Atlanta IOPS Meeting Notes from March

Atlanta IOPS (International Organization for a Participatory Society)
start up group meeting notes
*note: to better understand the notes, it helps for one to be familiar with
1) the models offered in participatory society (some ATL IOPS members’ attempt at simplification with comprehensiveness available at myspace.com/parsoc – which is the book we speak of);
2) familiarity with the book (same thing on myspace.com/parsoc) written by a couple ATL IOPS members and currently being revised (and we ask for revisions and feedback etc from all people!) – mostly references to a/the book is the one we put together, and it’s more of a booklet than a book…:-)
*note: these notes are imperfect and Misty apologizes if they have been transcribed improperly – as in the wrong person recorded as saying something when it was in fact someone else or just Misty thinking it and meaning to say it – I don’t think this happened too much though:)
*note: these notes are basically in the order that they occurred throughout the meeting duration
*note: the lack of equal frequency of commentary from certain members or people here has a variety of reasons – they came a little late, they were not as familiar with the models/visions/movement, they were new to the meeting, missed one, etc, or surely several other factors

03/08/09 – 1st BIG meeting
–    what is participatory society? read the books about parsoc – for background

–    we have to discuss too what parsoc is and means

–    we have to meet each other and others to build a community amongst us all and create a new common culture that includes all the diversity around us

–    we need a short, easy definition of parsoc and its constituent parts

–    but how do actually GET to a participatory society???


–    Atlanta is having local currency, called the YouMe, meetings

–    we should all collectively add agenda items to the agenda each time!

–    We spent a little time talking about what parsoc was and a lot more talking about what parecon is

informal agenda (Misty, Rob, Giselda, Tyler, Sofia, AJ)
–    skills we each have to contribute to parsoc and this group and movement and skills we need to work on individually and collectively
–    **questions about the book – grammatical errors
–    **purpose of the group?? Goals we should have? (awareness, the book, etc)
–    what makes a member? A chapter?
–    Dual power – other strategies, tactics, plans
–    Flier – is it good? Should we make a better one? What would we improve?
–    Tyler’s housing co-op, the youme currency – how do try to advocate alternative institutions like these organize according to parsoc principles and models without seeming pushy or forceful? How do we make a case (SHORT DEFINITION AND EXAMPLES?) – work with what we have
-Tyler – animal rights being talked about in the book as part of participatory society – should it have a concrete place – is speciesism something we should work on?

– Sofia – we’ll be coming up with strategies and stuff IN THE MOMENT – it’ll be a struggle – so should we even be offering models/plans!?

-Rob – parsoc provides a flexible blueprint of alternative institutional models – it just offers basic pieces and there is still much to be figured out as we go/struggle

-Sofia – in the past we did not have true socialism

– Tyler – parsoc is a VISION – something we’re offering instead (so we’re not just criticizing current institutions/problems) – so we’re not just fighting but orienting ourselves/our work toward something better

-Sofia – we can’t have a complete vision – we need to be able to respond to situations in the moment and as we progress– testing grounds

-Rob – dual power (from Brian Domminick) – 1st Lenin – build dual power with groups who’s function is to destroy old oppressive systems

-Sofia – are we reforming? What is the struggle here?

-Rob – we’re reforming toward our vision which is quite flexible

-AJ – people hear socialism and think socialism = bad

-Giselda – but many people see it as the way in America, Latin America, and Europe

-AJ – we’ve gotta sell this to the working class who have different skills

-Rob – the working class should have balanced job complexes

-Giselda – what about the POLICE/DEFENSE section of the book? Is it too detailed? (Tyler and AJ wonder too) – maybe a more neutralized (isn’t that the point?) or more radical defense system – why are we using Israel as a model? What about espionage? We need clarification and radicalization – defense is broadly shared shitwork yes BUT we shouldn’t have a standing army or draft!

-Tyler – what about the anarchists that got smashed when they tried to fight the fascists who were far more organized? We need to think about that…

-Giselda – maybe have military training without a specialized force? What about people who don’t want to go to war – conscientious objection? – we must defend ourselves without destroying our values and keep in check the tools that have traditionally been used to oppress

-Tyler – we can’t really predict what defense is gonna look like on the same level as we can economics and kinship – but we have years to research

-Rob – defense (and everything?) is really a work in progress

-Giselda – the US uses our standing army against Costa Rica – what about what Denmark did to make it hell for the Nazis when they invaded? They used nonviolent, noncompliant tactics and resistance – WE SHOULD MAINLY RELY ON NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE – the Military Industrial Complex is a cycle with a standing army

-Misty – maybe a decentralized army and safer, revolving national guard?

