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2,500 and Climbing...

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IOPS has passed 2,500 members. To me this seems like a milestone. Put succinctly, if in the next three months each current member successfully recruits one new member who is fully cognizant of and supports the IOPS commitments - and then in the following three months each member recruits another, by May 2013 we will have 10,000 aware and committed members. And if, during that same period, members make a concerted effort to create local chapters, we could have 50 - 100 local chapters meeting, as well.

We shouldn't unduly elevate ourselves.

In a world of nearly 10 billion people, 10 thousand members and 50 - 100 local chapters is not many. It just isn't. 

But we also shouldn't unduly denigrate ourselves.

Considering the question, do we have a basis upon which to solidify an organization and to then continue growing, 10,000 members and 100 chapters is a whole lot. It just is. Indeed, it would be more than enough, I think, to warrant a founding convention. It would be more than enough, I think, to begin working on international and national program and process. This is why reaching 2,500 members feels like a milestone. It establishes a position from which we can quite plausibly reach convention readiness by May 2013.

And finally, we shouldn't kid ourselves.

This type formulation of prospects can over simplify the task we face. Indeed, put as above, the task may seem almost trivially simple - and in some  abstract, mega sense, honestly, I suppose it is. But the larger reality is that up to now, and especially for the past two months, we have been enlarging IOPS at a much slower pace than the one needed to accomplish the above achievement. Three months is roughly 90 days. Enlarging by 2,500 new members in that time means growing by, on average, almost 30 people a day. That is, I think, about four to five times the rate we have been hitting recently. And in the second three months the number of new members added per day would need to climb to nearly 60. So achieving this growth, viewed from how we have been growing, would be a big leap forward. It would require everyone pitching in.

Can we do it?

Well, why not? What is the impediment, and how large is the impediment, to our accomplishing this? When I do a thought experiment to test my intuitions on the issue, I am struck by the result. 

Suppose every member would receive $1,000 upon successfully signing up one new member who supports the IOPS commitments and is eager to themselves be part of a growing organization. The $1,000 in this thought experiment is called, by economists, an incentive. How many of us would, in that event, fail to sign up one new member in the next three months? And how many of our then five thousand members would fail to do so again in the subsequent three months? My best guess is that everyone would succeed. And so the economist would say, whatever the obstacles are to our each signing up one new member in this period - our own personal obstacles mean less to us than $1,000. Okay, suppose we lower the incentive to $500. Or to $100. Wouldn't we still succeed? And just imagine it was $500 or $100 not for only getting one new member, but for each new member you attract, up to as many as you sign up. 

We know there are obstacles to hurdle for each of us to successfully sign up another person. What are some of these obstacles - other than the resistance of the people we contact? I may be missing something very important, yet it seems to me that the four biggest obstacles are:

1. Lack of time. 

We are all very busy. Lots of things occupy our available hours ranging from maintaining life by eating, sleeping, and working at paying jobs, to dealing with family, school or other personal responsibilities, to fulfilling other movement responsibilities, to maintaining our psychic and emotional well being by entertainments and activities. One obstacle is, in other words, that it is hard to find time in our already stretched schedules without the choice exhausting us or taking away from something else we do. 

2. Feelings of embarrassment. 

We can guess that some people we ask to join IOPS will disparage our motives, sanity, and intelligence, upon hearing us make our case, and we don't want to endure that kind of dismissiveness or ridicule.

3. Fear of estrangement. 

We expect that some people we ask might consider us weird, upsetting, or even dangerous for being in IOPS and inviting them to join, and we don't want to risk that they will feel these ways toward us, and perhaps even avoid us.

4. Feelings of failure. 

We know that some people who we ask will say no, and we do not want to endure their rejection causing us to feel inadequate.

Beyond the above, other than rare situations, there are no unavoidable drastic penalties. There is no actual danger, for example, assuming we are smart about our entreaties. Nothing like that obstructs each of us carefully talking to selected others about IOPS. Rather I suspect that the above four types of concern are the most prevalent impediments blocking us. And though they may seem minor, listed so starkly - in truth they are very often the cause of failed movement efforts. 

Take an average current member. He or she contemplates giving a public talk, speaking to an invited group at a party, sending invitations out to a list of folks via a social network or his or her address book, or directly making a case in a personal face to face conversation. Contemplating reaching out, this average current member feels the above reasons for not following through. What can overcome the obstacles? Well, the $1000, $500, or $100 payment is one possibility. But that does not exist. So what else is there?

There is the prospect of having, six months from now, or a few months after that to allow for final planning and arrangements, a founding convention of an organization of over 10,000 people with roughly 100 chapters. 

  1. Would such a founding convention warrant the effort to attain it, including the expenditure of time and the possible feelings of embarrassment, estrangement, or failure we might endure along the way?
  2. If so, then do we believe that such a founding convention can happen? 
  3. If so, then do we believe that our own personal effort to get new members could be part of what can make it happen? 

If your answers are, yes, it would mean a ton to me for a convention to happen, yes, it can happen, and yes, my actions can help make it happen - then wouldn't those prospects be more than enough to outweigh discomfort over stretching our time budget and sometimes being embarrassed and enduring feelings of failure along the way?

Is IOPS just a nice thing to feel good about being in? Or, are we serious about building IOPS into a vehicle that matters for winning new societies in the years ahead?

That polarity conveys what I am feeling - and it is why I think if we can't do this, if we don't do this or something quite like this, then IOPS will be a nice idea, but little more. If we can do it, however, and if we do do it, then IOPS will become a real organization on the road to really mattering. 

Three months to reach 5,000 members. Three more months to reach 10,000. Will we do it? That is  the question.

Here is a specific proposal:

  • That between now and the end of October, in chapters, in blog posts and comments on blog posts, and in the forum system, we discuss a plan of proceeding in accord with the above observations. I offer one such possible plan below. 
     
  • Based on all that discussion of possibilities, a few ICC members are entrusted to distill three scenarios/proposals that try to embody the best ideas that emerge during the exchanges. 
     
  • The three proposals are put to a vote of the whole ICC - including first asking them for amendments and incorporating those. 
     
  • The results of the ICC vote are reported, and then, as well, after another period for deliberation, the entire membership votes on the top two vote getters. What emerges from that, becomes our plan, by November 1.

Now, as a possible draft plan that I currently favor, at least as a way of getting the discussion going... and which I therefore offer for assessement, refinement, etc.:

 

  1. We all commit to each getting one new member who is aware of and supports the IOPS commitments to join, during the three months November, December, and January. We each try for our new member to be a woman, for purposes of attaining better gender balance.
     
  2. We all agree to each getting still one more new member, and to making the first round of new members aware that this will be a task for them as well, in the following three months - February, March, and April. If the first member we got was a man, we restrict ourself to signing up a woman as our second, to attain better gender balance. 
     
  3. We all agree to try to assemble local people in the city where we live and once there are enough such people in IOPS, we agree to respond positively if someone contacts us seeking to establish a local chapter. In any such chapter, if there is not yet gender balance acceptable to the chapter, we agree to prioritize recruiting to attain balance.
     
  4. We put on the IOPS top page, starting in November when the allotted three month period begins, a daily tally of how we are doing at reaching our goals.
     
  5. When we reach 5,000 members - or half way to whatever our ultimate six month goal is determined to be - we initiate an IOPS project with at most 20 members, to begin to address the features of and how to hold a founding convention. The project is at least half ICC members, so that there are many members in it who the full membership knows. The project generates three plans, trying to embody the preferred ideas of as many people in IOPS as possible, and then, when those plans are ready, the ICC and then the full membership deliberate on, refine, and then vote among them.
     
  6. If we cannot or do not by our efforts attain at least 7,500 members (or, at any rate, three quarters of whatever our full goal turns out to be) by May 1, 2013 - we strategically reassess the future of IOPS including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed. 

 

We are all serious, aren't we? There are consequences to our choices, aren't there? Waiting for magical success bequeathed by some magical historical phenomena is dogmatic and delusional, isn't it? Waiting for someone else's effort to ensure success, is irresponsible, isn't it? 

Thus, it is our time, each of us. It is our task, our responsibility. We can certainly do this. And so we must.

Discussion 52 Comments

  • Kim Keyser 10th Sep 2012

    Michael, I appreciate that you're taking initiative to try to push things forward. I also think it's good to be ambitious (I'm always criticized for being "too ambitious")!

    Also, I agree strongly with the goals. However, I also do think that you're both missing a few critical criteria and set deadlines by the wrong criteria.

    Let me try to explain myself... We can start with what I think is the missing critical criteria: Local chapters. I think we need to develop at least a minimum of mutual trust, activist experience, and infrastructure, /locally/, if we're going to have a successful founding convention. If not, I'm afraid there'll be a decent amount of both internal and external attention at the founding congress – with the accompanying high expectations –, followed by a mostly empty shell of an organization, without the actual grounded infrastructure to even /start/ trying to implement whatever we decide at the founding congress.

    While you do mention local groups – several times even – you omit this a few times as well, where you only focus on the amount of internet members. However, I think we can't skimp on that criteria. And while I think 5000 internet members within the time span you suggested /might/ be possible (although I personally don't think it will happen /that/ quick), I think 100 actual locals would not be realistic in the time span you suggested, however hard those of us who're quite involved, try.

