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How to be a working chapter?

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I'm going to publish a report to inform you about the newly created chapter in Castellón (Spain). Before doing that, I would to share with you my thoughts about organizational issues.


In "are you in a working chapter?", we very recently read from IOPS administrator a short message asking us if we are an IOPS working chapter according to the poll's standard published in June, 12th (30% female, at least 5 members attending regular meetings). I must say I like the initiative because it's time to know how many people and chapters still want to be active. So we can then draw a broad picture of IOPS which is a good thing to know how many we are.

There are right now 4 active chapters. I must admit the chapter we created in Castellón (Spain) cannot be considered a chapter since we had only one meeting in July, 19th, we are 7 members but we don't reach yet the 30% female members.

On the other side, among the more than 3000 members, 752 answered the poll which is more or less 25%. Maybe those who didn't answered the poll didn't because of personal reasons or because they don't want to be active IOPS members. So far so good, let's say we are now 752 members who really want to be active, who truly believe IOPS is a good project and having participated to the poll we express our desire to go further, to give an hour, 10 hours or 20 hours a week to organize, participate, give talks about IOPS' institutions because they efficiently promote the values we want for our new society.

Having said that, when we see there are 4 active chapters and 752 active members, a question arise. Why are there not any more active chapters? After all, IOPS was born a year and a half ago and should have much more active chapters (5 members is not a big deal, at least it shouldn't. 30% female members is not a big deal, at least it shouldn't. Regular meetings is not a big deal, at least it shouldn't). 

Now let's be honest with ourselves, creating a chapter and keeping it alive is not easy, my own experience taught me that and I think that's an issue we should take very seriously. If we want to be serious activists, not mere fighters of the good fight, we must face it. That's the bad news.

The good news is we all already have backgrounds and we have the tools (IOPS website, Zsocial) to share them. Good and bad ones, we must share experiences to inspire the 752 active members we are, to learn from them. Imagine how many active chapters can be created by 752 active and truly motivated members. How many potential chapters do we have? 200 (=1000 members to start)? 300 (=1500 members to start)? 500 (=2500 members to start)? 700 (=3500 members to start)?

So, the question that arises now from those who are not yet part of any active chapter is: What a f... can I do now?

There are probably many (and many) of the 752 who want to create a chapter but are facing problems like audience problems, the 30% female representation, lack of contacts, lack of help, feelin isolated when trying to reach others, pessimism of the people we are trying to reach, so on and so forth. I'm quite sure we could easily deal with all those issues thanks to backgrounds on these particular cases.

So, my proposal is as follows: why don't we make a list of those issues mentioned above and deal with them in separate blogs through Zsocial?

We could create a separate blog for all those issues as follows:

  • audience problems,
  • the 30% female representation,
  • lack of contacts,
  • lack of help,
  • feeling isolated when trying to reach others,
  • pessimism of the people we are trying to reach
  • others...


Obviously, that's just an opinion.


NB: Sorry for not including a picture but the program didn't allow me to do it.

Discussion 15 Comments

  • Eugene Nulman 9th Aug 2013

    I'm up for whatever works! As a member of Kent IOPS we are facing certain issues ourselves. We lack female representation, in part because those we talk to really want the chapter to be active in contributing something before they participate. At the moment we are having trouble finding activities to engage in which current members are interested in working on.

  • Dave Jones 12th Aug 2013

    Seems like you might be spreading resources a little too thin, Daniel. Why not just one blog on chapter building to get it started?

    We have the same issues Eugene. The pool of potential members is filled with those conditioned to think "activism", no matter how lame ( holding a sign, signing a petition, etc) is the only thing needed to fight social injustice. Most people want instant results, such as a change in policy, to justify their action. Working for the long haul requires a whole different mindset.

    • Daniel Marty 12th Aug 2013

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for writing. I first would like to ask tou what you mean with spreading the resources a little too thin. I honestly don't understand.

      Having said that, the purpose of this blog is to see if there's some interest in sharing experiences about activism. I tought this was needed since now the question 'what do we do now?' arises.
      So, I'm going to create a forum on Zsocial to talk about these issues. Right now, we have enough backgrounds to share good and bad experiences so we can all improve. I think this is now a necessary step.
      So, if you and others show some interest in working on that question, I think we could and should start as soon as possible.

    • Sarah Owens 17th Aug 2013

      Those interested in this subject should consider joining this project:

      http://www.iopsociety.org/united-states/oregon/salem/projects/local-chapter-project .

