Membership Recruitment, Movement Work and Strategy

The Membership Recruitment, Movement Work and Strategy mesa will address both outreach and inreach strategies, campaigns, conferences and how and what messages we are communicating.

Please access the Riseup pad to participate in live note taking.

Review proposals made to the movement group.

Submit your own proposal.

Notes from preliminary call

For existing proposals -->

Hilary: I'd like to welcome everone to our second mesa. Housekeeping: please mute your phones and unmute to talk. Why don't we go around and introduce ourselves. I'm Hillary, membership coordinator. On leadership committee

Steve Mahood: MFPL support team, member of cyberunions.

Glen: From michigan. Working with indigenous communities, Coalition Against the Tar Sands.

Jamie: Co director & co-founder.

Alfredo: chaim

Avi: National lawyers guild, in NYC

Analia: In NYC working for _ and MFPL


Steve: Arlington, MA Ross: Atlanta. MFPL support and local co-ops.

_: Mexico city (missed rest of introduction).

Hilary: This is the second of three mesas. First was infrastructures, and notes are available. This meeting is to do with membership and recruitment. How we communicate with members in organization. Membership in mexico, larger left movement, and the world at large. We'll talk about outreach and inreach. Some proposals already submitted. We won't make any final decisions; just discuss and debate the various proposal. Wanted to go through the proposals. First: plan for outreach & communications. Proposal looks at what we've done in the last year, how we've run ourselves as an organization. Key problem: many view us as a provider, and not a political membership organization. Also, an unclear outreach strategy. Want a deeper discussion on the role of technology in our movement. Another concern: growth of organziation. increasing racial diversity, building networks and connections with other organizations. Building profile politically, now that privacy and internet are part of the national debate.

Jamie: I submitted a couple more proposals this afternoon. Redesign lowdown, and statement that aligns us with the broader left.

Hilary: I'll move on and talk about a couple of different propsals. One: we needed a deeper and move involved strategy for connecting with new members. We don't have an easy way to connect more politically on an organizational level. Better ways to do outreach? Some kind of face to face, orientation. Bring organizations into the fold. Second, having a more overall, orchestrated outreach strategy. Our approach is ad-hoc. Leadership committee work not always well-communicated with membership. More rigorous outreach, website design, more aggressive conference schedule, develop lowdown, develop outreach brochures, POC techies website. All these things fit together into outreach. We'll need a team to do this work. There will be a lot of labor involved.

Avi: One thing came to mind. Is there an assessment of people involved. Do they know they should be more involved? Is there internal outreach as well as external outreach?

Alfredo: I think what Avi just said is critical. MFPL doesn't have a member conscious-raising plan. I believe reason is that we don't have an outreach plan. We're tied to progressive movement. It's what we feed off, react to, and what affects our work. Progressive movement affects our work. Our organization is discordant with membership and demographics of our group. We were in step with the movement up till 2010-2011. We've fallen behind movement. There's a lot of anti-rascist movements. Several movements are lead by POC, one of the smallest demographics we have. We are not in step with some of the struggles taking place. As far as they're concerned, the internet is Google and some commercial host. Disturbing reality. The movement in this country will be led by people of color. Many section of the movement will be black, latino, indigenous. They dont know about mayfirst, or about internet issues. I've said this before to enormous discord. The more you educate outside, the more you educate your own members. It raises consciousness.

Hilary: I have one response. It would be useful to hear from members, about how to do more of the inreach. Outward presence is important, but I think we need to target inward as well. Do members have ideas for what is worthwhile. Orientation video.

Avi: an orientataion video would be cool. It would be a good idea to have a page on our website, saying why we're affiliated with MFPL. Not just where we're hosted, but why. Encourage other orgs to do the same.

Maritsa: Generally outreach will educate internally. Like idea about members having statement about why they're hosted by MFPL. Better understand if what MFPL is will lead to a better understanding of what the organization is.