    By the second thing – setting deadlines by the wrong criteria – I mean that it's very hard to predict exactly /when/ we'll have enough actual activist members and stable, local groups. Making prognosis are fine (although I don't share your prognosis), but I think the important thing is /what/ the criteria is (for me, the main ones would be activist members and stable, local groups), and not time. We call for the founding congress whenever we have fulfilled the criteria, no? We don't call it before? (And certainly not after either.) That can be one year from now (6 months, I just can't believe in), or it can be three years from now, or something in between.

    I do think we need to understand that we can't wait forever for the founding congress, but that we need to envision it in the foreseeable future. In that regard, setting a more fluid time span (between one year and three years) strikes me as a more sound way to proceed than a fixed date (like six months from now). It's just not possible to plan successfully like that.

    Tell me what you think. And that goes for all other IOPS members as well. And if you have extremely ambitious goals – like Michael's – it might be a good idea to offer examples of concrete activity that you'll do (not others) to further that goal. Because we can all have very ambitious goals, but if /we/ are not prepared to act upon them ourselves, it's quite unlikely that we'll reach those goals.

    Personally, I'm trying to build IOPS steadily and consistently, but I know by myself that it's very unlikely that I can contribute sufficiently to realizing the deadline Michael has suggested here, where I'm based (mostly Norway and Denmark). Perhaps this is not true for others – perhaps a lot of others are doing a lot more than me, or doing stuff in a better way than me, or have more fertile ground where they are based – and can share with the rest of us. But as long as we're not seeing that kind of information being shared, I think the deadline needs to be readjusted, in order to not fail, and thus risking demoralization.

    Personally, from my experience with connecting with people in most of the places with highest concentration of IOPS members (North America and Western Europe), I don't see that kind of information being shared yet. My guess is that it's mainly due to there not being that much such information. But I might be wrong.

    Do people agree that we can't base ourselves on the deadline Michael suggested, if we don't get such information to base it on? Or do people think it'd be realistic anyhow? (And in that case: why?)

    I hope this is seen as constructive and positive, because I really try to make an effort, I do really believe in IOPS, and I do have great ambitions for IOPS! (You should believe me, when I say so.) I just simply don't share the kind of deadline Michael put up here, based on the information I have available.

  • Michael Albert 10th Sep 2012

    Hi Kim,

    I agree on locals being incredibly important - but we can't have them without members, obviously. So I would think 10,000 members, would mean at least half in larger cities...and wouldn't that mean about 100, maybe more, cities with over 10 or 20 or even 40 members. I would think, with that many potential chapters overall, such local groups of members would happily start to meet. That may be wrong, of course, but it is why I think the locals may follow naturally, and certainly if there is ample pressure to have them, as I think there would be.

    As to achieving the aims - you say it would be ambitious for you, personally. But would it? You would need to by your activity, attract two new people in six months. My guess is you will do a lot better than that.

    As to how people would achieve it. I would think a great many people could get their one or two new people just from family and friends, school mates and workmates, without having to reach beyond people they know. But, for those who would have to go wider, it would mean socializing with new people, joining in with new folks in some new venue, etc.

    The reason to have a serious shared timeline - whatever a discussion turns out to settle on for it - is because having a timeline and tracking progress and reporting results, etc., makes the agenda very real and gives it urgency and focus. It is the difference between, by analogy, I will write a book - and I will write 5 final pages every day or die trying... The former tends to take years and years, the later tends to take a few months.

  • Kim Keyser 10th Sep 2012

    Michael: "I agree on locals being incredibly important - but we can't have them without members, obviously."


    Hehe. Agreed. I follow your reasoning here (of course...). But it might be that a double digit figure of active locals might attract those numbers (of internet members) as well. I think that's a more likely scenario. Of course, none of us really disagree on this – both factors are needed, and both can influence each other. I guess it's just a matter of accentuation. You seem to be focusing more on the number of internet members, while I seem to be focusing more on the active chapters. Your reason for your belief is very instrumental and seemingly rational – if we'll achieve a couple of dozens in each big city, they'll start forming chapters quite quickly. However, it just doesn't correspond to my experiences throughout the years, in several organizations which I must say have had more local momentum than this one (i.e. ATTAC in parts of Europe after 2000, the anti-war movements from 2001 in parts of Europe, and a few smaller examples). Perhaps it might be different this time, but then it must be due to extremely committed and successful /organizers/, and right now, I don't see enough of those, to allow for the kind of expectations you have.


    Michael: "I would think, with that many potential chapters overall, such local groups of members would happily start to meet. That may be wrong, of course, but it is why I think the locals may follow naturally, and certainly if there is ample pressure to have them, as I think there would be."

    Hmm... If, yes, perhaps. If. Do you have any specific pressure/incentives/motivation/whatever in mind?

    "As to achieving the aims - you say it would be ambitious for you, personally. But would it? You would need to by your activity, attract two new people in six months. My guess is you will do a lot better than that."

    That I will achieve (it's not totally unrealistic that I can attract a couple of dozens people, within a year, if I succeed). What I won't be able to achieve is more than two – max 3 – chapters during a year from now, I think. That was what I had in mind. Of course, I realize that not each member would be expected to contribute to forming several chapters, but even so, I think we won't be able to form enough active chapters, by the deadline you suggest.

    I very much agree with your opinions of why a serious, shared timeline would be helpful though. Your analogy is pretty good too. But I'm not suggesting either of the "extremes" you're offering, but a more flexible approach (2-4 pages a day, to use your analogy).

    Lastly, I feel a bit silly discussing this, as it's very abstract for me, without more concrete means. (The measures only make sense, if one talks about the means to achieve this. Thus far you've talked about the means to gain more internet members – which I don't find realistic –, but you seem to assume that once that's done, we don't need to think too much about the means to actually get the local chapters up and running? Correct me if I'm wrong. ...and as my last comment, this too goes out to every interested member – chip in if you have any thoughts.)

  • Michael Albert 10th Sep 2012

    I am not sure what an internet member is - are you one? Am I one? I am merely saying that you can't have chapters without members - anyone making chapters, is getting surely, at this stage, getting more members. Anyone getting more members is surely laying the grounds for chapters if not already adding them to chapters. And so on. I don't think there is a disagreement.

    You could have 50 chapters with 500 people. They could each stop at 10, even. Such things have existed. You could have tens of thousands of members, and no chapters. That too has existed. We opt for neither because we prioritize both.

    So I don't think we can have 10,000 members and not generate 50 or even 100 chapters - there will be way more than that many people working to do so. It is hard to see how there is a contradiction other than if one says, I want to form a chapter with ten people and not bother getting one more person each - or I want to get one more person, and likewise for the ten others in my area doing so, but we will all ignore requests to get together. The proposal, at any rate, covers both issues, no? If not, okay, refine it. I am going to stop answering though - and treat this more as something that is out there, not something that I ought to reply to each comment about...

    But, finishing with this comment - the reasons to meet - are like those to recruit - if people do it, we grow and become stronger and can have program, etc. Perhaps for added motivation it could be that only chapter members can vote in decisions - as we move toward having decisions - or a convention can be attended only by chapter members, or whatever people settle on. I don't know - people will think up options, I hope.

    As to difficulty, if you can attract a couple of dozen members, then others need only be one 12th as successful as you, for the process to succeed. No one should be even thinking about setting up more than one chapter - the one the person is in.

    Internet members as focus? Again, what is that? If there was no internet, and you were going to recruit one new member of an organization in three months, you would presumably do it by mail, or more likely face to face, or perhaps utilizing events, like public talks followed by contacts, or whatever. This is all the same as if there is an internet. I don't see the difference. The same holds for chapters, Once there were a few, or say ten folks, near enough to you, you might invite them all to a meeting - which is the same whether there is an internet or not.

    If people go out and organize, including face to face, whether they get help from email or not, seems inconsequential.

  • Kim Keyser 10th Sep 2012

    Michael: "Internet members as focus? Again, what is that?"

    Obviously, we're all internet members (incl. you, and me, and all other members). However, only a very small minority of the internet members seem to be active in IOPS – this even goes for the internet part of IOPS! I think that'd be totally normal, and actually I'm not at all worried about it at this stage, /but/ I don't think one should use it as one of the most important criteria...

    Michael: "So I don't think we can have 10,000 members and not generate 50 or even 100 chapters"

    Here is where I think you're too optimistic. Of course, we /might/ generate 50-100 actually stable and active chapters, with 10 000 internet members, but I don't see that as necessarily likely, based both on organizational experience and a quick look at were with at now. (Now we're 2500 members, and to have the /minimum/ ratio you talked about in your example (10 000 members=50 stable and active chapters at minimum), we should've had 12-13 stable and active chapters as a minimum now – AFAIK we don't. We're /perhaps/ 3-4 somewhat stable and experienced chapters, and put together we're more like a handful of barely started and unstable chapters together with the 3-4 aforementioned.)

    Regardless, I have an idea of how I perhaps could at least contribute to the chapter forming thingy, but I need to do some more work on it before I can discuss it with ya'll (probably a few months actually).

