Febrero 26, 2005

Indy Conference Photos and Thoughts

Today I uploaded a bunch of media related to the Indymedia Conference: photos, audio documentation, and even a little video clip.

I'm in Iowa now, having arrived a few days ago at my mom and stepfather's place in Bettendorf. They have only dialup access to the Net, so I haven't been getting online much. It's just too frustrating trying to deal with such low bandwidth. Wow I am spoiled. But today I rode a bike down to the public library, which is pretty close. There's free wireless access there, so I'm uploading stuff and giving some long-overdue attention to my blog.

I've been thinking about the Indyconference on the train ride up here and in the last few days as I captured a bunch of the audio recordings I made. I think the conference was an amazing and wonderful thing...

The amazing level of face-to-face interaction and building of connections is bound to strengthen the US and global network. I hope it sets a precedent for regular annual conferences.

There was some talk of trying to have a global or at least an Americas conference in a couple years, perhaps in Quito, Ecuador, which I think would be a great idea. I don't know if Ecuador IMC is ready to mastermind something like that, but I hope something happens, at least some event which takes place in the south that is easier to get to for global south compań[email protected]

I also hope that future conferences aim to get more representation even from other U.S. IMCs. I've thought a lot about Portland's incredible turnout at the conference. I think it was great, and it made me proud, but I also feel like maybe there were too many of us.

At the video discussion I felt a little embarrassed, actually, because we Cascadians were doing a very large proportion of the talking. I spoke up, in fact, and suggested we give others a chance to talk. It's true that we've done a lot of great work, but I felt like we were not giving enough time for people from elsewhere to tell their stories and talk about their concerns. I think we are in danger of creating a hierarchy of efficiency or productivity, when that is not what indymedia should be about.

Just because a small group gets more work done doesn't mean they should run things. Most important in this consideration is that there may be some factors of privelege that enable certain IMCs to be more productive. I don't want to go into what those factors might be here, leaving that as an excercise for the reader - the point is that we should all be enabling others and each other to participate equally, at all levels and in all areas. It's not a competition. Besides, many people might have ideas we all could learn from, even if they have less downloadable video files on their site, or whatever other unit of measuring productivity we want to use. Even though we may be ahead of the game in some ways, and could teach others a lot, I don't want everyone to quietly listen to Portland IMC's wise advice and then do things exactly like we do. I want a diversity of ideas and tactics, and a truly democratic discussion of options that comes from a diversity of experiences and backgrounds.

I also feel like we may have actually had too many people come from Portland. It was awfully fun and gratifying to have such a big pdx posse, but to be honest, I would rather have seen a few less of us there, if that meant a few more could have come from other IMCs. There are over 50 US IMCs, but only a dozen or so were represented at the conference (Portland, Austin, Houston, North Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Talahassee, Las Vegas, NYC, Chicago, Richmond, Baltimore, Seattle, Bay Area... who else? am I forgetting someone?). To be sure, you can bet that many did not come because of economic factors. When you take the 12 or so Portlanders, who came further than almost anyone else (other than Clara in Amsterdam and GDM, who is on his way from Oz back to the UK), and add up how much we all spent to get to Austin, we're talking at least $3000. There were more of us even than from Austin itself, or Houston or North Texas, which were the closest.

What if each IMC sent only a maximum of 3 people, and accepted cash from others from their collectives that could afford to go, and pooled that into a travel grant fund to pay for transportation of poorer IMCistas from other places that weren't represented? That would be truly a great thing, and I hope ideas like this get discussed when planning future conferences. Of course it's hard for an individual to sacrifice their own participation in something so inspiring, invigorating and just plain fun, but if we are to be real about the things we talk about like global solidarity and mutual aid, then these kinds of things have to be seriously considered and acted upon.

Well, I have precious little calories left after that extended polemic. But I will sweep over some specific projects or topics addressed at the conference that inspired me and have me thinking about places to extend my participation: improving journalistic skills; video archiving; strengthening the global network of indy videomakers; blogging and how it relates to indymedia; and helping with the US-IMC site. It's all very heady and a little overwhelming, especially because I can barely stay sane with the projects I'm involved with now. So we'll have to see how things end up. I'm hoping that in the next 5 weeks I can wrap up some big things and move on to new things.

Posted by steev at Febrero 26, 2005 11:32 AM
thank you for sharing your pix and thoughts! san diego imcistas wanted to be there - but the realities of $ and time just got in the way. lotus sent out your link, he also mentioned that there may be some interest in planning a regional conference... count us in! Posted by: aymara at Febrero 28, 2005 01:46 PM