Recording What’s Happening
When you are carrying out an action or mobilization, it is important to create a record of what you’ve done and what you’re doing, as well as recording your memories and impressions about how it’s going. Some of the information you need to record is practical: how many people come and participate, how to get in contact with people after they’ve participated, what different people say or what their perspectives are, what sort of materials different people need. Some of the knowledge you need to record is about how the project changes and what you learn in the process of doing it. Recording this information as you go is called “documentation,” or sometimes it is called “monitoring” when the purpose of collecting that knowledge is to check if the project was successful later. Documentation is often informal – for instance, after you have a meeting with someone, you have notes on your phone or in a notebook of what you said, or you have memories of the interaction.
These images are of the minutes of a meeting held by a community group. Minutes are notes recording what happened at a meeting that are saved and shared. They are a great way of making sure that everyone remembers what happened and what they need to do, and that you can check to find later Minutes or shared notes from a meeting help the people who participate in the meetings to follow up the work that was done.
In this video, Marie-Josée Massicotte, a Canadian professor who works with the World Social Forum and with indigenous communities in Latin America resisting companies taking their natural resources, describes the concept of the ‘report-back,’ which is a way that many groups ask members to share information.
With the social forums I was saying earlier that we have created delegations that were between ten and seventy, eighty people where we had people from different sectors, different backgrounds, different ages, sometimes different languages, which participated together and this all has something to do with the idea of the report back;
We had pre-departures trainings, so that people can learn a little bit about each other, learn what social forums are, what it’s going to look like, what are we going to do once we get there, but also to encourage people to participate in an active way, so people were really invited to organize workshops themselves, discussions on topics that were interesting, that we wanted to share with others, that we wanted to learn what others are doing, and that it is very significant in itself as a type of participation, rather than simply being an observer, and also, afterwards we had a process, at the end of the forums, of collective debriefing where everyone who had attended different workshops, different themes shared their experiences that could last sometimes two, three hours, depending on the size of the delegation and that was probably the most powerful moment where everyone grasped the importance of learning, mutual learning, because through this reflection, this sharing, there were all kinds of ideas that came out that one had not thought about etc.
And from this collective debriefing for all those who participated, on the other hand we said how we could actually make a good report back, a good sharing of this knowledge, but also just of the experience, and sometimes the experience was more or less positive, there are some who were extremely frustrated because it is sometimes very chaotic, but through this chaos what was the positive side, how can we share, how can we learn lessons, how did we take strategies or mobilizations of other types of organizations, which could perhaps be adapted or useful in our context, or at least to talk about it, it may raise new interrogations and new thinking paths etc.