    Michael: "The proposal, at any rate, covers both issues, no?"

    If I understand this question correctly: I don't think so. I think you have expectations about the chapter forming process, which aren't warranted, for now at least.

    Michael: "If not, okay, refine it."

    Had it been me, at the very least, I'd written 1 year from now as the absolute minimum (but of course, it wasn't me who wrote it. :p). If something would change drastically within IOPS within a short period of time, it's might be fine to shorten the minimum time. But if not, I think it needs to be refined, yes.

    Also, there are other criteria I think should be met. Amongst them would be at least a minimum of representativeness (fx of the geographical distribution of the chapters). I'm not too excessive about it though, but I'd like to secure a bare minimum before proceeding.

    To finish off: Yes, I think we should leave room for others to participate in this thread as well. Perhaps we should both try to stay away for a short while, and see if anyone else responds. I intend to so, at least.

  • Haroon Bajwa 10th Sep 2012

    It seems we have a difference of opinion on what the measuring stick should be in order to determine when a founding convention can be contemplated. The number of members who have signed on to IOPS vs the number of truly functioning chapters.

    I can relate to Kim's concerns about chapter/member activity and its lack of formality and practice. So, it may seem premature to set a fixed date. However, I think what does seem to be lacking - and this goes to Michael's point - is any kind of urgency on our part. Therefore, I think the incentive of realizing the goal of a founding convention can't hurt. Without some kind of deadline, I think most people will procrastinate and some may even lose interest, since IOPS will begin to look more and more like just a good idea. We know what happens to good ideas on our planet when they aren't followed up on by action: they go to the dust bin.

    We can't afford to wait and wait until we get things fully functional. The goal of having a convention sooner, rather than later, is necessary in my mind precisely because it will help establish the guidelines and standards that members can begin to rely on, instead of the current apathy, disorganization and confusion that exists.

    I wonder, too, if we are all afraid of IOPS' goals becoming real. At present, it's an organisation that helps identify our shared values and principles, distinct from others. It can be scary for something that you only dream and talk about to suddenly become real. Once that happens, there is no turning back.

  • Kim Keyser 10th Sep 2012

    Haroon, thanks for your answer. I've tried to offer some response below.

    Haroon: "Without some kind of deadline, I think most people will procrastinate and some may even lose interest, since IOPS will begin to look more and more like just a good idea."

    Hmm... I get your point, and in general I agree: we need to be more than a mere website, and people will start losing interest and hope if there's nothing happening... Of course! But couldn't other things happen than a founding congress (say forming local chapters, continental speaking tours, internet study groups, poster campaigns, common contingents on international demonstrations, so on and so forth), which might fill this need, too?

    Of course, I'm not talking about replacing the need for a founding congress (can't be replaced). But wouldn't it be unwise to rush a founding congress to fulfill the need for meaningful activity, if there's lots of other meaningful activity that can happen in the meanwhile – even meaningful activity which will directly build towards /an adequate/ founding congress?

    Regarding your last paragraph: I think that's /somewhat/ true for most of us, isn't it? But at least there are some of us that /really/ are serious, when we say we'd like to – and would dare to – WIN!

    • Haroon Bajwa 12th Sep 2012

      Kim: "But couldn't other things happen than a founding congress (say forming local chapters, continental speaking tours, internet study groups, poster campaigns, common contingents on international demonstrations, so on and so forth), which might fill this need, too?"

      Indeed, those things could and probably should happen. However, for this to happen, we need more than a handful of members committed to these projects. At present, what I'm seeing is confusion and uncertainty around chapter priorities and self-management, not to mention disagreement.

      Let's say we do get members participating, since that's what we're suppose to be about. Let's say some chapters carry out the projects that you mentioned. When and how do you determine the time is right for a convention, and by whose definition? I'm not being rhetorical. I'm really wondering. For example, how many chapters or members would have to be participating in achieving the goals that you have listed? What kinds of markers should we be looking for? Or, am I looking at this all wrong? Is there another way of looking at the how and when? Is there another way to motivate members and sustain participation in your opinion or experience?

  • Jason Chrysostomou 11th Sep 2012

    As this is an important issue, I have created a category in the Forum, titled 'Interim Goals for Founding Convention' where we can hold more detailed discussions:

    http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/interim-goals-for-founding-convention

  • Karen K Anderson 12th Sep 2012

    Hi Guys -
    First let me say CONGRATULATIONS - 2621 is a great number!! I know this because I am deeply involved in a local Recall effort that needs just a little more than that to recall 3 community functionaries, and every signature counts. Of course, it's 2700 =per candidate= by October 26th, so doing anything else between now and then would have to involve me creating more hours in the day, and I haven't quite mastered that yet. And, as the founder of our local OCCUPY group, which, by the way, has never taken a Saturday off since the beginning, I am also trying to get Occupy candidates elected to several City and County positions. Suffice it to say that this wasn't the best time to ask me to grow my IOPS group! ;-P
    However, come November 7th it is a different story. I know many of my Occupy fellows will be more than interested in joining IOPS, and helping to move this idea forward.
    I must say that when I was attempting to cull the membership list for others in my area, as I am currently the only one I could find in San Mateo County, I came across many, many member listings that were only a name and joining date, with no other info at all. I am wondering how many of the 2641 are actually valid members, and what attempt is being made to determine this? I know that the new sign-up procedure will help going forward, but has any vetting been done on the current membership? It seems to me that this might have an impact on our future planning.
    Cheers,
    Karen

    • Jason Chrysostomou 13th Sep 2012

      Hi Karen
      Sounds like you have been working hard with your Occupy group and doing some great work. Would be amazing if get an occupy candidate elected. Keep us updated.

      Regarding IOPS members, the only criteria for becoming a member now is having read and agreed with the organisational description and then signing up online. So in this regard, we are all in the same boat, although some of us are more active than others. Defining more specific types of membership will come later. I'd imagine having different membership statuses, such as 'supporter' for example to allow people to relate in whatever ways they wish and have time for. Most of the profile information in the sign up form is optional, however, so I assume a lot of people joining prefer not to provide too much information about themselves for privacy reasons? do you think we should make some of the fields compulsory?

  • Marlo Pedroso 12th Sep 2012

    I agree that deadlines are good motivators/indicators of whether or not we have what it takes to get things off the ground, Michael. I also can understand Kim's hesitation regarding the timeline and criteria.

    I haven't met any IOPS folks in my area, even though I live in Boston and there seem to be quite a few people in the city/region. From the looks of the membership list, events and blogs, I would have to surmise that the local activity level has been limited to none. Most people don't seem to participate offline, most don't have pictures up.

    As a musician, I'll tell you what an internet member is: someone who will click like on your profile, signs your mailing list, and so forth, but never actually shows up to any shows, or buys any albums. 10,000 facebook friends (for example) might make you cool on the inter-web, but unless that translates to bodies at the club, it doesn't mean much as a working band. Similarly, I think we can gather lots of clicktivists, but how to measure whether or not they are willing to take any action.

    I agree with Michael that if we can't even get people to sign up one or 3 friends in a few months, that shows we have virtually no commitment. I mean, signing up 3 people can be done with a few clicks from your computer. I also agree, though, that a mass influx of such members says little about how truly interested and involved that group is/will be. But even if only 1 out of 10 is active, better to have 10,000 than 2,600. Maybe that's where Michael is coming from.

    I do agree however, that something more tangible might be helpful, in the mean time, both to measure how those internet members translate into living, active bodies, and to get more numbers. Maybe if people who are willing to help start local chapters work to increase online and real world membership that would give local chapters a tangible and relatively clear goal to focus on. For example, a plan might look something like this:

    1. Set up regular meeting place, time location.
    2. Discuss posited IOPS goals, vision, so forth within group.
    3. Develop a presentation that can be used to educate people/new recruits about what IOPS is and what our short-term and long-term goals are.
    4. Contact schools, agencies, organizations and/or set up presentations in the community/house parties/potlucks etc.
    5. Develop recruitment pamphlets, flyers and materials to go along with IOPS website.
    6. Promote presentations, events and meetings.

    This way it can be a both/and approach: increase membership, activate local chapters/determine how many people are willing to talk action outside of the web.

    Thoughts?

  • Mark Evans 12th Sep 2012

    Hi Marlo - I think if you implement your six point plan more people will join your local chapter. I think that if your local chapter networks with other local chapters in your region, or even further a field, then this will build confidence and committment. I think if others see you do this, maybe via blog posts here and elsewhere, then more people will join IOPS.

    I think that if you, and others like you, choose to do this then the 10,000 target is well within our reach.

  • Kim Keyser 12th Sep 2012

    @Haroon: I'll answer soon.

    @Marlo: I'd echo Mark, and supplement by saying that the sort of initiatives for local activism you're outlining, is exactly the nitty gritty of what needs to be done. And if no one else in Boston seem to have taken that initiative yet, I see no reason why you shouldn't try to (I mean, if want to and have the possibility to do so)!

    However, I do not agree with this quote: "if we can't even get people to sign up one or 3 friends in a few months, that shows we have virtually no commitment."

