Notes from Day 1 of January 2015 LC meeting

MF/PL January 2015 meeting -- Day 1 (Day 2 -- See

Review of (6) Resignations/ What happened THEMES Multiple factors:

*MF/PL has undergone important changes and growth in recent years *Still struggles to communicate message to members of the importance of internet freedom to social movements *Persistent tensions between technologists and social movement activists for whom technology is less emphasized (though used as a resource) *Need to develop strategy for connecting those most concerned with movement building and outreach work to the work of building and developing FOSS/ internet freedom that will support social movements

Enrique - el contexto de la presente crisis se explica por el fracaso de la estrategia de desarrollo propuesta por el Comité de Dirección, el cuál no ha resuelto el problema central que nuestra organización se ha planteado la defensa y el desarrollo del Internet como instrumento del cambio social como proyecto del movimiento social. El fracaso en este objetivo central...

David - requiere conocer las cartas de renuncia - Acordamos imprimirlas y repartirlas a tod@s l@s participantes

*Desire to share more information with membership about what happened; provide a summary/synthesis from this meeting so members know what happened and how LC responded · We lack a space to have healthy debate about MF/PL and its purpose/mission, etc. o This is partly due to organizational growth and change. Need to democratize leadership, which has been happening with the LC creation in 2008 and then 2011 was the first membership meeting. It takes time to create effective democratic structures o LC is diverse group- gender, race, age, nationality, also activist experience and knowledge of MF/PL and the work it does- this also complicates our work to create democratic structures o Diverse understandings within membership about what MF/PL is about. o Lack of clarity in the mission/goals/framework of MF/PL contributed to this.

*Gendered culture of MF/PL that needs to be examined and addressed *Racism persists in our organization

And we've not been successful at ensuring that people of color are majority in leadership work/roles as well as membership

*Need shared understanding of what 'leadership' is-- since members come with diverse views on this idea. *Need to have more face to face meetings to build relationships. Email and distance communication is not very effective to do the work we need to do with leadership and membership development in MF/PL *Jamie and Alfredo recognize their role in these problems and see that there is a need to develop new structures and processes to democratize and increase accountability in MF/PL

*We have not been able to respond to technological change with social media (since 2010)-- not in ways comparable to work with mass email and Drupal.

*Problems with our communication led to 'labeling' /compartmentalizing people that polarized conflicts. Lack of face to face meeting opportunities complicates this further. So gender/race/other differences become fall-back positions- labeling and exacerbate conflicts. This is common in many movements. What is positive is that in MFPL we are continuing to learn from this and try to find ways to move the work forward in new ways that prevent this sort of tension. -It is unfortunate that folks who resigned aren't here to help us develop the lessons....

BACKGROUND Support team began in 2010 after USSF Detroit. This group had organized the tech support for Detroit. Built political cohesion around free software in the context of the movement (USSF), and in movement space led by people of color that was not very open/committed to FOSS ideas.

Limited awareness of this transition as it happened, and as members came in and out of paid employment as part of the support team. New members came on team without having had the experience working with the USSF in Detroit. These folks also didn't have the same technical expertise on infrastructure. More focus on web design. This shifted the support team's work/role.

Olinca - La imagen que teníamos de Primero de Mayo/Enlace Popular de ser un referente de militancia, se ha deteriorado al conocer sobre las renuncias de los seis compañeros y compañeras. Es difícil mantener ese nivel de compromiso todo el tiempo

El debate sobre objetivos y estrategías da cuenta de la diversidad política, lo cual no era evidente antes. Es un error en mi opinión pretender una visión hegemónica, por el contrario necesitamos reconocer nuestras diferencias y enriquecernos de la diversidad

Jackie - (please correct me if there are mistakes on the notes) challenges because of the diversity and complexity in the nature of MFPL How do we organize technology for the social movement? These are organizational challenges we need to address: Decision making structures needed to help bridge the diversity of organization and 2) Need to improve communication and clarity about our work to develop new system of technology development and control/ownership for a new world.