Hilary: I love that idea as well. Like the idea of using this as a springboard to talk about what hosting is, in political terms, not just in utility terms.

Ross: Jovan is asking if there are talking points available.

Steve: On there is a statement of unity which was extremely influential in my decision to become a member. Jamie: Statement of unity is still there.

_: Something like a movement/members bill of rights. Educate people why MFPL is a political movement group.

Jamie: Association for Progressive Communications has done a lot of work in this area. I don't think we ever have explicitly said "put this on our web site, this is the set of rights our members are due". We have a 4-fold card, but I don't think we've ever handed it out. There was a ticket to develop this. I'll try to dig it up.

(Some confusion about the pad location).

(Announcement in spanish. Sorry, missed it)

Hilary: We have a couple of additional ideas: page where members say why they use MFPL. And a bill of rights. Any other ideas? Could we go to the next few proposals, then come back and drill in to other areas? Next proposal: renew our commitment to the social forum. We've supported both US and World social forum. We wanted to get membership feedback, reaffirming our commitment to this process. Any comments, discussing our participation? Alfredo has been our most vocal and active member on that planning committee.

Jamie: Social forum is something we've supported over the years, evolved nationally and internationaly. Now is an important time to give support. We're involved in the leadership, it is polycentric in form. It's exciting to see this come to fruition, because it will be in multiple cities, the itnernet will play a big part.

Alfredo: from a political point of view, the USSF is shifting from being a covergence space where people share experience to a place for program and movt building to decide what we have in common and try to get some shared program. I think this is going to hapen. The forces to make this happen are joining the Social Forum. One of the criticisms is that this hasn't happened, but now those orgs are joining the leadership. This is the first time, maybe since the 1930s, that this process has happened, a major step forward. The structure is a MFPL proposal, we called for a social forum of a new type in 2010, have been opposed for 2 years. But it was needed to get all the orgs involved, very few are national orgs, they need local access to local orgs, they can't always get that in a national forum. We thought we had a shot at this, as tech leaders at the social forum. We wanted to make it happen. The 2015? social forum will change movement, will be significant step forward in movement in the US.

Hilary: questions or comments about social forum involvement? Next proposal is for MFPL should make clear statement aligned with left, meant to answer problem where people perceive us as service provider, limits the invitations to public debates, other ways. To clarify our role in the movement.

Jamie: I submitted this one. I want to talk about resistance to doing this. There is perception in the org that we are a tech org and we should not go beyond that scope, we should focus on the tools. That comes out of desire to make MFPL best tech org, and that we might get involved in things beyond scope or expertise. Do we get to be the best tech org by being involved in other discussions, or does that distract from our mission?

Ross: It seems that by being the best tech org, we are participating in the movt. Even with the myriad examples of the last few years about how important tech is, being able to get the message out that Tech decisions are inherently political. Until we are able to articulate to the movt how political tech is, then changing the perception of our org is going to be more difficult.

Stephen: Add to that. I look at this from my experiences, watching labor unions. The problem/perception of unions as a service rather than a social movement. It would entail more education on our part, how we would educate more people on the technology.

Hilary: This is like a chicken and egg problem. In light of NSA, people are talking about these sort of things.

Rasha: I had a response to the proposal about the broader left statement. It's a concern, given the draft that came out of the Leadership Committee. In my organizating experience, comprehensive worldwide statements can create more division than affiliation. Don't hide the best of what this organization has to offer, through use of technology as part of our movement. Our statement might be perceived as dogmatic or alienating to people we might want to work with. A clear statement about technology is an important piece. Maybe a statement of solidarity with other movements we want to support?

Ross: I completely agree with Rasha. Seems that we're achieving what we want as an organization. Part of the disconnect between us and our membership is that we don't really know what our members are doing. Being aware of what our members are doing is equally, if not more important, for this kind of outreach. One of our unutilized advantages is that we have all these contacts. We're connected to a broad spectrum of social movements. We don't utilize those. Maybe I'm retracting our last statement, about making us participants in the movement.