    But don't get me wrong: I do agree that it would be good to sign up as many as possible. But not prioritizing to do so, doesn't necessarily imply a lack of commitment, I think. It depends on different factors... – for example the number of members where you're based. Sure, if you're based in a place which doesn't have enough members for organizing a loal chapter, then getting new members should obviously be one of the very most important priorites. But if one lives in a town with more than enough members to form a chapter (say, in my hometown of Oslo, Norway, with 17 members), not prioritizing to sign people up, wouldn't necessarily imply a lack of commitment. Because if we don't /prioritize/ actually /doing/ stuff as the most important priority, it'll be useless trying to sign on new members (why would they join if nothing is happening? and why would /we/ even want them to join if nothing is happening?). However, if we're doing meaningful stuff, we'll automatically attract new members. That's been one of my main lessons as an organizer.

    I must also say that I've heard the hypothetical exponential growth goal as a priority, especially in start-ups, /a lot/ of times during more than a decade of activism. However, very, very, very few of those organizations ever achieve that goal, and even those very, very, very few that does, seldom experience more than very, very, very moderate success (precisely because they don't know how to actually engage those members in a meaningful way, because they don't have the organizational infrastructure to engage them, and so on – some times because they've been excessively focused on just gaining more members in and by itself). The ensuing result has always been demoralization. (In the more than a decade of organizing, I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying that I've experienced this more than 10 times.) It's super important that IOPS do not become such an organization(!).

    I think it's a danger we will become such an organization, if we're saying to ourselves that we've failed miserably – due to our own supposedly lack of commitment – if we haven't attracted several thousand new members by a few months from now on.

    Of course, it would be nice to do get several thousand members by a few months. But if we've – within about a year from now – "only" have managed to build local chapters which can welcome members, built organizational infrastructure that can support and engage members, and organized meaningful activities which will both retain and attract members, I wouldn't say we've failed miserably – even though we're only a few thousand members (which is quite impressive in such a small time anyhow) –, but rather that we have succeeded greatly! Wouldn't you too?

    For those that doesn't have enough members where they're based though, attracting new members would indeed be one the most important priorities.

  • Jason Chrysostomou 13th Sep 2012

    Lets imagine we reach 10,000 members and at the founding convention, we introduce dues on a sliding scale based on income, with a very low minimum, say £2 a month.
    I'd expect everyone who has signed up so far would be willing to contribute at least $2 a month, no? If so, that's at least $20,000 dollars coming in every month in funds, which opens up lots more possibilities for IOPS activities; that to me is a very exciting prospect and a big reason for why we should be striving for growth in numbers during the interim stage. So even if not all of the 10,000 members who sign up wish to be active, if everyone is all at least contributing funds, it opens up way more possibilities for IOPS projects and initiatives that more active members can work on. I wouldn't have any problems with being in a situation of having say 1 in 10 active members and 9 in 10 'supporter' members, with everyone contributing financially.

  • Karen K Anderson 13th Sep 2012

    Jason -
    Perhaps I am just being paranoid about "fake" members - politics at the community level can get so nasty, and even dangerous at times, that I may be seeing spooks where there are none - and I am certainly not advocating making any fields on the application compulsory. Perhaps levels of participation is the way to go...I do realize that not everyone who supports the cause is a "dive right into the deep end" person like I have become again, after many years of dormancy, and so should be able to participate in anyway they feel most comfortable.
    So, perhaps the application can be a bit different for people who are just supporters with basic name, rank, and serial number, while those who truly wish to be involved in the formation and promulgation of IOPS can have space to let others of like mind know where they are, how to make contact, and what their specific interests, related to the organization, are. Just a thought...

  • Michael Albert 13th Sep 2012

    My guess is the most likely basis for a tiered membership, which i too think is inevitable and desirable, is chapters...

    From now until a convention, we are all just members, but, for example, imagine that after that, also being a member, via signing up online, in iops international, requires only filling out a form and some level of dues, say. However, imagine all voting occurs, after a convention, by way of chapter membership, and that chapters can and do set the terms for what a voting or non voting member is. This would be tiered membership, non voting and voting.

    In that case, for example, after the convention, all the international members become non voting chapter members, with a chapter for esc city. Then, when they meet the chapter standards for voting level participation, they gain that, for the chapter, and also for international and national issues.

    One could imagine many possibilities for becoming a voting member. Again, for example, perhaps that chapters have at least ten members, and that to have the option to vote a member must be participant in some number of projects, or must be involved with some level of local iops or non iops organizing, and/or must have given some evidence of mastery of issues, or whatever is settled on at the convention.

    Can I make a suggestion for this discussion, here and in the forum system?

    In the blog there is a pretty clear proposal, I think, for steps and terms. If one thinks it is flawed or can be improved, how about always proposing something in its place? This could be very similar, basically a refinement. Or it could be very different, a new set of steps and terms.

    In other words, how about all entries in the discussion trying to be positive...either liking something already presented, or liking something newly presented. Rather than saying why one doesn't like x or y, one would always be saying why one does like x, y, x', y', or z...

  • Michael Albert 13th Sep 2012

    Here is a streamlined statement of the proposals in the blog. Perhaps a way to go forward, so as to stay on point and stay positive and avoid defensiveness, etc., is for each of us to mainly offer either support, specific alterations, or complete alternatives, all put positively...only then adding, beneath that, supporting argument if it is needed...:

    Part one:

    1. Until October 15, we discuss a plan of proceeding.
     
    2. On October 15, a few ICC members are entrusted to distill three scenarios/proposals that try to embody the best ideas that emerge during the exchanges. 
     
    3, The three proposals are put to a vote of the whole ICC - including first asking them for amendments and incorporating those. 
     
    4. The results of the ICC vote are reported, and then, as well, after another brief period for deliberation, the entire membership votes on the top two vote getters. What emerges from that, becomes our plan, by November 1.

    Now, as a possible draft plan as a way of getting discussion going...


    1. We all commit to each getting one new member who is aware of and supports the IOPS commitments to join, over a period of three months. We each try for our new member to be a woman, to attain better gender balance.
     
    2. We all agree to each getting still one more new member, and to making the first round of new members aware that this will be a task for them as well, in the following three months, again seeking gender balance.
     
    3. We all agree that members should, as they are able, try to assemble local people in the city where we live and once there are enough such people, respond positively if someone contacts us seeking to establish a local chapter.
     
    4. We put on the IOPS top page, starting at the outset of the campaign, a daily tally of how we are doing at reaching our goals.
     
    5. When we reach half way to whatever our six month goal is determined to be - we initiate an IOPS project with at most 20 members, to begin to address the features of and how to hold a founding convention. The project is at least half ICC members, so that there are many members in it who the full membership knows. The project generates three plans, trying to embody the preferred ideas of as many people in IOPS as possible, and the ICC and then the full membership deliberate on, refine, and then vote among them.
     
    6. If we we fail in the six months - we strategically reassess the future of IOPS including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed. 

    • Jason Chrysostomou 13th Sep 2012

      About the plan for proceeding, I like all the points 1 - 4. A group of people refining all the ideas into a few concrete proposals will help speed the process. Also, the polling feature should be ready in time to poll the membership.

      My only suggestion for amending the plan would be to extend the period from 6months to a year, say by 31st Dec 2013.

  • Sean Michael Wilson 13th Sep 2012

    "We all commit to each getting one new member who is aware of and supports the IOPS commitments to join, during the three months November, December, and January. We each try for our new member to be a woman, for purposes of attaining better gender balance."

    I've already noted IOPS on my various internet places and will try even more now for this specific plan.

  • Kim Keyser 13th Sep 2012

    "The results of the ICC vote are reported, and then, as well, after another brief period for deliberation, the entire membership votes on the top two vote getters."

    I think this would be a good idea. But if – and only if – we'll have a robust, integrated voting system by that time. If not, I just think the ICC should make the decision. Would you think that a robust, integrated voting system will be ready in time?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 13th Sep 2012

      a more simple polling feature should be ready by then as a means to gauge opinions. But, I think a more detailed voting system should be put off until the founding convention establishes voting norms. Too many unknown variables to know what the requirements of the voting feature should have now, and besides we are trying not to make many decisions during interim until the org is founded.