  • Daniel Marty 12th Aug 2013

    Hi Eugene,

    Thanks for writing and sorry for my late reply.
    I understand very well what you mean since I've been asking myself the very same questions.
    At first sight, some might think IOPS doesn't offer answers to real problems, that's something I don't share, and that it seems very theoretical. However, I think that's on us to find pragmatic ways of using IOPS'institutions. IOPS is a tool since it offers a long term view (or alternative) and, at the same time, we can start applying its institutions (balanced job complex, decision making, councils) in our current organizations.
    Let me tell you what we are currently doing in the movement I'm involved with called EVICTION VICTIMS PLATFORM (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca) wich is a Spanish grassroot organization meant to defend people against evictions ordered by the financial institutions. We know that being involved in such an organization is a great opportunity not only to deal with a real and current problem but it is also the opportunity to empower the people involved in the organization. To that purpose, In the chapter of the EVP of Castellón we have started to apply IOPS institutionnal commitment (balanced job complex, decision making, councils). Even if it's just the beginning, I can say it is working quite well. So, we can apply IOPS institutions in our current organizations which means we, as activists, should be closed or involved in current movements to see, learn and show others how we can sow the seeds of the future in the present.
    In EVP of Castellón, we don't have to look for more female participation, it is naturally happening, we are a quite representation of the population. I think this will happen in IOPS chapter soon or later.
    We are now 8 IOPS members in Castellón, we already have fixed some short terrm aims like growing the number of members, spreading PARSOC through talks, worshops and collaboration with other grassroot organizations (we are at the very first steps) which have institutionnal commitments close to IOP' ones. For example, here in Spain we could collaborate with the anarchist union CGT.

    Of course, I'm just giving some examples of what is working here, it doesn't necessary mean that is to be applied in Kent. However, we can dress conclusions which might applied in all the chapters.

    I hope I'm giving you the information you need and I which we could keep talking much more about that, I really would like to know about your own experience.

    • Kim Keyser 14th Aug 2013

      Sounds good, Daniel. :) Just keep on going! Step by step. Being involved somewhere sounds worthwhile.

    • Victor Hertzfeld 26th Aug 2013


      How are you? Hopefully you see this, as I am writing a couple of weeks later. I think this strategy of working simultaneously in projects open to other left elements and working to build a IOPS chapter is absolutely essential.

      I have observed that a lot of IOPS member are new to activism and politics, and make the error of thinking it is good strategy to work only on IOPS, with IOPS people. Not only will this deprive an IOPS chapter of contact with potential new members, it will make its activities ineffective.

      I am glad to hear things are moving along in Castellon.


    • Daniel Marty 6th Sep 2013

      Hi ZMI fellow,

      I'm happy to have some news from you. I'm also glad to see people agreeing with this idea of participating in different activities rather than exclusively IOPS' chapter. Being involved in a movement brings the opportunity to apply those institutional commitments we want in PARSoc, so we can learn from the mistakes.

      I'm now going to see how we can do this job of sharing experiences in our corresponding movements.

      I'll be back soon to tell about the next step we should take.

  • Dave Jones 13th Aug 2013


    I was just referring to capacity, to the fact that with over three thousand online members there is still very little participation in the Projects or the polls or these blog discussions. Just a realistic (pragmatic?) acknowledgement that recruitment is difficult so aiming a bit lower might mean less chance of being disappointed. That said, I am ready to participate and I think others in our chapter would join the discussion.

    Here in Montana we have a focus on climate because our state produces lots of carbon in the forms of coal, oil and gas. IOPS finds natural allies with radical environmentalists here, many of whom are already anti-capitalist. Our "actions" can center around stopping fossil fuel extraction while spreading the values of ParSoc more generally.

    • Kim Keyser 14th Aug 2013

      I'm glad to hear that you too are involved somewhere. I think it's very important – indeed, vital – to succeed. Keep reports coming!

  • Daniel Marty 15th Aug 2013

    Hi Dave,

    Ok I get it better ;)

    It seems you and others would participate in a forum to discuss such matters. That's good news since I truly believe we can and must improve as activists. We have the tools we need for that purpose, I mean we have the vision, activists backgrounds (good and bad) and IOPS and Zsocial websites.

    As soon as I have checked how to do it on Zsocial, I tell you about.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 20th Aug 2013

    Daniel, great post, very important discussion to have. Sharing our lessons about chapter-building will be essential to the task of making IOPS a reality. Hope to hear more about your experiences as well as those of others, and hopefully we will be posting something from San Diego in the near future.

  • Daniel Marty 26th Aug 2013

    Hi Will,

    Sorry for my late reply. I'm currently enjoying some holidays in UK and I'm a little bit disconnected.
    Thanks for your reply, I'm glad to see we agree about this very important organization issue. Once I'm back home, I will see how to create a forum to that purpose, Jason has given me good ideas to start with.
    I will inform you asap.

  • Daniel Marty 7th Oct 2013

    Hi you all guys.

    In the coming days, a forum to talk about this issue will be available for everybody willing to organize a local chapter. The purpose of this forum will be to share experiences and draw conclusions.
    I will tell exactly exactly the name of it.

  • Daniel Marty 9th Oct 2013

    Hey guys,

    there's now a forum called BUILDING WORKING CHAPTERS.
    I wrote a topic called "HOW TO BE A WORKING CHAPTER"

    See you there