2019 Plenary Minutes

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These are the draft plenary minutes for NAASN X; the meeting was held Sunday June 2nd 2019 in Atlanta Georgia. For more info about NAASN 2019 visit this page.

History of NAASN

  • Anarchist Studies Network (in UK) predates NAASN and was inspiration for NAASN.
  • Holds yearly-ish conferences. Try to rotate geographically (San Juan, Toronto, Hartford, etc.) in terms of countries (all over North America) and try to not have consecutively in same country.
  • “North American” name comes up every plenary.
  • This year (2019), first time “subtitle” for NAASN conference to have a subtitle (Emergent Horizons)
  • NAASN Mailing list is a place of support as well as announcements.

Report of Local Organizing Committee

Why host in Atlanta?

  • Connected to city and region with networks of organizing and building autonomy
  • To put Atlanta “on the map.” The city/region is often dismissed.
  • Collective houses able to host people without pay

Why conference “subtitle” (i.e. Emergent Horizons)?

  • Naming the moment we are in and getting us to think about next steps forward
  • Make appealing to a broader group by not putting “anarchist” first

Organizing Timeline

2018

September
  • Research venue
  • Decided against university
    • Removed from community and transport
    • Also institutional
  • Little Five Points community center has history of activism
November
  • Problems in beginning. Couldn’t access NAASN website
  • Wiki hugely helpful in organizing
  • CFP sent out through networks and asked folks to share

2019

February
  • Circulate call to organizations, publishers, and media groups to table
    • Difficult logistics for small group of organizers
March
  • Sent out at acceptances. Acceptances for all enables ability for folks in institutions to get funding.
April/May
  • Develop wiki and program
  • Get out through channels and word of mouth
  • Responding to lots of people coming
  • Finalizing media
  • Wrangling volunteers
  • Reach out to orgs for party and food

Conference Visibility

Local Visibility

  • Wheatpasting
  • In community center (tabling .. during conference)
  • Personal basis (mouth of word)

International visibility

  • Facebook (e.g. “solar punk”)
  • Brazil, not much known about NAASN and conference
    • Could publicize at big anarchist gathering in Sao Paulo

Web Visibility

  • Twitter, post seen ~4,000 times
  • Final Straw Radio got out word

Finances

  • Will email detailed report
  • Essentially broke even (goal)
  • Organizers bore upfront costs

For future

  • Would also be nice to be able to give some to local orgs

Plenary Discussion

Process — Discussion Set-Up

  • Plenary = closing discussion
  • Typical main agenda is choosing next location for conference
  • Critiques and appreciation
  • What worked what didn’t work

Questions

  1. What surprised you?
  2. Where next?
  3. What worked? What to replicate?
  4. What did not work well? What do we want to change?

Be comradely with critiques. Conversation should be specific to NAASN, not necessarily larger issues (anarchist spaces, etc., etc.) e.g. accessibility for conference is helpful; accessibility for anarchist spaces in general not as helpful.

Next Conference Location

Process

  • Aspirationally or Volunteering
  • Possible host communities represented here?
  • Ok not to have place chosen now. Also okay to skip year.

Minneapolis

Many Minneapolis folks present.

  • Possible organizers not here
    • One person here on fence about organizing
  • Need core group of organizers and idea of venue

What are challenges in Minneapolis?

  • People to help (i.e. be core organizers); grad student life not easy
    • Need half dozen at least so its not as onerous
    • But many names come up

Possible venue

  • University
    • Problem of institutional space
  • Small stuff at bookstores
  • Native Center

Rotation Concern

  • There is push back against having it in the US again. If serious about strengthening the network, need to commit to rotation. Anti-colonial ethic. American anarchists and radicals in general, lack that.
  • Simultaneous conversations outside this table: Tijuana and Guatemala. These folks are not here. But we have contacts with. This is aspirational.
  • Mexico City happened through conversations through mailing list, not plenary. Shows can happen in online way.

Possible Non-US Locations

Tijuana
  • Have comrades in autonomous social center, a space for migrant help (clinic and legal work).
  • Person will be there soon, could have face-to-face conversations.

Other US or Canadian Possibilities

  • Pittsburgh
    • Hilary Lazar; Institute for Advance Troublemaking
  • Asheville, NC
    • Some folks here; may have organizers willing;
    • Strong possibility for next US location, not necessarily the next conference
  • Winnipeg
  • Kingston

NAASN History

  • Mostly been “coastal” in US

Rough Proposal

Who can concretely propose and move conversation forward?

  • Conversation should be synchronous and not asynchronous (i.e. mailing lists)
    • Concern: those most visible on mailing list, not physical at NAASN conferences. Leaving online takes stakeholders out of it.

Accessibility and Inclusion

Community Housing

Feedback from participants:

  • Relief to know that housing would be covered
  • The Tear Down, FNB enabled food for folks staying there
  • Helpful accessibility wise

Physical Accessibility and Inclusion

Ways to Be More Intentional
  • The elevator was not publicized / obvious
  • Carpool group, particularly difficult because of lack of public transport, and getting around difficult for folks with mobility impairments
  • Conference Program is an accessibility question. Should have usability in mind (not everyone perceives and thinks in the same way)
    • Need a template and how to for wiki
      • Stiff One committed to doing
    • Gantt chart, can be useful for scheduling things
  • Quiet Space or “chill out room"
  • Time Management
    • Respect each other’s time (by not letting things drag); people need to allocate “spoons” (energy reserves/capacity)
    • Generate sense of people in NAASN delegating time in room; assign people to room? Mapped out ahead of time (requires volunteers)
      • In Montreal (2018), had a volunteer schedule. “Old stock” (NAASN) folks ended up filling roles. But a few more, because of large(r) organizational body
Accessibility Resources and Organizing Continuity
  • Good accessibility checklist in Montreal; Good intentionality around physical and linguistic inclusion
  • Make more continuity so local organizers have those resources
  • Radical Access Mapping Project; checklist and resources
    • Proposal: Adopt for local organizing committees

