Report from Meeting 27.11.12 – Two Projects to Take Forward!

A couple of weeks ago we had a really productive meeting in which we decided that ORC should focus on two concrete projects, one relatively short term and quite doable, and the other a slightly more mid-term project to work on. Minutes from the meeting are below, but here is a brief summary of the projects as they were discussed:

1. Drafting “Guidelines on the Ethics of Activist Research”

The idea is to generate some broad outlines which could then be brought to an open meeting for as many as possible to participate. This has already been brought up at Occupy London GAs and at previous ORC meetings. The idea is that the process of putting together some broad ethical guidelines for all those who research social movements could trigger some thoughts about “good practice”.

To develop this we have a PiratePad document, here, for collective editing and discussion, and we can also use our discussion list for the latter, amazingly.

2. Organising a second National Convergence, but this time with a focus on bringing together already existing groups/networks that are engaged in forms of activist/militant/participatory research. We felt that the first convergence went really well, and that we know how to do this, and should follow up by trying to map out as many of the groups that already exist in order to see exactly what is being done, what else could be done, if we can think a bit about our strategy together.

It was suggested that we should meet once again before christmas to follow up on both of these. This may not be necessary, but we should discuss this on the mailing list.

 

ORC meeting 27.11.2012 minutes:

Agenda

  1. Introductions
  2. Recap on ORC
  3. Assessing what we want out of it and what we can put into it
  4. Focus – what we’re capable of
  5. Goals
  6. Occupy London GA on Ethics
  7. Updates on existing projects
  8. Paul update on Haringey
  1. check
  2. Started as reading group, developed into a Collective, had our convergence which went really well. Ideas for projects emerged from that: Collective Writing, Ethical Activism Research Guidelines, Occupy Research Repository, Journal, Skillsharing, Radical Teaching Collective. But only two of them have had enough ongoing interest to take off: RTC, which has splintered into a separate group, and the Ethics Guidelines, which is being developed.

3-7. all became quite fluid.

A – Where have we had success already?

Z – Should we open up a big network? If so we should list and contact other similar groups.

S – We’ve been good at focusing down on one concrete thing together. Rather than on 8 different things. Two possible  good things to do then. 1) Ethics of researching Occupy, because it’s similar to theme of first convergence. Ethics of Researching Activism. 2) Out of last meeting. What hasn’t happened: convergence of different activist research groups. It has kind of happened a year or so ago. But we could host a national or international convergence of different activist research collectives. Free Uni etc. 3-4 month project. Meeting irregularly

A – what are these other research networks? What do they do?

S – They are broadly militant research. Break down boundaries between research and activism, against reproducing binaries. Avoiding or subverting institutions.

P – what is it going to achieve? What change are we actually going to make?

S – one thing to point out. We’re not officially a part of Occupy. We are inspired by and in solidarity with Occupy.

J – concrete project good – Ethics of researching Occupy would produce an interesting powerful result. Not so keen on networks within networks and big unwieldy international groups.

S – an activist research group on Carpenters has just been formed. So maybe a network of networks is what’s needed, to link up all these existing projects.

A – not international, maybe national. A national convergence could pull together these strands.

Sa – nat conv focused on contacting all the groups that do exist to come together.

Si – Maybe int conv too broad, not to relevant to those taking part.

J – Last conv was really good, people benefited. We could take that forward to the next stage. If we could get money we can help people get to the conv.

P – international inspiration would be good at a meeting.

Sa – is our role a newtwork that buddies people up and makes people aware of eachother? Reality is that people haven’t had resources for projects. So if we can get on with guidelines, we can see what happens afterwards. Without saying we should do like 6 things.

Z – we should focus on one thing at a time.

J – I’m happy to work on the guidelines then the convergence at a later date.

A – I’m not entirely understanding the importance of the ethics guidelines, but interested in the convergence.

P – interested in the convergence, but concerned about creating the ethics guidelines at an assembly.

S – On ethics guidelines. I’m someone researching social movements. V difficult. Lots of challenges. Many people aren’t worried about  ethics of researching social movements, essentially exploiting them for their own ends. Guidelines are to suggest that if someone is researching something like Occupy you would be expected to do certain things. Make research openly available. Help in the group. Etc. We could put it on the blog and refer people to it.

