Tuesday 6-5-2012, Lots of Occupy Stuff


Today was really pretty slow at work, so I worked on greaserag.org.  Then I headed out to canvass with Occupy and had a skype meeting with Occupy Town Square from NYC.  All in all a pretty good day.  Keep reading for the nitty gritty details.

Today was really slow at work.  Robert suggested that I try to work some on a mobile application for a big project we're working on but I couldn't get the code to install on my desktop and wasn't sure why, Robert didn't know either and even if I could have gotten it working I'm not sure if I could have figured out how to program anything within the yii framework that runs the application.  Hopefully tomorrow I can figure out more of it and actually get it working on my work desktop.

Since there wasn't much to do at work I worked on greaserag.org.  I needed to type up instructions for adding new locations and then I tried to track down a bug with tinymce.  The add link dialog doesn't work with images, it works partially with Firefox, there you hit insert and it clears the dialog but you can enter everything again and it saves on the second time.  It doesn't work at all in chrome.  It works for adding text links.  This doesn't happen in a default install of or on the NDP site running the same code base and I couldn't find anything different between the any of the cores.  I found a year old bug that was supposedly fixed but tried applying the patch anyway but that didn't work.  After a few hours I gave up and posted a thread on concrete5.org asking for help.  Hopefully someone else can help me figure it out, it's just another little thing that's wrong with the site that I can't track down.  I hate that, I wish that I could just fix everything and make it perfect for them but I can't.

From there I went out to canvas with the Occupy NDP people.  I'd kind of held off on actually going out on the canvasing outings because didn't feel like I'm connected enough to Occupy to answer any questions that the people we'd be giving the surveys to might have.  They said that I could partner with someone else so it wouldn't be just me at the door so I decided that it was probably going to be OK so I headed out.  After a few doors I was feeling confident enough to knock on doors myself.  There were a lot of people out and we only made it a few blocks but I think John said that we ended up with 30 email addresses of people that are interested in coming out to the forum.  I'll probably be out for more canvasing soon, I think we might try some on the weekend where we have more time and hopefully more people will be home.

After that we headed back to Boneshaker Books to meet up with Christian who had organized a skype meeting with Occupy Town Square from New York City.  We had some issues getting skype working, he'd never used it on his laptop before and I had to help get it working.  After we finally got connected it was a really good meeting, even if the connection was kind of slow so the audio and video were really choppy.  They had a lot of good insights into organizing neighborhood forums.  It seems to be a direction that a lot of Occupy groups are heading around the country, creating neighborhood outreach meetings that are only loosely connected to Occupy, no real general assemblies or anything like that but community meetings in public spaces that have Occupy ideals in mind but don't have all the same practices.  Apparently there's been a move away from the general assemblies into smaller groups that are organized around particular issues that work more or less autonomously. One of the things that they've found is really good is to have the meetings in public spaces like parks, especially when there are already other events happening.  Apparently you can do all the outreach and flyering and canvassing in the world but the thing that really gets people to participate was actually just seeing people out there having the meeting.  If there's already something going on and it's a really nice day then you will get lots of people just stopping by and getting involved.  That's something to think about as we plan our first meetings, we had been planning on trying to have them at a community center or other indoor area where we could have a projector and maybe a PA to help any speakers be heard by the group.  What we learned today has us rethinking that, we may do it outside in a park as well. 


They talked a bit about the need for a technology platform to help facilitate these neighborhood meetings and the interest / activism groups that grow up out of them.  They didn't know what the best platform would be, ideally it would be something that wouldn't run off of one centralized server but something that each city could install and host themselves.  We didn't really spend a lot of time on this but we agreed to have another meeting soon hopefully with people from more groups all around the country so we can hash out what this platform could look like and what technology should power it.  I sent emails to the developers that made Discussion Forums, Items Calendar and Social Login which are the three components of the system that I've developed that cost money asking if they'd be willing to donate copies for a nationwide system of websites all dedicated to creating social change neighborhood by neighborhood.  I hope that they're willing to donate copies to the cause.  Otherwise it would be 110 dollars to install the system as is on a new server.  That's not necessarily a hang up on getting people to use the system, most Occupy groups do have budgets.  But if the choice is between some other system that is totally free and one that costs 110 dollars then I think the free one is going to win out even if the system that I developed is better.  They did say at the meeting that I should ask for compensation from the finance committee for what I spent making the website which I might do. 

One of the women from the group was going to start entering data from the surveys on a little Ausus netbook but I'd made "Name" a required field so I had to edit the google form.  It was obscenely slow loading every page, it seemed obvious that it would take forever for her to enter in all of the surveys so I offered to enter the data.  I have a lot more free time anyway.  So I brought home the surveys that we've collected so far and I'll be entering those over the next few days.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what the actual results are once they are all entered into the spreadsheet and the results are in graphs so we can really begin to see what people are actually concerned with.

Then I headed home and made up a couple burritos for dinner.  Then I watched another episode of Cracker and sent off those messages to the developers.  All in all a pretty good day I think, I wish I had of gotten more done at work but I really don't know how I could have.  I'm feeling more optimistic about the NDP project now that I've heard some of what's happening in other cities.