This Facilitation Training was focusing on the development of Agendas.


Two Goals: Review template, plug ppl into facil roles


Denise, Colleen, Kat, Maggie, Jessie, Chelle, Nathanael


Notetaker – Maggie

Stack/Process Observer (keep an eye on time, process, and making sure ppl all get opportunity to speak) – Kat

Everyone is Vibes checker!

Facilitator – Nathanael

Parking Lot – Chelle

Go Over Hand Signals

Clarifying questions, Point of Information as an interrupt – vitally relevant question or information

Point of Process can also happen whenever it needs to happen – keep people from straying waaaaaay far away; keep group focused

Confusion about stack, CQ, POI and people get tripped up

POI – factual info being discussed

CQ – I don’t understand, can be answered, not vague hypothetical

Stack – opinion; I want to get on stack is five hand raise

Direct response – information that is not a point solely factual – only for small groups, not for large because it can be abused

It is all process, not content with hand signals

Agenda building exercise – 30 min

– Agenda Template

O4A has it’s own template, and based on OWS model [there are additional points brought to the table by Colleen]:

Introduction to Meeting:

We read our Call to Action, something to inspire people at beginning; CtA – focus energy of group onto task, a formal ritual that pulls process into place and peoples attention to the piece of the world we want them to focus on

Introduction of attendees, either with prompt or not; sometimes in small group that meets regularly, to help off-load energy, ask people what’s on their mind so they can express what their mental processes (where we come from)

Introduce Facilitation Team (after producing level playing field with previous introduction) how has Facil team been chosen? Outside – stranger in the group would disrupt energy, and so they would come in before Intros of Attendees;

Would it be a good idea to always intro Facil team before intros? It depends – if you self-select you can do it after, if you pre-select, there should be an intro before attendees

– Intro Agenda – O4A typically hands out agenda, rather than intro; in a more informal meeting it is more important for a vibes check/consensus, but in large scale it can really slow things down; O4A action assemblies are in a weird middle, generally small and informal, but up to 20 people; probably for speed and simplicity good to have it hammered out before hand;

– Perhaps just agree to a set template and if anyone wants to add anything, they can add it into agenda; Want attendees to buy-in to the agenda, keeps people on time, people will know how long things will take – and so we’ll help as a group keep things moving – as a good facilitator you want whole group to facilitate with you; get group buy-in say here’s tentative agenda, is there anything missing? Anything that shouldn’t be there? And then get agreement to amount of time – if you skip that, you will have people who haven’t bought-in and disagreements may arise


Buy-in gives sense of ownership, less dictatorial – people with important topics went to facli team and you were added; also added to stack – this was used for 100s of people, so smaller group

– Action assemblies have 20-30 people; so what are these good for in terms of the particular meeting this coming Thursday?

–       have a template to plug into; keep things as simple as possible for when people walk in; complications come from everyone, not just Facili Team; everything is simple, humans make it complicated

–       Consistently build an agenda from a template that everyone is familiar with from outset – present agenda with the understanding that it is only 75% complete – people know they can be added in appropriate places, then vibes check about schedule, times allotted etc

–       Once everyone knows the process/agenda, the review of it will be very short

Intro to Process

-Intro to Hand Signals if felt it necessary – especially important because each Occupation can use different hand signals; becomes like a ritual, an educational moment and a community bonding moment

-Agenda Review – 5 min

– Present it – get buy-in

– Show others where they can plug in information

– Vibes etc – this is a visual example of the Hand Signals, a good way to introduce and practice the hand signals; also a function of review

–       5 Min process discussion – meant to be educational; differences between hand signals, differences between committee and working groups etc – this is specific to O4A meetings : change perspectives through use of words


We have to break loose thought pattern of anonymous vote and change it; there will always be strangers with agendas, so you need process and consensus

— Take one min, either facil, or note taker to go over last meeting – we did ABC, and we achieved B and C and we’ll hear back from X groups about Y and Z – energy focusing technique, group memory – helpful to go over group memory; group history – review of minutes (group memory!) As simple as 5 min, 5 sentences – very simple

Action Group Report Backs

Have a plan, but can also be added on, plug-in (Stack should find out who wants to get in, esp. if they come in late) [questions: who wants to be on stack?…we are closing stack, who wants on?] good to have reserve place for it, so meeting doesn’t go on indefinitely; have set time and then consense on more time? Once process is working well for yourself, it can become more efficient as a whole

Short – typically 2 minutes each

Proposals – O4A doesn’t always have proposals set, usually ad hoc; we don’t have proposal section – typically after REPORT BACKS, we ususally place Specific Topics

Proposals usually come from RBs – but RBs are usually past oriented, and proposals are future oriented; Special Topics leaves it a little more open ended, caters to flexibility; what we have is a discussion and then action is planned, there isn’t much in terms of formal proposal – fundamental difference between action assembly vs a general assembly where we would have a set proposal section vs special topics; This is important flexible part of agenda – what will help us manage, each topic must have spokes person and time limit before it gets formally placed on agenda – pre-ID’d the spokes for that topic; this is a goal, not an event – as we create topics and allow freedom for ideas to pop up, this is a way to manage time, ID prior – if groups want action, then they need to present something; at some point we’ll need a grip on this section other wise it might just meander and there won’t have closure

What we’ve done is have topics before hand; inter occupational out reach, ID person to give report and make sure they have info and will speak about it; is this another instance to do group memory? It wouldn’t hurt to do more in depth about topics and say XX is going to do a report on what they did etc And again it is a review for those who come in late – ask people if they’re cool with being spokesman on a topic?