  • Verena Stresing 13th Sep 2012

    Hi everyone, so I’ll give you my two-cents as well…
    I don’t want to go into every argument that has been made, but I’d like to say that I agree in general with Kim’s opinion (at least with the majority of his arguments, this discussion has become so long already).
    I’d like to add a couple of thoughts and facts for debate.
    I agree strongly with what Kim said about this, there is a very clear distinction between an “active” (feet on the ground) member and an internet member. I would argue that most non-american/non-English-native members are “internet” members only. For two simple reasons:
    The first one is that Chapters outside of the US/England are mostly so small that there just can’t be any interaction in local chapters yet. Not possible. I give you the example of France, where a lot of new members have opened their own chapter in their hometown, and that’s it. A one-man-show somewhere in the countryside. So, even if these members reach their goal and attract two more members, they’ll still only be three. And most likely, they’ll recruit someone they already know and talk to about issues anyway. It’s difficult to get a chapter going that way. What drives a Chapter is precisely the interaction with people you didn’t know (or didn’t know well) before, the “outside” opinion. The exchange of ideas that are new to people, or at least some people, in a chapter and the development of new action plans.
    So, when Michael suggests that “once there were a few, or say ten folks, near enough to you, you might invite them all to a meeting”, I agree, that seems to me the right size for a functional group, but in many many many cases, this Chapter size won’t be reached any time soon. Sorry Michael. I don’t want to crush your optimism. At the same time, I don’t doubt that in the US or England (I just use this as an example for high membership) this goal can be reached soon.
    Here, we have the additional problem of the “language”. At least in France, a lot of members are – like me – non-native, many still have problems communicating in French, much like French people (not to generalize) often are not fluent in English. This is a two-sided problem. I’d bet that most members here, foreigners particularly, ended up at IOPS because they either are coming from ZNet or were attracted my some known names (Chomsky, Pilger, etc). These members are probably all “internet” members. Like me. I blog in English, I talk to IOPS members in other countries, we exchange ideas in English.
    Then you have the “silent” members, among which I am sure there are many who’d like to participate locally. They don’t communicate in English, therefore they don’t blog and are “invisible”. Some may feel intimidated by the fact that most content even on our French page is still in English. We’re trying to address that issue, but it takes time! I simply can’t write in French the way I do in English. It hampers communication and it blocks Chapter building if some people feel excluded or overwhelmed or just simply left out.
    And to attract new members, we definitely have to have more French content and address France-specific topics. But “we” foreigners here (from what I know from our internal communications) feel that this should come from French people, not us. Names that might attract members in the US (for example) like Chomsky, Pilger, etc. mean next to nothing here. I don’t mean this as a complaint, but I think that when you are in the US with over 1000 members, no communication problems and in an organization that has a couple of well-known heavy weights prominently supporting this organization in public, you might easily forget how difficult it is to attract new members in countries where all of this cannot be taken for granted.
    So all of this to say that, while I do agree that we should set some goals, and I also agree that we need to have some sort of a deadline, because otherwise people will indeed start to procrastinate or lose interest, we should be very aware of what is realistically possible.
    I would strongly support that we try to get some form of internet voting up BEFORE we have a founding convention, so that the members that have been silent until then (maybe because they feel intimidated, or simply because they don’t speak English) can get a say in the planning of the convention. I also think that something as simple as voting is a very inclusive process and might motivate members to participate more.
    I’d also like to say this:
    As of today, we have about 1560 of 2600 members from English speaking countries (roughly, includes US, Eng, Australia, Ireland, N Ireland, Scotland).
    Europe in total (without England) has around 400 members
    South America/Mexico: 100
    (I left out the Asia, Afrika, Middle East, etc, because I just wanted to pick an example)
    It is clear that there is an imbalance that we have to address. Preferably before we have a founding convention. So I agree fully with Kim that we need at least a “minimum of representativeness of the geographical distribution of the chapters”. There are countries like Bolivia, Columbia, Chile, Peru who have only a couple of members so far. Even if they each recruit 3 members, they will not be able to hold Chapter meetings for a long time. And I think that these countries are very important to the IOPS vision, given their recent political experiences.
    I would therefore also support that, as a sign that we are taking the international vision of IOPS seriously, the founding convention should not be held in the US. Preferably not in Europe, either. I know, I know, there are logistic concerns to be considered as well and in the end we need a good number of participants for a convention to be successful. But I’d like to see this also up for discussion. We could choose Mexico, so US members (who are after all the majority) don’t have it so far… I don’t know. Just a thought.
    I for one would be grateful if I wouldn’t have to go through US customs… (this is a joke!! Although niot so much when I think about the stamps in my passport…)


    Sorry this got so long!

  • Will Henry Lapinel 13th Sep 2012

    I think I understand at some level why some members believe that numbers are the wrong criteria for planning a founding convention. But regardless of what the criteria are - and I'm sorry if I misunderstand - isn't the heart of Michael's proposal the drive for each member to recruit a new member every 3 months? I think the kind of goal that Michael describes is a very reasonable and worthy goal. I do not understand the perceived danger of having an empty shell of an organization at the founding convention. Maybe it's real. However, I think what IOPS really needs at this point is for members to take responsibility for the growth of this organization. What I perceive now, among the vast majority, is a passive, deadly hesitation to commit our efforts. The FIRST logical step that lies ahead is getting more people to express support and/or agreeing to our founding documents - i.e. joining IOPS.

  • Verena Stresing 13th Sep 2012

    William,
    you are totally right of course that we need more members.
    I think, people are trying to express how difficult the recruitment process is and how much slower it is then you might expect.
    Also, I don't think that we want members to "just" sign up. It's true, signing up is the first step, but we have to also try and motivate those who already have signed up to participate (more).
    I for one am very committed, but haven't managed to sign even one member up. For very diverse reasons, but my main problem here in France with people who are not my friends/acquaintances is to explain why they should sign up to what seems to them a mainly US based and internet-centered venture. I have explained to so many people that we intend this to change, that we are truly international (or want to be), that IOPS is a project in the making, that it is important, that we can all agree on the basic vision (and people do), but people here take one look at the web page, which is mainly filled with English content, and decide it's not for them.

    I have one basque friend, who is very politically aware, who took a look at the page and then said to me it looks elitist, and it's always the same people (meaning US Americans and intellectuals) trying to lead, and turned away from it. I tried my best to convince her, to no avail. Now, this reaction is quite different from the one I get from many French people I approach who simply are not interested in something that seems mainly American/English. So again, I'm insisting on the little differences here. It might look trivial for you to just make peoplesign up. It isn't that easy over here, and I am running out of arguments, given the imbalance in membership, and at the rate we are going, it's going to get only worse, because the membership drive in the US at some point will just accelerate and exponentiate, while Latin America stagnates, and so does France.
    We should at least achknowledge that there is a problem here.
    I don't know, I'm waiting for other Europeans or South Americans to tell their stories, maybe France is just a particular "resistant" place, or I just have zero talent explainingthe goals of IOPS.

    When I even hint at what I'm doing at work, I get either laughed at or called an anarchist. If I try to use the "Chomsky said..." argument, people roll their eyes.

    • Michael Albert 13th Sep 2012

      Wouldn't the fact that there are 100 countries represented count as international?

      What seems needed is a web page that has lots of French content - for the French. But you might point out that to have that, they only have to join and start putting up stuff, in French. I don't know what other path there is. OF course, rather than direct people to the international page, you might direct them to the France page...I guess...

  • Verena Stresing 13th Sep 2012

    Michael, I now, it sounds trivial, but believe me, it isn't.
    We've had some debate among French members to that respect.
    The thing is that you always need a critical mass first for things to accelerate. We are working on it, but we are lagging behind.

    Yes, 100 countries count as being international. And no, I don't think one lonely Chilenean member really has a voice yet (as an example). We have the best intentions, but we're not there yet.
    Just because you can make a list of Nationalities doesn't mean that we are really international yet. We're trying to be, and hopefully soon we will be.
    I don't know if you have noticed, but this conversation is dominated by the English speaking members (me included). I'd like to make sure that the "other half" also has a say in how, when, where the founding convention will be held.

    Oh, and, we translated the IOPS open letter into French and published it on our French home page. That was so far the best group forming exercise we've done. There are great people in my Chapter. Reactions to the letter or new members? None.

    I'm not complaining, I'm trying to get more time, and I'd like to make people more aware of the imbalance. The US has reached critical mass in my opinion. We haven't.

  • Michael Albert 13th Sep 2012

    I don't think the problems are trivial at all - I just don't think there are anything other than very conceptually very simple solutions, which, however, require jumping very high hurdles.

    As to not being seriously international, yet - of course not. But what sense does it make for someone to say they like the commitments, they like the idea, but they are not joining now because, well, others have not joined? There is no serious rational answer to that other than either to get upset, or to move on, or to try to explain that those who go first are joining when it is really important, so won't they be one...since what matters is that they like it, and, honestly, opposite to what they think, that their joining matters most now.

    By the by, I don't think the U.S. has reached critical mass either.

    The real problem of membership, honestly, at least for other places relative to the U.S., is there is only one media institution in the world that has worked hard to help - doing mailings, publishing content, over and over, etc. etc. And that is Z. It is far far short of what is needed in the U.S. - so the situation here is very frustrating too - but it is one more such entity, really working at it, than anywhere else, at least that I know of, which makes the situation elsewhere even more difficult. It isn't abstract. It explains, overwhelmingly, the distribution of members which almost exactly reflects the distribution of users of Z. The good news is, imagine what could be happening if all kinds of other left and progressive media were taking this seriously and relating. The bad news is, they aren't.

    So my own efforts to deal with all these problems, and many others, have been largely to try to get left media to pay attention - whether critical or supportive - and maybe others should give some time to that, too, in various places. Although, I have to warn you, it is even more frustrating than regular recruiting...

    • Verena Stresing 15th Sep 2012

      Hi Michael,
      thanks for your reply, it actually made me feel better!

