[New-imc] Online form: Proposed new IMC! (Oxford)
penguin at riseup.net
penguin at riseup.net
Wed Jul 6 17:09:12 PDT 2011
Submitted by: Graham <penguin at riseup.net> on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 @ 5:09:11 pm (-0700)
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penguin at riseup.net
adelayde [at] riseup [dot] net
Oxford Keep our NHS Public
Pete & Zoe - independent film makers
Oxford Action Resource Centre
Oxford Food not Bombs
Oxford No Borders
Oxford Education Campaign
Anarchists in Oxford
Breach of the Peace radical samba band
Lashings of Ginger Beer
Seeds for Change
Dragonfly Housing Co-op
Oxford Feminist Network
Oxfordshire Reclaim the Night
Thames Valley Solitary Federation
Art of Activism
Oxford Indymedia has been running since March 2003, as part of the UK IMC. We would now like to apply to become an indpendent IMC.
Oxford, despite it's relatively small population (153,000) compared to other cities in the UK, has a large and vibrant activist scene. These include anarchist groups, migrant solidarity groups, feminist groups, environmental groups, economic justice groups, animal rights groups, anti-military groups, anti-cuts groups, social justice groups, and various art-activism collectives within the city.
These groups are often ignored by the mainstream media or, worse, vilified and misrepresented. As part of these movements we want to counter this by providing local, open publishing, and a sympathetic outlet for their news whilst at the same time acting as a portal to alternative culture and politics in Oxford and the surrounding areas and counties - this is what we intend an independent Oxford IMC to be.
As well as going through the new-imc process, we also intend to increase our autonomy by moving to another CMS. At present, we share a Mir site with several other UK IMC collectives. This creates two issues:
# None of the technologically minded people in Oxford understand the code base of Mir - so we are not easily able to make our own enhancements to the site (although we are very grateful for the support we have received from other collectives who do have Mir programmers amongst their midst)
# The nature of Mir means that if a post is hidden by one collective, the post is hidden to all other collectives that use Mir. This makes it harder for the Oxford collective to act autonomously when it wants to either hide or show a post.
As a collective, we have made the decision to move to a new CMS - most likely Drupal - to overcome these issues.
The Oxford collective actively supports the Indymedia Principles of Unity and the PGA Hallmarks, and are revisiting our mission statement.
With respect to hardware, we wouldn't currently be able to offer any resources, but we do already have server space for our current site, and have had several offers from with the Indymedia and tech-activist network to host our new CMS, so we do not currently envision making any extra demands on the network either.
The technical skills of our collective also include citizen journalism skills such as audio & visual reporting, running grassroots / community radio stations, writing, proof-reading and translation skills, and organising events, such as workshops, hackspaces and skills-sharing days. We would be very happy to share these skills within the IMC network, and already do share these skills in our own communities.
Organisationally, we have been using non-hierarchical decision making in our meetings (and in other groups that we are involved with) for many years. Several of us are experienced consensus facilitators. We would be very happy to share these skills and use them within the IMC network as appropriate.
The Oxford collective has been running since 2003. Over this time, a diverse group of people have been involved in the collective. A few years ago the collective shrank, due to members gradually moving out of the area at a time when a decrease in local activism meant they weren't replaced. This resulted in a very small collective who only had the time to keep the website running. About two years ago several new people joined the collective, bringing fresh energy and impetus. Despite still being a fairly small group, our recent outreach has included:
# Producing promotional materials - leaflets and stickers - that have been distributed to a wide range of local groups and events.
# Promoting collective meetings in a wider range of outlets
# Direct contact - by email and face to face - with other activist and community groups in Oxford.
# Organising workshops as part of local events.
# Covering local protests at a grassroots media-activist level.
# Providing reviews of events in Oxford.
# Working with local groups to help them contribute features, articles, and event announcements.
At present the Oxford collective is (visually) largely white and male, although from different socio-economic backgrounds - hence we do not currently reflect the diversity of the local community.
We already have several mechanisms to help people from different backgrounds and identities to get involved. These include personal commitments from collective members not to stereotype or discriminate in how we treat people and the language we use, as well as making the welcoming of new members a priority.
However, we aware that these measures alone are not enough to overcome the cultural barriers involved. Please see answer to next question for our plans to engage more people from diverse identities & backgrounds.
We do not consider diversity to be an end in itself. We do not intend to represent the diversity of the local community. If we were to do so, we would likely be an organisation that reflects the neo-liberal capitalist majority (i.e. the 'mainstream'). Likewise, we do not intend to offer a voice to groups purely because they are under-represented in mainstream society and denied access to vehicles of expression. This is especially true for groups that seek to oppress others.
Rather, we will focus on groups that are oppressed by mainstream society, and therefore do not have a vehicle of expression. So, for example, we will offer a platform for asylum seekers and refugees to express themselves, but we will not offer a platform for English Nationalists. Both are under-represented and have limited ways of expressing their views, but only the former experience oppression whilst the latter might be oppressed, but seeks to oppress others to overcome this.
We are currently working on an in-depth Outreach Plan, early ideas include:
# Running skills-based workshops (one of us has experience of using this strategy successfully in Bristol to engage with oppressed groups).
# Using the monthly film screenings that already happen at Oxford Action Resource Centre as a platform for Indymedia outreach.
# Attending meetings of grassroots organisations within oppressed communities to start dialogues about how we can work together.
# Encouraging honest feedback from groups not represented in Oxford Indymedia about what the barriers are.
We see the running of an IMC to involve several workfields including creating feature articles, site moderation, programming, outreach & promotion, and groups engagement & facilitation. Current members of the collective already have skills to do these tasks (but also have room to improve!).
Current and new members of the collective will be actively encouraged to both develop new skills and share the skills they already have. This will be done using a range of methods, including:
# Running workshops.
# One-to-one coaching, mentoring, and work shadowing (this can help overcome a gender divide where men may dominate groups, and women be less willing to engage).
# Writing documentation, and directing people to documentation written by others.
# Organising film screenings and debating nights (in collaboration with the Oxford Action Resource Centre)
# Organising other events.
More information about the New-imc