Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Notes: Heather, then Mary Lou
Harry: suggests theme for our third round table be race and occupy. Michal suggests adding class as part of the conversation.
Harry announces the fracking bill that is coming before the NC House at 8pm on Sunday and to get in touch with the House members [see our calendar for list of emails on Sunday, November 27th] and the last public hearing on the Duke Energy rate hike in Raleigh on Monday in Raleigh. If you spoke at the last hearing, they discourage speaking again, but your presence will help. If you didn’t speak at the last hearing, please come out and comment. Also, the Friends (Quaker group) will bring a turkey and side dishes to the site at either 11:30 or 2:00. Yay!
Katya got in touch with Hudson Vaughan from Sustaining Ourselves, who presented at the town meeting, and is organizing a teach-in w/ him and other community members, including Northside residents who are interested.
Michal reminds us that the largest SWAT action in U.S. in 1991 was in Northside, so there is a history of the exploitation of this neighborhood.
Does anyone have any strong feelings about overwintering?
Katya reports for Gal: Remove tents but keep presence in plaza like the info table, hot tea/coffee, cookies to hand out to passersby. Can still have one or two tents continue at plaza, but also try to keep up at least one visible direct action per week, like picketing, bannering, etc. for both the public eye and to keep our spirits engaged.
Katya: We need tents because they’re a symbol of Occupy. They also solve problems for some of the homeless who are worried they will be carted off by the police when we leave, while now they can derive some protection by association because they can come closer or sometimes use tents.
Mary Lou: Amanda has done clean up and food, and I’ve talked about it with her a lot. We agree with the symbolic tent present, claim victory, and leaving for winter. We can’t continue with what Amanda had to deal with yesterday. And eventually the health dept will come after us for things like this.
Michal: Think the symbolic occupation could also involve more performative things every day, like maybe even stage a satire of sitting on Santa’s lap ritual, have moments that critique. [your note taker cannot resist comment here, sorry: people sitting on Santa’s lap and asking for things that REALLY matter? Or, zombie shoppers all over town or the mall. Zombies are always fun.]
David: Thinks we should maybe winter rather than go home. We can explore using available buildings legally. If you want to check it out, go ahead to churches (there have been offers, vacant buildings, there’s a lot of private property potentially available worth investigating. Also have mentioned that nonprofits can sometimes make deals to rent space for as little as a dollar a year). It’s apparent to me that when we don’t have a collective designated space, things don’t happen. We already have workgroups meeting problems, and I’m worried about packing it up for winter. If we’re going to continue, we need a centralized location that we can hole up in if there’s icy/freezing/snowy weather. If we’re able to find this building, we’ll be sheltering a different kind people who want to be active. In that community there would be clear responsibility like not using tents for shitting and pissing, for instance. If you don’t want to do this, then people should say they’re stepping back rather than mandating with new policies. If you’re burned out and want some space, that’s ok! We should be turning into community and working on what can we do about this, figuring out who will take care of these things if you don’t want to.
Amanda: Indoor space would be great. It’s necessary for Occupy to take another space. Occupying is a manifestation of political will, but if we look at the practical situation here, we’ve evolved into stratification, living here, sheltering, with minimal level of logistical of work on site. If we’re going to start considering winter, retrenching might be a necessity unless people step up and do certain things. We have lots of ability to do that, scheduling on website, outreach. All our ideology is having trouble being implemented here. As we move forward, let’s look at our history so that we can move into a better situation. I’m not trying to be a pessimist, but the rock can only be lifted uphill so much. Unless some justification for people having night watch, bringing food, and living here, then our symbolism rings hollow, especially considering how we impact Franklin Street. Like, how will the December 10th Christmas parade be affected; will little boys and girls feel like they can come up here? No (agreement from some in GA, including me). We have to back up our theory. Take a realistic look at the conjunction of indoor space with symbolic space. If we’re inside, how will we make it an inviting place to come to?
We switch notetakers here because I (Heather) had to go get Vimala’s. Thanks for taking over, Mary Lou!
Bert: We have homeless taking advantage of us now. What are we going to do if we leave even less structure? He saw Occupy Nashville, and it was spotless, there were 80 tents, people were working on it. They had first aid and food tents.
