Breaking News: #nodapl water protector locked under van blocking Ohio State House intersection demanding Kasich bring home Ohio troopers from Standing Rock North Dakota Now!

NBC Live Coverage

no-dalp-protest

Ohio Stands with Standing Rock!

AR!’s Peter Gibbons-Ballew & 100’s of Supporters #NoDAPL Action Shut Down Columbus Intersection

In Columbus, Ohio hundreds of protesters marched together in solidarity with the water protectors at standing rock North Dakota. “This action is occurring simultaneously with protests of across the nation and world in solidarity with the people at Standing Rock” said Madeline ffitch of Appalachia Resist!.

The peaceful protest began in front of the Columbus state house and ended a few blocks away outside of chase bank at 3rd & Broad. Issues such as Ohio’s deployment of 37 State troopers to North Dakota who have engaged in militaristic human rights abuses against peaceful NoDAPL protesters at the expense of Ohioan taxpayers, divestment by banks who have invested over $3.7 billion into energy transfer partners disastrous pipeline, and a call for President Obama to end his final term in the White House with the immediate halting of the US Army Corps of Engineers permits.

“Water is life!” Shouted Peter Gibbons-Ballew- the protester who ground traffic to a halt after locking himself to a van at The intersection of third and State Street. Police on horseback were on the scene as were multiple fire trucks and helicopters circled overhead.”Today is not a day for business as usual – today is a day to shine a light on the human rights abuses being perpetrated on indigenous people attempting to protect their own health and welfare” said protester Lauren Goldberg. Business as usual certainly was not possible in the several hours that protesters occupied the Columbus financial district in one of the biggest protests Columbus has seen for years.

News Media Contact
Lauren Goldberg: 240-401-2590 Heather Mitchell 214-502-8035

**BREAKING** A #NODAPL protester is locked down under a van parked on the corner of Broad and Third Streets in Columbus, Ohio. With 80 supporters cheering him on.

Today, November 15, 2016, has been declared a National Day of Solidarity with the Standing Rock Water Protectors seeking the immediate halt of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) by Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC (ETCO).  Today we call upon our fellow citizens, elected leaders and law enforcement to rectify the perpetuation of systemic and physical violence against the Indigenous Water Protectors and their Allies at Standing Rock as they defend the health and safety of their water systems and land.

Action :

  1. We demand the return of Ohio State Troopers. We do not support the use of our troopers for military action against citizens acting out of concern for their own safety.

    1. As of October 29, Ohio has sent 37 state troopers to North Dakota to contribute to the paramilitary and private security forces already operating. According to Appalachia Resist!, “Ohio troopers don’t belong in North Dakota. Their addition to law enforcement at Standing Rock serves to perpetuate violence against a legitimate and peaceful protest with legitimate concerns.” Protesters have been maced, beaten, shot with rubber bullets, locked in dog cages, pulled out of Sweat Lodges during prayer, and brutally assaulted–including children and elders. The group stated, “Committing Ohio state troopers to Standing Rock is an attack on human rights and a misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

  1. We demand that financial institutions divest from DAPL. We ask that individual citizens immediately divest from the banks funding DAPL.

    1. DAPL is being funded by countless banks from around the globe. Through Energy Transfer Partners, private banks have invested over $3.75 Billion in the construction of the DAPL.  The list of financial  institutions invested in DAPL includes Wells Fargo, Citibank/Citigroup, TD Securities, ING Bank, BBVA Securities, Citizens Bank, U.S. Bank/PNC Bank/Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, SunTrust, UBS, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley and many others.

  1. We demand the President immediately halt DAPL by ordering the US Army Corps of Engineers revoke the construction permit.

  1. Appalachia Resist! states, “Energy Transfer Partners has violated the physical, spiritual, and financial well-being of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their Allies.”

    1. Because of grave concerns of human rights abuses, the United Nations and Amnesty International have deployed human rights observers to Standing Rock to monitor law enforcement and private security aggression.

    2. The construction of DAPL crosses the Missouri River, the sole drinking water source for thousands of people, both Indigenous and non-indigenous. Each year there are hundreds of oil spills from similar pipelines. A spill from DAPL would result in the catastrophic destruction of the Missouri River as a viable water source.

    3. Sacred land, ancestral burial grounds, and spiritual objects have already been devastated by this project.  Halting construction cannot bring these back, but would prevent the further destruction of land, water, and humans.

Today in the heart of the Columbus financial district, across from the Governor’s office, we call for these demands to be met.

For up to the minute information regarding Appalachia Resist, follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/appalachiaresist/

Helpful links:

Solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors

#NoDAPL Protesters Shut Down Intersection in Downtown Columbus

In Columbus, Ohio hundreds of protesters marched together in solidarity with the water protectors at standing rock North Dakota. “This action is occurring simultaneously with protests of across the nation and world in solidarity with the people at Standing Rock” said Madeline ffitch of Appalachia Resist!.

The peaceful protest began in front of the Columbus state house and ended a few blocks away outside of chase bank at 3rd & Broad. Issues such as Ohio’s deployment of 37 State troopers to North Dakota who have engaged in militaristic human rights abuses against peaceful NoDAPL protesters at the expense of Ohioan taxpayers, divestment by banks who have invested over $3.7 billion into energy transfer partners disastrous pipeline, and a call for President Obama to end his final term in the White House with the immediate halting of the US Army Corps of Engineers permits.

