General Assembly Best Practices

From Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council
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Tips and tricks for running our monthly General Assembly.

Prep beforehand

Roles and agenda generally decided at the Organizing Assembly preceding the GA:

  • Roles: Decide on who will have these roles:
    • Greeters: 2 people who will connect with newcomers. 1 will greet people as they arrive, 1 will stay after to answer questions
    • Facilitators: 2 people who will help the group through its process and move through the meeting agenda
  • Agenda: Develop agenda, including what breakouts will happen. Breakouts can be regular working groups or ad hoc/specific projects/discussions.

MIOP also preps the booklet, literature table and newsreel:

  • Booklet: Gather working group report backs for printed booklet; integrate into booklet; print booklet
  • Literature table: Get books to give away; print zines; bring stickers and postcards
  • Newsreel: An ~8 minute silent new reel showcasing anarchist struggle during the past month from around the world to educate and inspire participants at the GA

What to Bring

These materials should be brought to the GA; MIOP generally bottomlines this:

  • Printed booklets
  • Banners
  • Blank sign up sheets
  • Pens, black marker
  • Pins, t-shirts, flyers
  • Tape

Set up

Some people should arrive around 6 pm to set up for the GA:

  • Write and put up signs with 10th floor and/or arrows directing people to GA on front door of building and in hallways on 10th floor
  • Hang banners along walls
  • Set up projector and computer and run news reel
  • Set up place to host orientation for a smaller group (i.e. back office)
  • Move desks out of the way, set up at least 50 chairs in an open circle; place a printed booklet on each chair
  • Set up mic and sound check
  • Write up summarized/high-level agenda on white board
  • Set out merch (t-shirts, stickers, flyers, sign up sheets) on table on right

The facilitators should touch base with different working groups as they arrive to see if each will give a reportback. Knowing this ahead of time will avoid confusion and awkwardness during this part of the agenda.

Pre-meeting Orientation (6:30-7)

MIOP runs the pre-meeting orientation for newcomers, covering topics such as:

  • What is MACC? How does MACC work?
  • Working groups

GA Agenda (7-8:35)

The GA should start at 7. Two facilitators should take turns talking through various agenda points.

  1. Welcome (7-7:05)
    1. MACC - The Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council is an organization based on the guiding principles of horizontalism, anti-oppression, mutual aid, direct democracy, and direct action. We seek to strengthen and support New York City’s anarchist movement through coordination of existing and emerging projects.
    2. General Assembly
      1. Role: the MACC GA is a monthly meeting open to all anarchists to generate and coordinate citywide statements or actions for the anarchist movement. Welcome!
      2. Safer space policy: MACC has this policy as a positive, pro-active, preventative step towards making our community space safer. The policy encourages people to monitor themselves. In brief, MACC will not tolerate sexual violence, other violence, sleazy/predatory behavior, or any of the isms/oppressive behavior here at the GA or in any parts of MACC.
      3. Accessibility: we use the mics to ensure everyone can hear. We know they can be a bit formal and uncomfortable to use, but we believe it is most important that everyone can fully participate.
      4. Press: If any members of the press are here to report on this event, please identify yourselves now. [Wait] OK, to be clear, no members of the press may report on this meeting without our consent.
      5. Greeter: Point them out, these are the people to go to if you have questions, concerns or something/someone is making you uncomfortable.
    3. Facilitators - Give your names. Explain the role of facilitator, which is “to help to guide the group through its own process.”
    4. Agenda is written out here. Does anyone have anything to add?
  2. Turn-and-talk Discussion (7:05-7:15)
    1. Brief summary of the topic + questions; turn and talk to your neighbor
  3. Working group and event report backs (7:15-7:45)
    1. For full report backs, see booklet.
    2. If you want to get involved with a working group, contact info is on website. Also sign up sheets in the back.
    3. If you want to start your own working group, do it!
    4. [Report backs from working groups and events]
      1. Organizing Assembly
      2. Any other working groups/events that want to report back
      3. MACC Money (+ pass bag - funds collected by MACC are used to support working group initiatives, make propaganda, support infrastructure (like our website), and support folks in emergencies. Suggest $10 per person; if you can give more, you’re helping to cover someone who can’t.)
  4. Break-outs (7:45-8:15)
    1. Breakouts: describe each break out, assign each break out to a different corner of the room, give a time limit. [Breakouts]
    2. [Report backs on breakouts]
  5. Announcements (8:15-8:30)
    1. If people have announcements about upcoming events or other initiatives relevant to anarchists, share them now!
    2. [Announcements]
  6. Wrap-up (8:30-8:35)
    1. Congrats on making it through the GA. Now you’re not “new” anymore! If this was your first GA and you didn’t go to the orientation before the GA, and/or you are not currently involved in a working group, and/or you have questions about what to do next, _____ will be hanging back to give next steps and answer questions.
    2. To reiterate, join a working group!
    3. Also everyone is invited to the next organizing assembly. The info of when and where it will be is available on the website event calendar.
    4. Also come socialize and drink at ___ bar

Post-meeting greeter

One greeter will hang out afterward to touch base with new folks or folks with questions to discuss:

  • Ask people if they’ve met each other already
  • Re-do introductions, touching on what brought you here
  • Ask who found projects or working groups that they want to get involved with
  • Encourage them to consider starting their own projects if they don’t have anything they wanna jump on
  • Ask them if they have any questions about MACC
  • Tell them about my “new-ness” and how MACC doesn’t want people to feel “new”
  • Ask for feedback on the GA as an entry point
  • Encourage everyone to mingle, both at Verso and the bar

New Projects Break Out

Sometimes we run a breakout to help people start new projects, or help them get connected to an existing project if they aren't sure where they fit-in. The goal is to help them think through what they're interested in, and how they can start working on that.

Before the GA, print out a few copies of the New Project Sign-up sheet. You'll give one of these to each person that wants to start a project.

Some good questions to ask folks are:

  • Is there a project you're looking to start?
    • What kind of help do you need for that project?
    • What does the project look like?
    • Is it on going or one time?
  • What do you enjoy working on?
  • What kind of work are you interested in doing/helping with?
    • This could be a topic like "immigration" or a kind of task like "writing"

Things to keep in mind:

  • Encourage people start small, it's unlikely that they'll start a big group with weekly or monthly meetings right off the bat.
  • Get the names and phone numbers of people starting projects and try to follow up with them to see how it went.
    • And/or get their emails and add them to the organizing list.
  • Have each person with a sign up sheet report back after breakouts.
  • Emphasize it's low pressure and there's no failing! If a group only meets once to have a nice discussion and nothing else comes of it, they're still building relationships and organizing skills.
  • Give anyone that starts a project a sign-up sheet. They should take this home and set up the meeting/project/whatever.
  • Be careful not to over commit yourself or promise to help with a project when you don't actually have time to. The facilitator of this breakout is not bottom lining these new projects, the person who brought up the idea should take the sign-up sheet and organize it themselves.