Committees of Correspondence

The key to any successful movement is organization and communication. As is seen throughout history with the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Suffrage movement, etc, communication within the structure of the movement was key for planning their protests like the Poor People’s march, the March on Washington, and Freedom Rides.

            In a recent article printed in DC Mic Check: Life in these Occupied Times, Joan Donovan, a participant in Occupy Los Angeles, voices her concerns on inter-organizational communication. She had encountered a rumor that “[i]nfiltration was afoot” and some 5,000 occupiers would be relocating from OWS to Occupy San Francisco, but had absolutely no establish if this rumor was indeed fact or fiction. Here is the fundamental problem: there is no figure head for OWS, and therefore no one who she could get in contact with to check on this rumor. Joan recollects, “I thought about sending an email—but to whom, and how would I know their information was reliable?” It turned out that communication is actually a huge problem between the different occupy factions. Once an occupier figures out who to contact, most of these emails go unanswered. Joan ended up getting her information because one of her friends was participating in OWS and relayed the information to her over the phone, denying the rumor.

            With no official communication system set up between these occupy factions, it renders their goals difficult to achieve. The lack of proper information sharing could become the Achilles Heel of the movement, and prevent its success in the long run.

            However, it does seem that some participants in the various movements have gotten their acts together and attempted to realize a network of communication similar to that used In the American Revolution. Designed by Occupy Philly, it was dubbed Committees of Correspondence (CoCs). Every Monday night, a general call is made (via InterOccupy.org) and a call calendar is set up which assigns the responsibilities of each week’s call to a different Occupy group. This is where CoCs come in to play. They are in charge of informing local groups about these general calls via InterOccupy and “arrange face to face regional meet-ups.” The goal of this communication network is to “amplify voices and ideas of the Occupy movement”, but if this is so, then why are the lines still blurred on what the goals and ideas of these occupiers are?

            Although the weekly general calls and CoCs may have aided in fixing the communication problems within the movement, Occupy still needs some help on communicating to the public what their “voices and ideas” are. I believe that these calls may help unify any goals that this movement may hold, but unless all the information discussed in these calls disseminates to the rest of the protestors, it serves no purpose in unification.

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