February’s Assembly

Thank you to everyone that came to yesterday’s assembly! We hope you will join us for the next one on Tuesday March 19th from 7pm to 9pm at SOAS. If you’re interested in helping to facilitate that assembly, we will be meeting at a café (to be confirmed) close to SOAS from 6pm on the same evening. Please come! March’s assembly, we will be:
 
  1. Asking for feedback on actions and projects that have happened / are happening;
  2. Lessons learned from participation in ongoing campaigns and projects;
  3. Understanding who needs help, support or resources and identifying how they can be contacted if those in the room would like to offer help, support or resources; and
  4. Small group discussions on thematic issues, such as our long term vision for the future.

A summary note of yesterday’s gathering is below!

Notes from the February Becoming Catalysts for a Radical Social Movement Assembly

We identified key issues for discussion, some of which developed upon the outcomes of the first assembly in January:

1) The importance of community organising (around cuts to local services, anti-gentrification, for example) and local assemblies generally, and whether we might consider holding local assemblies in the lead up to the People’s Assembly which the Coalition of Resistance has called for June 2013;

2) Media, Structure, and Skills-sharing

a. the importance of media platforms that supported local groups and actions and improved our communication, but also contained training and skills sharing information;

b. creating a rough structure for our future assemblies, but which was continually revised as needed, being open to evaluation and amendment; and

c. having regular skills-sharing workshops

3) Anti-terror legislation affecting some of the most vulnerable communities, such as ‘Schedule 7’ which gives high stop and search powers to the police under. A discussion that such legislation could be extended to anti-capitalists who may be deemed ‘terrorists’ by some; and

4) The importance of imagining alternatives to current systems.

Three small group discussions took place on the above points. The feedback from these discussions, and discussions during the feedback to the general assembly, is below:

Community Organising and Local Assemblies

It was thought that an assembly entitled ‘Becoming Catalysts for Radical Social Change’ might include a self-reflective aspect as to what it meant to ‘become a catalyst’ and what ‘radical social change’ itself meant. An idea was proposed that ‘Becoming Catalysts for Radical Social Change’ assemblies have a roving / moving aspect, taking place around local London boroughs where local communities could discuss these questions and also share what radical social change would mean to them, in their home communities. This could be a launching pad for local actions and occupations. A central London assembly would be retained on a monthly basis and delegates from local assemblies would participate in the central assembly. Someone stated that SOAS has an assembly that students participate in and another idea would be to engage local university students in this way.

Many felt that it was important to invite local groups to the next meeting so we could hear about their local campaigns, and learn from them about what has worked and what hasn’t worked, to help develop strategies for future organising.

Others thought it might be helpful to start building a toolkit identifying the key aspects of what makes an assembly a good assembly. This could be shared and developed with other groups but would not become a ‘blueprint’ to be enforced.

On the question of the upcoming People’s Assembly called for by the Coalition of Resistance, it was felt that a specific discussion was needed about whether it was important to support the assembly, hold local assemblies in the lead up to it, or subvert it because it excludes some. Occupy London are hosting a discussion on this tonight, Friday 22 February.

Media, Structure and Skills-sharing

In addition to developing a possible structure for the next assembly (which was amended to take into account feedback in the general assembly and the final structure for the March assembly can be found in the introduction of this blog above), the group discussed how a website for these assemblies might develop. It was thought that the website should be simple and include information of local campaigns, projects, and have skills sharing reports.

The group asked whether the general assembly would be interested in skills sharing workshops (such as on safety, know your rights training, engaging with alternative and mainstream media, etc) would be valuable. The general assembly decided that skills sharing workshops every two months (six a year) on these and other issues would be valuable. A group of individuals interested in organising the workshops was established.
 
Two workshops are taking place this weekend and more information can be found here:

Saturday 22 February, 4-6pm: http://occupylondon.org.uk/events/social-media-workshop-hootsuite-and-effective-techniques-of-using-social-media

Sunday 23 February, 1pm: http://occupylondon.org.uk/events/facilitation-assemblies-and-decision-making-in-horizontal-groups

The importance of imagining alternatives

The group disagreed on the question of alternatives, particularly whether this only included alternative economic systems but also alternative social structures, systems and ways of relating. A question was also raised as to whether alternatives to current systems would be based on better social values. The word ‘boycott’ triggered a hot discussion around the final aim of different strategies and tactics. The space for broader discussion around alternatives was thought to be valuable.

At the end of the meeting, those that were interested in collaborating with others on the above signed up to an e-mail list for building on-going future connections and communications.

We hope you will join us for the next assembly, which will take place in SOAS on Tuesday 19th March!

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