Vollversammlung – General Assembly (GA)
General Assemblies (GAs) are
- Mondays and Wednesdays at 19.00, until further notice at the Church of St. Jacob Community Center (Kirchgemeindehaus), Stauffacherstr. 10, Zurich, except:
- Thursdays at 18.00 in the Lichthof at the University of Zurich, and
- Saturdays at 13.00 on Paradeplatz
Protocol will always be taken; you can dind them here under Consensus >> Protocol (mostly German; specific requests for translation into English can be sent to … )
Interacting at a General Assembly
All present form a circle (standing or sitting, multiple rows also possible) in which everyone can hear and see everyone else.
For a GA to funtion properly, it is important that everyone sticks to a few simple rules. Everyone who takes part in a GA shouild take the following guidelines to heart and try to hold him/herself to
- Anyone who would like to say something raises his or her hand and waits to be called on by the moderator.
- Use hand signals!
- Listen to others attentively; don’t talk separately to your neighbors, play on your phone, or otherwise distract yourself.
- Make eye contact.
- Speak for yourself (“I think…” “I agree, because…”)
- Express relevant emotions (“I’m annoyed with…” “I’m glad that…”)
- Ask followup questions instead of introducing brand new reflexive opinions. It is important that we understand each other, and understand why someone says what he or she says.
- Stay calm and quiet even when something really excites or irritates you. Use handsignals to react and avoid interrupting verbally.
- Sum up your position quickly! Everyone should have a chance to speak; the longer individual statements take, the longer the GA.
- Allow each statement to “breathe.” Let things settle in.
- Listen rather than speak, as a rule.
- Stick with it; don’t walk away even if it’s taking a long time or getting difficult. This phase, when it starts getting really hard, is the dark before the dawn. It could be called “the groaning phase” (no good direct translation from the German). It’s worthwhile to endure, though, because when it’s over (all things run their course) a consensus comes as your reward.
Strong and Weak Consensus
A “strong” consensus is one agreed upon by a great many, or is unanimous, with very little reservation. A “weak” consensus is one that a small number present can tolerate but will not actively support.
Consensus is, in a way, “reinforcement” of the group decision by each individual – this means that your own position may not be 100% covered by the final formulation but that the solution found can be borne by everyone together, and everyone feels pretty much comfortable with that; i.e. can live with it.
The more people that are present and have had a part in the consensus, the better it will be borne by all and the stronger it is.
A “veto” can be laid down by anyone present if he or she has something fundamentally against what is being decided, e.g. to lay down a veto against a resolution for non-violence because today there was cabbage soup instead of alphabet soup is just obstructionism and is not in the spirit of the group.