      My plan is indeed to get left media in France to pay attention, and I'm warning you, it might even use you (i.e. your visit to France) to achieve that.
      There might even be an opportunity for an interview with a left radio show when you're here... hope you are up for it?

  • Sean Michael Wilson 13th Sep 2012

    I've introduced two new females members already. Ladies in Australia, who say that:

    "This IOPS is just the sort of group I'm interested in making contact with. My sister and I were recently elected as the co-directors of the NSW chapter for CASSE (Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy). http://steadystate.org/

    One of our current projects is to compile a database of international "like-minded" groups, and then create a website/directory that links them all and provides up-to-date information on the research and campaign projects that each groups has worked on or is currently working on. Our aim is to form a more unified alliance of groups who essentially want the same outcomes, while allowing each group to maintain it's individual identity and goals."

    • Kim Keyser 14th Sep 2012

      Good work Sean! Welcome to the two new members! :)

    • David Jones 14th Sep 2012

      Hi Sean, I know CASSE, I've written a couple of articles for their Daly News blog recently :-) Par exemple:

      http://steadystate.org/economic-theology/ .

      An idea: why don't you suggest that your two new members introduce themselves by starting a forum post - or even a project group - here on IOPS, where we could contribute suggestions for links to similar organizations (I could add a few from the UK perhaps) and try to build up a comprehensive international list of them?

      Or they might be interested in joining the EARTH project, perhaps?

  • Sean Michael Wilson 14th Sep 2012

    I will do that David-san, thanks for mentioning it.

  • Ian R. 14th Sep 2012

    @Verena: I experience the same kind of problems here in Germany, and try to do multiple strategies here. I speak to personal contacts, send information to left media and try to contact local left organisations.

    I don´t know exactly about the others in Germany, but I´m quite sure that they are doing the same. :) While it´s not easy to face the lack of interest of some people I spoke to, I help to motivate myself by thinking "Well then turn to somebody different and continue again, it´s nothing personal."

    Regarding the plan for proceeding I´ve a few remarks: We should expect a loss of members as soon as membership fees have to be contributed to IOPS. For example, the Pirate Party in Germany lost about 10 percent of their members in Bavaria when they started to send reminders to members regarding outstanding payments.

    As soon as regularly monetary contributions are involved, IOPS has to do far more regarding tranparency than is done by now. People have to know where there money goes to and what it´s used for to be willing to pay. "Website services" won´t be enough as a description. The credit union I´m a member of names every bigger recipient of money and the purpose it´s used for in their membership magazine.

  • Verena Stresing 15th Sep 2012

    Hi I.N. (by the way, do you not like that your name is used? I know it, but I wasn't sure, maybe you don't want it seen in public?)

    I agree with you on the membership fee issue. We need total transparency there. But I think, one way to avoid losing members could be to have a very low threshold (I think Jason suggested 2 Dollars monthly for a start) or to even start with a voluntary monthly payment at different levels. I think that many people get scared away if they have to pay 10 $/euros a month.
    Even starting at 1 dollar/month with options to give more for people who can afford it will already make a difference.

    • Michael Albert 15th Sep 2012

      Transparency, of course.

      But I really don't understand the amount concerns - scare people off?

      Suppose the donation is pegged to income, for a moment. For a revolutionary organization, after a convention, that has program, etc. What would then make sense?

      Churches tithe 10% in various cases, I believe. A revolutionary organization? Should not the commitment be as high, or higher? Of course churches deliver lots of immediate returns - daycare, schools, food, socials, massive structures for meetings, and on and on...and we don't, yet. Okay, suppose it was $50 a month for high income, $25 a month for comfortable, $10 a month for Western and European working class, $5 a month struggling, and $2 a month - or less by choice - for low or no income.

      However, more to the point - why is this being discussed?

      Maybe I missed something... the blog post offers a proposal for arriving at a plan, and also offers a possible plan. I don't think dues level has much to do with it. If I remember right... Isn't the issue at hand, what do we want the terms to be for having a convention, in what time frame, and also, I guess, how should we settle on the choice - not, what decisions do we want to make at a convention?

      Maybe the topic changed from the blog, but those issues were certainly my intent...

      I suggest, again, to stay on topic - a very important one that needs resolution and action - we each comment on what is proposed, or propose something new - whether a refinement, or something very different.

      Here is what was proposed:

      Part one:

      1. Until October 15, we discuss a plan of proceeding.

      2. On October 15, a few ICC members are entrusted to distill three plans that try to embody the best ideas that emerge during the exchanges.

      3, The three plans are put to a vote of the whole ICC - including first asking them for amendments and incorporating those.

      4. The results of the ICC vote are reported, and then, after another brief period for deliberation, the entire membership votes on the top two vote getters. What emerges from that, becomes our plan, hopefully settled by November 1.

      Now, as a possible draft plan as a way of getting discussion going...


      1. We all commit to each getting one new member who is aware of and supports the IOPS commitments to join, over a period of three months. We each try for our new member to be a woman, to attain better gender balance.

      2. We all agree to each getting still one more new member, and to making the first round of new members aware that this will be a task for them as well, in the following three months, again seeking gender balance.

      3. We all agree that members should, as they are able, try to assemble local people in the cities where we live, and once there are enough such people, to respond positively if someone contacts us seeking to establish a local chapter.

      4. We put on the IOPS top page, starting at the outset of the campaign, a daily tally of how we are doing at reaching our goals.

      5. When we reach half way to whatever our six month goal is determined to be - we initiate an IOPS project with at most 20 members to address the features of and how to hold a founding convention. The project is at least half ICC members, so that there are many members in it who the full membership knows. The project generates three plans, trying to embody the preferred ideas of as many people in IOPS as possible, and the ICC and then the full membership deliberate on, refine, and then vote among them.

      6. If we we fail in the six months - we strategically reassess the future of IOPS including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed.

  • Michael Albert 15th Sep 2012

    Happy to do any interviews and anything else that may help

  • Verena Stresing 15th Sep 2012

    Michael,
    the discussion on membership fees was started by Jason:
    "Lets imagine we reach 10,000 members and at the founding convention, we introduce dues on a sliding scale based on income, with a very low minimum, say £2 a month." and I think it's a valid point to discuss.

    I apologize in advance for what I am going to say, and I don't want it to sound harsh, but when I read your last comment, I am thinking, on the one hand you encourage us to discuss, which we do, and then you basically tell us we have to stick to your proposal.
    It seems to me that there is not much to discuss, apart from maybe a deadline or two, since you plan is already worked out.

    And here's my problem with your plan:

    2. On October 15, a few ICC members are entrusted to distill three plans that try to embody the best ideas that emerge during the exchanges.

    October 15 is in a month. So far, I see about 10 people joining into the discussion. I'd say we need ten times as many if we want whatever plan emerges to be representative.
    Also, who chooses the ICC members?

    • Jason Chrysostomou 16th Sep 2012

      Verena - the reason I raised the issue of dues/finances is not to have a discussion on what dues should be, but because others have written that they think there should only be a minimum local chapter activity criteria, whereas I was trying to raise the positives that the additional total membership criteria, I think, would bring. The second part of my comment says that even if not all 10,000 people are active, or even a fraction of that, as long as they are willing to help support the organisation financially, that would be a big positive in terms of the potential revenues we could raise: I speculate $250,000 a year at least, and the importance of having a large number of people sign-up and be willing to donate should not be underestimated.
      Another advantage of having the additional total membership criteria is that it gives everyone in the organisation a clear and simple goal to achieve: recruit another member in 3 months and then another in 3 months.
      I agree with you that I think we should think about giving the discussion process more time.

  • Kim Keyser 15th Sep 2012

    @Verena: Yes, the dues is a very valid thing to discuss. But wouldn't it be better to do so in a dedicated thread (at least I find it difficult to discuss everything at once)? See for example the thread called Dues and donations.

    Verena: "who chooses the ICC members?"

    The initiative takers always chooses the interim steering committee of an interim organization (I guess this mostly was Michael, adviced by a few others, but I don't /know/, and those that do would be more able to say who did, than I am). That almost always happens with interim organizations, and it's a good thing, because it means that at least /some/ decisions can be made (if not, consensus have to be reached, and if it's not reached the process can become very unwieldy, chaotic and even more undemocratic – trust me on that one, as I've been a part of such a process several times!). The thing to remember though, is that it's interim, and when we're founded we'll choose coordinators – first on a local level, then perhaps on a regional or national level, and then on an international level. There are simply no workarounds at the awkwardness of an interim process, I think. (Any suggestions are welcome though! And I've been in one organization which was successfully founded without an interim committee, but I believe this was due to pure luck, as we were able to reach consensus in a smooth manner, and because the initiative takers were very humble and transparent about their initiatives and agendas.)

    Also: From an ideal point of view, I very much agree with your criticism of the date. But from a pragmatical point of view, I don't think we can expect ten times as many people joining into the discussion, even if we put it off one, two or even three months. Had I believed so, I would've agreed with you on the pragmatical part of it too.

    Lastly, I don't understand why you say that we have to stick with Michael's proposal? We /can/ make our own proposals (indeed, I've already done so, and it differs from Michael's). And if the ICC think any of those suggestions we make are good, they might be choose them as to be included on the ballot agenda, and thus they might be voted upon by the whole membership. Isn't that good? And is there another way to do this?