“Water is life!” Shouted Peter Gibbons-Ballew- the protester who ground traffic to a halt after locking himself to a van at The intersection of third and State Street. Police on horseback were on the scene as were multiple fire trucks and helicopters circled overhead.”Today is not a day for business as usual – today is a day to shine a light on the human rights abuses being perpetrated on indigenous people attempting to protect their own health and welfare” said protester Lauren Goldberg. Business as usual certainly was not possible in the several hours that protesters occupied the Columbus financial district in one of the biggest protests Columbus has seen for years.

November 15, 2016 has been declared a National Day of Solidarity with the Standing Rock Water Protectors.

Today in the heart of the Columbus financial district, across from the Governor’s office, 77 S High, join us from 11-2 in calling for:The immediate withdrawal of Ohio’s State Troopers from North Dakota.

The immediate divestment of major banks from the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The President to immediately halt the DAPL by ordering the US Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the construction permits.

The immediate withdrawal of Ohio’s State Troopers from North Dakota. Committing Ohio state troopers to Standing Rock is an attack on human rights and a misuse of taxpayer dollars. Protesters have been maced, beaten, shot with rubber bullets, locked in dog cages, pulled out of Sweat Lodges during prayer, and brutally assaulted- including children and elders.Because of grave concerns of human rights abuses, the United Nations and Amnesty International have deployed human rights observers to Standing Rock to monitor law enforcement and private security aggression.

The immediate divestment of major banks from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Through Energy Transfer Partners, private banks have invested over $3.75 Billion in the construction of the DAPL. Lets inform the public and ourselves about the importance of divesting from and boycotting these banks:

Wells Fargo, Citibank/Citigroup, TD Securities, ING Bank, BBVA Securities, Citizens Bank, U.S. Bank/PNC Bank/Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, SunTrust, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others.

The President to immediately halt the DAPL by ordering the US Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the construction permits. This is clearly within the President’s power. A request from the Department of Justice to halt construction has been ignored by Energy Transfer Partners. The construction of DAPL crosses the Missouri River, the sole drinking water source for thousands of people, both Indigenous and non-indigenous. A spill from DAPL would result in the catastrophic destruction of the Missouri River as a viable water source.

Join together in calling upon our fellow citizens, elected leaders and law enforcement to rectify the perpetuation of systemic and physical violence against the Indigenous Water Protectors and their Allies at Standing Rock as they defend the health and safety of their water systems and land.

For up to the minute information regarding Appalachia Resist, follow up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/appalachiaresist/

Occupy the Wayne National Forest Community Cadre

Saturday September 10, 2016

Grover Center Ohio University

Facts and figures

The Forest Service (Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson) and the Bureau of Land Management are still planning to frack in the Wayne Forest. Parcels are slated for an online December lease sale.

2,000 public comments were submitted against fracking in the Wayne in January of 2016- a clear indication of public concerns.

The Forest Service has chosen to ignore an Environmental Impact Study, which would evaluate current science and take account of community concerns, as required by federal law.

Supervisor Scardina has declined to hold or even attend a public meeting for community members since the comments period was closed.

Congress has mandated that National Forests must serve the public good, so legally the USFS should be basing its management on protection of ecosystem services, including climate protection, air and water purification, and biodiversity, not products, which are much less valuable per acre.

The Wayne Forest has the potential to sequester ~102.5 billion pounds of carbon emissions, according to the USDA[1] and the USFS,[2] but only if the Wayne is not also adding to pollution with methane and CO2 emissions and destruction of carbon sequestration by forest disturbance and fragmentation.

A study by NASA reveals that pollution from fossil fuel “development” is far worse than we initially thought.[3] And methane is 86-100x more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 over the 20-year time frame, clearly the period of concern, as climate disruption escalates faster even than scientists predicted.

USDA’s 2015-2020 plan calls for climate mitigation and increased community benefits that sustain forests and grasslands.[4] “Multiple use,” by law, must be uses that do not degrade other more valuable uses.

Short-term profit followed by environmental destruction and economic devastation is, and has always been, the legacy of oil, gas, and coal in Southeast Ohio.

The Whitehouse has published a Presidential Directive that calls upon government agencies like the Forest Service to consider climate impacts in any significant decisions- the Wayne is ignoring this directive.[5]

 

Notes

[1] http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_wo059.pdf

[2] http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/22954

[3] http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/09oct_methanehotspot/

[4] http://www.fs.fed.us/strategicplan

[5] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/01/executive-order-preparing-united-states-impacts-climate-change

Community Cadre is a Sham

Forest Service Attempts to Distract from Fracking in the Wayne National Forest

Athens OH | September 10, 2016 On September 10th, the United States Forest Service and Ohio University will be hosting an invitation only “Community Cadre” in Grover Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to create the appearance of a conversation around extraction in the Wayne National Forest. While we are completely supportive of the inclusion of community groups in the U.S. Forest Service’s decision-making process, we believe that sitting down with the oil and gas industry is not in the best interests of our community. We have just learned that the USFS planned all along to give consent to lease and is not reviewing the Bureau of Land Management’s Environmental Assessment (EA) or the hundreds of comments submitted by our community on the Draft EA. According to a recording of the comments provided by the BLM, approximately 2,000 people publicly commented against fracking in the Wayne National Forest during the January 2016 comment period.  If the USFS was interested in being responsive to the community comments, it would heed the clear call of the vast majority of people in this region: No fracking on public lands. We call on the USFS to halt the planned out-of-state auction of our public lands to fracking companies. Unless the USFS representatives are taken to task, and unless oil and gas interests are roundly rejected, this “Community Cadre” only serves to help the USFS make a mockery of actual democratic processes and real community engagement. We propose that the planned “Community Cadre” become instead an open space for widespread community engagement, and invite any and all to join us on September 10th, at 12 p.m. in the Grover Center Atrium on Ohio University’s Main Campus. The Appalachian Ohio Group of the Sierra Club, Athens County Fracking Action Network, and Appalachia Resist are currently distributing a petition that can be found on change.org.

