will happen tomorrow, with as many volunteers as possible. There was consensus that if a generator was available, so we can use sound systems and projectors, that we should use it. There was discussion about the need to choose and prepare spaces for workshops, music, and other activities, including erecting shelter structures.
One of the workshop focalisers offered to hold a subgroup meeting after assembly, to discuss further planning and preparation for Monday. A list of workshops is up on the wiki, and a list of performers will be added, These will be updated as often as possible. Please spread the word about Monday, the more people who come down to participate, the more strength the occupation will gain to get through the next week.