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about portland indymedia

"In the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressors, those who are neutral side with the oppressors."
Paolo Friere, Brasilian educator
Indymedia emerged from the clouds of tear gas that filled the streets of Seattle in 1999 as a tool for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth. Then and now, the stories told through Indymedia come from the hearts and minds of people on the frontlines of the struggle for justice against tyranny. Since 1999, Indymedia has grown into a network of over 160 Independent Media Centers (IMCs) all over the world by means of a commitment to equality, decentralization and autonomy.

Portland Indymedia is an IMC for the southern Cascadia region of Turtle Island (an area temporarily demarcated as "Oregon" and southern "Washington" on some maps). Indymedia activism can take many forms, but is rooted in the Indymedia Principles of Unity which profess that the open exchange of and open access to information is a prerequisite to the building of a more free and just society. The Portland Indymedia principles of unity (see below) are based on this document. Portland Indymedia is not a membership organization; it is a tactic, a concept, and a movement that can be effectively utilized in many different ways.

"Computers will never replace community. They just reflect community."
Austin IMC activist, quoted in "The Rise of Indymedia"
The Website
Like all IMCs, Portland Indymedia hosts a website with an open publishing newswire to which anyone can post text, images, audio and video using the online publish form. Unlike a newspaper or other form of media, anyone is free to post their news and experiences (there are some exceptions, see the editorial policy. Articles posted to the site come from people in the community, and their words are never edited by IMC volunteers. The articles that are featured in the center column are taken right from the newswire, thus highlighting original content and reporting. This system empowers anyone to become the media for the purpose of sharing information and views that are blocked out or misrepresented by the corporate media; that is, to stand with the oppressed against the oppressors.

what is "open publishing"?
what are features?
what is portland indymedia's editorial policy?

"Never doubt that a small number of dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead, anthropologist
Working Groups
Portland Indymedia's structure is not derived from a centralized bureaucratic process, but from the self-organization of autonomous working groups that recognize the importance in developing a unified approach. These groups can be centered around a set of tasks (e.g., web design, tech, editorial), a type of media (e.g., video, print, web radio), an activity (e.g., promotion/outreach, reporting), or some other project. portland indymedia working groups can organize themselves in whatever fashion they find most appropriate to their needs (e.g., frequency of meetings, method of communication, open or closed listserves, etc.) as long as they stick to the portland indymedia principles of unity (see below).
"Powerlessness and silence go together. We...should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world's reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It shoud be cherished and used."
Margaret Atwood, author & activist

General Meetings
General Portland Indymedia meetings occur regularly to foster cooperation among individuals and working groups, and are open to people who are interested in supporting portland indymedia projects or starting new ones. Currently, meeting times and locations are posted to the general meetings page.

In slow periods, Portland Indymedia has internal working group meetings, as needed, to make decisions about editorial policy or other things. During these times, public meetings are held only as volunteers have the energy to set up and attend these meetings. 3 weeks notice of meetings will be posted on the site when general meetings are occurring randomly.

General meetings have no set format; there can be discussions that involve everyone, hands-on training sessions broken out by working group, or whatever is needed at the time. It is highly recommended that food be included.

Occasionally, people who gather at these meetings might collectively address an issue that affects more than one of the working groups. In such cases, decisions shall be made by consensus, which requires open minds, active listening, and mutual respect. "Blocks" or the threat of a block to an idea presented at a meeting should not be made lightly.

"I block" means "I feel that the group has compromised its own values with this choice," or "If we move forward with this idea, I cannot personally continue to work with this group." The individual making a block should balance their opposition to the idea with their willingness to continue working with the group. Instead of blocking, an individual may also "stand aside" from a decision.

To address the individual making the block, the group will go around the circle to see if anyone else agrees. If no one else does, the blocker is asked if s/he wants to stand aside. If not, the individual needs to give another, new reason to block. Going around in the circle like this can happen up to three times. The individual making the block is then asked if they are choosing to stand aside or leave, and the idea passes.

Changes to the meeting schedual, as well as other interesting updates and info, are posted on the website, top of the page.
Update Nov 2013 please use imc-portland-requests@lists.indymedia.org to contact the workerbees for confirming general meetings, suggesting ideas or sharing any requests or concerns.

"When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative."
Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader

Portland Indymedia Principles of Unity

  • All portland indymedia working groups are not-for-profit. All volunteers donate their time and have agreed to receive no personal monetary gain. In otherwords, nobody gets paid.

  • All working groups recognize the importance of process to social change and are committed to the development of non-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian relationships, from interpersonal relationships to group dynamics. Therefore, they shall organize themselves collectively and be committed to the principle of consensus decision-making and the development of a direct, participatory democratic process that is transparent to those involved.

  • All working groups recognize that the contribution of an individual's labor is a prerequisite for participation in the decision making process of a working group or at a portland indymedia general meeting. Individuals who are not committing tangible labor to a portland indymedia working group are encouraged to share their views but may not "block" a consensus.

  • All working groups are committed to caring for one another and their respective communities both collectively and as individuals and will promote the sharing of resources including knowledge, skills and equipment.

  • Whenever possible, all working groups shall be committed to the use of free software and open source code, in order to develop the digital infrastructure, and to increase the independence of themselves by not relying on proprietary software.

  • Openess: All working groups shall be committed to the principle of human equality, and shall not discriminate based upon race, spiritual belief, gender, age, class or sexual identity. Working groups are committed to the ideal of building diversity within their activities.

Related Global Indymedia documents: [ Indymedia Principles of Unity | Indymedia Membership Criteria | Global Indymedia Overview ]

"The most violent element in society is ignorance."
Emma Goldman, anarchist