Submitted by Jamie McClelland, co-chair, Leadership Committee
Leadership Committee End of Year Priorities Report 2016/2017
Every year First/People Link holds our annual membership meeting where our members define the priorities for the coming year and elect a leadership committee (LC) to guide the organization in implementing those priorities.
This report evaluate’s Leadership Committee’s success in implementing the priorities identified in our November 2016 membership meeting (https://mayfirst.org/en/priorities/).
The Leadership Committee began by assessing the priorities, grouping similar ones together, and coming up with an overall plan for the year (https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/projects/leadership-committee/2016-priorities-summary).
Technology and Revolution
The LC decided that most of the priorities could be addressed via a single, unified campaign for the year. Called “Technology and Revolution,” May First/People Link launched this campaign in the early Spring of 2017 via a web site (https://techandrev.org/) and through a number of convergences held in a variety of settings.
The campaign brings together activists from all parts of the movement to discuss the relationship between technology and revolution and charts a strategy for moving forward. The goals of the campaign are to contribute to a movement wide strategy, build tighter relationships between experienced movement organizers with limited understanding of technology and techie activists with limited movement experience, and practice developing inter-generational, mixed race and gender environments that builds respect and power.
As of the end of November, the LC has organized 16 convergences in both the US and Mexico, bringing together over 600 organizers and activists.
As part of this campaign, we have made tremendous progress with the following priorities:
- Target groups under threat and communities of color - Not only have the convergences intentionally put people of color and women in leadership roles, but May First/People Link has also played an instrumental role in developing a network of techies of color which met at the Highlander Center in May. The ideas behind the Technology and Revolution campaign played a large role in the gathering and promises to continue influencing this critical work
- Story-based approaches to education on technology use - all convergences start with a popcorn exercise that encourages visioning the future we want, and encouraging a broad narrative approach to developing strategy
- Improve participation of MF/PL members and deepen political development based on realities in each center - May First/People Link has participated heavily in events and campaigns attended by our members. In addition to the Technology and Revolution campaign, we have also connected with members at the gathering at Highlander, our continued participation in the Media Action Grassroots Network, the Left Forum and Allied Media Conference, the Association of Progressive Communications membership meeting, Netroots Nation, through an alternative providers’ infrastructure project, and through the autogestión movement in Mexico City . Through these efforts we have developed critical new relationships with members and seen new leadership arise within the LC.
In addition, directly and indirectly via the Technology and Revolution Campaign, we have made significant progress with the following priorities:
- The creation of curriculum that covers basic education about technology and the Internet as well as security and collaboration
- A hub for resources (tip sheets, etc) to support the curriculum
- Explore and report on distributed, de-centralized computing strategies for organizing
Through a strategic partnership with the Center for Media Justice, we have been participating in the Digital Sanctuary project, to collect security-related information and make it available to organizers and activists in the black lives matter movement.
In addition, we already have many similar resources available on our wiki.
- A survey about political and technical strategies and pain points within the movement
In October, 2017 we completed and distributed a survey and published the results.
- Actively seek partners in Latin America as part of our effort to explore creation of additional centers for the organization
The first week of November, we organized a special series of meetings in Mexico City, inviting organizations throughout Latin America via our Association for Progressive Communications membership and through the support of the Rosa Luxemberg Foundation in Mexico City. Through this effort we established strong relationships with other similar organizations, such as Kefir (Argentina and Mexico), Alter Mundi (Argentina), Codigo Sur (Hondurus, Chile), and Derechos Digitales (Chile).
Through these relationships we plan to continue to explore opportunities to work together, strengthening our understanding of our work and forging political unity as a basis for exploring possible additional centers to our organization.
Three other priorities fall outside of the campaign:
- Implement and widely publicize the new dues structure as a form of recruitment and with the goal of increased financial stability
The new dues structure was implemented in May 2017 and published widely to our full membership. We are in progress with plans to recruit, and also partner with allies to increase membership.
- Continue the project of installing new servers in Mexico
In May, two servers were purchased for colocation in Mexico. These two are in addition to a third experimental server that has been available for a few years but not yet put into production. Plans are underway to incorporate these servers into our infrastructure.
- Form a dedicated fundraising committee to explore new funding opportunities, including consulting services, and opportunities for crowd funding. This committee will be merged with the existing admin committee.
This priority was our only failure. In short, we did not succeed in organizing a committee to explore additional fundraising options. In part, this de-prioritizing came naturally as a consequence of successful contracting with the Center for Media Justice to work on the Digital Sanctuary web site, a process that brought in over $15,000 in contract fees for working in an area already consistent with our priorities. Nonetheless, it still represents a failure in our responsibility of the Leadership Committee.