Here are the minutes of the IMC Northern England meeting that was held at Green Planet, Scarborough on 5th July, 2009.
Attending: MR, JD, JF, PT, JC, GP, CA, CC, EK, NI, JO
Meeting facilitated by MR as agreed by consensus.
Agenda agreed by consensus at the beginning of the meeting:
- What area to cover/Name for the new IMC
- Use of Crabgrass (we.riseup.net/imc-northern)
- Training for new collective members
- List administration for IMC-Northern and IMC-northern-contact
- Unity Day
- New IMC Process
- Recent/future newswire reports
What area to cover/Name for the new IMC
CC started the conversation by raising his concerns that we can’t define what the north of England is without causing confusion, an example of a similar situation being with the naming of the United Kollectives. If whole of the North of England is to be covered, he felt it should allow participation from long standing Indymedia activists. He suggested that out of politeness a letter/email should be sent to mailing lists of other IMC’s in the region and a letter posted onto their newswires saying something along the lines of “We would be interested in doing a meeting in your city. Can we schedule one in and get you involved and others on board?”
CC also suggested that if the new IMC isn’t to cover the whole of the North of England then another name needs to be chosen which makes it clear that it isn’t, but conceded that he was unsure as to what other name would be suitable. All present in the room were in agreement that noone likes the “England” bit of the name due to links with Nationalism. It was discussed that we should do outreach across the whole area.
JF clarified that confusion around the naming decision originally arose from the merger between IMC’s Leeds/Bradford and York and the need to jump to an innocuous name that doesn’t exclude anyone in the new, larger area of coverage. She pointed out that we could make a mistake by using the name to define ourselves rather than identifying with people who aren’t already covered by IMC’s.
MR made the point that the group has grown organically through real-world social networks so we haven’t started with a plan for where we should ‘cover’, in fact we are non-territorial and embrace the nomadic. Realising that we had lots of comrades throughout the north, he reminded the group that the name came about because we wanted a name that wasn’t just about a city. He pointed out that the problem appears to be that we have in a sense become “too inclusive”. This could be transcended by thinking in terms of a fluidity between smooth and striated space.
The question was raised for consideration as to Where we would be when there are lots of IMC’s throughout the north.
JD suggested that it is our own fault for creating confusion by what we are called, and relayed comments that have been made by other IMC activists that we have not been consistent in our communications to others, sometimes signing off as IMC Northern as opposed to IMC Northern England. It was conceded that this was due to the fears over nationalism as stated above. It was discussed that the hope is there will eventually be many IMC’s throughout the North and that we will be able to provide coverage for those areas that currently have no local IMC in the meantime, whilst supporting those who feel strong enough as a group to set up on their own.
JF Raised the point that the least important thing of the IMC Northern England project really is what we are called. She pointed out that we don’t need to outreach to people who already know what Indymedia is, more people who haven’t, who won’t care what it is called.
PT asserted his opinion that there are many good ideas that can be considered through going out to other places. He agreed that it is a terrible name but reminded all that we couldn’t think of a better one, to which everybody was agreed. He also agreed with the notion that it is the least important part of the project, though asked the question “What does it say to people in Liverpool.”
CC Repeated his point that out of politeness we should send something to individual IMC lists in the region.
PT pointed out that his superficial impression was that IMC Manchester was healthy and active but at the start of this project, IMC’s Leeds/Bradford and York weren’t.
EK offered the clarification of the state of other IMC’s in this region that the health of IMC Manchester seems broadly positive. News on IMC Liverpool’s site seems to mainly relate to things going on around their local social centre and the focus of the site is currently more of an advertising space for events happening in the community there. Activists in Newcastle have for some time been trying to start up their own IMC but as yet have not managed to do so. IMC Lancaster has been through the new-imc process but at present don’t seem to have their own site.
JD repeated his desire to the group for IMC Northern England to be focused on providing a newswire for people who don’t currently have coverage.
JF reminded the group that we chose this name because we wanted to choose a generic name that would suit everybody we wanted to outreach to. She conceded that it’s not perfect but feels that it is the best generic option.
MR pointed out that we would be hitting a lot of people through our outreach activities who don’t really care about the naming situation, and would be turned off by a complex tagline describing our ‘boundaries’. He stated his desire for our collective to run by face to face interaction backed up by electronic means. He asked the question as to how much we would want to expand before the process became depersonalised.
JF stated her opinion that it is a no win situation, that neither sticking with the name or changing it to something else is perfect, and that we should put a massive emphasis on our face to face outreach work.