: If we have a symbolic presence, it’s great.
: Since it’s not a regular GA, we can’t make decisions per se.
Stephanie: I’m committed to maintaining the space, but we are losing it. We must make a decision so we can continue and the shape of OCH might need to change to 1. New space, 2. New people, 3. We may need some options. We can’t afford to rent, obviously. Maybe trade work for rent.
: Do we have the strength to continue?
: Yes! (general agreement)
: Check with churches?
: Better to go out on a strong note than fizzling out.
Proposal: One group will look into indoor (and outdoor) spaces. A second group will look at how long we can keep this up.
Brian: Have we identified what the goals are of making a shift? (general no.) Some possible goals: find housing for people who need it, have a place to meet together, and a place to interact with the people who come by.
: Indoor space is hypothetical, and it won’t be as open and won’t be neutral. (in comparison to an outdoor space which would be more neutral)
: We need goals.
Katya: if we make it an outreach place rather than a living space, we can have shifts of people and it will remain a neutral place.
: Will we come back to the plaza in the spring? (general Yes)
Bert: I don’t think we are a homeless shelter.
: But a homeless shelter doesn’t work for everyone. Strict rules.
: We have a handful of homeless and they are part of the group and the community.
: Are some people comfortable about marginalizing the homeless?
: But we need more people, from 12 to 6 a.m.
: To reiterate, we want to care for them, so we still need to show up and be on watch at night.
Amanda: We are taking care of them. The college students and activists have to take ownership. It’s a Hooverville, not an occupation. It’s up to the activists to involve themselves: do clean up, get water, stay awake, etc. We need more involvement. This is now a squatters camp, not an activist camp.
Michal summarized the options:
1. Symbolic tent presence and a daily presence or with shifts.
2. We aren’t in a position to make the call about taking down the encampment. We can find an indoor place and winter there.
3. Completely dismantle and just have regular meetings and events.
4. Do nothing different and carry on as we are (with better structures, maybe a heater).
Only two people said they will spend the night over Thanksgiving.
William: Someone said that the day people are doing a valuable job and sometimes they are the only ones here. My advice on the winter is to figure out what you stand for.
: Is a forcible eviction inevitable?
: We need to make it accessible to all. Put it on a busline. We can stay through winter. We should leave tents here.
: Why are we here? We have to be a presence. We can only stay here because it’s a first amendment protected place. If it’s just a camp-out, we won’t be here for long. Need to be political
Nick: Perhaps there are too many GAs. Maybe it’s overwhelming. Perhaps we can have GA once or twice a week during the winter and we do need to keep our relationships strong.
Katya: We did decide to reduce the number of GAs. The next big GA is Monday [post-meeting clarification: there will be GA’s on Saturday 11/26 and Sunday 11/27, but since many people will still be out of town, the decision was made to put off an official vote on these options to the Monday 11/28 GA. –Katya].
David: We could see what structure we could erect here. Check with legal.
Proposal: Temperature check and helping out.
Most twinkled for #1 [symbolic tent and a daily presence or with shift], and maybe on #3 [Completely dismantle and just have occasional events.] agree #3 will be more difficult, and it was not a strong temperature check.
Some confusion about whether to dismantle food and night shifts or just have reduced presence.
Stephanie: Security point –we need one large tent.
Proposal: We take it to Monday’s GA.
Three options, two are a variation on #1 above:
1a) Symbolic tent presence (only a few tents) and a daily presence limited to a few hours per day, no night watch.
1b) Symbolic tent presence and a daily 24/7 presence with people signed up in shifts to cover all day and night.
2) Do nothing different. Keep going as well are. (This proposal was kept on the list because William said he would block anything besides staying here as we are. Post-meeting note: Katya spoke with William on Wed. 11/23 and he said he would not block scaling back the encampment as described in option 1, as long as we still planned to continue to maintain some sort of presence!)
Black Friday direct action: get in touch with Liz or Evan. Will meet at Plaza at noon to go to Southpoint.
Security for the weekend: Stephanie and Charles will meet. People staying here will have power to make the camp smaller if necessary.
Request for a larger tent that’s heat resistant.
GA will be on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, but not Thursday and Friday. Next GA: Sat. Nov. 26.
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