-Rob – these will also not be the same institutions – like capitalism, patriarchy, racism, so therefore it should be improved if we have a standing army

-Giselda – Chavez – civilianizing the military, militarizing civilians? (not the only purpose)

-Tyler – maybe just a general framework and not all the details of an army – even an INTERNATIONAL ARMY? (new kind of army from anti-flag;-))

-Misty – US spends bout 50% budget on military so that’s another tool/great sum of money we can use

-Misty and Rob – Atlanta IOPS and IOPS generally – our purpose is to destruct and construct – to deconstruct existing oppressive institutions and to build new, alternative, value-laden ones

-Tyler – that’s pretty generic – what are our actual goals in this local groups, like short, long, and medium term – we’re got only like 5 people right now – ex: what should we try to accomplish/focus on within the next year?

-AJ – we’ve gotta do more with less – do more mainstream outreach – talking bout it, organizing, and it’ll spread by itself – get it to more powerful people to like get an editorial or oped in the AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution – the mainstream Atlanta newspaper) – STRESS THAT THIS IS NOT SOCIALISM

-Rob – it’s kind of a socialist-anarchist economic vision (anarcho-syndicalism?)

-Misty – it’s the most democratic – in the good sense of the word – economic vision imaginable basically…

-AJ – make sure we make explicit what this book is NOT – an alternative option, offering something new so we’re not choosing between 2 crappy systems

-Rob – we should be talking about the instability and destructiveness of markets NOW as they crumble and we’re all caught in the middle of it – educating people on this

-Giselda – Parecon doesn’t really stress local markets – what about those? (I think a quick discussion followed this question)

-Tyler – our local ATL chapter – membership – do we decide who’s a member on a case by case basis or wut?

-Rob – we want as many advocates for this vision as possible

-Tyler – people coming and going all the time and us having to debate and explain everything constantly might not be productive – should we really have an open call to the public?

-Misty – worried about restricting anyone, even if we don’t like them or their values (see revolutionary communists)

-Tyler – we need to be embodying the seeds of the future in our current organizing in the present – our group is small and the movement is much bigger – time and place is a factor too – maybe people who are already committed are members? What about exclusionary vs open?

-Rob – AA has a good model we can use – some meetings open, some aren’t, discussion always good and will be more prevalent in open meetings if new, less knowledgeable people come…

-AJ – we need a recruiting division, a destruction division that helps dismantle existing institutions, an operations division (that builds new institutions?) and we should have some CORE PRINCIPLES – some things that are unwavering within reason

-Rob – Parecon as a core value of course…

-Tyler – we can be a discussion group, and advocacy group, or a more exclusionary group for more informed members

-AJ and Rob – support exclusionary group

-Giselda – but our group is so small already that that’s not a good idea/practical

(-Misty – and participatory society is about including all people – we need to build that here and now in our group)

-Rob – if you reject key institutions of parecon or parsoc we don’t have much in common

-Giselda – agrees with AJ that we should have one meeting for dedicated pareconers and one for questioners/learners

-Rob – we should run the chapter like a nested federation in the nested council model or parecon model…

-Tyler – though we should have a clear-cut focus and direction or otherwise we’re just a discussion group – is that all we are?

-AJ – we should get something in the paper about what we’re doing

-Misty – we have our core values (freedom, solidarity, diversity, equality) – and a basic strategy (dual power etc) – which is what ATL IOPS is – and then we can get to the concrete stuff like what we do – this this, who what, when

-AJ – creating a business – employee-owned banquet service – with equal sharing of profits and equal stake in the business – how does Soul Vegetarian do it?

-Giselda – such a paradox because that restaurant is run by Hebrews with a lot of homophobia but they are quite supportive of animal rights – but what about Mexcian immigrants’ rights? And in practice in a parecon – say I work in a dental office – there is one dentist, one assistant, and three hygenists – how would a balanced job complex work there since that is skilled labor?

