wiki:projects/leadership-committee/meetings/2015-01-10/structure

Version 2 (modified by Enrique Rosas, 5 years ago) (diff)

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January 2015 LC meeting Structure

Mallory, Louis and Enrique

I. Description of current structure as it was developed last year

Table that describes organizational instances and positions, and notes on them.

II. Aspects to consider while thinking on a new structure

Note: For the purpose of this document: workers are active-members who commit work regularly, or have committed work in a regular way recently, the term include LC members in that condition.

We say publicly that: "May First/People Link is a politically progressive member-run and controlled 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." (see our front page https://mayfirst.org)

The profound crisis in which MF/PL currently finds itself, as with other recent similar moments when internal contradictions have arisen, have two key and combined aspects:

(1)

Our organization has as its vision a goal of contributing to the progressive movement, functioning as a democratic membership organization whose principal actors are our members. However, our organizing efforts in recent years have shown that those actors (when they are present in our calls) do not have a significant level of commitment either to MF/PL or to one another in our context. Although they can and often do converge and coordinate in a variety of ways in other political contexts, projects and networks.

Our failure to promote critical thinking and broad action against corporate concentration of information and massive surveillance, even after the Snowden revelations, should show us that the goal of developing MF/PL as democratic membership organization with active members is impossible to meet in the short term, perhaps even in the medium term, given the incipient level of consciousness in the social movement about the Internet as a multi-dimensional front of struggle. Even if our members are generally convinced about our project, and even if they support our work by maintaining their membership in MF/PL, that does not mean that they understand and share our conclusion that it is strategic that we build for the movement an option of a democratic membership organization to maintain an Internet communication infrastructure and make it grow as to cover our increasing needs, while we defend the internet as a means for social change

At present, among our members no understanding exists of shared goals based on the political vision of MF/PL. This precludes the possibility of having a democratic member-led and controlled organization.

If we want to build a democratic membership organization, then a key objective is to get to the point where our members are engaged in MF/PL projects and that they are committed to making contributions to the internal life of the organization. Membership should be synonym of active-members.

We are not there yet, and it will take a lot of work and the right strategies to get there.

(2)

Our organization presents itself as if we had reached the point where we can call ourselves a democratic membership organization, run and controlled by its members. This is a strategic error. It creates false expectations about how we plan the work, how we organize, and how we participate and relate to each other. This is ironically most true with those members who show willingness to contribute with regular work and who thus become part of the core of the organization.

This strategic error also helps to explain why during recent LC cycles there has been so much debate on internal democracy and decision making models, to the point of destabilizing the organization.

At present we must create conditions for internal democracy and motivation among the members who participate regularly in MF/PL (who we could consider MF/PL workers), in order to reach the internal cohesion and stability needed to collectively increase member participation in a variety of ways. Some of those attempts will be successful and some will fail, but they will require the involvement of us all, and they will also need systematic improvement. That aspect needs to be addressed separately.

Increasing internal democracy and motivation among all workers should help ensure that we welcome new activemembers interested in engaging in our current projects by having an environment where there is satisfaction regarding the direction and overall collective development of our efforts.


The community we are now

Our members sign-up here: https://mayfirst.org/joinus to request membership. Membership requests are accepted without exception. The political relationship that is suggested by the Unity Statement is a relaxed condition with little practical importance or consequence.

There are no formal channels of communication between members. Most of them do not know other members in their areas. If they know others doing similar work or with similar politics, this is something apart from MF/PL. MF/PL does not at present have strategies to monitor and follow up on member initiatives in order to identify those related to our mission and goals as an organization.

At this point, once you are a member, you can continue being one simply by paying dues regularly. So, based on the very design, this relationship works against our goal. Without other concrete forms of colaboration between each member and MF/PL, the essence of the relationship is a commercial one: pay dues and receive services.

Our previous efforts of designing a bulletin -the Lowdown-, organizing on-line conferences on several political topics, or promoting a Movement's School, had the shared purpose of reducing the profile of MF/PL as a service provider, while increasing it's political profile among our members. But none of those efforts are able to change the essence of this relationship.

There are a lot of concrete initiatives each specialized internal area of work could do in order to promote participation from current members (membership development), and we all should be thinking on what can we do for the in-reach work. Lets think togheter!


The future growth of our community of members

We must work to promoteof specific initiatives in our political context, coordination with other organizations in the form of alliances or strategic partnerships, so that we build a stronger presence and have more political impact in certain events or processes.This work presents major political challenges to our organization. Addressing them requires preparation, analysis, outreach, public presence, evaluation and theory, that is praxis. To the greatest extent possible, it requires involvement of all workers. It could become even more feasible yet, and a stronger strategy if the workers were directly involved in the decision making as to what outreach strategies should be, and that, in developing that strategy and collectively evaluating the results, they could rely on coordination and guidance from the most politically experienced people among us. It is likely, if people in all internal specialized areas of work takes part in the general outreach strategy, that over the time we will have both achievements and attempts that will not be sucessful, but if this work becomes a shared experience in all it's aspects, Political Education will become a natural demand from workers.

If done correctly, a strategy of outreach that incorporates Political Education in the right time, will avoid Political Education to be seen as an indoctrination strategy of some people to reduce internal critical opposition, but as a positive process that will promote debate in a new organizacional space designed for that purpose, a process focused on increasing the political skills of each person and our collective capacities.

Membership recruitment is an activity in which all of us should also be engaged on a regular basis. We are sure, the more convinced that we are about our development as an organization, the more commitment and passion we can demonstrate towards this task.

Activities related with the promotion of new memberships should not be considered as apart from other proyects developed by other working areas, it should not be a task for an speciallized area, on the contrary all areas should plan their projects in such a way that consider in their design the tasks related to membership recruitment: welcome people interested, present their goals, calendar of activities, and introduce workers and other members already participating, offer concrete ways of participation and also report throught https://support.mayfirst.org on their activities and progress.

Furthermore, new members should request their membership in a process that considers not only accepting the Statement of Unity and the Membership Agreement, this process should request to solicitants to opt-in for participation in one or more of the projects developed by all working areas, as a condition to be accepted as a member. And then the welcome process should include inmediate communication with the person in charge in that project.

If accepted, this strategy will create in new members another sense of what a membership is in a participatory way. And will demand sistematic improvement of outreach, promotion and communication, but also a shared responsability on membership development.

Just as in in-reach work, we need to distribute and generalize the outreach work, and this should be a priority for the organization. Sure it could be interesting and formative to hear from all workers on what is the outreach and inreach they would like to develop, and what their strategies would like to put at play.


The necessity of combining political development with effectiveness

MFPL regular operations demand acting in a timely manner to face threats and other legal, operational and political disruptive situations. Considering MF/PL operates 24-7, in a combination of volunteered and paid work done by a group of people (some working regularly in a weekly basis and some others daily). We feel that reacting in an adequate way to those threats, needs from us to have at least a person who is aware of the disposition of our resources, capabilities and alliances, and can put them at play as situations demand. A position in the structure that should be held accountable by members and that should be able to provide explanation anytime about current conditions and steps being developed by specialized teams responsible of each organization strategy.


The need of balancing racial and gender composition inside decision making bodies and representation of MF/PL

As accepted by the current Leadership Committe, in the spirit of facing the structural problems of racism and sexism in our societies we consider a priority the promotion of a broad agreement among all workers on how the composition of decision making bodies and instances of representation should be conform.

III. Concrete proposals

We need more time to discuss, agree and write this important piece.