Announcements – something people get confused about a lot

Information about something that’s upcoming

Information about autonomous actions

Future activities/actions/stuff

Used at OWS – this is more autonomous (RB and Proposals are more group-oriented) – announcements are individual, no consensus or vibes check on this area – giving information, and these should be really quick, LESS than 2 minutes – if it doesn’t fit in here, then it will become working group or proposed next meeting

Announcement of WG

Next Steps

Somebody needs to review – note taker will take names and start “kicking ass” – XX said would do something, will you do that for next mtg? Action Group will do this – make people accountable for what they say they do – and then this is basis of next agenda; give people help  (FORMAL MANNER OF NOTE TAKING IN ORDER TO SIMPLIFY THIS PROCESS)


Perhaps next meeting discuss more thoroughly for Facil Roles?

Do we want to go more in depth in these for the next meeting? Perhaps just continue with what we’re doing for now and continue this discussion next time

Have different facilitators for next meeting, but people who are comfortable doing it

Facil Roles for meeting on Thursday:

Nathanael: stack

Kat and Chelle: facilitators

Maggie: note-taking

If we come to really good understanding of agenda template, plugging in will be very easy; most of our energies on template will be most productive thing

With a good enough template going on, a facil team could meet even 15 min prior to meeting



Consensus Is Rad(ical)! Occupy Ann Arbor GA Recap

This has been an inspiring few days for the Occupy movement in Michigan. Between Wednesday’s Funeral for Democracy in Lansing, Friday’s Tribal Summit in Flint, and today’s General Assembly in Ann Arbor, it’s been great to see the organization of Occupy in Michigan come together. After over a month of occupying, people in various Michigan occupations are growing together in mutual trust, admiration, and friendship. Everything is really starting to congeal. Occupy is starting to take over our lives and we’re all the happier for it!

One of the central goals of the Occupy movement is to develop and promote direct-democratic processes. At today’s GA in Liberty Plaza, Occupy Ann Arbor engaged in a thought-provoking discussion on how to enact this radical democratic change of building community on the basis consensus and mutual cooperation.

Operating on consensus represents a radical change from the political status quo. For Americans, building consensus is likely to be a new, unfamiliar process. We tend to think of politics as a competitive, adversarial arena where opposing parties duke it out for supremacy. Politics in America is less about cooperatation and constructive dialogue and more promoting individual agendas and getting one’s own way.  One side always wins and one side always loses.

Consensus, on the other hand, is about cooperation, not competition. Make no mistake: enacting the shift from competitive politics to consensus-based politics is a huge task. Change will not happen over night. But Occupy Ann Arbor boldly took it upon itself today to build this change.

The GA began with smaller groups breaking out to discuss questions about the nature of consensus. With about 30 people in attendance, we were all asked to answer the following questions: “What kinds of action need consensus, particularly by the General Assembly?” and “Where is the line between consensus and autonomous action?”

The Occupy movement is attempting the balancing act of building consensus while encouraging autonomous action. If someone wants to start a working group, they are empowered start one autonomously without the prior consent of the GA. If someone sees a task that needs to be done, they are encouraged to form a group around the task. But the question is, when do these autonomous groups need to get consensus from the GA to carry out tasks? Occupy can only grow and thrive in an environment where self-motivated action is encouraged. But things get tricky when people acting autonomously do things that that the larger community might not necessarily approve of.

While it is impossible to answer these questions in the space of a single GA, these questions are important. In order to sort out these issues, those in attendance at today’s GA decided to form two new working groups: one devoted to drafting an Occupy Ann Arbor Principles and Goals document and the other devoted to resolving issues related to GA quorum  (quorum is the minimal number of people required at a GA for consensus to be reached on proposals).

In addition to discussing the consensus process, a number of working groups reported back on recent successes and future projects.

The education working group reported on the all-day Day of Activism conference that it is planning for December 11. Potential workshops and panels include ones on the history of revolutions, alternatives to capitalism, civil disobedience, and homelessness.

The community working group reported on Friday’s successful benefit for their Warming Shelters Project where they $685 raised for the warming shelter.

The direct action group reported on the special Black Friday action it is organizing. The action promises to be a rousing good time. While the group is keeping the details on the down-low, direct action is organizing a flash-mob style protest in a major big box store. The next planning meeting will be Tuesday 6pm at Cafe Ambrosia. For those who wish to be involved in the action, people will be meeting Friday at Veteran’s park  for rideshares (parking lot on Maple, across from Plum Market) in Ann Arbor, and leave to the action site promptly at 10:15am. The Action will bring awareness to shopping local verses supporting major corporations that have not only harmed the economy, but also have poor treatment of their workers.

Occupy U of M made its presence known at the GA. Their first GA will be on November 30. They will be organizing a practice GA to help develop process. The cool thing about Occupy UM is that anyone may get involved, whether or not affiliated with UM. Stay tuned for more details!

Big thanks to the fantastic facilitation team for all their hard work in fostering an open, cooperative space for conversation.