Sorting out the Comment Policy and how to deal with Trolls.
The regional autonomous collective styling themselves after the #OccupyWallStreet protests in New York City has published a write-up of yesterday's meeting, which was held at the First Unitarian Church in Shadyside:
After much discussion about where best to have a group congregate to begin the movement/events, it was decided that the location working group would work on it, but anyone who is not in contact with the movement between today’s GA and October 15, 2011, should choose to meet at 10:00 am at one of these 3 locations: Freedom Corner, City-County building, or Market Square.
If the base location has changed from any of these locations, members of the Occupy movement will be on hand at these locations at 10:00 am to direct people to the new location(s) where they can assemble/march/camp. Some reservations were expressed to using Market Square, since there is a possibility of entrapment by the police if too many people assembled there, and this is noted. (OccupyPgh)
346 people had indicated an intention on Facebook to attend this first Occupy Pittsburgh General Assembly, or organizational meeting.
By all accounts, between 300 and 350 did attend.
3,607 "like" Occupy Pittsburgh on Facebook.
About 50% of the crowd at the First Unitarian Church looked to be between 18 and 29 years of age.
"Be gentle with each other," implored a moderately more mature Cassi Schaffer, who would later wind up becoming the lead facilitator for the first General Assembly and -- we'll write it -- the "leader" of Occupy Pittsburgh on that particular evening.
"Remember, the person sitting next to you right now, you might be sleeping next to in a week!
"Wait, I mean..." and there was a deeply appreciative chuckle.
The dozen or so organizers -- whom Schaffer describes as nothing greater than those "early adopters" on Facebook who became active just a week to ten days ago -- presented to the audience an elaborate consensus-seeking process patterned after the one being used in New York, imported to the group via #WallStreet veteran and one-time "acting spokesperson" Nathaniel Glosser. Handouts were on every seat.
This formal process was practiced for a time, or at least attempted, over sometimes vociferous objections from those more impatient. Then it was largely ignored for another long stretch. Applause, grumbles, out-of-turn exclamations and executive fiat replaced hand signals and formal processes. Then the rules were all humored or restored again towards the conclusion.
Early on, some sharp objections arose from several attendees regarding a proposed consensus statement endorsing non-violence -- which the organizers had hoped would pass that night.
"It says here I'm supposed to 'be prepared to absorb suffering,'" said one speaker, lodging a formal procedural "block" which at that time was still being honored. "I'm not going to do that." There was a scattered applause.
Another speaker in that same section of the church chimed in, "Look, anyone who has been in touch and who knows what's been going on here for years, they know we've been debating non-violence forever. We're never going to solve it tonight! Let's just forget about it and decide what we're going to do already!"
The two would leave partway through the meeting. Some followed them -- and this was loudly pointed out and complained over, again from that corner -- but some new attendees were still arriving.
Everything else on the agenda aside from the date, time and locations was tabled and to be sorted out by seventeen "working groups":
Outreach / Media
Outreach / Organizations
Outreach / Labor
Art / Entertainment
Food (there was a call among professional chefs to really get together and git-r-done)
When it was asked how the working groups should get together amongst themselves, and then how to coordinate with the rest of the organization, an answer came swiftly.
"Twitter and Facebook," called out a droll voice. And there was much rejoicing. No need for another consensus-check on that score!
This blogger recognized very, very few of the "usual suspects" one runs into from a variety of local political events and rallies. To me there were exactly four familiar faces out of 300+ at this General Assembly.
One of those was Antonio Lodico, Co-Director at the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee and one-time Coro fellow.
"I was impressed with the brevity," Lodico offered. "You didn't get a lot of 90-second preambles like you get at a lot of these."
Some disinterested observers left feeling bewildered by the "cluster" they had just witnessed. Other attendees departed more upbeat, smoking cigarettes and lingering, chattering over working group ideas. More than a few left with both hugs and the rejoinder, "It was nice to meet you!"
Nearly everyone's favorite moment of the evening was Rev. David Herndon's of First Universalists Church very brief welcoming statement.
"You are all immensely welcome here," he said deliberately. "Go forth and occupy."
*-UPDATE: Potter recognized a few more faces: Slag Heap.