General Assembly Facilitator and Process Training Agenda


Facilitator and Process Workshop
February 25th, 2012
NorthStar Center, Lansing

Introduction to Workshop

–          Introduce Workshop Team

  • Co-Facilitator: Kent
  • Co-Facilitator: Kat
  • Stack:
  • Notes:

–          Introduce Attendees

  • Name and Occupation

Introduction to Process

–          Review Hand Signals
–          Consensus on Process

Agenda (5 min.)

–          Review Workshop Purpose

  • This is a Workshop focused on Process and Facilitator training, as well as an opportunity to share past experiences in regards to process and facilitation.

–          Brief Agenda Review
–          Agenda Plug-Ins

  • Questions – Discussion at End
  • Comments/Stack – Discussion at End

–          Vibes Check on Agenda

Introduction to General Assemblies

–          Introduce Workshop Style

  • General Assembly Style
  • What is a General Assembly?
  • Brief History of GAs and Occupy
  • How is a General Assembly formed?
  • What is the purpose of a General Assembly?

The Importance of Process

–          What is Direct Democracy?
–          What is Consensus?

  • Does this need consensus? (Chart)

–          Why do we use process?
–          Does the process always have to be the same?
–          The importance of Consensus on Process

The Roles

–          Facilitator
–          Co-Facilitator/Shield
–          Notes
–          Stack
–          Vibes Checker
–          Greeter
–          Observer

  • Checklist

Using General Assemblies and Process

–          General Assemblies as used…

  • Camp
  • No Camp

–          Hand Signals

  • I have something to say! (Chart)

–          Facilitation

Beyond the General Assembly

–          Committee vs. Working Group (Chart)

  • Point People vs. Committee Heads
  • Leaders vs. Rulers

–          Action Groups
–          The Importance of Autonomous Action
–          What’s in a name?
–          Movement vs. Organization/Corporation 


–          Questions that weren’t covered
–          Open Discussion

Close Workshop

–          Feedback, Other Questions/Comments


General Assembly Facilitator and Process Training

General Assembly Facilitator and Process Training

Saturday, February 25th, 2012


NorthStar Center
106 Lathrop St.
Lansing, MI. 48912

The NorthStar Center is hosting Occupy For All from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to present General Assembly (GA) Facilitator and Process Training as it relates to the Occupy Movement. Learn what are effective means of direct democracy decision making, the role of the facilitator within the group and how a GA can be used as a tool to reach inclusive, consensus goals.

Whether you a part of a local Occupy group or involved with another social justice group, this presentation has value. It is based on the participation and observations of the Occupy For All team, who have attended numerous direct democracy consensus based Occupations throughout Michigan. Many suggestions will be offered, including minimizing divisiveness within the group. Refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to have any particular questions, comments, or situations addressed at this event, feel free to send them to us in advance at! Though we will still take questions at the event itself, it would help us be better prepared for some of those issues when we commence the training! We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to seeing all of you on Saturday!

In our Winter, we shall not forget the Spring

Happy Birthday “Arab Spring”

Today, the “Arab Spring” turns one year old.

After months of violence, the Libyan people toppled Gaddafi, Yemen’s leader is working on a deal to leave power, protests continue in Bahrain, while Syria remains in chaos. Tunisia and Egypt toppled their leaders and both along with Morocco recently held elections.

Who could have guessed a year ago that people would topple regimes, hunt down dictators, make presidents flee for their lives, and hold the the first democratic elections…   and all of this inspired by the act of one single man:  Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor who made $5-10 per day selling produce out of a wheelbarrow.

When Bouazizi was only three years old, his father, a construction worker in Libya, died of a heart attack. Bouazizi was only 10 years old when he became the primary breadwinner for his mother, his ill stepfather and five younger siblings.

As Bouazizi grew older, the people of his town—Sidi Bouzid—knew him as a friendly and generous young man who often gave free produce to poor families.  Generous also to his own family, Bouazizi sacrificed his dreams so he could afford to put his younger siblings through school. Bouazizi always aspired to go to college and hold a job with more prestige and a higher salary than peddling his cart of produce.  He applied to a number of positions including the Army, but—rejected—Bouazizi continued selling fruit and vegetables at the market to support his family.