CA Pointed out that we could be seen as an umbrella group, with other IMC groups being covered by that umbrella whilst organising themselves, to which JD explained how we could use the DNS facilities of our new domain name to create some kind of “neighbourhood reporting groups”. He explained that we could give any neighborhood tagged on the site, of any size, their own URL to advertise in their local community as a location specific newswire. JD suggested that this could be used as some kind of stepping stone to becoming a new IMC.
MR agreed that we should make every effort to create the means to enable other groups to set up. He pointed out that one of the problems with the United Kollektives is that it covers too big an area to hold regular face to face meetings. Another is the ossification born of teritorial thought. This won’t happen to us because we have a codebase that lends itself to asexual reproduction. We are amoebic.
MR, as facilitator, suggested a proposal on the subject to offer for group consensus:
That this group is called IMC Northern England. We do lots of mailouts to anyone who might want to be involved and at the same time make it clear that it is supposed to be a project based on face to face interaction
An addition was made that:
We in our mission statement something that says that we are meant to be a group which enables others to grow.
The discussion however continued briefly before consensus was reached on this proposal to allow other factors to be taken into consideration at the request of CC.
CC suggested that outreach into cities with existing IMC’s should take the form of getting existing activists to mail out to their local groups and hopefully timetable in those groups to hold meetings. He suggested that a launch event for IMC Northern England should take place in 3 or 4 months time to put the rubber stamp on the new Editorial Guidelines, Mission Statement and other important documents.
JD stated his opinion that change in the documentation and process of IMC Northern England needs to be fluid, so as to allow members who may join in the future as much say in those documents as when they were originally agreed. He suggested that even when agreed by consensus at any point in time, they should not be considered a finished statement, rather a work in progress. CC replied that there can be snapshots of consensus agreed decisions. EK stated his opinion that people who are actually active at that moment in time should decide the content of these documents.
MR clarified one of the points by reminding the group that we have already planned our launch for 1st august and stated his opinion that this is an organic process which will be best left to grow naturally.
JC Asked the group to consider ways of making it clear that people who are not currently part of this project but hopefully will be in the future should our outreach be successful, that they can feel they are an equal part of it.
CC responded by saying that he felt it would be a good if we spent the next 6 months trying to hold meetings in every city before launching so there can be a chance for everyone to have their say in advance of our launch.
MR pointed out his opinion that what seems to be happening is deciding what happens after the next month or so. He felt it was obvious people want to be inclusive and flexible but still have flexibility in our process. He asked if people felt there a problem in setting up in much the way we have been working towards, as IMC Northern England, whilst still doing the outreach that CC is suggesting we do and grow as we are moving. It was stated by all present that nobody was prepared to block this proposal.
It was also discussed by the group at his stage as to what URL we should be using in our outreach materials and other outreach work. JD explained that our three main options were as follows:
JD explained that this address will already resolve at our new website and has been provided to us by IMC UK. Following concerns being raised about having .uk in our address, due to perceived links with nationalism, EK explained that at the time the domain was originally registered, it was done in good faith by a group of people who had not considered the negative associations of including uk in the url.
JD explained that he has registered these addresses with a domain name provider and that both will resolve at the new site. He stated that he has given ownership of these names to IMC Northern England and that all decisions regarding their use will be taken by he collective and not by himself, a method for making this officially so will be discussed and decided at a future meeting should it be used. He went on to explain the decision behind registering these names as being that we as a collective will maintain full and autonomous use of them. That we will be able to offer subdomains to active groups, campaigns and most importantly neighbourhoods quickly and easily through DNS management.
JD explained that as a result of going through the new-imc process, we could be issued with a URL by the global Indymedia Network. It was noted that we are highly unlikely to receive the address we had originally asked for (northern.indymedia.org) and so would have to include England in the title. In any case, it was highly unliely we would receive this URL in time for our launch on 1st August, meaning we would then have to readvertise our new name to our users and use a different name in the meantime.
It was pointed out by JD that we could in fact use all of these names as they will all direct users to the new site, so the issue was which one we would use on our outreach material. JD pointed out that there may also be a potential problem with SSL certification. EK also gave advice as to potential legal issues to be aware of with registering our own domain, so as to allow us to avoid these problems.
It was decided by all present to use the name www.northern-indymedia.org on all of our outreach material.
As a clarification and reiteration, the following proposals were put to the group and reached consensus by all present:
- That we are known to our friends and close acquaintances as Northern Indymedia and to all others as IMC Northern England.
