SSF ORGANISING PROCESS BASICS
The Sydney Social Forum is made happen by the SSF Organising Group (OG). The process basics of the group is outlined below.
PURPOSE AND GOALS OF ORGANISING GROUP
The purpose of the Organising Group is to facilitate (and be a nucleus for) the ongoing process of the social forum momentum by creating space, networks, and activities that will promote the existence of a diverse and truly representative Sydney Social Forum.
The organising group is informed and motivated by the experiences of past social forums, the processes of transparency, democratic organizing, and the reality of the Sydney social/political climate.
The organising group also spends time discussing the many theories and philosophies of the SF concept, therefore becoming a comfortable and safe space for discussion of goals and ideas. This serves to inform the work we do in creating the "space" for the SF to blossom. Ultimately, the Sydney Social Forum is not the organising group, it is instead what is created by a diversity of groups and individuals in the community who utilise the tools the organising group attempts to put out.
WHO ARE ORGANISING GROUP MEMBERS
AND HOW TO BECOME ONE
Organising group participants are group members and individuals from various
grassroots struggles, organizations, and collectives.
1. OG members should be committed to the above stated goals of the organising group.
2. Each participating group can send two representatives to the OG. It doesn’t have to be the same person at every meeting.
3. Of course, participating groups all have their specific agendas regarding their particular areas struggle, but they should not use the SF OG as a platform to push their group’s specific agenda as being hegemonic or "more important" than any other struggle.
4. All OG participants should try to be on at least one internal working group (i.e. outreach, web, finance, etc.)
5. In order to be a part of the Organising Group, members have to state to the group their intent to join the organising group and attend at least one prior meeting, and show a willingness to participate in a respectful fashion. They then have decision making power. Observers are always welcome at meetings but do not have decision making power.
ABOUT WORKING GROUPS
Working Groups focus on the various areas of the SF events planning. Events could be mini-forums, formal forums, actions/manifestations, discussions, etc.
No one person or group should ever make an influential decision about the SF. The WGs decisions have to be consensed by the organising group as a whole. (e.g. The Location WG has to ask the big group if the space found for a fundraiser is acceptable or not.). WG members should be in communication with each other about all planning. There should be at least 2 members in a WG.
Meetings are conducted monthly, or more frequently, depending on what is being planned at the time. Facilitation is rotated. Facilitators volunteer, or are asked to volunteer, for the next meeting at the present meeting.
Proposals for events have to be proposed over the list serve or at meetings one to two weeks before the meeting during which it is discussed and decided upon, to give people time to think about the proposal before they decide on it. This saves a lot of time in meetings.
In order to maintain our dedication to diversity and pluralism, and a participatory democratic process, we strive toward unanimity.
So far, the organising group has been using discussion and consensus to make decisions.
1. A proposal is made (If it is major it has already been stated over the list or at previous meeting, one to two weeks ahead of time).
2. The facilitators calls for a show of hands to determine the popularity of the proposal.
3. The facilitator takes a round of concerns and ideas about the proposal.
4. If the proposal is popular the facilitator asks if anyone would completely oppose the proposal on principled grounds (called "blocking" the proposal). The blocking person can lay out his or her arguments for the block. If people are swayed by his or her arguments the proposal should be reconfigured to take into account these concerns.
5. Once there is consensus on an idea, the facilitator should ask the group if it has the energy and resources to carry out the idea. If so, a decision has been made and the group will move forward with it.
6. If discussion is totally deadlocked, any member of the group may ask the group that a vote be taken on the matter. If the meeting in its majority agrees to vote, that vote is considered binding and a decision has been made.
This process was adopted by the organising group on 22 May 2003.
For a PDF version of these process basics, click here.