Bouazizi’s difficulty finding a good-paying job was not out of the ordinary in Tunisia. In 2010, Tunisia suffered from an average unemployment rate of 14%, Sidi Bouzid reportedly endured a 30% unemployment rate, and in other towns similar to Sidi Bouzid in the interior of Tunisia, the unemployment rate for university graduates can reach 50%.

Since his childhood, Bouazizi endured regular harassment from local authorities and government officials about his cart, but on December 17, 2010 something changed.

Claiming he did not have the proper permit, officials harassed Bouazizi, confiscating his produce and his scale worth $100.  After refusing a fine/bribe of around $7, one female official insulted Bouazizi and allegedly slapped him in the face in the middle of the public market.

Humiliated and angry, Bouazizi marched to local government headquarters and demanded to meet with an official to retrieve his $100 scale so he could continue selling produce.  When the governor’s office refused to meet with him and hear his case, Bouazizi, angry and desperate, took drastic action.

He bought a can of fuel and doused himself.  Standing in the middle of traffic in front of a government building, he asked, “How do you expect me to make a living?” and he lit himself on fire.

The act was horrifying, but many people related to this young man’s struggles.

This humble man leading a simple life, through one desperate act, galvanized the feelings of frustration, anger and desperation into inspiration and action for an entire country.

Maybe the revolutionary spark lit because his story is so familiar?  Many knew a Bouazizi in their own town, and many saw a little Bouazizi in themselves.

Reposted from Voices of the Arab Spring on Tumblr

Occupy Ypsi: The Beginning

Occupy Ypsi Teach-In and Discussion
3pm Woodruff’s, 36 East Cross Street, Ypsilanti, MI


“The State Capitol of Art and Activism”
by Occupy Ypsilanti

What do GoldmanSachs, Jerry Sandusky, Michael Bloomberg, McDonald’s, Rick Snyder, The Gap, Nestle, Major League Baseball, and Mary Sue Coleman have in common? Power over others. And those in whom power is consolidated—what do they tend to do with that power? Two things: abuse and extract. Your average human being is used to having her sovereignty violated in multiple ways every day, a living death by a thousand cuts; or his savings account is being bloodlet. Actually: we know fewer and fewer people who even have a savings account.

We hear it said—and it’s at the root of the key erroneous talking-point of the mainstream media these past several weeks—“Why not work extra hard to get better Democratic politicians elected, and try to get change enacted that way? Because, after all, top-down leadership is what’s run this planet for thousands of years; it’s the only practical course of action.”

But we know—all too well—that placing our hopes in anyone but ourselves results in nothing but slackening wages, massive social injustice, ecological devastation, and the aggressive consolidation of money and power into the hands of plutocrats.

And so the time comes when we feel like we can endure this living death no longer. The “average American” finally feels this way. The average Syrian feels this way. And so do communists, Christians, skateboarders, cops, children, Executive Directors, painters, engineers, and animals. We need to be assured, though, that we won’t be stepping out into the street alone; we recall that it’s common for those who stand up and say “¡No mas!” to be beaten, spit on, arrested, raped, fired, ignored, tortured, and killed. And then, before our eyes, little by little, something begins to happen. In the Middle East, Spain, and elsewhere, and crystallizing in Liberty Square, a.k.a. Zuccotti Park, people are trading their living rooms for the streets and for each other, gathering in a true public.


Because there’s something beautiful and utterly reassuring about direct, participatory, ground-up, non-hierarchical democracy. For the first time in many of our lives, along comes something that, to its very foundation, is trustworthy. Here is wording developed and consensed into being by people in the park in New York City:

“As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.” [From the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.]

Ypsilanti is a perfect case study in what happens when austerity, prejudice, and repeated “extractions” bring a community to its knees. At the same time, our town is also a powerful example of grassroots self-recreation, and more and more we’re seeing how this aspect of Ypsilanti is magnetizing and drawing in creatives, localites, urban farmers, and activists. Do we want Ypsilanti to be the next Olympia, Washington? Or, better yet, Oakland or Iceland? It’s fun to think this, for a moment; but, of course we don’t. We want Ypsilanti to be—and be able to remain—itself: self-inventing, diverse, open, and active. Most of all, we want it to be self-sustaining: solar-powered, cooperatively organized, radically transparent, lacking in income disparity, and rife with public living. Rebecca Solnit: “As for me, the grounds of my hope have always been that history is wilder than our imagination of it and that the unexpected shows up far more regularly than we ever dream. A year ago, no one imagined an Arab Spring, and no one imagined this American Fall—even the people who began planning for it this summer. We don’t know what’s coming next, and that’s the good news. My advice is just of the most general sort: Dream big. Occupy your hopes. Talk to strangers. Live in public. Don’t stop now.”

