Proposal Narrative

Organization mission and vision (0 of 1000 max characters)

May First/People Link's mission is to defend and expand the free and open nature of the Internet in order to strengthen the global movement for justice. We envision a world in which technology is freely shared, accessible to everyone, and used for everyone's benefit. We see a critically important role for progressive and social justice activists to play in uniting this vision of the Internet with the broader left's vision of a more just world.

Brief description of your organization or project. (0 of 1000 max characters)

May First/People Link is a politically progressive member-run and controlled organization that redefines the concept of "Internet Service Provider" in a collective and collaborative way. May First/People Link's members are organizers and activists. Like any democratic membership organization, we gather together each year to evaluate the past year's experiences, plan the coming year's work and elect a Leadership Committee to apply what we've decided. Like a coop, we pay dues, buy equipment and then we all use that equipment as we need to for websites, email, email lists, and just about everything else we do on the Internet.

Description of your organization or project for use on our website. (0 of 500 max characters)

May First/People Link is a politically progressive member-run and controlled organization that redefines the concept of "Internet Service Provider" in a collective and collaborative way. May First/People Link's members are organizers and activists. Like any democratic membership organization, we gather together each year to evaluate the past year's experiences, plan the coming year's work and elect a Leadership Committee to apply what we've decided.

History of organization and key accomplishments (0 of 5000 max characters)

May First/People Link formed in May 2005 when May First joined forces with People Link.

People Link started in 1995 as a project of the Institute for Mass Communication. Back when pictures on the web was a new thing, People Link was hosting web sites, setting up email accounts, and providing email discussion lists for activists all over the country.

May First Technology Collective began in 1999 (then it was called Media Jumpstart). A worker run collective from the beginning, MFTC provided technology support to New York City nonprofits, ranging from designing web sites to fixing networks.

In May 2005, faced with funding cuts and increased overhead, MFTC decided it was not able to effectively meet it's mission. However, several of its staff and board members expressed a desire to continue with its social mission of providing technology support to the social justice movement but to now concentrate specifically on the Internet.

With the outgoing Board's blessing May First formed a new board to pursue this goal by combining the skills, experience and the already developed technology, equipment and infra-structure of both organizations to build a new, larger and more ambitious one. In June 2005, May First/People Link was launched.

In 2006, we held our first meeting of active members of the organization. Fifteen individuals came to together to write our Statement of Unity and to organize ourselves as a membership organization.

In 2008, May First/People Link formed our first Leadership Committee picked from our most active members and empowered the Leadership Committee to set the political direction of the organization. In 2011, we organized our first annual membership meeting in which the Leadership Committee was democratically elected by the membership, and each year since then we have elected a new Leadership Committee.

In 2011, we received a request from LaNeta, a similar organization in Mexico, that was no longer able to continue hosting over 100 activist organizations in Mexico. With the cooperation of the LaNeta leadership, all organizations were invited to join May First/People Link and we setup an office in Mexico City. Since then, our leadership and organizing efforts have combined the resources of both the Brooklyn and Mexico City offices.

Programmatic overview. (0 of 3000 max characters)

May First/People Link's programs are organized by work team:

  • Support Team: Our primary activity is managing and providing support to our 800 members who used our shared Internet infrastructure, including email, web sites, email lists, and a number of other services (see: Our mostly volunteer support team meets monthly, in person, in both Brooklyn and Mexico for day-long work sesions and via Internet chat during the intervening days.
  • Outreach Team: In addition to our technology work, we are actively involved in presenting, training and movement building.
    • Social Forum: We are in the leadership of both the US Social Forum and the US Social Forum and are working hard toward building the 2015 US Social Forum.
    • Conferences and presentations: We regularly attend and present at the Allied Media Conference and the Left Forum, as well as special events and meetings.
    • Leadership Committee and Membership Meeting: we organize an annual membership meeting and an anual Leadership Committee meeting, help in person in both New York and Mexico and online.
    • Bi-monthly conference calls with membership on political and technical issues.
  • People of Color techie training team: Five mentees completed our first 1 year training with two MF/PL support team mentors. We plan to repeat the program in 2014.
  • Internationalization Team: Our internationalization team supports our meetings by providing simultaneous interpretation and translation of documents
  • Administrative Team: our admin teams processes membership payments and reaches out to members behind in their dues.

Programmatic timeline for the coming year. (0 of 2000 max characters)

In the coming year we have the following major events planned:

  • Jaunary: Leadership Committee face-to-face meeting
  • February: Meeting of activist providers world-wide to work on Distributed Denial of Service attacks and legal threats to activist sites
  • May: US Social Forum People's Movement Assembly on Privacy, in collaboration with the MAGNet coalition.
  • October: Annual Membership meeting

Overarching goals of your work. (0 of 3000 max characters)

Our overarching goal is nothing short of uniting the movement for global justice across barriers posed by national boundaries, culture and language. Unlike anytime in history, we have the tools to communicate and unite our movements, the political will to come together, and political adversaries that can only be defeated if we are united.

As an organization whose scope is the Internet, we cannot accomplish this task alone - we must build with other organizations and movements who share this vision. However, the Internet is a critical component to our communication, and we see maintaining and expanding the free and open aspects of the Internet as an important strategy in this bigger goal.

Methods and strategies for achieving your goals. (0 of 3000 max characters)

Our primary strategies are:

  • Democracy. We are organized as a membership organization as a means of changing the perception we have of technology and our role in technology. We will never succeed in defending and expanding the free and open nature of the Internet until we understand our role in directing the development of this technology. By organizing ourselves as a democratic membership organization, and inviting our members to participate in the direction of our organization, we seek to transform the way our members view their role in technology.
  • Education. Many of our members, including our most politically committed, regularly use corporate and proprietary services. Educating our members about the dangers of being reliant on these technologies is a critical strategy of the organization. Similarly, developing a dialogue between the activists and organizers dependent on the Internet for their organizing and develpoers creating free and open software is equally important in order to ensure the direction of our development work stays inline with the needs of the movement.
  • Movement Building. We actively participate in movement building, ranging from massive organizing efforts like the social forum, to small panels and presentations. We participate both as technologists to help strenthen our movement's use of technology, and also as activists and organizers in our own right.

