Organizing assembly best practices
The OA agenda is created over email (through the internal mailing list) in the days leading up to the meeting. The agenda framework generally includes:
- Overview of OA agenda
- Overview of consensus decision-making process
- Reportbacks on recent actions and from working groups
- Endorsing upcoming actions
- External partnerships/coalitions
- Formation of new working groups and projects
- General Assembly planning
- Reflections on last month's GA: what went well, what could have been better
- Planning upcoming GA
- Roles: co-facilitators, greeters, question comrade
- Agenda: topic for discussion, break out discussion topics and facilitators
- Format changes
Facilitator: Helps to guide the group through its own process. They listen to, reflect on, and synthesize information that is spoken, written, or felt in the group. They encourage participation by asking questions and helping to clarify what people want to say or do.
Stacktaker: Keeps a list of those who want to speak and calls on them in order. As a general principle, the stacktaker should prioritize people who have not spoken yet or have not spoken as much.
Notetaker: Writes notes of the agenda, general topics discussed, and decisions reached. The notetaker is responsible for emailing the notes to the internal mailing list.
The MACC Organizing Assembly uses the consensus process of decision-making. Consensus is a form of decision-making that expresses the individual and collective voice. Rather than coercing people to make statements or take actions, consensus asks for the consent of all. This is in contrast to voting in which the majority rules regardless of how the minority is feeling. In consensus every voice is heard, and collaboration is encouraged over competition.
Discussion ▶ Proposal ▶ Questions ▶ Concerns ▶ Stand-asides ▶ Blocks ▶ Consensus!
Discussion: There may be a topic brought forward by the MACC Organizing Assembly or participants in the assembly. This will be discussed generally, and then more specifically until the political point or course of action is clear. The facilitator or one of the assembly participants may synthesize the discussion into a proposal.
Proposal: An idea or course of action that is up for decision.
Questions: Inquiries that help to further clarify the proposal.
Concerns: Reservations, political or logistical, about a proposal.
Stand-asides: If a participant has serious reservations but sees no harm in other participants moving forward with something, then they may stand aside.
Blocks: If a participant feels that the proposal would do harm to the assembly as a whole and challenge the very principles and foundations of the political work, then they may block, which effectively prevents consensus.
- If everyone has had an opportunity to speak, the proposal has support, and there are no blocks, then there is consensus.
- If a proposal cannot reach consensus, then the process drops to a 9/10 majority vote. Even then, though, the people who do not support the proposal are not compelled by the assembly to carry out the decision. They are not coerced, but withdraw their participation, so that others can move forward. The operating principle is still consent of all.