What are members aims for being part of MFPL? What are their interests? What is/are their ideology Incomplete adherence to statement of unity and intentionality of MFPL. When do we really sit down and talk with new members about these ideas and how they apply to the work. -Limited time is a challenge for doing this. Working groups and coordinators have been structured to try to respond to this problem, but this hasn't worked as well as we had hoped. -Need to include VALUES in our instruments as well. So coversations can include the values that motivate participation in MFPL. -Need "more instruments to help us know each other"

-Mallory points to the 2013-14 decisions of 3 important leaders to step back preceded this incident, but stem from the same problems-- the lack of clear structures and leadership/ vision/mission. Horizontality is an obstacle to unity.

_The division between movement/technology focus of participants may not be as rigid as we may portray it; some people have grown and embraced both in the course of work with MFPL.

Race/Racism complicates the ability to hear the valid/legitimate concerns being raised in this (and all) conflicts.

Membership non-involvement. Needs to be addressed.

Failure to respond to Ferguson meant that those folks used commercial technology and are less open to FOSS technology for their work going forward. This was missed opportunity to reach a new influx of activists (and many young people whom we need to mobilize)

Where we've done best at integrating tech and movement work is when we've engaged in movement work together. [such as Detroit USSF]. -We need to be attentive to the question of what our techies can gain from being involved.

No tradition of political education in MFPL.

La importancia de contar con una identidad compartida en la organización

La importancia de la comunicación interna para que las organizaciones miembro conozcan los objetivos, estrategias y proyectos, como una política de transparencia y rendición de cuentas

In regard to organizing LC-- need to figure out way to manage volume of communication so that all members can fully engage/follow/participate. Right now too much material via email overload and prevents effective engagement of LC members

Spontaneous forces now at forefront of struggles—we need to think about how transformational consciousness can be communicated in the movement spaces. Now there is a convergence of diverse forces. MFPL plays a role in helping articulate both the content and in the form/tools of communication.

Need clarity in shaping role of LC. The daily work is not the responsibility of LC-- their role is in the task of guiding the day to day work. LC members need to be aware of what the day to day work is, however, since we need to create communications and decision making structures that help facilitate this work. FEw LC Members have been involved in the day to day work -working groups.

Volunteers need to be more involved in the work of doing outreach and communication. Now the volunteers tend to be involved mainly in the technical work.

Las razones de las renuncias son ideológicas (por ejemplo, sobre el liderazgo), sobre el estilo de liderazgo y estructurales

Need to recognize the skills and legitimate grievances of those who left. They have moved to new roles in progressive tech groups and they are playing important, radical roles in those groups.

Need to find ways to retain skilled staff. May need new fundraising strategies.

Need to do a better job of mobilizing tech volunteers and staff into the political work of MFPL (i.e. movement school)

Split personality among our 2300 members (orgs and organizational members of MFPL member orgs). Many view MFPL mainly as a provider. Many members aren't even aware that they are MFPL members.

(Jackie's attempt at a summary from above notes and other background documentation) SUMMARY FROM AM: What are the sources of the problems? Ideological or structural? Both? --Racisim/sexism/classism is also a factor in the resignations. We need to re-think how we structure our work and communication to address this. --There wasn't consensus on the role of political differences in the resignations.

1) *More clarity on MFPL mission/vision/ long term goals & strategy

-More explicit attention to intentionality/ points of unity when integrating new members -Communicate and develop consciousness about Centrality of movement work to defend our means of communication

2) *Decision making— · More formal/clear

  • Different kind of leadership needed to move from initial organizational founding to the current phase

· More democratic –involving members and volunteers · Attentive to the challenges of the diversity in the organization and our intentionality · Consider effective structure of LC so that LC members appreciate the day to day work but can also guide the organization in ways consistent with the larger mission/vision. · Need to create spaces where differences can be aired and exchanged and proposals can be raised. 3) *Outreach and Communication- with members · -Political education about technology and about MFPL strategy · -Helping integrate role of technology and movement work · -Asking more of members in terms of conscious effort to learn and engage in work of MFPL · Volunteers need to be more involved in the work of doing outreach and communication. Now the volunteers tend to be involved mainly in the technical work. 4) POLITICAL EDUCATION—is part of each of the above.

