wiki:projects/leadership-committee/feb-2011/lc2011report

Version 14 (modified by alfredo, 10 years ago) (diff)

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report to Leadership Committee

Introduction

The year 2010 was a year of major growth, in both member numbers and political visibility and influence, and significant change for May First/People Link.

1 -- We are now comprised of 500 members, about 75 percent of whom are organizations. Taking into consideration that each of the member organizations has a group of its own members who use our resources, MF/PL has a "membership user base" of nearly 2,000 people. Essentially, this makes us one of the largest political progressive organizations in this country.

2 -- We are now "looked to" by many of the US-based and International movements and conferences as the major source of technological work, planning and leadership. We have successfully implemented the Hemispheric Concentration strategy through our participation in the Hemispheric Social Forum and our participation in the Climate Justice and Control Movement. We have dramatically deepened our involvement with the Social Forum movement this year through our activity at the US Social Forum and in its leadership and our highly successful and impactful worfk at the World Social Forum -- with a team of five people --

3 -- Our political influence has strengthened by virtue of our deepened relationship with the Social Forum movement, the Climate Control movement and our individual work with labor unions and grass-roots organizations. We continue our work within the Association for Progressive Communications Also, our stances on such attacks as those launched against member "the Yesmen" have identified us, in many minds, with a resolute stance on privacy and Internet rights.

4 -- Internally, we have established a solid, working tech support group which answers support tickets and does server maintenance work. This is completely new in MF/PL.

5 -- We now have 70 working servers spread across five locations. Our back-up systems are stronger and more sophisticated. Our security measures are stronger than they have ever been.

All growth brings challenges and errors. We have our share.

1 -- Portions of our infra-structure appear to be unstable with outages and daily downtime on at least three of our better known production servers. There have been almost no lost memberships as a result but this affects members' work (which runs counter to our priorities) and it may very well dissuade new members from joining.

2 -- Our Co-Directors committed two major errors this year:

a -- We completely missed the importance of the Net Neutrality issue and debate. While that was a very tough campaign to enter -- for structural reasons -- we didn't try to fashion our own campaign or figure out a way to get involved. That resulted in MF/PL being marginalized from the issue and many of its proponents (some of them very important potential allies for us) and it resulted in the campaign being conducted by very liberal thinking and framing (led substantially by FreeSpeech . org) and devoid of any attention to people of color or working people.

b -- We downplayed the massification of Social media use and, rather than project an inclusive stance toward it, often balanced our actions and comments in favor of criticizing it. MF/PL has never opposed the use of Social Networking sites but, because our argument was framed so sharply, we are often identified with that stance. This was primary Alfredo's responsibility. This error also garbled the discussion around Free and Open Source Software and crippled our effectiveness in espousing that critically important position.

3 -- While there is some growth, we have yet to establish and implement the real recruitment plan that was stipulated as a major goal last year by the Leadership Committee.

4 -- The Leadership Committee is consciously a project in process that is growing from a consultative body to a genuine body of direction and leadership. It has not, up to now, moved in that direction and LC does not yet run this organization.

5 -- No matter our member composition, MF/PL is viewed as a white organization by many activists of color. In part, this is because there is a deep-seated segregation in the left of this country and the first glimpse many organizations of color get of us is our techies. They are almost all white. In addition, the above mentioned stances on Social Networking sites and FOSS often cast us, in the eyes of people of color organizations, as technocrats, purists or eccentric scientists...and not practical activists.

For that reason, our current recruitment is mainly of white people and white organizations. This, given the way the world is going, is organizational and political suicide. And, of course, it means we aren't doing our job politically.

This is the most poisonous problem we now have.

Backdrop

It is an understatement to say the world is dramatically changing. Recent events in several Mid-East and North African countries, including Egypt, couple with the stunning developments in Latin America hint at major movement in many of the World, movement we don't always know about or learn about in this country.

While strategic concentration is different in each country they appear to share a sense of urgency about human survival, a powerful urge to complete and universal democracy (especially freedom of speech and congregation) and a use of communications technology as an organizing, outreach and coordination tool.

This has two outcomes:

1 -- The increased need for International communications across countries and struggles and the resulting coordination that emanates.

2 -- The importance of the Internet.

Those outcomes drive our work and this year that drive has been greater than ever. The issue for the Leadership Committee is how that "drive" balances out.

At this point, the balance is tenuous but maintaining. The problem is that MF/PL's tech team is being sought after more and more on the International level to do tech work at gatherings, forums and major convergences. Additionally, its leadership is being sought after to form part of the International bodies that direct some of this work.

Of equal importance, we have not managed to convince the progressive movement of this country that their choice in "Internet provider" is a political choice that must be informed by the movement's own strategic thinking. This is the crux of our recruitment message but it isn't getting through to much of the movement. When coupled with the "image of white" problem cited above, we are in danger of facing stagnating recruitment. As it is now, the people we recruit are excellent people doing great work but they are not the people our leadership would identify as "must have" members: organizations which are large and are leading critical political work.

These are the "thematic bases" for the challenges mentioned about. Our work objectives for the coming year are designed to address those challenges and effectively deal with these thematic problems.

In 2010

Our objectives for 2010, as defined by the LC, were:

1 -- work within the Social Forum movement, particularly the USSF 2010

2 -- the Hemispheric Initiative (including the consulta hemisferica)

3 -- Techie National Congress

4 -- Resource shift from colocation to paid staff

5 -- 50 percent growth in membership through outreach and recruitment

Some of these were met spectacularly well and we struggled with some of these goals.

The Social Forum was among our greatest achievements this year. From the remarkable

WorkPlan 2011

1 -- Continue and expand work with the Social Forum movement

There are several Social Forum events scheduled in Global South countries this coming year and we already been invited to do tech work at some of them. We should continue providing this support work to the Social Forum movement as a strategic initiative on our part.

2 -- Continue Hemispheric Initiative -- particularly around Climate Control

The Initiative was among our most successful

3 -- Bring on one part-time staff member to concentrate on server maintenance work

4 -- Strengthen and Expand Support and Technologists Team

5 -- Increase membership to 800

6 -- Launch and conduct Praxis Project's People of Color Techie Training Institute