J – I agree with the content, but what is the framework? I agree something needs to be done, but how do we make a big impact? Is an Occupy GA the best frame in which to do that?

Si – what about reach? Good to publish widely to stimulate discussion. Times Higher Eduction Supplement, Guardian CiF etc.

J – hand pick academic reporters to come to the assembly to talk about it. And target specifically.

Si – support for both ethics guidelines and national convergence. Propose we carry both these projects forward.

Sa – January good for Ethics guidelines? Work through piratepad ready to present at an assembly in January. Convergence in Spring. April? (agreement)

J – we need money. Needs to be well organised. We should explore technicalities.

Sa – we could aim to start finalising the conv date by January. Guidelines and conv callout could go out together. Briefly other networks: PARN, which has mailing list but no website yet. Has just merged with another group that came out of protests against UCL demolishing an estate for a new campus.

P [Agenda point 8] – shoutout on housing issues. TaxPayersAgainstPoverty – website and facebook.

A couple of weeks ago we had a really productive meeting in which we decided that ORC should focus on two things, one relatively short term and quite doable, and the other a slightly more mid-term project to work on. I think that minutes from the meeting are still to be sent round, but here is a brief summary:

1. Drafting “Guidelines on the Ethics of Activist Research”

The idea is to use this list to generate some broad outlines which could then be brought to an open meeting for as many as possible to partocipate. This has already been brought up at Occupy London GAs and at previous ORC meetings. The idea is that the process of putting together some broad ethical guidelines for all those who research social movements could trigger some thoughts about “good practice”. I’ll send another email on this soon.

2. Organising a second National Convergence, but this time with a focus on bringing together already existing groups/networks that are engaged in forms of activist/militant/

participatory research. We felt that the first convergence went really well, and that we know how to do this, and should follow up by trying to map out as many of the groups that already exist in order to see exactly what is being done, what else could be done, if we can think a bit about our strategy together.

It was suggested that we should meet once again before christmas to follow up on both of these. Given that not much has been yet this may not be necessary, but I am still happy to meet. In the meantime I’ll get a piretpad document sent around to start drafting point 1.

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Reminder: meeting tonight 19:30

Reminder everyone

Meeting tonight at 19:30 at UCL room 305 (3rd floor).

See here for directions: http://occupyresearchcollective.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/next-meeting-tuesday-27th-1930-at-ucl/

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Next meeting: Tuesday 27th 19:30 at UCL

The most popular day of choice for our next meeting has been decided as Tuesday 27th November. It will be at 19:30 at UCL Pearson Building (where meetings have often been held), room 305 (3rd floor).

Directions:

To find Pearson building, when you enter the Quad from Gower street turn left and the entrance is in the corner nearest to Gower St, the NW corner. Enter the black door by the ramp in the corner, turn right and go to the third floor (there is an elevator as well as stairs). See this UCL map for location of Pearson Building. This google map shows the exact position of the big black door you need to enter through.

A phone number has been distributed via the mailing list for anyone who gets lost.

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Next meeting 26-30th November? Doodle please

Yes we did just do a doodle, but it didn’t really work because of the profusion of upcoming student action. We’re now going to try to arrange our next meeting for the week 26th-30th November, so if you’re in London and interested in getting involved, please fill out this new Doodle: http://doodle.com/wk49err9d9p8tnwa

If you’re not in London and are interested in taking part in the meeting virtually, let us know and we’ll put our heads together to see how we can make that happen.

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Notes from meeting 15/10/2012 at Cuts Café

Sorry it’s very basic – I meant to elaborate on the notes a bit but left it too long and lost my grasp of the meeting’s subtleties. Still gives a good sense of what we talked about (thanks to Anastasia for taking the notes!).

PS. Remember to fill in the Doodle so we can plan our next meeting! http://www.doodle.com/c8vsqc27cnwe55p7

 

ORC 15/10/12 @Cuts Café

Simon introduced ORC and ORC projects

Sam introduced Guidelines of Research. Particularly interested in subverting copyright. Also in Participatory Action Research Network (PARN), because UCL is void of spaces for radical research, so wanted to help open that space at UCL, but also working with other unis and colleges in London. UCL planning post-Olympics to buy & knock down housing estate in Stratford to build biochemical faculty. As researchers, UCL members and activists this is highly relevant.