  • Conscious and consistent work to educate and raise consciousness among all involved in MFPL.
  • We recruit members often on the basis of providing services. How do we move them to change understandings of this relationship and the role of technology in movement?

<<<<<<<[Maritza proposes that we discuss mission-vision; decision making structure and communications outreach structure in the remaining parts of agenda and make time at the end of the meeting to decide how we will communicate to the membership the account of resignations and how the LC has decided to move forward]

Enrique: Para comprender y tener claridad de lo que ocurre, hay que tomar en cuenta lo que Mallory ha dicho "que varios compañeros se han alejado siendo muy importante su participación" Y no es que no existan vias de participación, el problema es que son insuficientes. Hay problemas que son necesario discutirlos. En la encuesta se planteo si dentro de la asociación es normal que algunos participan con mayor influencia y otros se retiren. Puede ser normal, pero como definir desde la dirección politica, cuando es importanet llegar a acuerdos y cuando sus diferencias son escenciales y no hay otra forma. Como percibimos nuestra particiapción y representación politica? el ejemplo esta en los niveles de participación:

Comite de Dirección / Administradores de Sistemas / Cooperativa en México. No solo hay que abrir la puerta sin definir quienes se suman y con que intención.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON Political environment, mission and values

ALFREDO- Political moment:

Economy: Rising inequalities and exploitation of workers for profit/ structural unemployment Democracy: failure of representative institutions and extention of repressive/militarized state Climate Change/Ecology: Relationship with the Earth.

THe Ferguson mobilizations are response to these pressures. These forces are using Fb, Twitter and gmail to organize. this is a problem and our mobilizing challenge.

The movement in the USA does not appreciate the importance of information security/sovereignt There is no strategy in relation to the internet in USA. MAGNET rejected a left wing position in regard to net neutrality. [ALFREDO- need clarification on left position]

Enrique In Mexico- The current power structure rooted in colonial history. Racial and class distinctions: Indigenous populations most exploited as their land and resources are appropriated. Colonial past also shapes national aspirations. Neoliberal policies have weakened the left. Energy reforms had been major focus of left- but that struggle was lost and now resistance has dissipated. More aggressive oligarchic state. Growing informal economy. More people's survival lies outside formal system. Increased state repression Mafia has extensive influence on government--evidenced in recent disappearance of students State is now operating through illegal means. This provides a class perspective on our role. One other thing we're seeing is the radicalization of leftist positions. Examples:

1) PRD had been helping channel social movements in relation to state. Now there is a crisis in party and an alternative, MORENA. PRD is becoming less relevant as a party. Enrique doesn't think MoRENA is a real/viable alternative

2) Movement for Peace- had been very relevant. Based in left Catholic networks the group convened groups to question the war on drugs. But tried to work with government- not build popular movement. Now they're shifting to left to call for boycott of elections. No longer recognizing legitimacy of institutions. 3) Anti-capitalist movement had been divided into factions. The student kidnapping/killings has helped these groups come together. Zapatistas called for festival of resistance and rebellion and invited student movement. Converging anticapitalist sentiment.

Context of radicalized left makes it a good time to act as MFPL. I.e., calling for support of electoral boycott

Self defense initiatives/committees in Mexico: Has link to long tradition of indigenous communities self defense. Now the idea is being used in other communities.Community confrontation with mafia is motivating some of these initiatives. But some overlapping roles... JG: Two key arteries keeping drug trade alive: flow of ??finance and arms. Real interest in ending the drug economy they would end these flows. Notes limits to student movement and Zapatista movement strength. Limited capacities. Elites could respond to pressure by repressing more active regions. So it is a risky time to act in this context. If we act it shoudl be discretely Need to work to survive and grow. May not be best time to stick our neck out. There is anger in public but no visible project.