- That we officially launch as planned on 1st August under the name IMC Northern England.
- That we promote and publicise the name northern-indymedia.org as the name of our site.
- We in our mission statement something that says that we are meant to be a group which enables others to grow.
- We do lots of mailouts to anyone who might want to be involved and at the same time make it clear that it is supposed to be a project based on face to face interaction
CC wished to make his feelings known that he was not going to block these proposals, that he feels people still have concerns about the name but doesn’t have any other suggestions, so he is willing to stand aside until something better is thought of. He pointed out that it perhaps explains it better in this country to call it IMC Northern but maybe not to the rest of the world.
JD stated his desire to move crabgrass into more open structure. He gave a brief explanation of the current structure of the site at we.riseup.net/imc-northern which is used extensively by IMC Northern England for organisation and collaboration between the regular face to face meetings. He explained that at present, as previously agreed at an IMC Northern England meeting at a time when the crabgrass site was being set up, only meeting attending members could join the group and use it’s features though the site was currently viewable by anyone. It was explained that there is a coordinating council set up on the group, consisting of meeting attendees, who share responsibility for maintaining the content on the site in a non-heirarchical way. JD asked for the group to discuss opening membership of the main group to anybody who wishes to join, to allow a wider participation in the IMC Northern England project. He suggested that there could be separate committees for different areas such as tech/legal/finance should anything need to be made invisible for public viewing should the need ever arise set up with a requirement being a statement clearly written on the public wiki as to who can join that group, and that all closed groups are agreed by consensus. It was pointed out that there have been prior concerns about the potential for disruptive users deleting content or being abusive.
CC began the discussion by pointing out that UK IMC has had an open wiki for years and never had problems of disruption. He felt that this was a positive idea as it will drop a barrier from other groups getting involved, that the more open the process, the better.
NI felt that he would like to see it be used in a similar way to a forum where anyone can post anything, and so people can make discussions as they see fit not necessarily just important things relating to the process of IMC Northern. He pointed out that these forums work well as everyone is required to sign up and log in before posting.
CC pointed out that some IMC’s have had forums before. He noted that these need moderators to sort things out and people have been worried about using them for various reasons.
JC added her opinion that it is important that there is a way for people who are approaching IMC Northern England for the first time to make their recommendations and comments, but did nnnnot quite see it as being the same as a forum.
CC noted that at present the Crabgrass site can’t be used in this way as the current rule is that you have to be a member first.
JC said that with an open group there could be a “suggestions” document or some way to get across what they think has happened/should happen.
MR pointed out that one of the primary concerns in the past has been how to go about removing people from the group for disruptive behaviour.
CC gave an example out that this has not been too much of a problem with the Docs server.
EK made his point that he felt one of the best things is having a default open position and make new groups as and when they are needed so that at first it is as simple as possible. This received much agreement.
JO pointed out that we already have a co-ordinating council within the Crabgrass group and so have control over settings on the site. He added that he felt if someone in the future needs to be removed we could do it by inviting everyone and the person concerned to meeting and talking face to face with them.
A proposal was then made and passed by consensus:
That the main area of crabgrass is opened up to anybody and the coordinating council is available only to meeting attendees.
Update on Disinformation
CC gave a presentation to the group on the current state of “disinformation” currently affecting the site of IMC UK and an explanation of how this is being tackled. It was proposed by CC that this information was not included in these publicly archived minutes and reached consensus.
JD Agreed to do training at Green Planet, Scarborough on 29th July for new members of IMC Northern England and any other interested parties in this area. This training will focus on the use of the Crabgrass collaboration tools at we.riseup.net/imc-northern and the new site, www.northern-indymedia.org. JD will liaise with CA and others at Green Planet to make this happen. JD also gave a brief demonstration during the meeting to CA and GP on posting articles to the current site and other UK collectives.
Another opportunity for miscellaneous training is the next Common Place Tech Skill-Share, which falls on the day after out launch event (i.e. Sunday 2nd August, 1000-1600h)
List administration for imc-northern and imc-northern-contact mailing lists
JD started by explaining that there have been two new mailing lists set up to replace the current imc-leeds and imc-leeds-contact. JD explained that at present he was acting as administrator for the new lists (imc-northern and imc-northern-contact), whilst MR was responsible for the imc-leeds ones. He requested that someone else take on the responsibility for moderating and administering these lists so that the technical workload is more evenly distributed, and so decentralised, and to give him the time to focus exclusively on maintaining the new site and getting it ready for it’s launch on 1st August.
