Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Idle No More: Steps Forward...

#IdleNOMore Event Map

Idle No More: Steps Forward...

I wanted to build a map of all #IdleNOMore events that are being organized in support of Chief Theresa Spence, by individuals across Turtle Island - and around the world.
The beginning of that map is embedded here.

This article is intended to connect activists and mapping volunteers to the map; explain why mapping social justice movements is an essential part of the movement; derive some lessons learned from previous social justice mapping projects; and out-line how I imagine this unique mapping project will function over the life-span of the #IdleNOMore movement.

(To View the map in a larger format - or to Edit The Map - link: "Idle No More Map 2013" at Google Maps.)

But, I want to get started Right Now!

This map is 'Open' - anyone can edit it. All you need is a Google Account, and the link address. If you're an activist in the #IdleNOMore movement - and if you are able - please add your Event Placemark yourself. For Google Maps novices, there are instructions in the sidebar of the map (Map at Google Maps: "Idle No More Map 2013") - and a link to a Twitter hashtag where you can get timely help from a volunteer IdleNOMore Mapper (#IdleNOMoreMAP). (Soon a 'Form' will be linked at the map - so you can copy and paste the title and Event URL of your up-coming Event in a submission box - then volunteer mappers will plot your placemark on the map for you.)

After your event has happened you can add links, video or audio to your Event Placemark.

Mapping social justice movements is essential

The Mapping of growing, grass roots movements allows activists to network amoungst each other effectively and quickly; helps the movement's media teams connect to stories happening across the movement in real time; allows a birds eye view of how vibrant the movement is; allows media access to spokes-people for the movement - from the grass roots to the leadership; and provides a clearing-house for timely information about events anywhere in the movement.

#IdleNOMore - the indigenous rights movement currently exploding across North America and around the world - needs a vibrant, up-dating Movement Map.

A little history of mapping social justice movements

When the Occupy Movement started exploding across North America in the Fall of 2011 I wanted to know why it was so well organized. While investigating that, I saw a social justice movement map - an organizing map produced by the 'Indignados' movement.

In the fall of 2011, FOX News and Alex Jones-Infowars both ran a story which claimed Occupy protesters were all puppets of a George Soros / "Tides Foundation" / Occupy Insider conspiracy theory (Occupy Wall Street: A Globalist Op Designed to Destroy Efforts to End the Fed).

I had already used the world wide web to research the background of the Occupy Movement - so it was obvious to me that the authors of the story knew more than they were letting on in their story --- because I knew that the North American Occupy movement was a direct descendant of the pan-European anti-austerity movement - especially, the Spanish part of that movement - the Indignados movement.

Quite quickly I found "Take the Square" ( - the 'How To', or 'Best Practices' website for modern social justice movements; lessons learned as part of the "Indignados" (the indignant ones) movement. European austerity was instituted by the 'banksters' and their political puppets after the financial collapse of 2007/2008. The Spanish anti-austerity movement, The Indignados, was one of the biggest such movements in Europe. It started locally and culminated in two massive rallies in Madrid - Spain's Capital.

As I followed the links and discovered keywords - I soon came accoss a Map of the movement! The Spanish Indignados had mapped the second popular uprising - placemarking the thousand points of light that made up the scattered seeds of the movement.

Image: tagged: spanishrevolution, map,
Roc Herms' photostream - photo taken May 21, 2011 -

Zooming-in on the map revealed hundreds of placemarks differentiating themselves one from another on each successive click of the mouse. Dated from the spring of 2011, occupations of street corners, parks and public buildings - in hundreds and hundreds of Spanish villages and towns. All leading later that spring, to a nation-wide week of marches that flowed into each other like the tributaries of a stream. Larger and larger, from every part of the country - a river of 'Indignados' flowed like the relentless Tsunami towards the Capital Madrid - in time for the June, Spanish General Elections.

Thousands of people, men, women and children camping in parks - the public occupying the public spaces - holding long discussions about the National Economy (where the Occupy General Assembly consensus rules were formulated, through trial and error). That map page was a time-capsule that took me back one year, and afforded me the opportunity to delve into the minute details of the beginning of a grass roots, mass, democratic movement. When one clicked on a random placemark - say way up in the central mountains - one found notes in placemarks like: 'Gather at bus stop, 7am assembly' - and - 'New assembly point, meet at the statue - main square.'

When I zoomed-out on the map the placemarks bunched together and became an uncountable mass - like a cloud of sparrows, a hive of bees. The power of the map as interface for the country-wide, dynamic, popular movement was astonishing to me. The wealth of information contained in the map's placemarks; the scale of the people's movement; the shear awesomeness of the enterprise - all right there for me in my time-capsule, to witness as though it was happening now.

Starting about 6 months later - from May to September 2012 - I helped map the Casseroles Movement (

Last month (December 2012), researcher and journalist Tim Groves (@timymit) produced a Map called "#IdleNoMore Events in 2012" ( - which was then featured in Huffington Post Canada (27 Dec 2012) "Idle No More Map Reveals Movement's Global Reach" (

As Tim points out in the Map's sidebar, Google Maps only allows 200 placemarks per map - so with the incredible number of #IdleNOMore events that happened just in December alone - Tim's map reached it's limit of placemarks long before the movement ran out of events that needed to be placemarked. The same thing happened with the Casseroles Nights In Canada Map - although not so quickly.

Lessons - how the new map will function over time

I figure this new map will be two things - a 'Live Map' and a series of 'Archive Maps'. The Live Map will be an organizing tool, an out-in-front entity listing up-coming events and those just passed. As such, this map will likely fill up in less than a month.

When the Live Map reaches its' placemark limit, I'll download the XML file (which contains all the map data) - and load it into an Archive Map - which will be titled according to date - and linked in the sidebar of the Live Map.

Now on the Live Map - we will start placing new Event Placemarks - while at the same time deleating the oldest events (now preserved in the Archive Map).

So Here Goes!

Included on the map so far are Event Placemarks for Thursday January 3, 2013. The info is from the "Idle No More Temporary Calendar" (

Events will be added as info becomes available - and as volunteer mappers are able to donate their time.


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