Version 4 (modified by Mallory Knodel, 11 years ago) (diff)


May First/People Link Report on Dakar 2011


Power cuts are are frequent throughout Dakar. Electric generators are needed for consistent up-time, although connection is more stable than most at the University (as well as hospitals and some hotels).

Having four comprise the May First/People Link team has made the trip a uniquely successful international trip. Our productivity, despite the power cuts and other difficulties, is a magnitude greater than any previous trip because we can leverage our experience as a team, divide responsibilities, and share resources.

World Social Forum

Working directly with the WSF staff, we received admin level access to the Drupal site and svn commit access to the repository containing the code. We still don't have ssh access to the live server, so we're relying on the Chuva, the expensive and not particularly responsive Brazilian consultant firm, to push our changes to the live site. Mallory, Ross and Joseph worked to fix elements of the site that prevented simple, content updates, particularly due to a broken translation workflow. In two days, huge progress was made on this front essentially tearing through a month-old document that outlined important structural changes to the site that the developers never finished.

MF/PL also provided help with infrastructure. We hosted the PDF of the program on MFPL servers, behind a varnish proxy server. can we get a report on the number of connections to this throughout the week?

During the forum, we were asked to post the various programs to the web site. The documents were typically received on the morning of the program, in proprietary spreadsheet format, rather than the more readable PDF version of the printed programs. Despite the fact that it has been estimated that 80% of the workshops the first day were cancelled simply because the schedule that was released had incorrect locations in it, users were able to access the program online, each day of the forum event.

Changes to the website were done in conjunction with Chuva, Inc. We obtained access to the site documents and code via a revision control repository. However, we never obtained ssh access to the live site, which created a huge obstacle for us, specifically because we could not affect our changes to the live site on-demand.

We worked closely with to integrate live streaming as well as with the, however we and the technologists were unable to find the time and resources during the forum to realize our vision.

We worked with the Communications Commission to organize media activists to attend press conferences, cover important events, and collaborate with, Ciranda, and others within the commission.

The Assembly on Communications listed MFPL as an official sponsor. We organized at least two dozen participants to attend the assembly with a an agenda that we caucused around in preparation for the event. A document attach here was created from the assembly.

We attended the two day IC meeting on Saturday and Sunday, February 12 - 13, 2011. [notes] The International Council accepted May First/People Link as a member.

Convergence Center

One of our first projects was to find Alioune and begin looking at options for housing for the IMC house. We didn't anticipate doing this task, however, due to delays in Sphinx arrival, we took it on.

After several days of looking, we signed a contract for the IMC media House plus two extra apartments. I made an executive MFPL decision to front the money for the house because there was no other alternative. The costs will be about $3500. The negotiations were a group effort on our part.

We get the first apartment starting February 1 (for delegates arriving early). We move into the house and second apartment on February 2. We've paid for our current apartment through February 14, so we are working on finding other Social Forum organizers to stay in our rooms during the convergence center period so we can offset our costs.

We've proposed the two convergence center projects to the IMC Africa list. We await feedback. Sphinx and Amy are enthusiastic about them. Once we have some positive feedback, we'll need to schedule them (pick dates), propose the USSF one to the USSF and start publicizing the other. Realistically, we probably won't have more than a week advance notice. We will try to finalize the details as soon as possible - maybe by tuesday.

All 30 people arrived tuesday, including the 15 member Nigerian contigent (12 women). We were not expecting them, so it's been chaotic. We managed to get the house 1 day early to accomodate them. We thought people were mostly arriving tomorrow.

Fabian scrambled to get dinner for 30 (people were hungary). We had a brief meeting with everyone. Joseph and I represented. It went well - although there was some grumbling. The "mattresses" are 1 inch foam pads, so things are pretty cramped and a bit un-comfortable. We're returning tomorrow morning and will have a better sense.

Wednesday we started meeting and getting organized in to committees (finance, program, welfare - which was later sub-divided into food committee and infrastructure committee, conflict resolution).

We spent most of the first two days trying to get organized and smoothly operate the house. Molefi from South Africa was the chair - and Joseph worked really hard, taking responsibility for the finances and the trips to the market. He's been setting his alarm for 7:00 am to receive the bread every morning, and skipping activities to go on the purchasing trips to the market. He's also provided diplomacy and stability to the committees (lot's to talk about - as Ross has explored, the division of Africans along lines of spicy food is quite remarkable).

Thursday and Friday we did workshops in the house - ranging from general reporting workshops to our workshops on posting to the web site (which Ross busted his ass to complete Wednesday night and has been really leading the development of the site).

The imc-africa site has very well-received among the delegates and seems to have been a big hit with people watching from afar. It's been extremely useful as a unifying point for the house, and source of excitement and pride.

It's a bit controversial from an IMC stand-point since there's a formal process for creating an official IMC site that we didn't follow, but we haven't received any concrete critiques.

In addition, I taught a workshop on video streaming and posting videos to the web site, which led to several videos being posted.

On Saturday, Mallory chaired the Goree Island field trip committee (Goree Island was the last port in Africa for the slave trade).


We proposed a web cast report back for Tuesday night, 7:00 pm eastern to the NPC list and we've verbally confirmed with Ahmina to move forward with it. We've been invited by Jermoe and Waldo to meet tomorrow at 5:00 pm at the Radisson Blue.

The web cast went off well - with a good crowd from Detroit asking questions remotely. We were successful despte the fact that the hotel had no Internet (we used a cell phone 3G modem loaned by the IMC Africa house) and we had very poor lighting.


Our main goal was to use our unique position and relationship to various groups to cement those relationships. In this regard, I think we were very successful.

Mallory conveyed the importance of the IMC convergence center to the WSF communications committee extremely well, leading to a large group from the communications commission to come to the house Saturday night, where she expertly facilitated a meeting of over 50 people translated into three languages resulting in a commitment for the IMC Africa to partner with Ciranda (one of the WSF associated web projects).

The next day, during the march, Ciranda and IMC'ers together carried a banner proclaiming the right to communication - a point mentioned by Ciranda at the WSF communications commission meeting.

The fact that IMCers were posting videos to was also acknowledged several times by Antonia from - another successful linkage that would not have happened without our intervention.

And, through Mallory's organizing at the IMC convergence center, we had a sub-group to discuss what we wanted to bring to the communications assembly. Amazingly, we brought about a dozen people from the house to the assembly, and had about 4 or 5 people from the house testify at the assembly, a fact not missed by the communications commission.

As you know, we completed the video/chat with Ahimina and Will. That was our only official USSF interaction. We probably should write some kind of report to the USSF about all of our activities, including the web cast.

And, we met with the GGJ delegation before the social forum, and conducted a web cast of the event they organized on the Tunisian uprising.