Principles and Practices
Nashville General Assembly Process Draft
Modified from the NYCGA process by local organizers in Nashville. This process was developed by people’s movements for making decisions about collective action, under difficult constraints, and without alienating a portion of the group.
Based on Principles of:
- Modified Consensus: Consensus is a process designed to create better ideas together not to compromise on mediocre ideas; modified consensus is an attempt to hear all voices while working strategically toward concrete solutions. Modified consensus means that if a decision is repeatedly getting blocked by fewer than 1/10th of participants, the group CAN decide to move to modified consensus and pass the proposal on 9/10 consensus. This is typically done only if it is believed that a participant is not acting in good faith in blocking a proposal.
- Progressive Stack: Stack is a list of who is speaking and progressive stack (also known as: Step Up! Step Back!) gives preference to those who have not spoken yet or who are from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. This does not mean we want to silence anyone, we want to encourage those voices that are not often heard to step up and make your voice heard and those whose voices are heard often to step back and let other voices be heard.
- Transparency, Ease of Participation, Openness, Sustainability, Flexibility
- Democracy: No hierarchies; shared participation and responsibility. How we make our decisions as a group is the foundation of our movement: recreating democracy is just as important as any specific demand or political objective.
Based on Practices of:
- Hand Signals for Process
- Wavey Fingers Upwards: I agree
- Wavey Fingers in the Middle: I’m on the fence
- Wavey Fingers Downwards: I don’t like it
- Triangle Fingers: Point of process. If we’re not following the process, you hold that up triangle fingers silently and when the facilitator calls on you you explain the process being violated
- Finger Point: Point of information. This is not opinion, this is only to add important factual information to add to what is being said
- Hands Cupped to Ears: I can’t hear you, please speak up
- Arms crossed in “X”: I block this decision because I have a serious ethical concern that is strong enough that I would break with the group over it. A block is very serious. If we can still reach 9/10 majority, even with your block, you are choosing to walk away. We don’t want anyone to walk away, so we do our best as a group to address all blocks. (Alternatives to blocks: “stand aside” or “declare reservations”)
- Circular Fingers: Wrap it up, we got your point already
- Daily Facilitator Committee Meetings for process decisions and for trainings of others
- Facilitation: The role of the facilitators is to help organize the discussion, not to make decisions. Ideally, facilitators do not bring proposals to the group. Everyone is welcome to come to facilitator meetings and become trained to facilitate meetings.
- Rotate Rolls: GA will try for each meeting to have a different: facilitator, note-taker, time-keeper, stacker, vibes-checker.
- GA Meeting Structure: 1. Welcome, 2. Introduction to procedure and facilitation team, 3. Announcements, 4. Proposals, 5. Conclusion and reading of minutes. After the meeting there is time for the Soap Box for people to say anything they want.
- GA Transparency: GA will be held at the same time each day and notes will be posted in public space (archived electronically on website and hard copies at occupation) for all to read.