Maritza: I don't see how those things are mutually exclusive. If you're in a conversation, then you have to have a voice. You have to listen, but you have to be a speaker. You don't do it in isolation, you do it as a dialog. It's a way to elicit conversations with other members of the movement. I don't belive that stating who you are has to come off as dogmatic or alienating. I think it's a way to make friends.

Alfredo: There are political poles in the organization, we do have wings and there is no harm in it. It is to be expected and celebrated. It means we are a lively organization. The only problem is if we try to hide those tendencies. Good to come out with differences. Important to locate tactical issues in those political differences. We are a technology organization. How much do we say beyond the technical? We all have different definitions. I believe technology is the interaction of human beings. We are working on sophisticated interaction representing a movement. Not everyone in the organization buys that. I don't think that Rasha's concern is necessary - we haven't alienated people. If you alienate people it is really bad - I share that concern. I don't think we've every done that. We have stood up and stated left-wing politics on the Internet and I don't think we've alienated people -as long as we (as Rasha warns) are not dogmatic. I think we have to be careful of it. We *can* go beyond our role and try to organize the proletarian revolution - that's important to avoid. We have to remember our role: we are a technology organization. This is not a disagreement with Rasha or Ross: it's a contextualizer.

Hilary: Nuts and bolts How would we be using this or distributing it? What would that process look like?

Jamie: What I had in mind as the intention would be an ongoing discussion with the membership and organizing points/discussions, to be published along side the statement of unity to read as part of joining.

Hilary: comments?

Glen: Free and Open source software, real support that, love that, but when you draw that line and the statistics/demographics when 80-90% of folks are using Microsoft software, the learning curve to come out of that might be an impediment. So holding that line might keep 80% of the people hesitant.

Steve: Free software - talk with Harvard students, spent 2 minutes on Free software and philosophy, no one had heard of it, but after hearing it, they were very interested. I wonder what the difference is for folks, explaining the rationale, people do kind of get it.`

Rasha: I absolutely think MF/PL has important role to play in bringing voice to many options to free/open source software. We should never hesitate about putting forward analysis about this. Those convo's are the ones. Some of Glen's concerns can play out in communities - we should work on bringing these ideas in a building way. When i bring up concerns about the broader left statement or about edgier ways to bring tech - I don't have reservations about that.

Jamie: I think we started being concerned that a broader statement about politics could alienate members. We've probably alienated more people and been more dogmatic about our use of free software. As Rasha said, we should try to communicate this to people. Even if we came out with broad statements on technology and politics, the technology one might alienate people.

Ross: Technology is political. Trick is not alienating people when we talk about the politics of technology.

Jamie: I should clarify what I said earlier. Referring to statements about technology for broader left.

Maritza: I think that people are aliented by FOSS software ... its about who's in control. They are definitely the same conversation. It's the manifestation of technology in terms of control and forces of repression.

(some discussion to mute phones. Please mute your phone if you see this :)

Ross: agree with Martiza, it's more provocative. (too much noise, hard to hear. We are restarting the call.) (call restarts, people rejoin).

Ross: I agree with Maritza. When we promote free software, we're also promoting anti-capitalism. I think it's a statement of how powerful the capitalist system is. Easier to through out $100 and be done with it, rather than worry about who might be listening in on your calls. The free software movement really upsets that.

Jerome scott is on the call. Juan Gerardo is on.

Introductions request for new folks joining the call.

Juan Gerardo: from MX, had technical difficulties.

Jerome: I live in Atlanta GA. Work with USSF, League of Revolutionaries for a New America. Happy to be on the call.

Hilary: anyone else new?

Alfredo: I think there is a racial component to the free and open source software movement. I think there is an aspect in which movements of color are suspicion of FOSS, because they view it as something that white people are doing. We don't have enough techies of color. For a lot of organizations of color, MFPL appears to be out of step, because of things like FOSS. I think there's a question of how we deal with this in terms of racial sensitivity, but also in who we recruit. How we explain our opposition to FB and Twitter, without denouncing their use.