Demand Water Justice

Demand Water Justice! Rally

Monday March 21st from 11am-1pm

Athens County Courthouse Steps

Fight for Flint, Fight for Appalachia!

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Black Life Action Coalition (BLAC) and Appalachia Resist! have formed a coalition to address the ongoing human rights abuses linked to ongoing water contamination to drinking water supplies.  We demand water justice for all and will be hosting a water drive for Flint, Michigan residents and a Demand Water Justice Rally: Fight for Flint, Fight for Appalachia at the Athens County Courthouse Steps on Monday March 21st from 11-1.  If you missed the water donation you can still contribute to the kitty that Athens is collecting to send up there: B.L.A.C. & AR! Water Drive for Flint Go Fund Me

 

We will be collecting monetary donations to help Flint churches, American Red Cross and United Way to buy much needed lead testing kits and water filters, but also full cases of commercially packaged water or commercially sealed gallon containers of water.  Testing for lead costs around $55/per test and filters run from $40-$200.

We encourage members of the public to drop off donations at the Monday rally, or at donation stations set up around town, including at The Village Bakery, Catalyst Café, and Fluff Bakery.

The Flint, Michigan water crisis has been ongoing since January 2015.  Residents cannot use tap water for drinking or cooking, due to high levels of lead that cause a number of symptoms such as vomiting, constipation, weight loss, hair loss, rashes, and stomach pain. According to the World Health Organization “high blood lead levels in children can cause consequences which may be irreversible including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and mental retardation. At very high levels, lead can cause convulsions, coma and death”. In an attempt to save money, the City of Flint caused the lead contamination in the tap water by switching water sources without corrosion controls.   Many public officials were made aware of the lead contamination, yet did nothing to alert those using the water.  Congressional hearings are currently in progress to assess blame.

 

“Prolonged drinking water contamination tends to impact communities of color and poor rural people disproportionately in this country. There is a connection between Flint, Michigan whose residents are struggling to remove the lead contamination in their water and the continuing history of water contamination in Appalachia,” said Peggy Gish, of Appalachia Resist! Southeast Ohio and West Virginia have previously been impacted heavily by two sources of tap water contamination, C8 and MCHM.  Athens County is now taking in more toxic fracking waste than any other county in Ohio, 4,021,985 barrels last year.  The injection of this waste into underground wells and transport of it throughout the region is a clear public health crisis waiting to happen.

 

In nearly all cases, those in charge knew of the public health threats long before disasters occurred, but did nothing to curb them.  C8 has been linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and pregnancy-induced hypertension.  Court records show Dow Chemicals was aware of C8’s potential toxicity as early as 1954, but the EPA was not involved until 2000.  MCHM contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginia residents in 2014 after the Freedom Industries spill. The drinking Fracking chemicals are linked to endocrine disruption, high cancer rates, low birthweight and miscarriage. Last week, 5,000 gallons of frack waste spilled into a drinking water reservoir in Barnesvill, Ohio, after a truck overturned.  “The struggles for economic, racial, and environmental justice are linked and it’s time that access to clean, safe, and affordable water be considered a fundamental human right,” said Joshelyn Smith, of Black Lives Action Coalition.

 

 

 

 

 

Regional Action Camp for Social & Environmental Justice

2016 Action Camp

Federal Valley Resource Center

8225 OH-329 Stewart, Ohio

CHILDCARE will be provided on site

LUNCH AND DINNER will be provided on Saturday and Sunday. Suggested donation of $5-20 to help offset costs.  Bring snacks to share if you can.

Schedule:

 

Friday Location 1
6-7 Dinner: Pizza!
7-8 AR! Welcome

Introduce trainers

Group Intros

  • What is your group and where are you located primarily?
  • What has your group been working on?
8-9 Ada Adams: local multicultural historian

 

Saturday Location 1 Location 2 Location 3
8:30 Breakfast
9-10 Welcome and Morning Meetup
10-12 What’s Up Pittsburgh: What’s Trump Got To Do With It? White Supremacy, Structural Racism, and the Prison System – Madeline delfin bautista:Rainbow Intersectionality and Queering Privilege
12-1 Lunch
1-3 Marty Zinn: How to Have a productive meeting Divestment roundtable: Student Sierra Coalition, and hopefully Francine Childs (ending apartheid), and Indiana prison abolition folks: Moderated by Caitlyn McDaniel Nick and Patrick from Rising Tide: Intro to strategic direct action
3:15-5:15 Cusi/Heather: Basic Climb Training. Jolana and Olivia: Anti-racism Activities Kim: long and short term prisoner support and advocacy.
5:15-6:30 Dinner
6:30-7:45 Panel on cross movement organizing or intersectional work: Rising Tide, BLAC, RAMPS, Moderated by: Peggy Gish
8:00 John Sims AfroDixieRemix listening project at night for this event.