Discussion of similar projects to ORC

Hussain talked about the University of Lincoln – Social Science Centre

network of like-minded lecturers doing teach-ins

Set up a membership collective but they cannot accredit BA and MA degrees because it is too expensive (maybe distance learning will offer a solution there)

An alternative, cooperative way of organizing teaching (no official link with the university but set up by some radical lecturers)

‘Sustaining free universities’ network convergence in Oxford

FSO (‘For Strategic Optimism’)

(they occupy banks and then deliver lectures as the ‘University of Strategic Optimism’ à see piece in Occupied Times

‘Campaign for public university’

General discussion about ORC

Q. Differences between activist and participatory research? – Simon: this is more of a space to discuss different methodologies

Information about a campaign about housing benefits and ‘Taxpayers against poverty’ (300 members)

Group is not exclusive to academics – thinking about how to relate different types of research (e.g. NGO or community research)

Anastasia: Connecting with occupyresearch.net – learning from other activist-research groups (also from past movements e.g. Global Justice Movement)

Need to think about how our research benefits action (not only about ethics and methodologies which can become ‘academic navel-gazing’)

Create a repository of research but we also need to disseminate it

Disequilibrium between the mainstream institutional work

Research on exhaustion in activism – interesting because it can help us think about tactics

  • But we also need to talk about the persistence of activism not only exhaustion

Outreach as another project for the collective?

Sustainability of political activism and campaigning (and subcultures) -

Activist-research of activism?

Collectivizing research on the topic?

Occupyresearch.net – create links with it (think how we can use it as a repository) – Anastasia to liaise

Tap into already existing journals (before existing our own)

Establishing a direct action research group

Creating a list of references – e.g. a Zotero group?

Disseminating already existing research done by activists?

Ask the GA in terms of information that they need?

Simon: this list of projects is not exhaustive (there are other things that we can do)

Start from what we want to do and then think of research

Are we creating a skill or are creating research fit to action?

Occupy is increasingly diverse but Occupy London – the GA is not well-attended

Think of an action (e.g. in terms of copyright)

Event  about learning from the past and burnout – link up experienced and young activists (and activist researchers) – archiving interviews

There is already existing material (that we can think of archiving)

It’s not laboratory research but it’s research aimed at creating a more ethical society, a more inclusive democratic process

PARN network is going to do a skillshare – we can do a ‘learning from the past’ session

Exchanging research with other people – ‘Research study group’ – reviewing and commenting on each other’s work

Simon to write up a blog post based on the minutes of this meeting

Setting up a doodle to arrange our next meeting – possibly within the next fortnight?

Meeting of the radical education group tomorrow night

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Next ORC meeting

Hello comrades, companions and cotravellers.

We need to have another meeting. The withdrawal must be getting too much for some, it would be inhumane to withhold it any longer! We had a lovely chat last Monday at Cuts Café, and we’re really keen to keep up the momentum from that meeting’s great ideas and start planning how we’re going to move forward as a group.

So let’s do do do do a doodle (that was attempted singing, not mocking those who stammer!): http://www.doodle.com/c8vsqc27cnwe55p7

All our meetings so far have been in London, but our network is expanding fast so if anyone outside London would like to be involved in the meeting, let us know, preferably through the mailing list if you’re on it, or else by emailing us, and we can look into trying to open the meeting up to virtual participation by livestream.

Notes from our last meeting coming soon x

PS. We should discuss the possibility of moving the ORC mailing list from google groups to riseup.net. We chose the former initially because of concerns over riseup’s reliability. More experience seems to show riseup lists are pretty reliable (email accounts maybe not so much), and google groups isn’t very secure. So it seems like a good idea, especially if we might be planning actions or anything in the future.

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Next ORC meeting Monday 7-9pm 15th October @Cuts Café

Hi everyone!

We have a ridiculously short-notice announcement for you, which we hope you’ll be able to take advantage of, and many apologies if not. A few London-based ORC people have also been involved in a temporary anti-austerity social centre called Cuts Café, and we’ve arranged to have an ORC meeting there tomorrow, Monday 15th, 7-9pm, to catch up and reflect anew upon existing project ideas, and to hopefully discuss the ORC project with some new faces.

Like our previous convergence, the agenda will be formed by those present as a facilitated discussion.

We hope you can make it!

(And again apologies for late notice, organising Cuts Café has been pretty manic!)

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