Occupy Grand Forks gets organized
Before you can occupy, you must organize. That was course of action taken by Occupy Grand Forks on Saturday afternoon, in the first of what it hopes will be a weekly series of general assembly meetings. Twenty people, ranging in age from high sch...
Before you can occupy, you must organize.
That was course of action taken by Occupy Grand Forks on Saturday afternoon, in the first of what it hopes will be a weekly series of general assembly meetings.
Twenty people, ranging in age from high school students to senior citizens, met at United Church of Christ to discuss how the group would move forward.
The Occupy movement has turned into a bit of a phenomenon, starting on Wall Street and spreading into communities small and large, not only throughout the United States, but worldwide.
While there was talk of potential message and activism, as well as actual physical occupation, for the most part, the 90-minute conversation surrounded on organizing the group and creating an infrastructure.
After some introductions, the group started laying down the ground rules for the general assembly model that the group will meet under.
Organizers proposed forming five different committees, or working groups.
Like all proposals made in Occupy Grand Forks, these committees needed a 75 percent majority of the general assembly to pass.
Committee membership is voluntary and open to anyone of the general assembly.
The five committees are Planning, Communications, Public Relations, Resources and Action and all five were passed by the assembly.
Grand Forks teacher and tutor Aaron Wentz spearheaded the discussion on the committees.
His goal was to act more of a facilitator for the initial meeting, saying he wanted to make leaders irrelevant in the group during organization.
"I don't want this to have leaders," he said.
Wentz admitted that creating what is in essence a political group without leadership is a tricky task, but he was confident it was the right path.
"It's a gamble that we can trust in people to be able to come together and work together," he said. "It's a risk, but it's necessary."
Wentz spent time in New York City at the Wall Street occupation within the past few weeks, and took an organizational model similar to what that group installed when issues arose.
"The way they addressed those problems was to apply this structure," he said.
At 15, Skye Leake was the youngest person at the meeting, arriving with his uncle Lonnie Leake. Both were active in the discussion.
A sophomore at Northwood High School, Skye Leake's family farms near Emerado, N.D.
As a part of a family farming operation, Leake would like to see a return to Main Street values.
"I don't like huge things," he said. "I'd like to see more small businesses."
Despite not being able to vote for a few more years, Leake relishes the chance to become more politically involved.
"I can't vote, but this is a good way to get involved and make a difference even though I'm only 15," he said.
Substantively, aside from forming the committees, Occupy Grand Forks came away with just a couple confirmed orders of business.
The group will meet at the same location next Saturday at 1 p.m. and determined that its slogan going forward will be "We are the 99 percent."
No actual physical occupations appear to be in the near future for the group, although they discussed the potential of a rolling occupation/meeting similar to what has been done by the Occupy Fargo group.
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