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The Canadian Information Sharing Service
During the past year C.I.S.S. changed the name of its publication to CONNEXIONS and hopes to become more identifiable through this simpler name. We originated as a means for deepening understanding and solidarity by providing a forum through which minority organizations, citizens groups and grassroots movements might communicate their concerns and discoveries more directly with one another.
The impetus arose initially from expressed needs of those who felt isolated or who recognised they were powerless apart from a broadly based movement. CONNEXIONS does not try to circulate or store original documents. Nor do we attempt to centralize information or decision making. In every respect we use a decentralized model for our operation. No information is to be found in the office of the project that is not placed in the hands of those who are our readers and contributors. Information is solicited from every region and there is high priority given to developing local and regional editing processes so that no regionalized bias enters into the final publication. Responsibility for the project rests with a volunteer collective whose membership is drawn, as much as possible, from various national networks dedicated to social change.
After three years of operation we have developed a strong, shared collective process. We meet every two weeks and rotate responsibility for every aspect of the project. A small staff of part-time people chosen from the collective provide some coordination. Subscriptions can sustain the ordinary costs of the project apart from staff salaries and project development.
CONNEXIONS has identified well over three hundred social change organizations, networks and individuals in Canada and has provided almost 1000 summaries of their work. Most of these groups are virtually unknown to the general public and many are not known by social activists outside their own region. Organizations have begun to recognise they can turn to CONNEXIONS to find resources for responding to new issues they must face or to find support for their own on-going ventures, Regular readers are gaining new insights into the structures of oppression in Canada as gleaned from the experience of those most directly affected. And there is a hopefulness apparent from the imagination and dedication of those in every province (and the territories) who are in fact standing up to and moving the immense power of government and business.
CONNEXIONS believes the real power for humanizing society rests with those who must struggle along at the bottom of the social strata. But resistance is demanding and isolation can lead to tunnel-vision and despair. Strength comes through clear forms of solidarity: a solidarity which must begin with awareness of each other and of what each struggles with. What CONNEXIONS hopes for and what it is working to support is the strengthening of those ties which weld the response into an informed, mutually supportive and effective movement which will find ways to effect fundamental, structural changes in our society at local, regional, national and international levels.