-Tyler – what are the limits on people becoming dentists? Skilled labor yeah but there’s also medical school, unions, and the number of people in school is not necessarily based on skill but outside factors

-Giselda – I learned in biology class – freshman – 99% of you won’t get into medical school – it’s so competitive – but what about the caste system, your role being a 1-5 depending on what you got on some test like in certain other countries, aside from affirmative action?

-Tyler – 2 meetings – Giselda agrees – discussion – more than just the booklet – it needs a works cited page or it won’t convince difficult people

-AJ – this group/book is forming an argument and initiating a debate about a revolutionary society – we should be doing outreach by doing opeds, and also organizing in the underground and at school

-we basically agree on the proposal to have membership and our chapter be based on believing in the core values, models, and strategy

-Tyler – we can’t be dogmatic about strategy – rationality is the best tactic

(Misty, Tyler, Jennell, Rob, Giselda)

-Misty – should we list groups fighting different littler parts of parsoc on facebook, myspace, website, etc?

-Tyler – is decentralization really best? Some in Venezuela don’t think so cuz of what Chavez is doing – what about America – do we really want the deep South to choose whether or not Jim Crow is allowed, gays can marry, etc? (discussion follows – outcome decentralization still better in some ways?)

-Misty – listing orgs and their work to support movements and stand as a link to most of them that are doing good work

-Rob – we learn from others, a decentralized movement is set up like the visions more so than a centralized – we should support anti-corporate groups a LOT and join these movements too

-Tyler – one problem with decentralization is states would be competing under capitalism for who can attract more companies

-Rob – that’s why we have to change WHAT WE PAY FOR, which is how hard work

-Jennell – the local currency, the YOUME, is an agreement based on trust – whatever you and the other person agree to, if u think ur work is worth 50$ per hour

-Misty – I’d like to see a more systemic, universal rule with the youme so it’s not simply based on trust and can apply society-wide though trust (see love and solidarity) is something we can fall back on if need be as our current institutions crumble

-Tyler – equalize it – make it a threat to the market – membership of ATL IOPS should be committed to attending meetings

-Rob – so if they don’t believe in all or most of it should they be excluded from the meetings?

-Tyler – yes

-Rob – maybe they could come but have no decision making power

-Misty – the problem is they may hold up the meeting and inhibit progress, but the good part is they’d help us learn how to better debate the issues around parsoc

-Tyler – can we still be productive if we have 2 of our meetings and then the 3rd we talk to people who aren’t really familiar with the models?

-Rob – the learning/questioning people should come to open discussions where we’ll have more time for debating – we could HOST DEBATES

-Misty – maybe a way to limit people from monopolizing time is to RAISE THE FIST to be able to speak (and the facilitator would take fist stacks)

-Rob – if someone’s monopolizing something we should write it down and complain later…?

-Tyler – maybe 2 meetings for members and one for non-members

-Jennell – but the meetings are advertised on the back of the book and they don’t put limits on who can come when…

-Rob – we gotta upload the pamphlet (book(let)) on Zspace (for feedback and the to help other organizers)

-Misty – and don’t forget the flier (1/2 page front and back flier bout parsoc and meetings)

-Tyler – Zspace is what we should use for common stuff among us ATL IOPS folks and parsocers – get criticism and agreement from the Zspace ppl

-Rob – we can put the booklet on the wiki thing on Zspace

-Tyler – quality of people/members is more important than quantity/amount of people – discussion groups can be smaller – quickest way to get lots of people into parsoc

-Misty – fliers can say meetings are for IOPS supporters (so can have read the book or be familiar and supportive of the models/vision)

-Tyler – what about growing too fast? Hard to have an interactive meeting if there are tons of people – it’ll take a while but do we need some kind of structure to deal with tons of people equally

-Rob – google group – could have the notes from the previous meetings and we could use it to discuss ideas and issues before the next meeting – so people who missed it can learn what happened/catch up and the meeting can be more focused and productive

-Misty – not just all people come to our meetings, but all people who support parsoc

-Rob – 25-50 people is the nested council model – why don’t we use that? If our meetings have more than that we can start to split off into more groups/councils:)

