Omni Collective Proposal
This is the text of a January 24, 2014 email to people who signed up at previous informational meetings about The Omni
Dear Friends :
Please find attached below the texts which were circulated last OMNI meeting, number 1, a proposal to found the OMNI collective, & number 2, a vision for the OMNI collective.
Our next meeting is Thursday, February 6, 7PM at the Public School. We would like to ask that interested collectives prepare for that meeting by 1.) formally voting as a collective to commit to the OMNI project, & 2.) vote to select a delegate for the OMNI collective. (The meetings of this collective will supersede the existing meetings.)
Please invite all interested individuals & collectives to our next meeting -- & let me know if you have any questions or concerns about these texts or anything else related to the OMNI project.
Love & solidarity -- David Brazil
1. The Omni Collective : A Proposal for the Bay Area Public School
- Since the Public School has decided to move forward in collaboration with other groups to acquire use of the new space presently known as the Omni, and to collaborate with those groups to develop a "collective of collectives" which will be capable of administering this space, I propose that the Public School formally founds this collective of collectives, hereinafter known as the Omni Collective, and invite our collaborators to join us.
- The groups presently recognized as our collaborators are Sudo Room, Timeless Infinite Light, and Counter-Culture Labs.
- Each of these groups, along with the Public School, will be asked to select a delegate, according to the decision-making processes of each group. These delegates will form the Omni Collective's executive board, which will be entrusted with making binding decisions on behalf of the groups they represent. Any delegate may bring a formal, written proposal to the executive group in order to vote on it. Decisionmaking by this executive board will be by consensus.
- These delegates will be fully accountable to the groups they represent, and subject to recall, according to the decision-making processes of that group.
- Ideally the executive board will function like a spokescouncil : delegates will attend the meetings of their groups and report back to those groups from the executive meetings, while retaining the ability to make executive decisions on behalf of the full group.
- The executive board will meet weekly, according to a schedule it decides on. Once a month the executive meeting will coincide with a general meeting open to all members of all groups which are part of the Omni Collective; i.e. a general meeting, which will be primarily devoted to open discussion and community conversation. The purpose of this meeting is to continuously ensure that the executive board reflects the will of the larger collectivity, and that the project as a whole stays true to its radical core.
- If other organizations wish to become part of the Omni project, a consensus vote of the executive board is required. If such a vote passes successfully, the new group will be requested to select a delegate for the executive board.
- If it is deemed necessary to expel a group, the executive board may decide upon expulsion by a consensus vote in which the vote of the delegate from the group to be expelled will not be counted.
- The executive board is empowered to amend the terms of its own existence, as outlined in this proposal, by consensus vote.
- The task of the Omni Collective is to effectively administer a large and complicated collective space, (which will sometimes require prompt and binding decisions), while making sure that we stick to the guiding principles of this project (that is to say, democracy, equality, fairness, and the prospect of emancipatory social justice). The time to begin developing a framework for balancing these demands is now.
2. A Vision for the Bay Area Public School as part of a larger project entitled The Omni
- The Bay Area Public School began in informal conversations in spring of 2012, made its debut in August 2012 with the first Summer School, and moved into its present location at 2141 Broadway in February of 2013. In a year and a half of explosive growth and frenetic activity, we have remained unable to put into writing our shared core vision of the purpose and the politics of the Public School.
- We are now at a crossroads which demands a self-clarification from all of us, individually and collectively, on that purpose and those politics. The crossroads is represented by the prospect of becoming involved (along with other groups : Sudo Room, Counterculture Labs, & Timeless Infinite Light) in the collective management of a property on Shattuck Avenue in Oakland.
- In service of this collective self-clarification, I would like to advance some of my ideas about the political underpinnings of the School and how working with these groups and expanding into this space can be seen as not only consonant with our core, radical values, but also as the context for their potential fulfillment in ways we have not yet been able to imagine.
- For me, the Public School is and has always been an attempt to figure out how to organize post-Occupy -- both in light of the police repression that made occupation unsustainable as a tactic, and in order to come up with new tactics not reflected in the then-current radical toolkit. The School also represents an attempt to devise what I think of as a radical civic space -- that is, a place where we can come together and converse in order to engage critically with ideas of political theory and praxis, and hopefully overcome some of the impasses which seem to afflict present radical milieus.
- Because it comes out of Occupy, I have always hoped that the School, in its growth, would more and more reflect a commoning movement towards the meeting of human needs. By this I mean that the School is meant to be a place where resources are held in common, and apportioned according to human need rather than access to money. Immediately after Occupy the question was asked : "Was Oscar Grant Plaza a commune?" My answer to this question was yes, because I defined a commune as that social project in which, insofar as it is possible, all of the human needs of its members are met. If you were at the Plaza, you received shelter, food, water, medical assistance, and other needs. Money did not mediate the access to any of these things.
- I want the Public School to work towards being that social project in which, insofar as it is possible, all of the human needs of its members are met. At present, because of our collaborative residency at 2141 (alongside Sudo Room), we are able to offer space, water, a place to sleep (for people who informally crash there), wifi (courtesy of Sudo Room), the school library, a structure of hospitality in which we welcome other projects to present their events, and, of course, all of our own classes, readings, lectures and events. These are all resources that are part of a common we are creating.
- But as far as I'm concerned, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I'd like to see the Public School expand to fulfill its potential as part of the larger cooperative project that I am calling The Omni.
- The Omni is a placeholder name for the Shattuck Avenue space (or for whatever other space we might cooperatively share with likeminded organizations). In an expanded space like the Shattuck Avenue location, and in collaboration with Sudo Room, Counterculture Labs, and Timeless Infinite Light, we can hope to offer a great deal more that is free and available to human need, thus leading the charge in the powerful reimagination of what our social being-in-common looks like.
- In addition to the resources stated above, that we are presently able to offer, a collective space like The Omni could potentially offer :
- free food, presented in concert with local farms & farmers' markets, area radical food projects, restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries, as well as local churches
- free childcare for those attending classes and events in the space
- a free-store making the moneyless exchange of goods a daily reality
- classes and events involving people under 18 (something we can't do in our present location)
- a vastly expanded array of classes, including those explicitly geared toward social justice; for example, experimental ESL, literacy classes & help filling out forms
- a great deal more space, suitable for theatre and music performances
- access to diverse electronics and hardware held in common
- a fully stocked library reflecting our collective study & research needs
- collective printing of pamphlets, broadsides & books