Communication is always important and ensuring that those attending the General Assembly are comfortable and have the ability to communicate their ideas. Signals and gestures are used to help get a general consensus ranging from how people feel to voting on proposals. They can be used during demonstrations as well to alert people of situations. The type of signals and gestures you use can be based on sign language (as they use in NY at OWS) or whatever works out best for the group. Here’s a video of a speaker in NYC describing the hand signals they use, which we mostly use as well (some differences)…
General Assemblies which do not have any proposals will simply be a forum-style discussions on a specific topic such as foreclosures, taxation, the formation of new ideas for the movement and other topics of interest to the Assembly. When discussing an issue it is customary to allow two rounds of debate, but at General Assemblies this is open to expansion as the GA wishes. In a General Assembly we try to provide space for all viewpoints. Sometimes a topic which is too expansive to cover at a General Assembly or which is at risk of getting contentious may sometimes be tabled by the Assembly until the next session, discussed in a smaller breakout session and speaker’s corners, to allow the GA to proceed.
During a General Assembly those who want to speak about a given topic are put on a stack, which is a list of names and the topic they’re responding to, their position or stance on it/POV. Those placed on the stack are called by topic and viewpoint as the discussion progresses. The idea is to give each pro, con, idea and perspective a voice to speak to the entire group. The idea is to prevent domineering people who keep putting themselves on stack every time they finish speaking from steering the conversations by giving every dissenting point of view a voice.
Proposals – Sometimes people have ideas that need to be shared with the larger community before going forward- usually some kind of plan that is imminently ready to be executed and needs the support of the group in order to succeed. These proposals will be brought to the General Assembly and explained to the satisfaction of everyone present, then those with dissenting opinions, if any, will be given a chance to air their concerns and propose an amendment to the plan which they feel makes it more likely to succeed or keeps the idea in line with the overall goals of the movement.
At every Assembly, minutes are kept and best-efforts are made to get the minutes transcribed into a format which can be distributed electronically for everyone. Occupy Tampa’s General Assembly Minutes are usually available with 24 hours, although sometimes delays occur because of weather, police taking equipment or lack of people.