  • Michael Albert 15th Sep 2012

    I believe I wrote that people might, in reactong to this blog, discuss the offered plan, or propose refinements, or propose complete alternatives. What I am suggesting wouldnt be so productive to discuss as a followup to this blog is stuff that is for a convention to decide, rather than stuff we need to decide in order to have a convention at all. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

    I guess I see it as almost opposite. About dues, for now, we can pretty much only agree they would be desirable...or not, but not their details, since we don't decide that now. About terms for a convention, and how to arrive at them, we will have to decide.

    You are right, that having written a post urging that folks discuss conditions for a convention and how to settle on them, I was suggesting that we focus in on those matters.

    But even in the scenario and plan I offered, just about getting to a convention, there is, as you indicate, plenty to potentially discuss, or alter, or offer entirely different plans about. There is the timing of arriving at some agreed approach. There is whether the icc should play the role I suggest, and if so, how. And there are the goals we try to hit regarding numbers of members, or of chapters, or anything else, and the timing of trying to hit those goals.

    To me that seems like a lot to deal with. And of course I agree that it would be very nice indeed to see more folks chime in, with what they like so far, with new ideas, etc.

  • Verena Stresing 16th Sep 2012

    Jason - I wasn't critisizing you on themembership dues issue, I strongly support your view on that. Sorry if you misunderstood that.
    And I have nothing against discussing it in a separate thread. I just think it's an important issue, that has to do with the official founding of IOPS. I agree that it can't be decided now, but I was thinking that it is quite easy to come up with a proposal (at least one easy issue to discuss) that can then be put in front of the whole membership.

    Michael and Kim - so I guess I might have read the proposal wrong then. I agree with all of you that we need to set some sort of deadline. I am not against that. I am also not against having the ICC (I am a member of it). It is true that we need some sort of organization/group to organize and focus ideas and then present them to the whole membership.
    But I am concerned that any plan we come up with until October 15 will have been developed by the same few active members that always take part in these discussion, many of which are already on the ICC.

    So, my proposal would be this:

    I agree with Michael that we need more members and that it is a good idea to start a new recruitment effort. But:

    1. We first try to make people aware that the current discussion here is going on. Can we, for example, contact all site admins for a country and ask them to put up a little info on their country page directing them to a Forum (or this blog), where discussions take place?

    2. Michael suggested "We put on the IOPS top page, starting at the outset of the campaign, a daily tally of how we are doing at reaching our goals". I would like to see this NOT (or not only) on the international page but on each country page.

    I would also like to suggest that we think about broadening the international page, adding international pages in different languages. These pages can be rudimentary, but I'd like to see an option for first time visitors (and non-English speaking members) to click on a language botton and get directed to a page in their language that gives them basic info of what is going on.
    In the case of the recruitment call, we could have this up in for example Spanish and French (Chinese would be good!), languages spoken by many people. I think it would contribute to uniting members.

    I have a feeling that most people who login to IOPS stay on the international page until they absolutely want to find out somethin specific about their own chapter.

    If we had different international pages, we wouldn't of course need to put up the tally on each country page.


    3. "We all agree that members should, as they are able, try to assemble local people in the cities where we live, and once there are enough such people, to respond positively if someone contacts us seeking to establish a local chapter."
    I thought that anybody can start a new local chapter anyway, so I don't quite understand this point... sorry. What am I missing?


    5. "When we reach half way to whatever our six month goal is [] we initiate an IOPS project with at most 20 members to address the features of and how to hold a founding convention. The project is at least half ICC members[]...
    Again, I would like to see a Forum/Project or something first, where people can state their ideas, instead of choosing first a handful of people who make a plan and then letting membership vote.

    At least the question of when and where can be easily asked to the full membership. I agree that for the specifics i.e. the actual program of the convention), we need a committee or something like that. I've organized enough conferences to know that this is true.

    6. If we we fail in the six months - we strategically reassess the future of IOPS including the possibility that our conception is fundamentally flawed.

    Well, now, here I think you're too negative! Our conception isn't flawed. We have to deal with increasing abstention of people from political life, people feeling disenfrenchized, and we have to overcome distrust against any type of political organization. So don't get demotivated that quickly!

  • Michael Albert 16th Sep 2012

    Verena, hi...

    I fear you are right about too few people voicing their views - but I doubt time is the big determinant - rather, I like your idea of trying harder to get folks to express themselves...

    To your specific points:

    1. I agree, let's do the direct contact of local administrators, as you indicate. But let's also use the newsletter/email aggressively, for the first time in IOPS. That is, let's send messages to everyone, literally every few days, urging participation in the discussion, pointing to the blogs that may exist, and to the forums (which are in place) and also hopefully helpfully reporting on the discussions since the last message...

    2. I also agree on the daily tally of progress toward goals, whatever they wind up being, going on all branch and chapter top pages - though that won't effect determining what the conditions of the campaign are... since this tool would be reporting a campaign already happening.

    Regarding multilingual top page offerings - I believe we already have that. Look at the bar across the top, there is a pull down to choose a language.

    3. Yes, folks can get together to start a chapter, now, of course, but this wording has everyone prioritizing actually doing so, and in particularly, at least agreeing to respond when invited to attend by someone who takes the lead in trying to form one in their area...

    4. Apparently - 4 is a secret!

    5. Again, I agree - and presumably, the idea was, that such discussions would be occuring during the whole six month period, particularly in emerging chapters. Perhaps that wasn't clear. So the project would just assemble the already existing ideas into nice packages reflecting prominent perspectives - that people could then vote on, to hold the convention.

    6. The flaw we may have to admit may not be with the IOPS commitments - I agree with you that a lack of participation can exist even though they are fine. But, there would be a flaw, nonetheless, I would say, either in how we are trying to build - or in our belief that people are ready and willing - one or the other. So the need would be to decide which, or both, or any other problems, and to develop a new approach...

  • Sarah Owens 16th Sep 2012

    Michael Albert, greetings.

    First, I like plans. If I had known about planning, I would have had a better life, but hey, I'm from the South. The only people in the South who plan are from the North. Except for meals. We do plan meals.


    Second, although I can't speak for everyone else who hasn't participated so far, time is a factor for me, and I think I'm average. I mean, by the time I had time to look at the site, the featured blog (yours) had almost 50 substantive, lengthy, and sometimes tangential responses. I'm responding now without having read most of them, which I hate, because it increases the chances I'll say something stupid.

    Anyhow, because this time thing keeps coming up, I'd just like to illustrate my situation. I need 8 hours sleep (I think this is where I'm losing time others have), I exercise every day at home before work with my partner while we watch Democracy Now, work a 40-hr/wk job that I walk to, walk with my partner for an hour at lunch where we strategize our IOPS recruiting, obsess about equity, and try better to understand parecon and parsoc concepts. We sit on the roof of our building with a beer for about 30' after work and continue the lunch-time conversation. We cook simple meals together (but chopping vegetables takes time). We eat, clean up, read a little in bed, and pass out. Saturday mornings we do laundry, clean the apartment and do the week's grocery shopping. Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, if we don't have work or an errand of some sort or computer maintenance work, look at the site, work on IOPS projects and recruiting and read about parecon. Sunday afternoon we talk to the kids on the phone and spend with people we think might want to join IOPS over a meal or something. So, I've suggested to Michael we'd have more time for IOPS if we didn't care how clean things were, but he was firm. So, you see, for us, time is a factor, and I hope you agree, we're average, or nearly so.

    I have more to say, but just those 2 points for now: a plan is good, and time is a factor for many of us.







    • Michael Albert 16th Sep 2012

      Fair enough - and a good organization will certainly have to try to do something to help people with time issues, even as a very high priority. But Sarah - what you are doing for IOPS already greatly exceeds the amount, which, if it were average, would lead to great successes!

      About discussion - I think it is definitely true that piling up comments to the tune of fifty or a hundred is not too functional. Not sure what the solution is - until there are chapters where people can talk together... You have a chapter of two, sort of, it seems, one more than most others likely have.

  • Sarah Owens 16th Sep 2012

    About the direct contact of local administrators for assistance.

    With face-to-face relating at the local level as a goal, ions should, after joining, be relating to their local chapter page, and I have a project to encourage the posting of quality local content to facilitate that. The project also encourages members to facilitate local activity, and suggests ways that might be done. To me, the fact that not much is happening at the country-al, regional, or local level should be as much of a concern in developing a plan as recruiting new ions.

    Perhaps some numbers would help. When I surveyed about 2-3 weeks ago, I found that only 10 of 49 states in the US even had admins. The two largest chapters (CA with 212 and NY with 106) did not. I began trying to recruit admins for those 2 states. Nothing. I tried recruiting 7 admins not in the Local Project to join. Nothing. I asked the US admin to write a blog using my data on the size of each state's chapters to encourage ions to undertake the job of admin. So far, nothing. I sent an all-Oregon message, just asking OR ions to let me know if they received my message. Only a few answered.

