Occupy Portland has a participatory, open and directly democratic assembly structure for making decisions. These assemblies use the process of consensus to make decisions. The Facilitation Team works to implement the process agreed upon through General Assemblies and Spokes Councils. All are welcome to join in this work.
As an introduction to the spirit of consensus, we would like to share a portion of text created by the facilitation team of the General Assembly for the Puerta Del Sol protest camp in Madrid.
The Puerta Del Sol camp was part of the so-called “15th May Movement” in Spain, which Occupy Wall Street has acknowledged as a central inspiration for it’s open consensus model, from which our model at OP takes its inspiration:
“The consensus process is diametrically opposed to the kind of thinking propounded by the present system. 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.
The aim of consensus, on the other hand, is to construct. Two people with differing ideas work together to build something new. The [goal] is 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 that we actively listen, rather than merely be preoccupied with preparing our response
Consensus is born when we understand that all opinions – be these opinions our own or opinions of others – need to be considered and that a collectively created idea can transform us and our own opinions.”
We hope you find this passage as inspirational as we do, and draw from it as you engage in the open consensus process we have adopted at OP.
The structure of our open consensus model is oriented to the unique and complex nature of the General Assembly (GA) and Spokescouncil (SC) as decision making bodies and is an evolving, living process. (“Open Consensus” simply refers to finding consensus in an open, public assembly). It seeks to build upon the successes, failures, insights and reflections experienced during the General Assemblies of Occupy Portland. It also draws on the combined and diverse facilitation experience of the Facilitation Team. It can and should change over time to improve and thus better serve the decision making process of the General Assembly.
There are three different meeting that happen as part of Occupy Portland’s Assembly structure:
Agenda Setting: This meeting is for setting and prioritizing the agenda for the subsequent GA. Participants collectively set and prioritize the agenda. This meets at 6:30 at Terry Schrunk Plaza on Mondays.
The General Assembly: These large, open meetings are charged with big picture decisions affecting or changing the spirit, vision, and character of the movement. This meets at 7:00 at Terry Schrunk on Mondays. If you have a proposal, bring it at 6:30.
The SpokesCouncil: The Spokes Council, is charged with negotiating logistical collaborations. Though not a decision, the SC is often a place for detailed planning conversations given the regular attendance of OP groups. This meets at 7:00 in the St. Francis Dining Hall on Thursdays.
These are the relevant documents and resources that will help you understand the assemblies of Occupy Portland:
Occupy Portland Consensus Philosophy – this explains the approach to consensus adopted by Occupy Portland.
Spokes Council Structure Document – this is the structure document that explains the functioning of the Occupy Portland Spokes Council.
Idea, Announcement or Proposal Diagram – this is a document and diagram that is meant to help provide information about whether an idea an individual has is an announcement, something they can begin to work on immediately or a proposal that needs to come before either the Spokes Council or the General Assembly. It is an informational resource only and is meant to help.
Agenda Setting Meeting Notetaking Template – this is a template for the Monday Agenda Setting Meeting and is meant to aid the collection of proposals for the Spokes Council and General Assembly in a clear and consistent way. These notes should always be posted immediately after the meeting here.
Facilitation Orientation and Users Manual – this is the document used by the Facilitation Team to orient new facilitators, and otherwise inform the team of facilitators as to our process and how to facilitate in a consistent and effective manner. It is oriented to those individuals that are members of the Facilitation Team and not the public, however, it is still a useful document to learn more about the Occupy Portland assembly structure and decision making process.