-Jenell – we should get through our agenda (WHICH WE MAKE BEFORE HAND) before we get into new business and ideas people bring up – decide next meeting’s agenda at the end of each meeting

-Tyler – ROTATE FACILITATORS – limit the dominance some people have (LIKE MISTY WITH HER LOUD ASS!;-)) – facilitator to check people who are getting out of line – including talking to much or whatever – make sure there’s much respect – could also have TIME KEEPERS, NOTE TAKERS, MOOD MEDIATORS…as needed:-)


-Misty – we’ll have to change the booklet and flier to reflect that new stipulation

-Jenell – indy coffee is a good place to meet too if we wanted to change it up – they have free movie screenings

-Rob – parsocpuppets – par soc puppets – lol – put ur hand to control it from the bottom, no strings! 😉

-Tyler – we could assign like readings from the booklet cuz the booklet is pretty damn thick for someone to read in a week – so we could do that especially at nonmember meetings to get people familiar with the ideas of parsoc

-Misty – so purpose of our group/membership could be based on common belief in the values of freedom (self-management – decision making power proportionate to the degree one is affected by a decision), equality, diversity, and solidarity; as well as the models/visions of parsoc generally (not necessarily all those in the book – like defense, communications, animal rights, etc); and an overall strategy of dual power – breaking down or transforming our old oppressive institutions and building new ones, as well as mass outreach and education:-)

-Rob – we can vote on the time we’ll devote to certain things, but individual activities are not restricted – that’s kind of a personal choice but we should vote on collective activities and campaigns and decide who will do what when, etc – but if people are not contributing as much as the average because of their other activities, it can be brought up not to impose but to put it out there and make people aware that the group needs more effort/investment from them

-Misty – but we gotta be careful cuz working people and poor people can’t contribute as much because of other responsibilities – if they can’t contribute equally as us coordinators, we can’t hate too much – we gotta try to meet them where they are though also always encouraging us and everyone to strive for more

-Rob – we should be helping and supporting each other – SOLIDARITY – CO0MMUNITY BUILDING – offer to assist each other with babysitting, whatever, or else people can’t discuss this stuff or do this work cuz they’re constantly overworked and stressed out

-Jenell – that’s what the youme is about basically! – I babysit for you for however many youme’s and you pay me back whenever we agree to that – it’s a trusting agreement

-Tyler – maybe we should require a minimum level of commitment for one to be considered a member

-Rob – we can do electronic sharing, like on the google groups for people with less time or if folks miss a meeting  – we’ve also gotta reach out and take very seriously disenfranchised groups and members in our regular meetings

-Tyler – we need more diversity in the movement, cuz most people are white, most people are men, Zspace reflects this

-Rob – we should have proposed actions/campaigns over a week or month – we could decide them as a group and even include financial resources and freedom/self-management concerns – for people not committing as much, we could bring it up as an issue and ask how we can help them in their lives if that’s the issue – WE MUSTN’T REPRODUCE THE SAME HIERARCHIES – THIS IS AN ALTERNATIVE FOR A REASON! – there’s a difference between drifting people and the working class

-Misty and Rob – keep in touch with people – don’t just expect them to meet high commitment standards of devotion to the group – reach out and support them

-Tyler – solidarity of IOPS – there have to be a lot of local chapters 1st before IOPS can exist…

-Rob – but there are projects

-Tyler – but it’s not quite formed – they make what we’re doing inspiring – but it’s still not a formal, actual organization, just an idea

-Misty – we’re making the idea real by taking the name

-Rob – it’s not big or formal but the structure is local and has a network, and a top even (though not technically)

-Tyler – so we have a network to make IOPS more formal – we should support other parsoc projects, chapters like CAPES

-Misty – we could have rotating facilitators and notetakers as part of our nonhierarchical structure to allow more people to come and get involved still have engagement and order

-Tyler – we should take stack too if it gets big


-Tyler – gonna make a google group and Zspace group

-Misty – update flier and booklet with new times for members vs nonmembers

-Rob – we gotta upload the book on Zspace

-Misty – I can put it in a PDF file to do that – making sure that we say it’s the first edition, some parts like defense and animal rights are contentious, and that we want lots of feedback

-Giselda – we shouldn’t be socialist bashing either so we don’t alienate people

-Misty – but we also shouldn’t alienate most people by calling parecon or parsoc socialism

-Rob – it is different than socialism too – it proposes different institutions

-Giselda – QUESTION: in a parecon, it’s all about participating but what about people who don’t want to – who want to work alone – do they have to prove that they’re doing work or grunt work?