    I'm not telling you this to be discouraging or to complain, just to point out where our work also needs to be. The above discussion refers sometimes to members, and sometimes to members-who-are-fully-cognizant-of-and-supporting-the-IOPS-commitments. I think our planning needs to recognize we have both in IOPS, and we need to be working just as hard to facilitate self-management activity within the membership as we are in recruiting new members. If the plan we make could recognize that (and be more precise when using the term "member"), I think it would be more realistic. Not unlike the difference it makes to recognize the coordinator class as a sub-category of workers.

    I have given this point very short shrift as I don't have time for anything else. I hope I've been clear and not said something stupid, but if I haven't/have, I know you'll let me know, and I'll come back and try again. I'll come back to finish reading everything, anyway.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 18th Sep 2012

      Although this thread may have come to a close withy MIchael's new blog, I'd just like to say I agree with Sarah above: 'To me, the fact that not much is happening at the country-al, regional, or local level should be as much of a concern in developing a plan as recruiting new ions.'

      Going further, I would even question this current focus on recruitment and haste for some sort of plan/founding convention.

      Surely the elephant in the room is the fact that the reality of IOPS is quite different to the organisational concept of nested, bottom-up chapters of local activists, and, in my view, is most probably going to stay that way?

      Should we not at least together somewhat reflect on the fact, now often reported not just by Sarah but by several members, that local chapters/local administrators are hardly happening at all? That perhaps 1-2% of members actually participate in online discussions around blogs, forums or projects?

      To me personally this, however, is no catastrophe because I have different expectations of IOPS. Let me try a What-If format to clarify what I mean. What if:

      most people click the join button at IOPS in the same way they click online petition buttons or become blog followers?

      most people (99%?) are not interested in participating in IOPS online discussions, much less meet up with others in local chapters?

      even many of those members signing up for IOPS projects are not so much interested in participating as in perhaps occasionally dropping by to see what's happening and learning more about some particular field of interest?

      all this is only a worry if there are other expectations of IOPS, e.g. (and here I'm only guessing) of IOPS as some kind of grand 'Fifth Internationale' made up of some kind of revolutionary activists who are somehow going to 'win another world' almost by themselves or else as IOPS-reps in leading positions within strategic alliances?

      all this, on the other hand, is not much of a problem if IOPS is seen more as a largely online international community of leftist activists and non-active sympathizers sharing participatory, libertarian, anti-authoritarian values (AND attitudes in their communication with each other) who enjoy belonging to IOPS because

      (a) it overcomes isolation and acts as an international affinity and support group for co-members engaged in local struggles

      (b) it provides an online forum for discussing theory and practice in comradely, 'prefigurative' ways

      (c) it provides online opportunities for self-education and information-sharing

      (d) where so desired, it enables members to meet up locally and do whatever moves them

      (e) where feasible, and as opportunities arise, IOPS as a whole (after democratic online debate of course) initiates creative national/international campaigns, forms alliances in campaigns and/or actively intervenes in grassroots movements like Occupy with anti-systemic and reconstructive suggestions from a libertarian, participatory perspective?

      The last two possibilities seem more down-the-track to me, i.e. should come 'organically' rather than be, hopelessly, strenuously, pushed for too early and against the current. You can't push the river of IOPS without getting awefully exhausted and frustrated and grumpy and moralistic and admonishing I reckon, just like some critical parent whose kids are turning out all different to what they want them to be. How about we just relax and go with the flow (and ebb) of things, folks? Just a suggestion.

  • Sarah Owens 16th Sep 2012

    P.S., only one city in Oregon has an admin. Portland does not even have an admin. I have asked specific individuals to consider admin-ing their chapter. None has agreed. Some can't, others just don't respond.

  • Verena Stresing 16th Sep 2012

    Hi Sarah (and Michael),
    you are describing my life exactly! And I don't even have kids (yet). And yet I think that I am in quite a priviledged situation since I don't work for some global corporation that is squeezing the last bit of life out of me, but for a university with relative freedom as to my time management!!!

    But I do agree that even though time is a factor, we need to set some goals.
    Michael, thanks for supporting my idea with the direct contact to administrators. But let's be careful with the newsletter/email approach and not be too aggressive. A lot of people find constant email alerts annoying, let's not forget that! Also, I'd say let's send out short messages inviting people (directing them to the page, blogs, as you suggested) instead of writing huge large mails that nobodu reads anyway. Progress reports are good, but let's be careful with the number of messages.

    The international pages: I think I didn't quite explain this right.
    It's true, you have an option to choose a language, but this only changes the site language and the content pages (vision, mission, etc).
    I was thinking of an international page (let's say in Spanish) where you have the most important issues (mainly organizatorial) featured.

    Right now, on the international page, this blog is featured in the top right corner, together with the interim goals and the open letter about IOPS.
    I was thinking of having eg a Spanish page that also features these three contents, so that the Spanish speakers have easy access to this kind of organizatorial matters.
    Yes, there would be some translation involved, but we wouldn't need to translate for example all of your blog, just the main points. Same thing for the open letter about IOPS. We've already translated it into French, but its only up at our country page. If Belgium wanted it, they'd first have to find it on our page, but why would they go there?
    If we had a French international page, then all people speaking that language could benefit, and in the end it would be less work. We'd ensure that the letter/blog would only have to be translated once, and could share responsibility. It would promote discussion between all French speaking members. We could also feature more blogs in French there. And first time visitors might find it easier if there was just one big language button that they click on and they get redirected to actual French content without having to look for a chapter first.
    Would it be difficult to do something like that? (just asking, I have no idea how much work that would involve).
    Anyway, so I'll go ahead and write a short info for the people in France... let's see who we can motivate!



  • Kim Keyser 16th Sep 2012

    Verena: "Would it be difficult to do something like [portals in specific languages]?"

    Technically it wouldn't be very difficult, but we lack content creators – even for bigger organizational units, in the language most of the members talk (English). Anyhow, I really like the idea, but I'd appreciate that it would be discussed in a separate blog/forum thread/project. (When people don't have much time – like several have signalized – it can feel frustrating going through lots of digressions, in a thread you'd like to read up on. And it can be difficult to follow even for those who have time – at least it is for me.)

  • Karen K Anderson 22nd Sep 2012

    Not to be flip - alright, exactly to be flip - about it, but I do find it amusing that the International Organization for a Participatory Society is having such a terrible time getting its members to participate in the growing and planning process. I wonder if, perhaps, in our never-ending endeavor to make sure that we are inclusive and transparent in this process, we are not relying enough on the innate abilities of our fearless leader(s) to come up with a rational plan for beginning the process, and follow it. Nothing is written in stone here, folks, and adjustments can be made as we stumble along. But, let's take that first step, even if it is only a handful of us in the beginning. Otherwise, we will never get past the "what do you think about this?" stage in our development. Without the recruitment of new members, the other points are all moot, anyway.
    I am going to contact Link TV to see if they would be interested in doing a documentary about IOPS - it is definitely right up their alley, and would certainly make for some great PR. Their viewers are exactly the folks that would be interested in joining, so, if I pull this off, I expect full credit for any new members that it brings in...the San Mateo County Chapter will rule the world!!! ;-D

  • 23rd Sep 2012

    The method for determining a proposal seems good, as long as the voting/polling system is done in time like Jason says.

    What makes an organization ready for a founding convention? What's the purpose of a founding convention? I'm not sure. Maybe it's to settle on shared commitments, procedures, and programs. If so we'll need to be representative of all those we're trying to have shared things for. We'll also need to be functioning enough to decide on these things and to be able to carry them out.

    In what ways are we not functional enough or representative enough now?

    If we had more women or equal parts women and men, more people from other countries, more diversity of race, gender, class within countries, diversity of activist experience then we'd be representative. If we met regularly in our chapters, trusted each other, supported each other, could suggest modifications to the organization together, could carry out programs then we'd be functional, could make decisions together, could send someone to a convention, and could make decisions at the convention and inter-chapter, and could raise money, then we'd be functional.

    How important is it to be representative and functional at the founding convention. I'm not sure. Do you risk alienating people? Are people waiting for it to be "real?" Is it demoralizing to be interim for too long? Do we send people to South America to organize there if they're taking to long to get ready? In what ways is being non-interim holding us back (Jason says he's waiting for the founding convention to make a real voting system...).

    How do you measure all of these things? Are there indicators? Maybe 10,000 is good enough is both a good enough indicator, and a good enough indicator of an acceptable degree of representativeness and functionality.

    The only caution I feel is that we want to be careful not to put too much focus on recruitment, but also on developing chapters. Kim's advice seemed wise. Do meaningful work, and people will come (if you're at the point where you can do meaningful work...).

    The next question then is how long will it take to reach 10,000, or how long should it take if we've developed a good organization? This is hard to judge. Michael's logic is useful, one new member per member per three months. However, I think many members won't get the message (their IOPS email goes to their spam folder, for example). It might be the case that every person that gets the email recruits 1 person, and in that way we'd be successful. But if half don't get the emails, then it will look like a failure. It might be the case they we could each get two people per three months, but we might only try to get one because that's how we understand the expectation. Perhaps there's some way to judge how many people get IOPS emails, and then set the goal based off of 1 person per three months from that data.