Glen: I'm a great appreciator of the open source software, but I'm trying to take a more pragmatic position. There aren't many FOSS programs for video editing. Do we wait for FOSS movement to create them, or do we use the facilities we have now, but push to develop better software. If there are tools for broadcasting, communicating ... if we can't use corporate software, I think that sets us back. If ultimate goal is to eliminate capitalism, those tools can help carry us.

Hilary: I've talked to _ about conversations ... nothing in FOSS compared to (say) Final cut. (noise...) Is it a matter of doing what we need to do with a mix of techniques, and making the tools work better for us.

Rasha: I think you're opening up the door to talking about a mix of techniques, and MFPL playing a bridge role between technologies that people have access to, and technologies, that they could be using, and technologies that don't exist yet. 1.5 years ago, panel at allied media conference: one of the main places that people hang out in are bars. If we think of less desirable social media as bars, they are not the best places to build commuinty, but it can be a good place to begin conversations. I favor embracing a mix of techniques, and talking about what the options are. Some things can be accomplished with FOSS, but some things can't. Threat model is not quite what I want to say: possibly a way to talk about technology and the alternatives. There might be different things in those different decisions.

dkg: Coming into the call late, but I think I know what you're talking about. There's a distinction between free as in freedom as free as in paying. If we could pay people to work on free software, and make it work like we wanted it to, that would be worthwhile.

Jamie: Something occurred to me, with what Rasha said. We need to meet people where they're at. I got the impression you were saying that "we need to figure out the message that reaches people". What people can relate to and understand. That's critical. In the 80's people said "you can't talk about revolution with poor people, you have to meet them where the're at". That's crap. If anyone can understand revolution, it's poor people. We have to keep our critique strong, but find ways to talk about it differently. We don't want to aliente people; we don't want to perpetuate racial divisions, we want to overcome them.

Hilary: other comments? I feel like every time we have discussions, there is a desire to have more debate. Maybe we should have a space to have these discussions, with members. Any more comments on FOSS or the political statements. I'm going to move on to the next couple of topics that are related. Redesign of the Lowdown newsletter, main way to communicate with the members. Text based, not easy to search or permanent on the site, not useful way to highlight political dialogue. Idea to revamp the site and build a committee to distribute content from other places, from members, to make it a useful place to promote work. Second is to update the entire MFPL site, to make more user-friendly. Question of who's going to do the work and how we organize the labor. Questions?

Juan Gerardo: idea of how many members have access to our newsletter?

Hilary: when members join they are automatically subscribed, but we don't have an idea of whether folks are reading it.

Jamie: checking subscriber total now. 3809 members.

Hilary: key question about redesign in the Outreach Comm of the LC, how to make this a tool that people would want to read and be interested in.

Rasha: Is there any mechanism for tracking clicks, opens on Lowdown?

Jamie: No, we don't embed tracking in our newsletter.

Rasha: I know there are political questions there, and I have them too.

Hilary: Do you read the lowdown? Is that something you pay attention to?

Juan Gerardo: I have the impression that the members in mexico have information on how you're starting to reorganize mayfirst in mexico. I have impression that few members in Mexico read the newsletter. We need better communication about Mayfirst Mexico and Mayfirst USA. We should address communication before newsletter. Majority of members are worried about having the service working, and not much more, but they have a commitment to mayfirst. I expect that once we attend to the idea of forming a cooperative in Mexico, and having more staff in Mexico, then perhaps the members of the Leadership committee in Mexico _ and getting them to read the newsletter, and be involved.

Hilary: other comments? We have 10 more minutes. Another proposal that has not been submitted, but the question of creating an Outreach Team that would function in the way as the Support Team. The elected LC, the Co-directors, the staff that do the day to day work, volunteers and support team who do the work. To make an outreach team more like the support team to get more input, more writing, ideas about conferences and outreach. Questions, I will try to put it up.