 

Sunday Location 1 Location 2 Location 3
8:30 Breakfast
9-10 Welcome and Morning Meet Up
10-12 John Sims, Political Math Artist: Art and Activism Kim: Blockades
12-1 Lunch
1-3 Joshelyn: Environmental Racism Anne: Basic Street Medic Workshop
3:15-5:15 Talcon and Sarah Fick: Bystander Intervention Teresa Mills: Environmental Justice
5:15-6:00 Dinner
6:00-8:00 Roundtable on building a multiracial campaign against Letcher County Prison: Panagioti, Jordan from Letcher County, Rachel Lee from Columbus
8:00 action prep, banner making

 

Monday Location 1
11-1 Demand Water Justice! Rally and Flint Water Drive at the courthouse steps.  Water Justice Now!  Fight for Flint, Fight for Appalachia. Poisoned by lead,  C8, 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol in our tap water.

 

Black power fistWhat: 2016 Regional Action Camp for Social & Environmental Justice— connecting social and environmental  justice efforts in our region to start building a broad coalition that brings us together as allies.

How: By working with regional activists for a dynamic weekend of community building in our region around racial justice, anti rape culture, prison solidarity and prison abolition, environmental justice and anti extraction. We will provide childcare, help with places to stay or camp,  two meals on both Saturday & Sunday. Bring snacks to share on Friday evening.
Why: The struggles for economic, racial, and environmental justice are linked and it’s Prison Abolitiontime to offer a camp that will be a jumping off point for solidarity and commonality among social justice and environmental struggles.  We realize this a monumental task, and we are definitely NOT the experts.  But we believe beginning a dialogue is important and necessary!  Join us!

Updates: If you are on Facebook, please check for updates on our FB Page, by clicking HERE. Otherwise, we will get news about workshops out via our email list. 

 

 

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About Appalachia Resist!
We are a group of rural activists that formed Appalachia Resist! in 2012 in a mostly white working class community with a long history of fossil fuel extraction. We respond to the fracking industry in our region by using direct action as a tactic. We coordinate and cooperate with other groups working against this extractive industry. We’ve decided that solidarity with social justice campaigns is how we want to move forward in our work.

Consensus Training 12/5/15

Guidelines for Operating by Consensus

Consensus is a process for group decision-making. The input and ideas of all participants are gathered and synthesized to arrive at a final decision acceptable to all. Through consensus, the group utilizes an approach to reaching decisions based upon trust and the input of all involved.

Consensus works among those who are committed to being supportive and empowering of themselves and one another. Each person makes a commitment to: (a) state their preference about what they would like to have happen; (b) inform the group how strongly they feel about their preference; and (c) say what they would and would not be willing to go along with. Differences are welcomed and seemingly contradictory ideas can be worked though and synthesized. Consensus assumes that people are able to talk about their differences and take responsibility for reaching a mutually satisfactory position. No ideas are lost; each member’s input is valued as part of the solution.

During discussion a proposal for resolution is put forward. It is amended and modified through more discussion, or withdrawn if it seems to be a dead end. During this discussion period, it is important to articulate differences clearly. It is the responsibility of those who are having trouble with a proposal to put forth alternative suggestion. When a proposal seems to be well understood by everyone and here are no new changes asked for, the facilitator can ask if there are any objections or reservations to it. If there are no objections, there can be a call for consensus.

Consensus does not mean that everyone thinks the decision made is necessarily the best possible one, or even that they are sure it will work. What it does mean is that in coming to that decision, no one felt that their position on the matter was misunderstood or that it wasn’t given a proper hearing. It also means that the final decision does not violate someone’s fundamental ethics, for if it did they would be obligated to block consensus or to withdraw.

On a continuum, those who object can express one of several position.

  1. Mild Concern: I don’t see the need for this, but I will go along.
  2. Reservations: I think this may be a mistake, but I can live with it.
  3. Standing Aside: I personally can’t do this, but I won’t stop others from doing it.
  4. Blocking: I cannot support this or allow the group to support this because it is unethical.
  5. Withdrawing: I cannot continue in this group because my values are different from the group’s.

Once a decision has been reached on an issue, this decision will stand until compelling new information requires its re-discussion.

In order to provide safety in the group it is critical that no one “go along’ for the sake of speed, efficiency or peace. Ignoring individual preferences upsets the balance of power, creates a lack of trust within the group, and undermines the strength of the group as a whole

How to have a good meeting.

Three keys to good meetings.

  1. Good planning.
    • Plan and post the agenda at least one week in advance to allow everyone time to see the posting and reflect on the items to be discussed. Include times and what you would like to get out of each item (i.e. brainstorming, discussion, decision).
    • Schedule breaks into the meeting.
    • Set the meeting for a time when everyone can come and at a place that is comfortable and accommodating for the size of group you expect.
    • Post the agenda where everyone can see it during the meeting.
    • Get to the meeting space early. Rearrange the furniture so everyone can see each other. Set out water, scrap paper, and pens. Get a dry erase or chalk board ready for the scribe.
    • Presenters, be prepared to present. Bring hand-outs or visual aids that will help keep people’s attention.
  1. Good facilitation.
  • Choose a strong facilitator who has attended facilitation training.
  • Have the facilitator and presenters meet before the meeting so that everyone understands the purpose of each agenda item and what each person might need from the other(s).
  • Start the meeting on time.
  • Encourages everyone to speak and is attentive to group power dynamics
  • Identify goals of meeting and of each agenda item

 

  1. Good participant behavior.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Stay for the entire meeting.
  • Pay attention. Hand work is okay. Reading a book is not.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Do not participate if you are intoxicated or very sick.
  • Assume good intentions. People you find “difficult” or who differ from you politically can have valuable input. Accommodate divergent communication styles and divergent organizing or educational backgrounds.
  • Accept process roles.
  • Support the facilitator by observing the process.
  • Review any materials that were distributed before the meeting.
  • Speak concisely and to the point.
  • Wait to be called on to speak, refrain from interrupting others and speaking out of turn (even if it is a one word comment).
  • Don’t engage in side conversations.
  • Distinguish between your individual interests and the needs of the group.
  • Be willing to ask for process time if personal issues with other members (or outside issues) are unduly influencing your ability to make a decision.
  • Once the group has reached consensus, accept and support the decision.
  • Participants are responsible for voicing their opinions, participating in the discussion, and actively implementing the agreement.
  • Respect others and trust them to make responsible input.
  • Look for areas of agreement and common ground and build on them. Avoid competitive, right/wrong, win/lose thinking.

