I (Ross Boylan) am writing these on July 7, 2001, and these notes must
tentative. The meeting was a bit unfocussed, and different people had
different perceptions of what we were doing and what was decided.
Additionally, time has passed and I lost my own written
notes. These notes have absolutely no official status; they are just
There were over 30 people present, including a good mix of men and
women and different electoral tendencys (Dem, Green, Peace and
Freedom). However, there were almost no young people, and almost no
people of color. I was one of the few not from Alameda county.
The meeting began by generating a large list of political gripes and
solutions. Everyone was very frustrated by the current fragmentation
of the left, as well as the current political scene in general.
Unfortunately, I don't have those lists. Representative of the confusion,
some people thought this was a platform we were generating. My
understanding was that it was simply an exercise for us to get a sense
of each other.
Turning to action, the conference is apparently on track. At the end,
people organized into various committees to carry forward
(outreach, publicity, steering, program, maybe some others). The
focus of the conference is to be that everyone who comes will agree to
put some time (10 to 15 hours) into a joint project. The purpose of
the conference is to pick the project and organize it.
that proposal at the meeting, and it was accepted.
The idea is to actually do
something together, instead of just
talking about it. The other idea is to give the conference some
point, rather than merely being a place people come together and,
perhaps, attempt to convince each other to change what they are
doing. Without this, the conference has a marketing problem: what's
the point? I don't particularly care what the project is; I'd almost say
the people present can throw their proposals into a hat and then we
can pick one. Almost! If we start thinking about what 100 or 200 of
us can do together, I think it will be a liberating experience of
it is not clear that any
meaningful decision was
made at the meeting. Different participants had radically
different views about what was going on. The head of the outreach
committee reportedly isn't even sure that there will be a conference.
After the proposal referred to above was accepted, there was a lot of
back-pedaling and waffling about what we were doing and deciding.
Since then (even to the date of this report, August 7) there hasn't
been much response or activity on the part of the conference
organizers that I'm aware of.
I think the organization of the meeting was poor. It probably would
have worked better with a smaller group or more time. I know that one of
the young people and the only black present were so turned off they
said they would not return. My take: If the meeting
decided to do something, it was a success. It's not clear it did
decide to do something.
All wanted to broaden participation demographically. Chris
Worthington from Berkeley City Council emphasized the importance of
form: "If you have poetry and folk music you won't get young people. If
you have spoke word, you will."
There is an e-list, email@example.com, for people working on
the conference. You can join by send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
(the message can be empty) or visit it on the web