Rasha: in the first proposal for a comprehensive outreach plan, there is an item to propose the creation of an outreach team. In the notes from the outreach committed of the leadership committee, there's a full proposal. I have the text of that proposal and can post it.

Hilary: This extra proposal could try to flush that out with a little more description. If there are no comments or concerns about these last proposals, then we can go back to the first proposal, where we ran through a bunch of ideas.

(no comments)

Hilary: I guess we should call this meeting to a close now? Just a reminder, next week is the last pre-meeting mesa, on democracy. Face to face meeting will be on Oct 19th.

Juan Gerardo: I commend everyone.

To EVERYONE: Please check your mute function.

Notes from Face to face meeting

Movement Mesa - NYC Present Abi, Alfredo, Hillary, Stefan (Josue on phone)

Problem: Website looks insider, DIY, text heavy. Design – make things prettier Functionality and Organization – make things clearer. Things are hard to find. Interaction – get people to use the website themselves


  1. Upgrade Website

We are currently running an older version of Drupal. We need to change this to allow bigger and better things including both internal and external outreach.

Problem: Increase member consciousness Members think we are a service provider not a political organization. Low turnout at MM. Welcoming members – currently get an email from Alfredo. How do we maintain relationships with organizations? We could do joint trainings with organizations. Online and phone conversations on topics of interest to our members.


  1. Member Dialogs – "People Links"

Talks coordinated with current members

  • reach out to members to find out what issues are of interst to them including topical issues and organizational struggles.
  • develop program from membership input and reach out to MFPL as well as organizational members' constitutencies.
  1. Welcome Video

Short introduction to what MFPL is and what does it mean to be a member. Should be sent out to all new (current) members and placed prominently on front page of website.

  1. Tech Connect

Ongoing outreach to members about new capabilities, features, etc.

Problem - Lowdown and email list We do not know how many people are reading the lowdown also people are dropping out. Is the lowdown the best way to maintain regular communication with membership. What are the other ways we can communicate with membership (email, phone, mail, in person)?


  1. Intentional Media Work

LC will create plan for intentional media work to increase MFPL's exposure and ideas.

  1. Create Outreach Organizing Team

Team Projects

  1. Mapping the Membership

Analyze the membership to identify core membership, and prioritize further outreach. Focus efforts on groups we can bring into the core group.

  1. Organizational Recruitment Reaching out to organizations that should be members.
  1. Support Social Forum

Continue working with USSF though political participation, planning, and technical support.

  1. Somos una comunidad en la que nos une la oferta de servicios. Queremos cambiar esta situación. Sabemos que es un proceso a largo plazo y se debe lograr desde abajo.
  1. Necesitamos fortalecer nuestra identididad en México. Eso se puede lograr a partir de la valoración - sondeo entre las organizaciones e individuos miembro. Es decir, un instrumento que permita saber quiénes somos, a qué nos dedicamos. Con una herramienta para el sondeo, su sistematización y la difusión interna de sus resultados, nos conoceremos mejor y podremos generar mayor comunidad local.
  1. Es necesario elevar la participación de los miembros en México a partir de procesos que permitan mayores conocimientos sobre la utilización de herramientas, a partir de generación de grupos de trabajo para intercambio de experiencias por prácticas específicas,así como a partir de fortalecer los procesos de comunicación local y transfronterizo.
  1. En resumen, observamos importante fortalecer tres puntos. La identidad, la expresión (participación) y la acción.
  1. Observamos que es importante fortalecer la comunidad actual PL/MF al paralelo de buscar mayor membresía.
  1. Para elevar la membresía es importante resaltar los siguientes elementos como oferta para los nuevos miembros: perfil amplio de servicios para la acción, seguridad, perspectiva politica, multiculturalidad, capacitación, comunidad integrada, identidad, y espacios de participación.
Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Oct 23, 2013, 9:15:41 AM