 

Roles for the meetings:

  • Facilitator: The facilitator aids the group in defining decisions that need to be made, helps them through the stages of reaching an agreement, keeps the meeting moving, focuses discussion to the point-at hand; makes sure everyone has the opportunity to participate, and formulates and tests to see if consensus has been reached. Facilitators help to direct the process of the meeting, not its content. They never make decisions for the group.
  • Timekeeper: assists the facilitator in keeping within time limits set in the agenda.
  • Minute Taker: writes down proposals, decisions (with reservations noted), tasks people agree to complete, announcements, next meeting time/place, and future agenda items.
  • Scribe: writes on paper or white board information during the meeting that is helpful for the whole group to see.
  • Gatekeeper (also can be the facilitator): Helps to keep communication channels open: facilitates the participation of others, suggests procedures that permit sharing remarks. Utilize whenever you want to hear from the more silent members of the group, whenever you want to prevent a participant from dominating the discussion. Ask an individual for their opinions or the information; be sensitive to the non-verbal signals indicating that people want to participate; when a person monopolizes the conversation, ask others for input.       Jeff, did you want to share something?”
    “Thanks for your input, Robin. I would like to know what the rest of you think.”
  • Vibes Watcher: A vibes-watcher is someone besides the facilitator who watches and comments on individual and group feelings and patterns of participation. Vibes-watchers need to be especially tuned in to the level of participation of societally marginalized people in the group.
  • Task Manager: someone who keeps track of who said they would do what and reiterates it at the end of the meeting and as needed when people forget what they said they would do in meetings.

 

 

Facilitation Training

It takes training and a personal commitment to cooperation and equality to make a good facilitator. Other qualities that aid in facilitation are the ability to paraphrase or sum up, a good memory, a sense of what’s missing or what’s needed in the discussion, and humility. Also, a good facilitator is not deeply invested in the topic at hand and/or will step down from the role of facilitator for agenda items for which s/he has a lot to say. The facilitator is considered a “servant leader.” It’s a good idea to rotate facilitators so that more people get a chance to practice and everyone gets a chance to just be a participant.

Facilitator Job Duties:

  1. Be prepared.
  • Get to meeting space early.
  • Make space comfortable.
  • Display Ground Rules and Agenda.
  • Provide meetings supplies (handouts, dry erase board, markers).
  • Meet with presenters ahead of time to find out what they might need from you.
  1. Keep the meeting focused.
  • State the desired outcome for each agenda item.
  • Keep the issues clear and manageable.
  • Start the discussion with clarifying questions.
  • Break large, complicated issues or proposals into smaller parts.
  • Summarize after five or so people have spoken.
  • Never have more than one topic or proposal on the table at a time.
  • Keep a visible list of tabled items.
  1. Encourage Participation.
  • Have people raise their hands to speak, dissuade talking out of tern, even one word comments.
  • Clarify the issue under discussion as needed.
  • Have everyone speak once before anyone speaks a second time.
  • If someone seems to be holding back, try to engage them in discussion.
  • Give people easy ways to participate. (ex: Ask questions and have people show thumbs.)
  • Disassociate contributions from contributors.
  • Don’t grade contributions. Say, “Thanks for that idea,” not, “That’s a good idea.”
  1. Manage Time.
  • Start and end the meeting on time.
  • Assign times to each agenda item (with group help).
  • Remind participants of how much time is left.
  • Interrupt long talkers when necessary.
  • Keep participants from repeating points.
  • Write points on the board (or ask scribe to do so).
  • Leave a few minutes at the end of each item to decide its disposition.
  • Keep the meeting focused on the topic under current discussion.
  1. Pull it all together.
  • Take your time before calling for a decision.
  • Use a whiteboard or flipchart to list points of a proposal.
  • Review important parts of the discussion.
  • Know if or when a decision cannot be made, but don’t let the issue dissolve. Keep it alive at the next meeting.
  • Ask members if they feel comfortable making a decision.
  • Make sure the recorder writes it all down exactly.
  • Leave some time at the end of the meeting to do a go ‘round about group dynamics or how the meeting went.

 

Techniques for Discussion:

  • Keep Stack: Keep a list of people who would like to speak and call on them. If someone is speaking frequently you can move them down on the stack and prioritize calling on infrequent speakers (be transparent about doing this).
  • Go ‘Round/Round Robin: Have everyone speak in turn, either with an object that is passed or without.
  • Popcorn: Typically used during a brainstorming session, where people call out ideas without discussing them.
  • Fishbowl: A small number of people are put in the center of a circle to talk, the outside circle listens. Useful when two people or a few people have differing opinions.
  • Small Groups: allow more participation in formatting questions, concerns, and modifying proposals to bring back to a large group.
  • Brainstorming: People throw out ideas without discussing, commenting, or evaluating them. A list is kept of the ideas and they are fleshed out utilizing a different discussion technique.
  • Thumbs/Straw Poll: Useful to see which of several dates or ideas warrant further consideration.
  • Tally voting: Revisit the list of brainstormed ideas, and ask people to vote on the ideas. The vote is non-binding and people can vote as many times as they want. This can be a good way to find out the group’s level of interest in different ideas.
  • Working Groups: The large group may consense to delegate tasks or projects to smaller sub groups. For example, a larger action planning group might ask a few people within the large group to work together as a media team for the upcoming action. That team may make decisions about media without consulting the large group about each decision. However, it is important that the smaller working groups be accountable to the larger group and check in with them if it seems possible that the decisions they are making goes beyond the scope of the working group. When in doubt, check in. Generally, working groups are used for purposes of logistics and tasks after everyone has consensed on larger decisions. Working groups are not used as a way to bypass the consensus process, and not as a way for a small group to make big decisions that affect the larger group.
  • Spokes Council: For large group decision making. Break the large group into smaller groups. Each small group chooses a spoke, a person who will act as the voice of the small group, representing them in meetings. Sometimes the spokes will meet with their small group present. Only the spokes speak, but the rest of the group can listen. Occasionally the meeting will pause whilst spokes confer with their affinity groups. Sometimes just the spokes (and a notetaker from each group) will meet. In this case the spoke is also acting as the ears of the group as well as the voice.

 Handsignals

Consensus, A Group Decision Making Process

Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that not only seeks the agreement of most participants, but also the resolution or mitigation of minority objections. Consensus is usually defined as meaning both general agreement, and the process of getting to such agreement.

The Process

Since the consensus decision-making process is not as formalized as others, the practical details of its implementation vary from group to group. However, there is a core set of procedures which is common to most implementations of consensus decision-making.

Consensus Diagram

Once an agenda for discussion has been set and the ground rules for the meeting have been agreed upon, each item of the agenda is addressed in turn. Typically, each decision arising from an agenda item follows through a simple structure:

  1. Discussion of the item: The item is discussed with the goal of identifying opinions and information on the topic at hand. The general direction of the group and potential proposals for action are often        identified during the discussion.
  2. Formation of a proposal: Based on the discussion a formal decision proposal on the issue is presented to the group.
  3. Call for consensus: The facilitator of the decision-making body calls for consensus on the proposal. Each member of the group usually must actively state their agreement with the proposal, often by using a hand gesture or raising a colored card, to avoid the group interpreting silence or inaction as      agreement.
  4. Identification and addressing of concerns: If consensus is not achieved, each dissenter presents his or her concerns on the proposal, potentially starting another round of discussion to address or clarify           the concern.
  5. Modification of the proposal: The proposal is amended, re-phrased or reiterated in an attempt to address the concerns of the decision-makers. The process then returns to the call for consensus         and the cycle is repeated until a satisfactory decision is made.

 

Dissent.

            Although the consensus decision-making process should, ideally, identify and address concerns       and reservations early, proposals do not always garner full consensus from the decision-        making body. When a call for consensus on a motion is made, a dissenting delegate has one of     three options:

  • Declare reservations: Group members who are willing to let a motion pass but desire to register their concerns with the group may choose “declare reservations.” If there are significant reservations about a motion, the decision-making body may choose to modify or re-word the proposal.
  • Stand aside: A “stand aside” may be registered by a group member who has a “serious personal disagreement” with a proposal, but is willing to let the motion pass. Although stand asides do not halt a motion, it is often regarded as a strong “nay vote” and the concerns of group members standing aside are usually addressed by modifications to the proposal. Stand asides may also be registered by users who feel they are incapable of adequately understanding or participating in the proposal.
  • Block: Any group member may “block” a proposal. In most models, a single block is sufficient to stop a proposal, although some measures of consensus may require more than one block. Blocks are generally considered to be an extreme measure, only used when a member feels a proposal “endanger[s] the organization or its participants, or violate[s] the mission of the organization” (i.e., a principled objection). In some consensus models, a group member opposing a proposal must work with its proponents to find a solution that will work for everyone.

 

Example of Ground Rules:

 

AR! Groundrules for Cooperation

  • Practice Open Communication—Practice open communication and be a good listener. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. Think about individual and personal factors. Shed your preconceived notions and be flexible enough to perceive where the other person is coming from. Use your powers of patience and compassion when communicating. Feedback is important and should be given and received freely and constructively with eye toward continuous improvement.
  • Avoid Power Plays—Power plays occur any time when a group member grabs for a larger share of the power than other group members. Power plays are a way of bypassing consensus by implicitly jumping the process. Types of power plays may include “all or nothing,” copping out, intimidation, rigidity, stumping, pushing the process, self-righteousness or martyrdom, lying, sabotage, creating a crisis, waiting until outside the meeting to voice concerns or criticisms, or acting defensive. When power plays occur, make sure they are defined and worked through as soon as possible.
  • Protect Our Equal Rights—Remember that everyone is equal. There are no bosses here. Avoid behavior based on hierarchical models and actively work against -isms that seep into our day to day activities and decision making, such as: racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, colonialism, ableism, capitalism, and all other forms of oppression. Call out behaviors that point to -ism gently and with an eye toward continuous improvement.
  • Participate in Decision Making—Participation is a responsibility of all group members. Involvement in the decision making of the group is encouraged. In decision making all opinions must be considered with respect. Efforts should be made to find common goals. When necessary, try to compromise in such a way that everyone’s needs can be met.
  • Keep a Positive Attitude—Develop a positive attitude toward and take pride in your work. This attitude will communicate itself to folks outside of the group and help to create a positive image of our group. Work to take care of yourself and have fun outside of group activities in order to maintain a level of happiness and satisfaction with life that allows your work to be enjoyable.
  • Know your Limitations—Be aware of your own and others’ limitations. Don’t take on responsibilities you can’t handle, or more work than you are capable of. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it, and don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re swamped.
  • Deal with Conflict Quickly and Directly—When you are having a problem with a co-worker, deal with that person directly, and as soon as possible. Don’t allow tension to grow. Keep in mind that as soon as possible might not mean right away. Sometimes folks need time to cool off and process their emotions before they are able to have a productive conversation.
  • Acknowledge a job well done—Acknowledge and praise a job well done. Offer support, feedback, and listening when needed, and right away.
  • Take Personal Responsibility— Remember that your work effects the work of others and effects our campaign. Make a point to be aware of the responsibilities that you have taken on and to complete all tasks thoroughly and within the allotted time frame. Be on time to meetings, and develop an awareness of taken on and to complete all tasks thoroughly and within the allotted time frame. Be on time to meetings, and develop an awareness of the big picture. Be willing to step up when others ask for help.

