North Shore at Six Months: Trends so far and call for submissions

North Shore Counter-Info launched six months ago with the goal of serving as an online hub for anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist ideas and actions in Southern Ontario. In that time, we’ve published 80 articles and dozens of events and comments, which feels like a pretty good start. The project launched the weekend of the Hamilton Anarchist Bookfair on March 3rd 2018 and proved its usefulness almost immediately, as the mini-riot that night left anarchists in that city with an urgent need for a secure, anonymous place to put forward analysis and discuss. Mainstream media stories about the Locke Street affair linked to communiques on North Shore, and we received tens of thousands of visits in our first week (we have since disabled all traffic analytics to increase user security).

We’re glad to have been able to provide that, however it has meant North Shore was associated from literally day one with the most combative and controversial aspects of our politics. We don’t intend to shy away from this, but it perhaps created a sense that we are exclusively focused on street action. We want to keep making space for a wide range of different kinds of activity – a goal of the project is to make visible the many kinds of organizing and action taking place across the region by encouraging people to tell the stories of what they’re up to. The recent post out of Peterborough offering a brief reportback on a fundraiser show, the reportback on anti-Canada Day activity in Guelph, or the banner drop at the same time in Kingston are all examples of reproducible, fun actions that put those crews in dialogue with others across the region.

In terms of geography, about half of the posts on North Shore are tagged “Hamilton”, with “Kingston”, “Toronto”, “Ontario”, and “Ottawa” making up most of the other half. One goal moving ahead will be to continue trying to involve people in cities and towns throughout the region. Want some North Shore stickers to put up in your area? Get in touch and we can mail some your way. Hosting a discussion, holding a rally, putting up some posters, intervening in a local struggle? Consider writing about your experience and sharing it – some people say their activity doesn’t feel “reportback-worthy”, but highlighting the creative and diverse ways people are acting on anarchistic ideas is what this project is all about.

As well, about three quarters of content on North Shore could broadly be termed action-based, grouping together reportbacks, analysis of actions, and calls to action. This is probably as it should be, but it can contribute to an activist mindset, where the urgency to act doesn’t leave much space for a broader look at strategy, context, and shifts in how power operates. We’ve been excited to receive some very good analysis pieces, such as the two-part series on Bill C-75, as well as some opinion pieces, like the one on refusing to vote for the NDP If you feel an urge to write content like this, either just go for it or get in touch first and pitch us the idea.
If you want to contribute content but aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas for the kinds of things we would love to publish:
  • Reportbacks on things you might think don’t deserve it, like discussions or gatherings
  • General updates on your town and what kinds of struggles or tensions exist there
  • Analysis of larger political and social developments across Ontario or Canada
  • Answer back to mainstream media, providing a different take on events
  • Sharing resources, like poster and pamphlet designs or online graphics
  • Photo posts of interesting stickers, graffiti, posters, or banners 
Another option if you don’t feel like writing a whole essay is to make use of comments on North Shore. Unlike some other counter-info websites, we feel that making it easy to respond to articles with a different perspective or further context is crucial. Commenting on North Shore is anonymous and comments are moderated before posting, so although that causes a delay, it also eliminates the “fuck you commie fags” comments and spam – (although we are saving our favourite high-quality hate mail for our scrapbooks).

Finding ways to expand discussion on the site and to encourage event submission is a goal of ours for challenging reliance on  on social media. At the very least, we would like it to be possible for people to engage with movements locally without having to use these platforms which compromise our security and produce the most alienated forms of relating to one another. Submitting events and moving discussion here are great ways to contribute to building up North Shore as a grassroots communications infrastructure project. Ultimately, we are just a website, and want to strongly encourage anarchists and anti-authoritarians to prioritize building and maintaining face-to-face relationships and networks, which cannot be replaced on the internet, other than in impoverished forms.

Over the next six months, you can look forward to a redesign of the site that will hopefully improve its look and useability. As well, we will be experimenting with hosting video and audio content ourselves. Currently, we do not allow any embedded media as runs runs external scripts that can may use cookies or track IP addresses. But there is tons of value in such content, so finding security-conscious ways of presenting it will be a priority

If you have any reflections or suggestions, leave them below. North Shore is still quite new, but we intend to be around for years and want to grow into a useful tool in the fight against hierarchy and exploitation.