What we're seeing is a systemic crisis-- no resolution. So what does this mean for our strategy?

Louis- question on parallels between Mexico and US incarcerated population Where does technology play a role in sustaining and resolving these interlinked crises? What's the tech response.

Jackie: Need to keep in mind the ecological crisis and its implications. We could see intense and unpredictable effects of climate change that require our attention and we need to anticipate those. Also, should our strategy emphasize resistance or the creation of alternatives that can help people survive as the system collapses? In emphasizing alternatives our work on tech. can support cultural/mindset shifts that support other alternatives as well.

Alfredo: Surveillance and need to diversify communication tools. Problem of facebook. There is a division in the Internet - which had the purpose of giving everyone the same access. The ruling class dividing us by dividing access.

Is the goal building an Internet that has the full access? To restore to the Internet the role it once had to unifying forces? Are these worthwhile goals?

Enrique: (in response to Louis) data on incarceration is starting to be studied (also studying disappearances)

Share concern with Jackie and JG, in Mexico there is search to look for ways to radically change the system, that can transcend the status quo and the current system. Even with boycott of elections, still need economic alternative. Small projects - solidarity economy, collective forms of productions, processes grounded in local communities, we should support with tech that correspondends to their needs. Should be permanent link.

Pablo: Our membership is involved in these social movements - human rights defenders, different struggles, seeking different economy, labor rights. We should look at cooperative - core group. Before I didn't have a clear vision of MF/PL - but now think we should focus on what are our members doing? That should be our focus.

Louis: We haven't mentioned movements for migrant rights - anchored by Mexicans in the US - one of most important movements in the US - in 2006 and on. What is relationship of MF/PL to immigrant rights movement in the US and Mexico? Is it something that binds our countries together?

Walda: another common struggle is the violence against women, often indigeneous and freedom fighters. Given our previous discussion of patriarchy and racism we should lift it up.

Maritza: In mexico the relationship is lot clearer what movement is really active. There is an important step: who is our membership and what movements are they active in? For example, with the anti-police movement in the US. And the cooperative is part of May First. Enrique is saying one day it's the police and the next it's the mafia. We have to part of movements against violence. Movements for alternatives are the first to be targetted. We have to be tied to the anti-repression movement.

Jackie: we have a tension between focus on issues and the larger picture of building a different system and alternative structures. To echo Pablo - we don't have a lot of capacity and building a new internet is a big job. We need to focus on bigger goal of building infrastructure that the movement needs.

Jamie; Do we have a strategy that focuses on helping engage and advance the work of members? How do we determine what are the most active parts of the movement? We're still trying to figure out our identity as membership org. and as movement org.

Walda: Summary: seems to me there are some things that Alfredo said: There should be free, universal access to the internet (free of state control). Should be used to work in solidarity with movement organization. Pablo said some of the struggles are carried out by member organization - natural partnership. Alfredo said it's about unifying the struggles of the movement using the area of technology. We have to go through assessment process: what are those organizations and what are those struggles. The USSF is doing a piece of that work. It's a contradiction but not an antogonistic one: we have to a vision for the movement and within that work we lift up the tech question which guides our day-to-day work. We don't abandon our position of a movement organization of transformation. Longer term strategy: crisis of capitalism and state. Need political education campaign to understand and explain it so we are in alignment with at least the things we agree on. Maritza's point: tech has transformed the economy, and the tools of the state, the destruction of the economy, tool of the movement.

