I am a Portland Indymedia volunteer, and after reading WW's article, I wish I had responded to Nick Budnick's request for information about the site. Unfortunately, I don't think it would have made a difference in his slanted reporting. Nick asked the collective general questions about Indymedia's successes, investigative work, etc. At no point did he say, "I hear that Deva and spArk run the show over there. Any truth to these allegations?" Instead, he went into the article assuming this, and used voices from the past Indymedia collective to back up his thesis. Had I known that Mr. Budnick was going to make his article a Deva and spArk witchhunt, I definitely would have responded. Now, I have this to say:
I moved to Portland in September of last year, and got involved with Indymedia shortly thereafter. I came to my first meeting, and was warmly welcomed by everyone. After a few weeks of showing that I was dedicated to the cause, and that I had the technical skills to make features, I got the password. At least three other people that joined about the same time are also still volunteering for the site, so no; it is not an "inner circle" of Deva and spArk's friends who make decisions. It is everyone and anyone who is willing to show that they are dedicated to the cause. Of course, not a lot of people are. Being a Portland Indymedia volunteer is a thankless, time-consuming job. It takes a lot of work to keep a web site of our caliber and popularity up and running, but if a group of dedicated volunteers is willing, a lot can be done.
In response to Nick's insistence that Deva and spArk are dominating the site: If Deva and Spark are seen as the "frontmen" for Portland Indymedia, it is only because they have been around a lot longer than most people. I cannot speak for what happened before I joined Indymedia; I only know that this IMC is NOT run by two individuals, but collectively. Have you been to an IMC meeting, Nick? Do you see the level of discussion that goes on there? Anyone is invited to come to a meeting, and everyone is invited to give their opinion.
spArk has made it very clear that his time working on the web site full-time is over. He is moving onto other things, and is trying to pass his skills onto other people. He has been very vocal in the last few months that he is NOT IMC - it is everyone involved. In fact, he takes pains to see that other people represent IMC at events, making especially sure that women talk about and are apart of IMC.
The truth is, anyone can be apart of IMC - it just takes a lot of dedication and hard work. If anyone is willing to dedicate themselves to the site, I invite you to come to the Red and Black Cafe on Saturdays at 4:30.