 

Power Dynamics Within Meetings.

People who are accustomed to societal privilege and power may be used to having their voices and opinions heard easily and often both in larger society and in the smaller groups and meetings they participate in. It is important to confront the ways that your group’s dynamics may directly or indirectly exclude or minimize the voices of people based on their race, class, gender, ability, language use, citizenship, status as a parent, income, educational background, or activist experience.

The consensus method may not, in itself, be able to confront all societal privilege and power, but it is built interrupt those dynamics within smaller organizing communities. Because it seeks to amplify all voices and because it identifies and works against hierarchies, working by consensus can be a good foundation for anti-oppression work within groups.

It is also important for groups to engage in and to take seriously anti-oppression work. There are plenty of excellent people to provide anti-oppression trainings.

Power dynamics also manifest within groups as individual misconduct, structural weaknesses, or “power plays”. Of course, these often intersect with, or stem from issues of societal privilege, but even when that doesn’t seem to be the case, power imbalances within groups must be identified and worked through in order to fully embrace consensus principals. Remember, most people have been on the “wrong” side of at least one type of power imbalance. This shouldn’t have to be about rooting out the baddies, but simply about improving group process.

What It Looks Like

Working by consensus may be important but it’s not all that glamorous. Be wary if someone talks a good game about working against oppressive systems and changing the world, but they are not doing the hard work within meetings of simply listening, not interrupting, of accepting consensed upon decisions, and of observing ground rules. But how do you identify when there are unwanted power dynamics working their way into your group or into your meetings? Here are some of the ways that power imbalances might play out within groups or meetings (particularly in activist settings).

Microaggressions: A microagression is “the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group”. It’s often enacted on an individual level. Constantly commenting on the way a woman looks or what she is wearing, asking a person of color to speak for all people of color, refusing to refer to someone by the pronoun that they prefer are all examples of microagressions.

Gatekeeping: One person in the group seems to have all the information, and in order to participate fully, everyone else needs to go through that one person for access to information, passwords, media contacts, access to other activist communities or ways of working.

Intimidation and Self Righteousness: One person declares or implies that they deserve to have a larger say in decision making because of their purported level of activist experience, political awareness, or “political purity”. Intimidating or excluding others on the basis of activist experience encourages an atmosphere in which people feel they have to prove themselves in order to fully participate. Such an atmosphere makes activists vulnerable to infiltrators and saboteurs. Remember that you should never feel under pressure to recite an “activist resume”, to talk about past actions that you’ve taken part in, to participate in an action you’re uncomfortable with, or to prove that you are somehow “legitimate” enough to have your voice equally heard in group decision making.

Rigidity: One person in the group seems unresponsive to group process. Even after group brainstorms, discussions, straw polls, go rounds, and modified proposals, it seems as if this person hasn’t been listening. They are unwilling to take other voices into account, and will not budge from their unadulterated position. This makes it difficult to pass proposals or to make meaningful decisions as a group.

Stumping: After much discussion and brainstorming, a go round, a straw poll, and a “tally vote” show strong group support for two particular plans of action. Instead of respecting this process, one person goes back to the beginning of the discussion and begins to “pitch” whichever idea they personally are most attached to. This type of stumping is a vestigial carryover from electoral decision making styles, where the goal is to “advertise” certain ideas in order to get the majority of votes. Stumping can derail a group process that should be focused on the merits and concerns of various proposed plans, and on the nuances and ideas that each person in the group can bring to these proposals. Meeting time should not be used to “get people onto your side”, but to co create meaningful plans of action.

Pushing the Process: This person suggests, at crucial moments, that things are taking too long, that the group doesn’t have time to come to consensus, or that a decision needs to be made quickly. This suggestion often comes at moments of high emotion, high consequence, disagreement, or discomfort, and often comes at the expense of voices that are already at the margins. This might be followed by the suggestion that a few people be empowered to make the crucial decision without group input, or that the process be cut short and things be put to a vote.

Transferring of Roles: As often happens in small communities, you might find yourself working in an activist group with someone who, in another context, is your employer, your professor, your partner, your classmate, or even your landlord. In most cases, it’s not enough to declare that those daily roles don’t matter. Instead, it is important to watch out for ways that those power stratifications might seep into group decision making and group process.

Silent Judgement, and Gossip: This person keeps their criticisms and concerns to themselves during meetings, but loudly spreads negative opinions once the meeting is over. By establishing groundrules and using good facilitation, consensus run groups attempt to create an opportunity for concerns and criticisms to be heard and worked through within meetings.   Bypassing this can create an atmosphere of intimidation as well as a lack of trust and a lack of accountability. It also can be a power grab because the person has the luxury of voicing criticisms and concerns without the difficulty of hearing responses to them.