DEFINING OUR MISSION (Jamie facilitating) Review of Statement of Unity, Membership Agreement, and intentionality statement

Comments related to Statement of Unity, Membership Agreement and Statement of Intentions Enrique

  1. – need to fill in
  2. need to include re. obligations of members (dues) in order to allow different strategies of integration; that members for example can opt to participate in projects that are taken on; if we could include, for example, contribute their work/time for example, an hour or two per week; this can apply to both organizations as well as individuals; this could help members to involve themselves in the work;

Jackie – membership agreement – add expectation that members be active in working groups and projects; that members promote awareness re. technology; re. the organization and staff – that the organization convenes members; Jerome – these statements in need of updating; re. Unity, Membership and Intention – organizations frequently have missions but then there is no reflection re. practice/practical application, how the mission relates to the ongoing work Jamie – Mission – define what MF/PL is; what are we doing, and how are we doing it; “this is how we believe this should be done”; if the Mission does not make sense at some point, then perhaps it’s time to end the organization; Very drafty statement: MF/PL participates in the building of democratic movements through the development of means of communication towards global collaboration for social changes and emancipation Mission Quick Draft Summaries · Like “social change and emancipation”; means of communication towards global collaboration seems vague; “building of democratic movements” is language also used by organziaitons that promote neoliberal agendas; concluded that we should start anew with the mission statement · “participation in the construction of democratic movements” is not clear – where do these really end up? “global collaboration” also unclear; should differentiate between local, regional, international work; · “May First/People Link contributes to the building transformative movements for human emancipation and equality by developing secure means of communications for hemispheric and global collaboration. · “emancipation” is a very general term; better to talk about “democracy” in some way rather than “democratic movements”; issue of voting – vote, majority vote, and consensus · Observation – we’re all over the place with the mission statement; we’re not taking into account everything that we had in our discussion on the political moment; · Next section on “values” was to be handled by Juan Gerardo and he just had to leave, there was a powerpoint presentation and Jamie doesn’t feel comfortable about leading it without him; how do we want to move forward with this? – Jamie just do it… · Suggestion that a sub-group take on the Mission statement and come up with draft

o Modification – that we come to some conclusions now and then a group take those points and come back tomorrow with it o Strategic points have been captured in notes – these should affect the work of those who work on the Mission draft such that it takes into account more the political environment in which we find ourselves

o Wordsmiths are free to dismiss everything/anything in the draft that was presented o Group – Mallory, Aarón, Jerome – timeframe – by tomorrow morning o Jerome – one thing we may want to do is come up with 2,3,4 strategic directions that may inform our discussions

Values · PPT presentation developed by Juan Gerardo · Discussion – break into small groups NOTE Project south had mission statement, vision statement, values statement. VALUES Discussion

VALUES Transparency Cooperation Sharing Equality Community/collectivity Popular education Consensus-building and transparency (ideals, not as restrictions) Authentic democracy Solidarity Collaboration/Cooperation Companeroismo-- political family --keep in Spanish Social, Racial and Gender justice Buen vivir Accessibility/ affordability privacy ownership Agility flexibility Creativity Respect for cultural diversity Self-critique/ reflexivity Honesty Collaborative self-management- auto-gestion Communication Borderless human collaboration- sin fronteras Collective ownership Access to knowledge Commitment to movement building Popular/Political education Struggle Respect for the Earth Mutual respect Openness

OTHER [not quite] values Autonomy Commons-free softwre, public domain Self-Determination militancy/ conviction/commitment

TEAM to compile these values into a value/vision/strategy statement/s: Juan Ge., Walda, Enrique, Jamie


Lessons from experience of resignations Political analysis of current moment in US/Mexico Mission statement and values

Eval. /wrap-up *THANKS to interpreters *THANKS to host team *Much was accomplished *Let's plan next steps *Critical work by Mexican hosts and participants--it was important to be here and to be working together. *Political urgency & importance of strengthening MFPL to support movements for transformation *This is first step. We have work to do tomorrow. *In Mexico there is a lot of anger/rage, but we need strategy. This is a moment to re-think how we work and put forward a strategic plan. In Mexico we need strategy to think/talk about alternatives.


Last modified 5 years ago Last modified on Jan 12, 2015, 8:59:29 AM