Archive | August, 2004

People’s Guide to the RNC

A shipment of this nicely illustrated full-color map, handbook and directory arrived at our IMC this week. It is unbelievably chock full of very useful information like what to do if arrested, lists of cheap eats and public toilets, hints for getting around, an event calendar, and much more. A lot of care and organization clearly went into it.

The amount of informational organization going into the RNC protests is amazing. Radical Reference is really taking off, and even got a mention on NPR’s Morning Edition today, albeit somewhat patronizingly, in a story about NYC Activists’ preparation to welcome protestors.

Ellen Knutson, one of the radical reference librarians, will be a guest on the radioshow this Friday at 5:30 PM (archived on the radioshow page thereafter).

Tools and efforts like these demonstrate the growth and maturation of the Indymedia movement (even if they aren’t strictly IMC-sponsored) and of the overall radical and participatory media and information movements in the last five years. One of the strengths of these efforts is that they don’t have to be sponsored or subsumed by any organization–that they can exist as cooperative endeavors that live as long as their useful, and not necessarily for their own sake.

Information and knowledge will make all the difference on the streets of NYC in a little more than a week.

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Local Press for Community Wireless Summit

Today the Champaign-Urbana paper The News-Gazette covered this coming Friday’s National Summit for Community Wireless Networks.

I’m glad one of the most exciting elements for me made it into the article:

The network also could be used as a community “intranet” for a variety of localized purposes, from broadcasting school plays and communications among emergency personnel to carrying voice traffic as a telephone replacement and network-based radio.

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On This Friday’s Radioshow: Community Wireless Summit

Sascha Meinrath, from the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network, and Ben Scott, of Free Press, will be our guests to talk about the upcoming 2004 National Summit on Community Wireless Networks, being held here in Champaign-Urbana on Aug. 20-22. We’ll discuss what the goals of the conference are, who will be there, and what the role of community wireless networks are in creating a more fair and democratic future.

The mediageek radio show airs Friday at 5:30 on community radio WEFT 90.1 FM, Champaign, IL. If you can’t hear it live, it will be archived here within a few days for listening in mp3 and ogg vorbis.

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Fair Coverage of RNC Protest Tactics

Considering it’s generally more liberal than radical, Salon has a surprisingly fair look at the protest organizing going on NYC in anticipation of the RNC. It reports an expectation of 250,000 protestors in the city — I hope that turns out to be true.

Rather than dismissing or chiding protestors who will engage in direct action, reporter Michelle Goldberg gives many different activists their fair say. In fact, at least to my eyes, she makes the “protest violence will only re-elect Bush” side sound stupidly reactionary.

She notes that much of the protesters’ anger is instigated by the city’s antagonistic stance of intolerance towards any form of protest and unwillingness to even grant permits for staid permitted rallies. Civil disobedience will likely be sparked in people who are pissed about being prevented from holding permitted rallies, and thus feeling deprived of a reasonable right to free speech.

I learned quite a bit reading this article. An especially interesting bit is the
RNCNotWelcome hotline where pissed off New Yorkers, especially ones working in the service industry, have been phoning in tips about the RNC’s unpuplicized events.

Still, with all the disclosure in this piece, I reckon (and hope) not everything in the protest toolkit has been revealed:

And what, exactly, will they be dealing with? Moran bristles when asked for specifics about the kind of actions New York is likely to see. “There’s such an over-concentration on that question,” he says, irritably. “It’s really problematic. I don’t want to be predictive.”

Part of this is simple evasion. But Moran really doesn’t know what people are going to do with his group’s information. Indeed, not knowing is inherent in his anarchist model, which relies on decentralized cells or “affinity groups” of five to 20 people who dream up and carry out autonomous actions. When larger numbers are called for, affinity groups temporarily team up, forming larger units called “clusters,” and then disband when the deed is done.

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What Makes Independent Media Tick?

Political journalist Kirsten Anderberg rounded up a small array of independent media makers for some Q & A on what motivates them, and what they think can be done to improve the state of independent and alternative media.

My pal Aj’s zine gets mad props from one of the interviewees:

1. What are your three favorite alternative media sources in general?:

Christa (Ladyfriend): “I like Bust and Venus a lot. I don’t know how “alternative” those are anymore, but I also love zines like the East Village Inky, Low Hug, Found, the Visible Woman, and a whole lot of independent comics.”

I find exercises like this multi-interview to be interesting and valuable reading. Getting answers from different folks on a common question opens up the variety of methods a little more, and let’s the reader do some compare and contrast.

Editor Mickey Z takes a similar tact with The Murdering of My Years:
Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet
, a book I enjoyed, and that helped to remind me that there is a diversity of approaches to living and working, without being bogged down in typical activist dogma.

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