-Rob – participatory planning – you’d have to start a discussion and participate to get paid in some way probably – you’d have to check in and they’d have to check on you to make sure

-Tyler – wouldn’t there be workers councils for everyone – as in everyone is in one?

-Rob – society has to agree to allocate resources for you but you don’t necessarily have to participate in workers’ councils

-Tyler/Misty – everyone still has to do shitwork in society if they’re able – you’d have to convince someone like a publisher or authors’ council to publish your book if you were a writer, or some other official place to buy your work if you wanted credits and not just to barter

-Rob/Tyler – people don’t have to report to councils all the time face-to-face

-Misty – do we need an FAQ page on myspace or whatever bout parecon and such since we have so many questions?
-Giselda – what about painting?

-Misty – a gallery and a publisher would have to take you so you’d talk to their councils

-Rob – planning says this many resources to art, this much to paintings, different sizes, cuz workers still produce this much paint – ANYTHING NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE ECONOMIC PLAN IS NOT REWARDED – it’s a contract in the beginning

-Giselda – barter outside of the system parecon – are alternative forms of currency illegal? Cuz that would suck – as long as they’re not hurting people they shouldn’t be

-Rob – we’re not yet having an insurrection because it wouldn’t be democratic and we have to overthrow and (not just?) take over existing institutions AS WELL AS have new ones in place already or we’ll get smashed – right now we’d have to be nonviolent or flee – we have to weaken them and win their friendship and have built new institutions

-AGENDA 4 NEXT MEETING – FOR 3/29 – closed meeting
-Misty and Rob – bring updated fliers – talk about outreach and whether or not the fliers rock
-proposal for group membership/purpose/structure approved?
-how are we going to operate exactly in building community and solidarity
-concrete plans for action
-booklet – talk about how we can/should change it

-(here meeting is over basically but discussion continues)

-on the issue of POLICE – new thing BLOCS (Building Locally to Organize Community Safety) – alternative to more policing – can we apply more in a parsoc?/parpolity? Tyler talks about more community building instead of more police and police control
-walking patrols for cops would be good cuz then they have to walk through the neighborhood of the people their policing, have anti-racial profiling training and workshops, situational factors like psychological,  parpolity suggests that we regularly check up on/review police individually and collectively

-standford experiment – creepy – good things learned to take back into our reorganization of society

-also 1st grade experiment – different societal structures

-also amish communities – barely ever any crime – almost like parsoc communities

-here – the media says if there’s a threat, go kill it! You’re famous if you kill someone – they TEACH US HELPLESSNESS AND TELL US WE NEED A LEADER TO FIX IT AND SAVE US

3/29/09 – Misty and Tyler

-what we remember from DEMAND, DON’T SUCCUMB:
moratorium on firing and foreclosures,
cut back hours for workers but still pay the same
hire more people cuz hours are cut back
more like a 30-35 hour workweek
community should be able to take over factories and businesses that close – owners that wanna leave under these conditions have to forfeit their rights to the workers

-Tyler – let’s take this on if people agree with it! We’ll see how all kinds of people respond to it – is it realistic?

-Misty – we could summarize it and put in on facebook,, make fliers…but on the realistic thing, people always say something won’t/can’t happen – which is what KEEPS it from happening!!!

-Tyler – we can do stuff locally which would be cool but it needs to be NATIONAL FOR IMPACT AND VIABILITY – what would it look like to organize for this? Door-to-door? – WHAT COMMITMENT ARE WE ASKING OF PEOPLE – WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO???

