A people's global meeting

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photo caption:creating a global grassroots meeting process in 3 stages

This year is incredibly significant. It's the make or break year, probably break. But this is exactly the mindset to change. I want this year to be remembered as the year the world came together, not the year we let it fall apart.

I have this plan for a global people's meeting. Like a lot of other people, I feel the world needs the equivalent of the Bretton Woods agreement which established the Bretton Woods System in 1944. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system

This was a whole new monetary order, in the view of many, it put an end to the great depression at last, and reformed banking to keep it less greedy. Over the years however, this agreement has been dismantled and now we are in the same mess as then - with not only credit or job shortages but soon lack of food, totalitarian rule and even ruminations of full scale world war.

For many reasons, I don't think the same kinds of people who gathered for bretton woods would today be able to help. I don't want this to be "the age of stupid" as the film says. I want to find out how to raise cash and get people involved in various ways, so as to do a new Bretton Woods. I call this the people's global meeting.

The people's global meeting would be a distributed set of meetings happening simultaneously in 1000 or more cities across many thousands of interest groups, activist movements, environmentalists, neighbourhood groups and just about any group you could imagine that takes some responsibility for its environment. I would like this to take place in 2012. It will be my own individual proposal to put the pieces in place for this enormous occurrence by putting forward to as many groups as I can a large scale "test" of it, and so lay the basis for the real thing.

The meeting happens in 3 stages. It would involve a highly publicised sign up process allowing anyone to distribute instructions or guidelines for how to organise a neighbourhood meeting in the street or in a shared space - allowing anyone to set up a local meeting or get their group involved.

Neighbourhood level
The groups would then register via their assembly notes, and submit proposals with various tags, and information about their group. This would be done as a result of the meeting of those members, and we would have agreed ways to take that info and take it further. Meetings can run in many ways, but I would suggest and teach the more democratic of these: GA / direct democracy assembly format (http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Popular_assembly), open space  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Space_Technology) and world cafe (http://www.peopleandparticipation.net/display/Methods/World+Cafe)  style meetings, but also any other types of meeting that are seen as inclusive, as well as simple, informal chats at a basic level. We have to work out how rural areas in the world could take part.

The tags and media produced by each meeting (maybe a video, an agenda or meeting notes) would allow for others to view proceedings and express their opinions. A community run process could then take place to decide which proposals to put through to a larger regional meeting.

Regional Level
The regional assembly would bring together all the proposals and involve spokes or some agreed method of representation. Ultimately it should be open to all. It would also be streamed online, and told of via various types of media, in order to involve others, and would have volunteers both translating what is said and posting these translations, and other volunteers on chat rooms and forums collating comments or suggestions via that interface also. In some cases chat can get very much out of hand, so this would also help to figure out how things can be automated so as to quickly sort information or decisions to the right people or place in a quickly changing live meeting scenario. Also the non technical people have to come first in all this, and particular attention would have to be given to those who are unable to use IT to take participate as much as others.

The key is that regional assemblies would be networked with other regional assemblies in other places. But all this is very well - I'm sure you're asking - but what do you actually decide on? Well for one thing - that there is a problem in the world - a crisis, or crises - that can be seen in many ways. But you can also hear talks, and presentations, so you might agree on specific things happening in your area, or work for regional or global proposals, or for the idea of for example starting a permanent group to deal with some local issue, or some need that can be filled by coming together and providing a space or some materials. The key is you decide only on things you will ultimately work on and be a part of. By taking part as anything more than as an observer, in a particular proposal, you'd have to take on some responsibility to do with it - even just a promise to participate in a specific event or task.

I don't have a position on creating proposals around fighting governments, shady groups or corporations vs making lasting commitments to those around us, but I definitely think I will be doing the latter. I'll be trying to create cooperative, ethical, positive structures around as many people as possible, so that they can be resilient to our crisis ridden future.

Now the regional meetings are over: we have a few main proposals: we've been through this more arduous process of finding duplicate or similar proposals and ironing out wordings across many opinions. Now it's time for big decisions, and celebration:

Global Level
A festival time would be announced, and people would come and start creating and collating media to broadcast to other spaces. Meetings/events would run in parallel across different festivals and broadcast on stages, and in this way a large shared, but always unique virtual event space could be created. There could also be talks, music, events of various kinds on a many day celebration of the coming together of cultures and people.

So part 3: A Festival of Democracy: there is a lot of knowledge among young people in terms of going to a space, getting rights to it, getting donations, sorting out living spaces and running creative arts or music festivals, even in the middle of nowhere.... So this creativity can be made to serve the global decision making process. We have many examples of this done on a large scale: Burning Man, Climate Camp or even summer music festivals take place involving huge amounts of people, although usually focused around music.This festival on the other hand is a get together where proposals are finally agreed and finalised, and a kind of final event takes place: an enormous collection of streams from all around, creating distributed celebrations between various cities.

So why the global connection between all these meetings? Well for one thing, agreements can be made across many more people, with many more minds helping work out all the issue, and using internet technology, we can share so much more creativity within that. So a proposal for a food cooperative could start to look more like an international network, an agreement on basic human rights for climate or resource migrants could involve coordination at an international level to campaign for rights.

And why celebrate? Isn't this just an excuse for a hippy party? Well, my grandma was an Aymara, like her I descend from people who one day lived in the andes, across a wide desolate area, but would come together for celebrations around the year, in this way vastly increasing everyone's welfare and livelihood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayllu

Every year one Andean Ayllu would put down their home for everyone else to come, and a calendar of events followed work that was carried out across different tribes in different areas - the seaside fishermen, the forest tribes, and the people on the lower and higher parts of the andes themselves. I've written more in detail about this here: http://tziteras.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-more-minutes-from-gift-economies-to.html

These pre-incaic festivals were a time of celebration but also of work - for example when people came to the coast bringing trees to make boats, in exchange for fish from the fishing tribes. Work was celebration then: we worked together because it gives the gift of much more than what each one can do alone, and the gift of meeting and sharing. I see this global meeting as a global human conscience taking form which can then take action to work together, a lot like these pre-incaic tribes would work together to provide for each other. We are working to change the world, in this incredibly significant point of environmental social and global collapse of many things we thought we would have long into the future. Sure, some see many positives in all this. We will treasure our gifts.

The agreements we could make at a global level, if they could somehow involve enough people, could be the change the world needs to set us straight for at least a while longer.

So, at the festival in your area or country, or from home and around connecting somehow, we all agree to go by what we have agreed, and then celebrate: 

And the day after, the real work, and celebration begins.

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