Adopted by consensus of the GA on 12/03/11

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

   

General Assembly

the following words are taken from this awesome pdf, which also includes a brief history of the occupy movement and a section about knowing your rights.

General Assembly

The General Assembly (GA) model has been adopted by most of the occupations as a way to discuss and make decisions. “  The GA is a horizontal, leaderless, consensus-based open meeting. " is is where decisions are made that affect the whole group and general discussions are held. The GA is a gathering of people committed to making decisions based upon a collective agreement or “consensus."  There is no single leader or governing body of the GA—everyone’s voice is equal. Anyone is free to propose an idea or express an opinion as part of the GA. Each proposal follows the same basic format—an individual shares what is being proposed, why it is being proposed, and, if there is enough agreement, how it can be carried out.  The GA will express its opinion for each proposal through a series of hand gestures. If there is positive consensus for a proposal—meaning no outright opposition—then it is accepted and direct action begins. If there is not consensus, the responsible group or individual is asked to revise the proposal and submit again at the following GA until a majority consensus is achieved. Smaller working groups, such as Media, Outreach, Food, Direct Action, etc., make it possible for things to get done a little bit smoother.   The working groups figure out specifics, such as what needs to be done or how something could be done, and formulates proposals to bring to the GA for general consensus.  The working groups can also relay important information about things that everyone needs to take into consideration. Only decisions that affect the entire group need to be brought to the GA.  Not every person needs to be involved in every action for them to be successful;  people should participate in things that they feel strongly about. Groups can plan and call for people to participate in smaller actions outside of the GA without the entire group agreeing to it.

Consensus

Consensus is an inclusive and non-hierarchical process for group decision making. It is a method by which the input and ideas of all participants are gathered and synthesized in order to arrive at a final decision acceptable to all.  Through consensus, we are not only working to achieve better solutions, but paving the way for an egalitarian model of community decision making. Consensus means that the group has come to a decision in which everyone feels their position on the matter was considered carefully and addressed as much as possible. It doesn’t mean that every single person agrees that the decision made is the only way to do things.  Hopefully, everyone will think it is the best decision; this often happens because, when consensus works properly, collective intelligence does come up with better solutions than could individuals.

Beautiful video showing GA at OWS and hand signals

In The Same Vein…

The following passages came from the Commission for Group Dynamics in Assemblies of the Puerta del Sol Protest Camp (Madrid).  Full document here.

Open Reflection on Collective Thinking

While we would like to share our impressions so far, we encourage you to continue to reflect on and debate these impressions as we feel that Collective Thinking is an essential part of our movement. To our understanding, Collective Thinking is diametrically opposed to the kind of thinking propounded by the present system. This makes it difficult to assimilate and apply. Time is needed, as it involves a long process. When faced with a decision, the normal response of two people with differing opinions tends to be confrontational. They each defend their opinions with the aim of convincing their opponent, until their opinion has won or, at most, a compromise has been reached. The aim of Collective Thinking, on the other hand, is to construct. That is to say, two people with differing ideas work together to build something new. The onus is therefore not on my idea or yours; rather it is the notion that two ideas together will produce something new, something that neither of us had envisaged beforehand. This focus requires of us that we actively listen, rather than merely be preoccupied with preparing our response. Collective Thinking is born when we understand that all opinions, be these opinions our own or others’, need to be considered when generating consensus and that an idea, once it has been constructed indirectly, can transform us. Do not be discouraged: we are learning; we’ll get there: all that’s needed is time.

What is a People’s Assembly? 

It is a participatory decision-making body which works towards consensus. The Assembly looks for the best arguments to take a decision that reflects every opinion – not positions at odds with each other as what happens when votes are taken. It must be pacific, respecting all opinions: prejudice and ideology must left at home. An Assembly should not be centred around an ideological discourse; instead it should deal with practical questions: What do we need? How can we get it? The Assembly is based on free association – if you are not in agreement with what has been decided, you are not obliged to carry it out. Every person is free to do what they wish – the Assembly tries to produce collective intelligence, and shared lines of thought and action. It encourages dialogue and getting to know one another.