Occupy Portland - Tuesday 12 October 2011 Notes

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Good morning everyone!

I'd like to share with you several things about yesterday on what I see are communications needs/concerns plus possible remedies/suggestions. It's a bit lengthy so I ask for your patience.

First, I want to share with you a few things that I know, discussed with others and/or did related to communications work at the camp yesterday:

  1. A few of us (Mark, Rick, Autumn and 3 others, plus me) moved over the (former) Media Center tent and its contents to a location next to the Information Tables. This tent is intended as an Occupy Portland "work space" for persons doing online work. (A sign outside the tent also indicates this.). The tent was also moved at the request of the Info Table for joint work and to share the generator.
  2. We also set up a second tent specifically for communications information -- or a stopping place for people who want to know what's going on with OP communications (in all its forms) -- with the intention of reducing unnecessary traffic into the online work tent.
  3. The Information Table is helping us get a 3rd tent to be set up as a public access space with a few computer stations and an electronic charging station. Mark is in contact with FreeGeek and we hope to have it up and running by the end of the week.
  4. Collin and Michael in the Media-Video Production tent decided to keep their tent on the west side because they an electrical cord running from the charging station on the street. They also turned the tent 180 degrees so the entrance would face forward.
  5. All tents try to have paths so that people with wheelchairs and walkers can get through.
  6. During the night, the 2 large RV batteries that KBOO brought to the media center tent for electricity (and that would replace the gas generator) were taken over to the food tent for lighting. The agreement was that they would borrow them at night and return them during the day. Engineering stepped in and said they wanted the kitchen to keep them and they would build us something else.
  7. The fire marshall came through the camp during the day and upon inspection of our generator told us: (1) to move it away from the tent and out from under the small folding table; (2) that we had to have 8-10' of space on all sides for proper ventilation; (3) that the fumes from it in the space we occupied, along with nearby small tents, could quickly accumulate and cause toxicity, even death. Currently, we have only 4-5' around each side.
  8. Later in the day, the fumes got stronger so we decided to turn off the generator and run off a donated back up battery but the power lasted only 20 minutes.
  9. The Info Table hung a large tarp over the entire communications space in the evening. Unfortunately it was after the heavy rains but it'll keep the tents and grounds much drier. The camp also received a huge donation of bales of hay to help with the mud (yay!).

Second, I see several LARGE communications needs and concerns that require someone(s) to step in and say "I will work on that and get it done ASAP." They are:

Concerns/Needs:

  1. It feels to me that many of us who are the camp everyday, often all day (or nearly so) are getting to a point of excess fatigue or burn out. I also understand that many people have day jobs or responsibilities and can be there only at night or on weekends. However, we need more people who can work at the camp during the day.
  2. It also seems there isn't clear communication among the people actively working on internal and external communication. We could better work together if we know who is doing what and how to communicate that.
  3. It also seems there is a lack of clarity on who has admin access to the website. I recognize the need for security of particular information but, I believe, there is more information that can be shared with communications people broadly so we know better how to respond to questions and concerns from others.
  4. We need to address the safety issue about the generator and the need for electricity.
  5. We need a more simple way for all of us to communicate, along with an agreement to do so.

Suggestions/Requests:

  1. Create a weekly schedule/grid for camp work--say 3 hr shifts from 7am to 10pm, plus someone(s) who will sleep* in the tent from 10pm-7am (more or less). The grid would have names, contact info and the type of work that person will do, e.g., website, social media, comms info, outreach, wiki. The grid can be online and available to all.

(*Note: there are security concerns in the camp with items being stolen from tents.)

  1. Get a collective agreement from everyone working on communications-related work to communicate among the group. Specifically, (a) if you are have are working on something alone or with others, ask others to join in; (2) if you have already done something related to or on behalf of the group, announce it to everyone. I recognize that things move fast and change daily but that does not mean we cannot be intentional about sharing our work! To me, this includes proposals to the GA, press releases, interviews with mainstream press, controversial or opinionated website front page posts.
  2. Post (a) a list of the people with website admin access and what each does/is responsible for; and (b) info on the best way to communicate with the webteam. The list can be online and/or in one of the communications tents.
  3. Draft a proposal to the Finance Team about funding we requests we may have, e.g. a tent, non-gasoline source of electricity (strong back up battery, solar panel).
  4. Create ONE email group for everyone doing communications-related work. I'd suggest an email group that pulls in the other groups:
occupyportlandcommunications@googlegroups.com
occupyportlandinterviews@googlegroups.com
occupyportlandvid@gmail.com
occupy-portland-media@googlegroups.com
occupyportlandwebteam@googlegroups.com

I also suggest that new people can go to the occupyportlandcommunications@googlegroups.com to sign up.

PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT ANY OF THIS. Is anyone available to work on any of these concerns or suggestions and do them ASAP? (I'll help too).

Lastly, I share these concerns because I see things occurring that, to me, are beginning to replicate the things that we say we don't like about the 1% or in institutions that inhibit our voice, knowledge and collectivity. Many of us still don't know much about one another except that we've come together to fight back against economic and political injustices. I think you are a inspiring group of people to work with and hopefully we'll be able soon to collectively push forward on the changes we care most about.

In solidarity!

Sylvia
(working on communications info and coordination-related things at camp)