Acting Defensive. This person cannot hear concerns or criticism within meetings without directly responding to them each time, or treating them as personal attacks. This can subtly discourage much needed honesty during debriefs, which are built to help groups improve.

What To Do About It

Set Groundrules. For a group that meets together often, there might be one set of co-created groundrules that is always posted at meetings. A group that meets together for a one-time event can come up with groundrules at the beginning of the event. Groundrules are aimed at creating a shared understanding of basic behavioral conduct within the meeting, at creating a safer space for all to participate authentically, and to build trust within the group. It can be useful to go back to the groundrules and check in if the vibe of the meeting is off. Groundrules can be useful as a way to identify unwanted power dynamics within the group.

Use The “Point of Process Hand Signal.” Interrupt the meeting to mention that there might be a problem with process, that you fear the process is being rushed or that subtle hierarchies are creeping in. Be direct. Suggest or facilitate a check-in with the group in the form of a go-round, or asking directly to hear from people whose voices haven’t been heard. A go-round can help make sure that everyone gets a chance to comment on how they feel about the current process and how it might go better.

Debrief Everything. Even though it takes time and everyone is tired, make sure that your group debriefs every action or large event that they plan, as soon as it makes sense to do so afterwards. Analyzing and understanding what worked and what didn’t about group activities makes it harder for persistent power dynamics to fly under the radar.

Suggest Structural Changes: Discussions of power dynamics often seem like they’re built to denounce bad people within groups. But most people have been on the bad side of at least one of these dynamics, even if they didn’t mean to be. Assuming that all people within the group want the group to operate more democratically and equitably, consider suggesting structural changes that could help make this happen. If it seems like one person is gatekeeping, for example, it could help to establish rotating roles within the group for who checks the email account, acts as media spokesperson, keeps track of funds, etc. If one person’s microagressions seem to be stemming from a certain type of obliviousness, suggest that anti- oppression training become a requisite for all group members.

Be Honest With Yourself: If you are the perpetrator of one of the above power plays, consider your own motives or capacity for group work. For example, if you find yourself almost always at odds with the rest of your group, and blocking many decisions, consider that you might have fundamental differences from that group, ethically or strategically, and you might want to take a step back from that organizing body. If you prefer to be the sole decision maker, or only to work with one other person, consider other types of work that could still contribute to changing the world but don’t necessitate that you work in a democratic group process.

Don’t Hesitate to Bring in Outside Trainers or Mediators As needed! Regardless of experience or expertise within a group, a fresh perspective can always be useful. It can be invigorating and refreshing for a group to periodically bring in an outside trainer who can help them work through or learn more about process issues, power dynamics, or anti oppression work.

OTHER TRAINING RESOURCES:

 

WHAT’S UP?! PITTSBURGH: https://wwhatsup.wordpress.com (anti racist work, started out as white people confronting white supremacy)

 

AORTA: Anti Opression Resource and Training Alliance: http://aorta.coop (a variety of trainings on democratic process, also mediation and anti oppression work)

 

CATALYST PROJECT (ANN BRADEN PROGRAM):

http://collectiveliberation.org/resources/training-programs/

 

TRAINING FOR CHANGE: https://www.trainingforchange.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Consent!

No Consent

Ask the forest service not to send a letter of consent to the Bureau of Land Management to allow the sale of oil and gas leases for fracking in Wayne National Forest. Kathleen Atkinson, the Region 9 Forester has the final say. Her number is 414-297-3765, her email is katkinson@fs.fed.us. She will be consulting with Wayne National Forest Supervisor Tony Scardina. His number is 740-753-0880 and email is ascardina@fs.fed.us. Please share! You can also comment via official channels by emailing to: blm_es_comments@blm.gov BLM will accept written comments regarding potential oil and gas leasing on the Wayne National Forest until Friday, January 8, 2016. More info here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/…/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do…

Sample Email:

Ms. Atkinson:

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to leasing land in the Wayne National Forest for fracking. I strongly urge you to not give consent to the Bureau of Land Management to lease land within Ohio’s only national forest.

While I acknowledge the long history of using national forests for timber and other resource extraction, fracking Wayne National Forest is a mistake that benefits a few outsiders while placing at risk the future of many within our county.

While I take issue with private corporations profiting from extracting resources on public lands, I will focus instead on the more tangible effects that fracking will have upon Wayne National Forest. The dangers of fracking are by now well publicized. Each step of this gas-extraction process presents different threats, including:

  • the release of large amounts of methane and other greenhouse gases as they are vented into the air
  • the potential for earthquakes and the violent explosion of the shale deep beneath the ground that is necessary to release the methane gas
  • waterway contamination
  • the creation of large amounts of toxic, radioactive waste that will almost certainly be pumped into the ground in Athens County
  • an unimaginable increase in truck traffic and large-scale industrial activity
  • long-term effects that we are not yet aware of

The resident wildlife, recreational users, and the health of the Wayne ecosystem will all be placed at risk. Watersheds will be compromised, and by extension so will the health of plant and animal life. Recreational uses of the forest will also be undermined. Why should Athens County assume so much risk? Why should Wayne National Forest, for that matter, assume so much risk? What benefit will come from this?

In closing, I strongly urge you to not consent to fracking the Wayne. Keep it in the ground. Do your part (however small) to promote a shift (however slow) to a greener energy future.

 

Sincerely,

Michael Rinaldi-Eichenberg

lifelong Athens County resident