It was suggested by MR and agreed by the group that the optimum number of people able to receive mail for imc-northern-contact is 3 or 4 people and that this group would ideally also act as the list administrators. The need was stressed for wider community to know it is a very small group and so is suitable for communication of a more sensitive nature should the need ever arise.
A proposal was made that a group of 4 people act as moderators. An amendment was suggested by JD that there is at least one non-tech person in that group, so as to share the skills required to those who might not already have them but may want to learn. MR asked it to be made clear that a commitment is made that if people are not sure about things then they need to have the confidence to ask, as they will of course be supported.
JC asked for some clarification about the role and what it entails in a non-technical way. MR explained that those on the imc-northern-contact mailing list are a potential point of contact for sensitive issues. He explained lot of correspondence to the list is from people asking for help with various issues but occasionally there are other issues that need a more sensitive approach. In response to a query from JO, It was estimated that the total time commitment for the group was no more than approx. 2 hours per week, representing about half an hour each if the workload is spread evenly.
The following proposal was agreed by consensus:
- A group of 4 people are to be members of the imc-northern-contact list, and will also act as list administrators for imc-northern
- At least one person in this group will be a non-tech person
- Tech members of the group will share their skills with non-tech members
- Non tech members will ask for help if required
- This group will initially consist of JO, MR, CA and JC, representing an equal spread of gender and current technical ability.
- Responsibility will be divided equally between them.
- imc-leeds and imc-leeds-contact mailing lists to be shut down, MR to send email later and try to get people over to new ones.
Tasks were separated up as to who will be doing what for our presence at this years Hyde Park Unity Day. It was agreed that we should attend this event and use it as a major outreach activity since a large portion of the community in the Leeds area will be in attendence and particularly groups we wish to outreach to. JD explained the correspondence that has led to our being there and the equipment currently available and still needed to provide a “Be the media” facility. Offers were made and agreed for the remaining equipment. JC agreed to help coordinate making outreach items using recycled materials wherever possible.
New IMC Process
Clarification from MR on the state of the new-imc process. EK explained that we need to jump through hoops laid before us by the new IMC process in order to make us a stronger group and to ensure we will not split up in the near future.
Consensus was reached that we are going to carry on with the new imc process, and that we are going to carry on with what we are doing in the meantime.
JD Proposed that one or a group of people are tasked with being the contact between the group and the new imc process/global network in regards to our application.
MR and JD have been doing this up until now and MR said he is happy for someone else to do it if needs be. If anything needs to happen during July MR can’t do it.
JD noted comments from outside group that we could do with someone other than MR or JD to be point of contact between new imc and group as people are keen to hear from voices that have not currently already stated their own opinions publicly, to give the process a fresh start.
PT agreed to take on responsibility for this. MR agreed to bring PT up to date with what has already happened so far. MR and JD to communicate and authenticate this decision to Ana. Agreed by consensus.
The need to talk to local groups one to one and get them to get involved in the project was stressed as of critical importance. It was suggested to look at local festivals and other events happening in the region with a view to getting a presence there, along with continuing the outreach work to local groups.
Recent/Future newswire reports
JC and PT flagged up the recent “Zombies in Bradford” and “Zine fair” articles as having good content.
It was agreed by all that though the drax29 stories were incredibly depressing in their subject matter, there was some good coverage throughout the trial. All present expressed solidarity with those involved.
It was mentioned of the story “Detention protest met with brutal assault” that the news story cut off and we never found out the outcome of it. It was suggested that sometimes there isn’t anything to add so noone can say anything about it, or that it may be puting people at risk of further detention by reporting any outcome. Hopefully there will be ways of contacting groups in future to ascertain this.
Anyone interested in a Paper project in the runup to COP15 summit is encouraged to go to:
A proposal was made to have some kind of Northern Indymedia content in there. Also, the project is being designed to make it easy for people in other parts of Britain to Syndicate content and make it relevant to their region. Provide an “agitprop kit” in essence.
Proposal to post any stories on on both the new site and Leeds/Bradford newswire in the following month leading up to the launch date was agreed by consensus.
It was pointed out the urgent need to get the publish button on the Leeds/Bradford site removed, and the site shut down to become an archive on 1st August. JD to look into how to do this.
It was agreed to discuss a proposal by JO for an enhanced help page for the new site at the next meeting.
Next meeting is at the 1in12 Club, Bradford on Sun 19th July 2009, 12-4. All are welcome and additional details will be posted to email@example.com nearer the time.