Anti-Colonialism

  • Land acknowledgements
  • Need to make anti-colonialism as important as anti-capitalism; make norm

Diversity / Inclusion and Norms

  • Space, extremely white and gender normative ( ... or apparent lack of trans/queer visibility)
    • Alienating for racialized and trans/queer/gender non-conforming folks
  • Trans/GQ/GNC folks open with pronouns; cis people should do this more
    • Make a norm, so it is not only trans folks doing this

Children, Guardians, and Inclusion

The Stakes
  • Kids issue brought up each year. Not as many people invested in this. Think of accommodating spaces as kids being “tolerated.” Need to talk about in a real way.
  • Issue: easy to do child-minding; but hard to let own kids be with those you may not have built trust with yet.
    • Reason not childcare in ATL conference. One person offered. But no one wants a stranger to watch their kid(s).
  • Childcare issue also issue of gender diversity / inclusion at conference. Unfair distribution of childcare duties
  • Difference between child-minding versus programming actually for children.
  • Question of infrastructure (other accessibility questions too). This (see below) is either dream-list that NAASN develops and hands off to local organizers; or just suggest to local organizers and leave it in their hands
  • Child care on an “on-demand,” not right approach. “If you build it, they will come.”
  • Important for actually building intergenerational movements. Children are a part of this.
Examples
  • In Sao Paulo, anarchist events, room for children. Volunteers prepare all day activities. Can go and see own kid at any time.
    • Anarchist educators work on programming that integrates children in Sao Paulo
  • Earth First! Rendezvous, really welcoming for people with kids ... make exciting things for kids
Suggestions and Proposals
  • Need to signal on promotional materials that there will be childcare or programming, and also seek volunteers
  • Family fun stuff. Workshops for kids and family. ... Requires more resources to set up another “track”
  • Ideas for things on small budget
    • Zine making
    • Puppet and mask making
    • Mural making
  • Skills based workshops for parents, guardians, carers.
  • Need organizer to do this work for conference.
  • Build capacity.

During Conference Management

  • Only two organizers (big up Atlanta organizers!) in space during conference was a limitation
  • Organizers signal channel useful this year
  • Social channel useful as well

Conference Style

  • For the most part, content traditional paper-reading academic style. Less workshops, skills sharing, etc.
    • In future, be more intentional about this
    • Encourage participatory inclinations through out (e.g. small groups discussions), not just lectures/talks.

Publishing Conference Materials

  • Talks recorded will be put online, good for visibility and also access for those unable to go
  • How to do better in future around that?
  • Public material from conference? Presentations but also process. For others to learn from / be engaged with.

Security

  • Should be knowledgeable about security needs in different local places for conferences
  • Welcome table also useful for security (first aid, lost kid, etc.);
    • Welcome committee. Part of organizing norms
  • Signage e.g. No TERFs

Appreciation

  • Space of great questions being asked. Excitement about space. Conference allows to conversation and interventions. Put different folks (academic, not, etc.) in dialogue.

Future of the Network

General Tensions

  • Academic / Anti-academic
  • Need to confront fear of organization.
    • Email list question “went south.”
    • Mailing lists not conducive for conversations like this. Need stakeholders in this conversation

Infrastructure

  • NAASN as actual network. Non-hierarchical, volunteer board, in charge of fundraising and re-distributing funds for very specific things (help with visas, conference travel)
  • Structure that can have accountability. Fluid, yet ability to take stances.
  • Suggestion was organization, not incorporation or institutionalization. Organization and knowledge transfer. What is “we” of NAASN?

Role of Network in Conference Organizing

  • Different organizing culture and traditions. Need more concrete culture for NAASN around very specific things, like accessibility. NAASN guidelines?
  • Don’t have ability to communicate with those who attended at conferences; not necessarily added to mailing list. Have mailing list sign up at conferences. Build network.
  • Make internet archive around conferences. e.g. Past conference presenters materials. Tagged. Library for materials for local organizers (e.g. program template) as well as Wiki.
Funding
  • Some sort of infrastructure, particularly fundraising. Would help local organizers with their capacity. And helping people get to conference. Need to outline how to create this.
  • For last year, was able to get a grant for the conference. Omni Commons, recipient of grant, gave to NAASN. Can avoid stratification and institution of NAASN. Could envision as a support for conference fundraising that’s not “intrusive”
  • Local organizers (ATL): Would have had more capacity; tried to organize for grants, but had trouble without partner organization (501c3); though this also allowed to not have to shoehorn into only NAASN; would be easier to get spaces with recognition (501c3)
  • Not thrilled with concept of incorporating. Challenges of fundraising, cross-border. Need flexibility. Disgust from some at taking state funding.
  • Can get grants without incorporation.

Broad Proposal

  • After we leave, conversation will play out on mailing list. But the list is not good for this. Need to schedule phone/video calls. Synchronous conversations.
  • Not for conference planning. Some manner of meeting before next time we see each other. Think about Points of Unity, infrastructure, funding, finding a system to do knowledge transfer, deliverables (publications).
  • Notes from calls could be on mailing list. Report back. But not good for discussion.
  • Semi-quarterly phone call. A meeting every 2-3 months.
  • Developing Network conversation NOT about the conferences (primarily).
  • No objections to phone/video quarterly meeting.
  • Better framework in place.
  • First call, set agenda for call.
  • Michael, will be in charge of organizing call.