-what people can do:
1) tell people bout it – spread the word -facebook, myspace, face to face, workplaces
2) organizing in the workplace to make yours go that way
3) talk to congress and the media
4) have an event – and a discussion there
5) radio – get on WRFG (Atlanta’s community-owner radio station that talks about different movements and perspectives less common in the corporate media)
-Tyler – which program? Misty – whichever they’ll let us on
6) democracy now! talk to Michael albert and Z

-Tyler – read through the article again and refine it

-Misty – let’s get other organizations involved too! Lots of people are working on stuff like this albeit less radical maybe – make it super INCLUSIVE! – it’s better economics to help us immediately TOWARD a parecon but part of the framework

(Goals, Organizational Considerations, Constituents, Targets, and Tactics all come from a USAS document that helps group organize campaigns and their work – available on the website I think:- ))

long term – parecon
intermediate – proposal from Michael Albert being implemented
short term – start a nation-wide movement

-Tyler – inclusive is best – should we even talk about parecon really in this campaign? Other groups support this and it can bring many different people together

-Misty – if there are problems with this, maybe we could STOP GOING TO WAR TO SAVE MONEY – shrink the defense budget which would equal less defense jobs but still!!!

-Misty – oops/ouch if someone hurts your feelings, nice way of saying so; step up/step back if you’re talking too little step up and if you’re talking too much step back – learned from the USAS conference at Agnes Scott (United Students Against Sweatshops)

-Tyler – do we need a new group for this so we can include more people?

-Misty – NO

-Tyler – what would this look like? Is this campaign far off? It would require a lot of
people to be involved – more people even than the anti-war movement

-Misty – the anti-war movement is also pretty much only protests – we have more immediate demands or at least demands that affect us more (obviously directly) – our demands are quite concrete and we can work with the anti-war movement too – I’m sure they’d like to exploit the economics crisis as much as we would to make things change – we can get into leftist media like democracy now!, air America, the nation magazine, wrfg (local Atlanta station)…that way we get it out there really big what we’re doing!!! And we can gather support that way – it’s worked before! (for me personally and I’m sure lots of people!!!)

-Tyler – Michael Albert – what we’re demanding today for the future – CALL THE NATION TO ASK THEM TO PUBLISH HIS ESSAY

-Misty and Tyler – will look back over article, summarize, and write a proposal maybe? For everyone in the Atlanta group to approve so we can get started – send this to OUR people (Atlanta, Z, etc) – THE LANGUAGE AND TACTICS AND STRATEGY IS WHERE WE MAY DISAGREE IN IMPLEMENTING THESE IDEAS IN SOCIETY

-Tyler – will put out a little note on Z to see if people are interested and send it to the projects and stuff going on to see if people wanna take this on

-Misty – we can probably get free conference calls to discuss what’s going on around the country

-Organizational Considerations
what we have – four core Atlanta IOPS members, some time, Z people and parsoc projects, allies, an inclusive campaign
what we want – more support for parecon, parsoc, for all kinds of people to put time into this campaign, economic stability, for this campaign to succeed and move us toward a parecon
internal problems – small group, we’re pretty young people, not a heck of a lot of experience with campaigns

Allies – ISO, workers, living wage people (Athens and Agnes Scott in GA), people who are stopping foreclosures, unions, the task force for the homeless, parsoc people, neighborhood organizations?



Opponents – corporations, govt, republicans, libertarians, Neil Boortz, Sean Hannity, FOX,

Obama, Congress, local legislatures – laws, business and media support


support generally!
Ours – write up summary, proposal, see if there’s interest/support, put it on/to facebook, myspace, Zspace, other parsoc projects and groups, fliers directly face to face – email it to organizations who are supportive, take it to schools, workplaces, community events, have discussions and public hearings!!!

-Tyler – INVOLVE PEOPLE IN HOW TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN – THE TACTICS AND STRATEGIES SO THEY HAVE MORE OWNERSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT PLUS WE GET THEIR BRILLIANT IDEAS! – we don’t have all the answers – here are some of our strategy ideas, what are yours/what do you think??

Theirs – contact congress, local and national, and Obama, and the media, chalk, fliers, class and work announcements and discussions,  have a slogan/symbol, DIRECT ACTIONS/STRIKES!

-Tyler – not just foreclosures but evictions, firings, ALL OF IT!

-Misty – make sure tactics escalate – like they get bigger and bigger so you seem to be growing, and ARE ACTUALLY growing (USAS)

-Tyler – will put a note on Zspace to see who’s interested – get their input/feedback before/during writing the proposal for the world/country/activist community/society at large – CONDENSE IT ALL INTO BULLET POINTS – 1PG?

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