Anyone interested in emergent self organising processes that occur when diverse individuals assemble for a common cause, cannot fail to be impressed by how the Occupy movement has demonstrated a capacity for well structured engagement through the working group protocol. Combining the use of such online platforms to share grassroot practices, such as shown here at How to Occupy and the in-person General Assemblies, helps co-ordinate the competencies of Occupiers into pragmatic groups.
When the General Assembly is at its best, it supports and holds the working groups accountable to their self-assigned remits and the needs of the community. A representative chronicles all activities and records them faithfully on the web, as with this one from Occupy Edmonton. Everyone can see what groups are active, should they seek to contribute or offer to form a group to serve a need currently unmet. When reviewing dozens of the working group listings visible on many of the Occupy website home pages, I was struck by the clear presentation of each list of initiatives, this exemplary one from Occupy Boston, for instance.
As the regular General Assemblies are where all constituents gather to listen and contribute to the discussions using the methodology of the ‘stack’, which allows anyone seeking to propose a group or report on current activities, joins a queue and takes their turn to speak. This allows each their turn to vocalise and articulate for all to hear and vote on. In a ‘leaderless’ holarchic society, the necessity for a self organising infrastructure to support the intrinsic momentum, and the forum to voice the fomenting processes of each, are both vital components. What is being revealed here is the desire for a new manner of building community, responsive to those who have been inspired to collaborate, as working groups become the lifeblood of the movement.
To lay claim to the future, we need to connect and amplify the activities of the working groups. That will also help the ‘education’ of new Occupations, sourced from the shared learning provided by the early models. People work together well when the flexible framework of working groups accommodates their natural inclination to co-operate within the context of a big vision. They are a testament to our determination to stand up against disempowerment. We realise a greater autonomy when we work together in co-operative engagement inspired by our desire for freedom. This, to me, is the power of Working Groups.