Collaborations and key partners, if applicable. (0 of 500 max characters)

We work very closely with a number of key partners, including:

  • The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAGNet) is a project of the Center for Media Education. We are the co-anchors of the Northeast region and are participating in the 2014 privacy campaign.
  • The Association of Progressive Communication (APC) is an international organization of groups similar to May First/People Link. We are organizing with several APC members around the issue of distributed denail of service attacks and legal threats to activist web sites.
  • The US Social Forum. We're members of the National Planning Committee and are working closely to organize the event and the technology for the event.
  • Progressive Technology Project and the Open Technology Institute are parnters in the People of Color Techie Training program, providing staff support for mentoring and curriculum development.

Any other plans you'd like to share with us for the upcoming year? (0 of 3000 max characters)

If you have looked three-years out for your organization, what does that organizational forecast look like? Share any long-term goals or plans you might be dreaming up. (0 of 3000 max characters)

Currently, May First/People Link is two organizations (one based in the US and one based in Mexico) that are united under a political vision of the Internet. Many members have expressed strong interest in growing the organization to include bases in more countries, starting with other Latin American countries.

Programmatic timelines for the coming three years. (0 of 2000 max characters)

What does success look like

We believe that success is dynamic, comes in many forms, and is unique to each project and organization. We believe that you do your best work when you define what success looks like in a meaningful way and hold yourself accountable to the standards that you set for yourself. Please share with us what success will look like for you and your project in the coming year. (0 of 1000 max characters)

Success in 2014 will include:

  • Concrete projects between our international allies that strengthen our ability to withstand denial of service attacks and legal threats to our members Internet resources.
  • Participation of 100 people in our People's Movement Assembly on privacy
  • Participation of 100 people in our next membership meeting
  • Twelve speaking engagement/conference presentations in 2014
  • Six conference calls with our membership on political and technical issues
  • Six mentees completing the People of Color techie training program
  • A significant and measurable increase in at least one of the experimental services we've started offering in 2013 (file sharing, social network site, chat service, shared spread sheet, or live-interpretation conference line).

Overview of your development and fundraising plans. If you have a sustainability plan, please share it with us. (0 of 5000 max characters)

All of our core services are funded entirely with membership dues (which typically covers 90 - 100% of our budget). We plan to raise funds for international gathering of technology groups to fight distributed denial of service attacks and legal threats via a fund provided by APC. In addition, we are seeking funding for the People of Color Techie Training project from the New York Foundation.

Alignment with Kindle Project

In an effort to work collaboratively to build effective strategies, we are interested in how our vision intersects with yours and how we are working simultaneously towards shared goals.

  • What systems change are you addressing in your work? (0 of 1000 max characters)

May First/People Link's call for free and open source software, on the surface, seems like a technical challenge with few implications outside of the details of how your computer works. However, our technology politics are in fact rooted in a revolutionary vision of work, collaboration and exchange. As software has become an increasingly valuable commodity, we are witnessing ever growing networked systems built entirely with software that is exchanged without money changing hands. The most commonly used free software licenses are united in their most exacting clause: that any change you make to the software must be shared with everyone. While this principle is common sense when applied in kindergarten, it represent a fundamental ideological shift when applied to modern day capitalism.

  • What emerging alternative or solution are you working towards? (0 of 1000 max characters)

The most widespread technological advances in corporate/mass technology have succeeded in uniting people with their pre-existing networks and, in some cases, have provided a one-way platform for publicizing events, they have failed to provide a way to have meaningful collaboration across borders.

The corporate world has succesfully built empires across borders, enabling them to defeat movements limited by geography, culture and language.

We seek to build networks that can overcome these barriers. Technology is only one piece of the puzzle - we must also work on developing organizational culture that can overcome the barriers that have divided us. We believe in leading by example - which is why our partnership with Mexico is so important for our mission. It provides us with both an example of our vision, in practice, and opportunities for working on additional problems, such as language, culture, racism and imperialism in a real-life context.

  • How can funders be more effective? (0 of 1000 max characters)

We have very little experience with funding. That's both because we are committed to having our core services funded by our members, but also because we lack the organizational infrastructure to support fundraising. We've found that, with few excpetions (like Kindle), getting foundation funding requires submitting proposals to dozens of foundations year-after-year, while having endless meetings and essentially spending time developing relationships with funders at the expense of developing relationships with our members.

Using existing grantees to find new grantees is an extremely innovative way around this puzzle which we would encourage all foundations to adopt.

  • Please share one group or project that you think is doing radical systems change work. (Include any websites or links that may be relevant). (0 of 500 max characters)
  • If you had 967 billion dollars, what would you do? (0 of 500 max characters)

Organize a MF/PL office in every country on the planet, re-develop both our technology and political structure to support are more federated organizing approach, develop tools to draw every person on the planet away from corporate profit-seeking services to services that are truly collaborative, owned by the world, and protected from government and corporate surveillance.

Statement on 2014 Budget:

We do not have a 2014 budget at this time. We are currently working on a process to collaboratively develop our budget amongst our work teams, however, we still have some work to do before we have incorporated this process into our work culture. At this time, we expect our 2014 expenses to be closely aligned with our 2012 and 2013 expenses.

2015 Report

Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Oct 8, 2015, 2:51:32 PM