Who speaks for Occupy Greensboro?

I have received a phone call from an anonymous participant of Occupy Greensboro concerned about references in this blog to the group endorsing candidates for Greensboro City Council. It’s the direct attribution of the material on this web page to Occupy Greensboro in the headline and the word “endorses” that seems to be causing the trouble.

The text of the blog post attributes the information more specifically to the Occupy Greensboro Media Group. The wording of the material on the web page somewhat supports that characterization. The headline reads, “Candidate Information for City of Greensboro by a couple members of the Media Group.”

A subhead contains the caveat: “A member of the Media Group has composed some opinions on tomorrow’s candidates. This is not an endorsement that has reached consensus within the General Assembly.”

The matter has caused some dissension in the group and a possible defection. Billy Jones says in a comment thread: “I consider any endorsements to be out of line with Occupy values. Now I must reconsider my support for Occupy Greensboro.”

Jones says the post has been altered, and originally read, “Members of the Media Group have composed some opinions on tomorrow’s candidates…”

As to whether the material constitutes endorsements, the web page clearly recommends specific candidates, although with different degrees of enthusiasm.


Julia K said...

I don't think anyone speaks for any of the occupy movements. We all only speak as ourselves, and we make decisions through the General Assembly, which has its own voice. It speaks on things we've agreed to.

I heard that Billy Jones is still part of the General Assembly, now that it's clear that no official endorsements were sent out (though the blog post previous to this one seems to suggest otherwise).

Democracy can be messy, but Occupiers are having a lot of fun. :) Everyone should come out to the foreclosure moratorium event on Friday Nov. 11 in front of Bank of America on Green Valley at 4 pm!


JRK III said...

I have to agree in large part with Julia, no one person speaks for Occupy Greensboro (this was a decision taken early in our planning back in October). That said if information in the press is incorrect we do have folks keeping a lookout to correct it.

Participatory Democracy is a difficult, time consuming, and as Julia said 'messy' process. Like any human endeavor there is room for error and mis-communication. What is remarkable is less that these things happen, but that folks come back to GA's willing to work to resolve these differences. As someone involved in various activist programs throughout the past this is definitely unique.

Lastly, did you know that a Penguin is currently serving in the Norwegian Army? He is Colonel-in-Chief Sir Nils Olav is a King Penguin living in Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland. He is the mascot and Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Royal Guard. Pretty neat, right?

Billy Jones said...

For starters, I've given it a lot of thought and intend to remain a part of Occupy Greensboro. After a lifetime of lies, corruption and disappointments on the part of our nation's "2 party" system I see Occupy as the only viable alternative short of shooting it out. Which, at my age, doesn't seem so viable.

Bottom-up governing by consensus is open and difficult. It can be clunky, painfully slow and tiring. But in the long run it works. It's also new (to me, at least) and we do make mistakes-- lots of mistakes.

With so many people involved it can and does get confusing. Here's what I think happened. A member of the media group was using e-mails and Facebook to promote his personal choices. On the other hand, I was telling people not to vote at all. (My opinion.) Another member of the media group made the assumption that because the person making the endorsements was on the OGSO Media Group, the message must have been offical. So she posted to the blog. Some editors of our blog made mistakes when correcting our blog and failed to note on the blog post that changes had been made. Unfortunatly, blog software doesn't do consensus very well and can leave confusing trails throughout the web. As you can see by reading our GA meeting minutes, there were no endorcements of candidates by Occupy Greensboro even though our blog did say we had endorsed certain candidates.

Then a young lady without prior knowledge or at least a full understanding of our online mistakes, read your post, got upset and called you.

Again, it can be confusing even for us. We learn as we go. I'm sure we'll make plenty of mistakes in the future for you to write about.

As to who speaks for Occupy Greensboro-- it's a chicken and egg thing-- everyone and no one.

But if it will help you can subscribe to press releases by e-mailing press@occupygreensboro.org

Jordan Green said...

Thanks, Billy. We media types are used to dealing with chief executives, chairmen of the board, public information officers, etc. where attribution is easy. (That structure also promotes accountability, in my view, but that's an argument for another day.) As a former anarchist, I should know that attribution requires more discernment and sensitivity when dealing with a bottom-up, consensus-driven group. I'll try to avoid exacerbating this kind of confusion in the future. But it was fun for me to see the endorsements, and the fallout discussion was interesting.

Billy Jones said...

I really don't think anything you did could be considered as exacerbating. It just kinda happened.