Though we have plenty of ideas* for ways in which Occupy Ypsilanti will be an agent of change in its community, we begin with just one, and it’s elemental: to gather together for a teach-in at Woodruff’s Bar this Saturday at 3 p.m., to hear a handful of speakers, make some origami (Dave Strenski will lead an origami workshop for the children in attendance), and then, during the second hour, we’ll initiate a collective conversation—what form, no one knows in advance nor should we—in which we’ll actually begin to air our dreams together. It’s possible that we’ll have someone steeped in the working methods of #OWS on-hand to facilitate that part of the event.

“We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.”

*Just the beginning:

—to farm Water Street as it lies inactive, and eat what grows there; but especially to offer its harvest to those in need and to our public schools for lunches

—Days and Nights of Walking: groups of 5 or more who’d strike out daily and nightly to walk through and around neighborhoods in need of support, conversation, protection, lovingkindness.

—Foreclosure Resistance: following the lead of other national Occupy groups, let’s stand in defense of our neighbors who are faced with the threat of unjust foreclosure

—OURS (which is also french for “bear”): in which we consider occupying unused retail or residential space, with the expressed aim of holding dance parties, community action seminars, or simply to help keep them from falling into abject disrepair

—Big Aunts and Big Uncles: let’s consider devoting a few hours (or more!) of love and free time each week to help shepherd and mentor young people in Ypsilanti who are in need of scholastic, economic, or emotional support

—Plant Every Inch!: following the lead of some enterprising urban gardeners, let’s sow foodcrops everywhere there’s enough vacant land and labor to do so

—Edible Rec: let’s cultivate a big sunny portion of Rec Park into to an Edible Commons of fruiting trees and shrubs. If each family planted and sustained one tree or shrub, think of the harvests we could have in 2020

—Déja Vu Undo: in which we collectively acquire and reconstitute this landmark as a cooperatively-run community cinema, event space, and meetinghouse.

—State Capitol of Art and Activism: we hereby propose Ypsilanti as this.

—Community Dinner Restaurant: collective cooking and eating. Sliding-scale pricing funds acquisition of ingredients. Thanksgiving each night of the year.

—EMU4U: if we can’t convince the university to give back to our community, we’ll make it.

—Talks on Sidewalks: once a month, each house on each block empties its inhabitants onto the sidewalk, for milling, conversing, and idea-sharing. We’re so tired of not knowing our neighbors.

—Labor Caroling: groups of ten walk door to door on weekends, and offer ten minutes of labor (in our backyard, we have a tool shed that needs to move over a few inches). Some residents might just need ten minutes of conversation; our homeless neighbors might need help with laundry or a meal; an elderly guy might need his gutters cleaned.

—And please add all your ideas here.

Does this need consensus?

Here’s a little chart we cooked up to help answer that very question.  Consensus is what we strive for.  It is not a victory, rather, it is an achievable solution.  A GA, as the decision making body, is often asked for consensus on even the most minor of decisions.  There are a lot of actions that can be taken autonomously by individuals or groups to further a variety of projects.  Discussions of solutions can happen any where, any time.  A key to having a smooth GA is facilitating proper proposals.

really, just ask, "am I acting for the whole of the group?"

O4A Direct Democracy and Facilitation Workshop @ Cafe Ambrosia

Occupy4All  Direct Democracy and Facilitation Workshop

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Training @ 6:00

Cafe Ambrosia
326 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI. 48104


This Thursday there will be a Direct Democracy and Facilitation Workshop. Come learn the ins-and-outs of direct-democratic process and develop skills to participate in facilitation in meetings and GAs.

You do not need to participate regularly in Occupy for All to attend this workshop. The purpose of this workshop is to promote good facilitation and a strong understanding of process throughout all occupations.